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Wednesday, May 19, 2010, 04:00 pm PT (07:00 pm ET)

Professional Final Cut Pro users worried about upcoming changes

Final Cut Pro users are upset at the prospect of Apple tailoring its upcoming releases to fit the majority of its users, who are increasingly a prosumer audience.

The MacCreate blog noted the discontent, and contacted Apple to obtain an assurance that the company would not abandon its professional users, even as it refocused its video editing suite to fit where its revenues were coming from.

The site reportedly received an official comment stating, "Final Cut Pro is the first choice for professional video editors and we’ve never been more excited about its future. The next version of Final Cut is going to be awesome and our pro customers are going to love it."

Apple's response was apparently originally directed to CNET, which reported in a post by Jim Dalrymple that any efforts to retarget Final Cut Pro to match the needs of its actual audience "would mean Apple would target customers moving to Final Cut Studio from the company's more basic iMovie application, instead of continuing to offer more high-end features designed for video professionals."

Dalrymple's conclusion was not based on anything reported by AppleInsider, nor are the prosumers who buy Final Cut Express or Studio likely to be using iMovie or expecting an iLife-style app.

Dalrymple also speculated that, due to the presence of iMovie and Final Cut Express, "the Final Cut team should be free to concentrate on more high-end features." The information provided to AppleInsider by person with inside knowledge of Apple's plans does not support Dalrymple's speculation.

Too early to worry

The fact the Apple’s Professional Applications Design Group is still hiring a Senior Visual Interface Designer and Senior Human Interface Designer to help design future iterations of its "high-visibility applications that are used daily by creative professionals working in post-production," as reported by AppleInsider last week, makes it clear that the work on Final Cut's future direction is both still under way and still targeted to serve the needs of professionals.

At the same time, the role of Final Cut Pro to sell high end Macs or to earn substantial software revenues is clearly changing, both as high end Mac sales remain largely static and as the price of Final Cut Studio has dropped.

Apple still maintains a strong position among serious professionals however, with a 2007 SCRI study indicating that Final Cut Pro had a 49% share of the US professional editing market, compared to with Avid's 22% share. A 2008 survey by the American Cinema Editors Guild said that 21% of their members were Final Cut Pro users (a figure growing from previous surveys) while the rest were using Avid.

The changes Apple makes to its $1,000 Final Cut Studio package will certainly take into account the needs of its existing user base, and will assuredly not introduce the type of drastic changes Apple made to its largely free iMovie title in 2007.