Sachin Agarwal is the founder and CEO of Posterous, but before he went off to become a startup guy, he worked at Apple. In his time there, he worked on Final Cut Pro for 6 years. He was just leaving Apple when it began the Final Cut Pro X project and has some ideas about why Apple created the controversial new version of their marquee video editing project.
First of all, Agarwal echoes popular opinion with the assertion that Apple isn’t interested in the professional space, which is traditionally small and growth limited.
The pro market is too small for Apple to care about it. Instead of trying to get hundreds or even thousands of video professionals to buy new Macs, they can nail the pro-sumer market and sell to hundreds of thousands of hobbyists like me.
The market that Apple is after in the case of FCPX isn’t hardcore professionals at the top of their fields, instead, it’s the users who have outgrown iMovie and need a more powerful product. The simplicity of presentation and the winnowed-down feature set make more sense as an appeal to prosumers than it does as an upgrade meant for industry veterans.
Agarwal says that in the early days of Final Cut Pro, the product was the newcomer in a battle against widely adopted systems like AVID. In this battle, FCP stood alone, because the two systems were priced wildly differently and had a distinctly varied feature set.
Now that Final Cut exists alongside competitors from Adobe, Pinnacle, Sony and others, Apple needs to find away to make the product stand alone again.
FCPX isn’t defined by a feature chart. It’s not trying to do more than its competitors, it’s doing it better.
And once again, Final Cut Pro stands on its own. And once again, Final Cut Pro will expand the market of video editors out there, and I’ll be one of them.
This approach, not competing on specs, is something that Apple strives to do across the board with its hardware products. You’ll never find Apple going blow-for-blow feature wise with the iPad’s competitors for instance.
Agarwal is one of the few people chiming in with a positive response to Apple’s dramatic direction change with FCPX. He’s convinced that Apple has ‘laid the foundation for something incredible.’
It’s clear that Final Cut Pro X is a polarizing product. On one hand you have the old guard of video editors looking for a massive upgrade to their high-end editor. The tricky part is that the other portion of the market may not yet know that they want a better editor than iMovie. The burden is now on Apple to convince people that assume FCP is ‘hard to use’ and ‘for pros’ that this is their new ‘casual editor with benefits’.
You can read the rest of Agarwal’s impressions on his Posterous, naturally, here.