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.