So They Still Want Apple to Die

June 29th, 2011

As loads of users of Final Cut Pro lambast Apple for not releasing a new version with the exact same look and features as the old — and then some — I suppose some are wondering whether the this means Apple is losing their mojo. And I should point out that Apple is now reportedly giving refunds to at least some disgruntled Final Cut Pro X users.

It didn’t help that Apple had the hubris to discontinue the previous version on the day the new one came out, although that’s pretty much par for the course for new software releases.

On the other hand, maybe Apple is brain-dead. Surely they’d know that video editors, accustomed to a specific workflow and production routine, would be upset over an app that seems totally different despite having a similar name. In Apple’s defense, lead Final Cut Pro coder Randy Ubillos, who also invented Adobe Premiere way back when, is quoted as saying this is version 1.0 of a brand new foundation, so give Apple time to flesh out the feature set, and fix early release bugs. Shades of iMovie ’08, where suddenly features Mac users took for granted vanished. At the time Apple was forced to keep iMovie HD, the previous version, alive so people didn’t have to upgrade. Over time, most of the lost features were restored, but Apple probably will have no more than a few months to set things right with Final Cut Pro X. It’s not as if there aren’t alternatives.

Now if Apple wasn’t the largest tech company on the planet by market cap, I suppose people wouldn’t care so much about an allegedly flawed app upgrade. Besides, it’s not as if the previous versions of Final Cut Pro stopped working when the new one arrived.

But the biggest chronic complaint against Apple is all about that so-called “walled garden.” Apple carefully controls the products and the sales message, and that’s supposed to be a “bad thing.” A “good thing” is the Android OS app market, which breeds malware and crummy software. But at least Google doesn’t serve as the gatekeeper, except in the most limited way. Customers have the freedom, and therefore the liability. If malware damages their Android smartphone or tablet, so be it. That’s the price of an uncontrolled environment.

Even though some apps will never make it to the App Store, the ones that are there will, for better or worse, operate without constantly crashing your iOS device. You shouldn’t have to worry about malware, although there are occasional security lapses that Apple will regularly patch. All in all, these gadgets are as close to appliances as you can get.

The other argument is that you cannot get the “full Internet” under the iOS. There is no support for Adobe Flash — and it’s pretty certain there never will be — and the competition will boast that their products do contain Flash. It doesn’t matter if it’s messy, slow, buggy, and loads of sites still won’t work properly without major recoding.

So the critics will say that Apple cannot continue to have record growth, and record profits, because openness is the great equalizer. Customers don’t want walled gardens, they don’t want products that may lack features or software because the manufacturer doesn’t believe they should be there.

It doesn’t matter that loads of iOS app developers are clearly able to innovate within that controlled ecosystem, or that there are far greater freedoms to build software for Mac OS X. It doesn’t matter that loads of companies make huge profits selling software and accessories for Apple gear. So what if they may have to pay license fees to build an “approved” iPhone or iPad case, or battery extender. You think it’s wrong for a company to want to charge fees for licensing technology, or the right to use official logos?

In the real world, does the owner of an Android OS gadget have a better user experience because the OS is, relatively speaking, open, and developers can build products without having to get past a heavily-armed gatekeeper? The surveys almost always show a higher level of owner satisfaction with Apple products, and that also includes support where, particularly in the PC space, the competition fares just miserably.

In the end, Apple’s success won’t depend on whether an industry pundit decides the ecosystem is too closed. It’s not that a company doesn’t have the right to decide what products to sell, how to sell them, and the requirements for third parties who want to get involved. When Microsoft stops charging Xbox developers for an SDK, and gives software away, I suppose they might have a point. Or maybe not.  But it’s not as if the totally open Linux OS, in its many iterations, has garnered much success on desktop PCs.

Sure, opinions are a dime a dozen. If you believe that you can run Apple better than Steve Jobs, quit your 9-5 office job selling landlord insurance and set up and apply for Steves job. He’s not going to be there forever, and maybe one of you will get lucky.

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5 Responses to “So They Still Want Apple to Die”

  1. Larry says:

    You’re preaching to the choir Gene. There are people in this universe who hate Apple for the simple reason that it exists. The Apple centric web sites like AppleInsider, MacRumors (especially), MacWorld are overrun with anonymous posters spewing a non stop litany of reasons Apple “will die soon”. They simply cannot stand the idea that Apple exists and is successful.

    But you hit the nail on the head. Let one of these pudits or analysts apply for Steve’s job and see how that works out. I hitched my wagon to Apple in 1982 with an Apple ][+ and have never looked back, and never regretted a minute of it.

  2. Peter says:

    It all has to do with what people want. As long as Apple & developers can keep delivering on that, they’re fine.

    Consider AOL and the Internet. They used to be separate. But people saw the cool stuff on the Internet and they wanted to do that. They didn’t want to be limited to buying things from “AOL Partners.” They looked outside the walls and decided that it was better outside than inside. So they left.

    Remember that the walls of the garden are not opaque. People can see what’s happening outside those walls. Some people have looked at what’s going on outside the iOS walls and decided they like that and they left. Some have returned, some have not (yes, contrary to popular belief, there are people who have switched from iPhone to Android and are quite happy about it.)

    The argument is that–much like 10,000 monkeys on typewriters–eventually a killer app will appear on Android and not on iPhone (because Apple won’t allow it) and that all those people using iPhones will run out and buy Android phones so that they can have this killer app. It’s not a bad theory, but it ignores Apple’s pragmatism. Apple lead the way in Desktop Video back when everyone else was ripping CDs. When Apple saw they were going the wrong way, they swung around and jumped into music in a big way. Back in ’97, Apple told developers that they were going to have rewrite their applications if they wanted all the features of Rhapsody. When developers told them to get stuffed, Apple met them half-way. Heck, even recently, Apple changed it’s rules for subscriptions in order to get content developers on board.

    So the idea that the “killer app” can come along and lead a mass exodus away from Apple is questionable. What would have to happen is that iOS 5 becomes overwhelmed with killer apps coming up faster than Apple can handle. That’s going to take a lot more than 10,000 monkeys on typewriters.

  3. Kiwiiano says:

    I’m mystified that so many people are getting their togas in a tangle when FCPX is only just out. Did the earlier copies of FCP spontaneously combust the moment the new version came out? Were work flows thrown into total disarray across the planet? Did the Hollywood sign come crashing down into the valley below?

    How many FCP users actually HAD to buy a new copy of the program that week?

  4. BHZ says:

    build an idiot-proof system and only idiots will use it…

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