Apple is profiting at the expense of our stupidity.
Yes, stupidity. Consumers have been a little too excited about Apple’s products lately, and the company is more than happy to take advantage of that.
Earlier this month it was revealed that Hewlett-Packard must sell seven computers to equal the profits that Apple earns from just one Mac.
This is where Apple’s nickel-and-diming begins, but it is not where it ends.
To Be Fair, Hewlett-Packard’s Computers Are Absolute Crap
It’s true what they say: you get what you pay for. While it isn’t always wise to assume that the most expensive item is the best one available, Hewlett-Packard desktops and laptops are some of the cheapest and weakest machines on the market. They are built very cheaply, they are prone to severe quality issues, and they fall apart more easily than most other Windows machines.
Taking that into consideration, it’s no wonder the company has to sell seven machines to earn as much money as Apple makes selling one Mac.
Still, there is something seriously wrong with this picture. Hewlett-Packard laptops aren’t seven times cheaper than a MacBook or MacBook Pro; if they were, consumers might be more willing to embrace their shortcomings. Meanwhile, Apple doesn’t charge several hundred dollars more than Hewlett-Packard because its MacBooks cost several hundred dollars more to manufacture. Rather, Apple charges more because it knows that it has produced a product that consumers view as a “premium” item.
(Our) Stupidity is Surprisingly Profitable (To Them)
Last fall, Nintendo – the Apple of the video game world – got a little cocky and told Bloomberg Japan that the Nintendo 3DS was priced higher at ¥25,000 (and $250.00 in the U.S.) partly because of the positive consumer reaction to the device. While Apple isn’t foolish enough to make a similar remark, you can bet that its strategy isn’t all that different from Nintendo’s: the more we crave a particular product, the higher the price we’ll see at retail.
Forced Upgrades and Gargantuan Gimmicks
If you’ve read this far down, you must either (A) be in agreement with at least some of what I’m saying, or (B) plan to argue against my editorial by posting a comment at the end. If the latter is your goal, that’s OK – I can live with your complaints. Despite my disgust with Nintendo’s cockiness, I still bought a Nintendo 3DS. And despite my belief that Apple is charging much more than it has to, I own many of the company’s products and plan to purchase others in the future.
Regardless, there’s no denying one thing: Apple is out to screw to consumers for what it believes to be the greater good. This was proven the moment the company released Final Cut Pro X, a dummied down sequel to its professional video editing software. The new Final Cut has received nothing but complaints, partially because of its odd control scheme (FCPX is closer to iMovie than the original Final Cut), but mostly because it removed several features from the last iteration, Final Cut Pro 7.
In response to user complaints, Apple announced that it would “restore” some of the missing features every six months. The company did not say if it would charge for the restoration, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that they will all be free.
Thus, if you want a broken version of Final Cut, you can get that now for $299.99. Motion and Compressor retail for $49.99 each, so you’ll have to spend $400 for the full package. I expect the first update or two to be free, but after that, plan on shelling out another $50 to $100 to acquire features you once had with Final Cut Pro 7. When all is said and done, you will have spent several hundred dollars and waited several months (if not years) to get a downloadable version of Final Cut Pro X that vaguely resembles the older software you purchased several years ago.
If that’s not the very definition of nickel-and-diming consumers, then I don’t know what is.
And The Greater Good is…?
Apple seems to think that by designing a video editing tool that anyone and their brother (and their brother’s lazy friend) can use, it will sell millions of copies and turn the world into Mac-using indie filmmakers. But that isn’t going to happen. We already have a program for that – it’s called iMovie. Killing the Final Cut Pro brand now in an attempt to build it up later with new consumers is arguably the biggest mistake Apple has ever made.
This move ensures that Avid will retain its status as the industry leader (while films like The Social Network were edited on Final Cut Pro 7, most movies and TV series are edited with Avid). It also ensures that when filmmakers want a cheaper alternative, they will look to the various offerings from Adobe and Sony.
Want Final Cut Pro 7? Too Bad
Apple could remedy this whole mess by throwing Final Cut Pro 7 onto the App Store. The company could spin this decision by saying that Final Cut Pro X is now the “eXpress” version of Final Cut, and that FCP7 will continue the true Final Cut legacy. Apple could sell each Final Cut Studio program individually, allowing users to buy FCP7 for a fraction of the full Studio price.
Sadly, this is only wishful thinking. Apple has taken Final Cut Studio – and all of its contents – off the market. In addition to being removed from Apple’s own site, Final Cut Studio has now disappeared from bhphotovideo.com, one of the leading retailers for professionals in the film industry.
The Silver Lining
When I first heard that Final Cut Studio had been discontinued, I was furious – not just with Apple but with myself. “Why didn’t I buy it when I had the chance?” I wondered.
Bu I have since realised that this was for the best. By waiting as long as I did to acquire Final Cut, I had the luxury of learning one very sad truth. While it is safe to buy an iPod, iPad or MacBook without fearing that they will soon be obsolete, it is no longer safe to purchase a “professional” piece of software from Apple.
If I had already acquired Final Cut Studio, I’d be royally screwed right now. Final Cut Studio does not have a future. It won’t be upgraded, which means it won’t be able to support future file formats, or contain the new features that filmmakers crave. It is, in essence, as dead as Final Cut Pro X.
How sad that I consider this to be the “silver lining” in this whole mess. If only other video editors were equally as lucky.
— Louis Bedigian