Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

The Final Cut Pro X debacle

June 22, 2011: 6:34 PM ET

One day later, 501 reviews, 229 of them negative

Source: Mac App Store

"Since the early 2000s," according to its Wikipedia entry, "Final Cut Pro began to develop a large and expanding user base, mainly video hobbyists and independent filmmakers." By 2008, according to a survey published by the American Cinema Editors Guild, more than one in five members had abandoned Avid's (AVID) Media Composer and were doing their post-production work on Final Cut Pro.

Which makes what Apple (AAPL) did with the new version released Tuesday such a mystery.

According to Apple's press release, Final Cut Pro X is "a revolutionary new version of the world's most popular Pro video editing software which completely reinvents video editing."

According to the growing list of negative reviews on the Mac App Store, it's a disaster.

Below: Excerpts from the first five "most helpful" comments as of Wednesday afternoon.

  • Extremely buggy, overly simplistic -- "I get the impression that folks at Apple that design software don't actually run a production environment, and don't understand our needs at all. -- Fraize
  • No Multicam!! -- "FCPX is literally unusable without Multicam." -- Greg Golding
  • Not for an editing house. "You simply cannot import anything but your iMovie projects." -- Kevin Lewis
  • HUGE problems and disappointing. "Cannot open or import anything from FCP 7." -- Prof Keynote
  • don't be duped. "This application should not be called FINAL CUT PRO as it is NO WAY COMPATIBLE with older versions of FCP.... It's basically iMOVIE with a few improvements." -- Pretty J.

According to senior vice president Phil Schiller, Apple showed Final Cut Pro X "to many of the world's best Pro editors, and their jaws have dropped."

But not necessarily in a good way.

UPDATE: David Pogue, not a professional filmmaker, finds much to love in his New York Times review. Daring Fireball's John Gruber makes the analogy to Mac OS X -- a ground-up rewrite that caused a lot of teeth gnashing  in its time -- with a key difference:

"The difference is that with the transition from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X, Apple kept Mac OS 9 around for years, both as a boot-the-machine OS and in the form of the Classic emulation layer. There was a years-long transition. Whereas the previous — dare I say classic? — versions of Apple's professional video software were discontinued upon yesterday's release of the new versions."

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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