: walter biscardi's Blog
: Apple lays off 40 from FCP team, My Take.
“Apple lays off 40 people from the FCP development staff right before NAB 2010.
Is it doomed?”
“Apple has laid off many people involved in the development in FCP. Will FCP languish now?”
If it’s getting close to NAB, it must be time for the new “Final Cut Pro is going away” rumor to start. By now, anyone who works with Apple’s Final Cut Pro software has probably seen the “tweet heard ’round the world” that Apple has apparently laid off 40 people from the Final Cut Pro development team. So of course we have to have multiple threads appear in the Creative Cow’s forums where we have the expected “Is Final Cut Pro doomed?,” “Why would Apple kill the product?” entries.
Why? I mean seriously. Why? 40 people were laid off, and as well noted by Shane Ross in multiple threads on the Cow, the bulk of these people were external contractors, not Apple employees in Cupertino. And suddenly the sky is falling? Entire COMPANIES have disappeared over the past year, some really HUGE companies have flat out disappeared off the map and we’re all up in arms that a product might disappear because 40 people were apparently let go from Apple?
Now I’m not taking their layoff lightly. 40 qualified people were apparently let go and that’s never a good thing when people lose their jobs, especially in this economy.
But in terms of the product line, Final Cut Pro and the rest of Studio, I don’t see why people get so uptight when the read something like this. Do you really honestly think Final Cut Pro, or the rest of Studio, would simply vanish overnight due to the loss of 40 people? Do you really honestly have any idea how many people are ON the Final Cut Pro and Pro Apps team?
There’s three reasons I can see for this layoff to have occurred:
1) Apple is trimming the fat on this department. Final Cut Studio is only $999 and accounts for a small portion of Apple sales compared to the consumer products like iPhone, iPods, iMacs and MacBooks. There comes a point where cutbacks are necessary in personnel and a decision was made to release these 40 people.
2) Apple has completed a full re-write of the software package to make it fully 64 bit compliant and have released the team members no longer necessary for the new build. This is standard procedure from what I have gathered at many software and gaming companies where a team is built up for a major software title and then that team is pared back down when the job is completed. This is much like any television production or film project quite honestly. In my own company we have anywhere from 2 to 12 people working in my offices depending on the jobs in the shop at any given time.
3) Apple is considering the sale of the entire Final Cut Studio package to a 3rd party and have released these people ahead of the sale. See I just don’t believe Final Cut Studio would simply disappear, not with over 1 million registered users around the world. I do believe at some point Apple would consider the sale of Studio to a third party vendor and in my opinion it could be a good thing, particularly if this was a software centric company and not a hardware centric company. If you are only making the money off the software, then you have to be constantly pushing the limits of it and constantly updating / upgrading it to meet the user base demands. If you are simply using the software as a carrot to sell your hardware, then you can allow the software to lag a little behind in development so long as you keep the machines improving at a fairly rapid rate.
If I were to take a guess on the reality, my guess would be Number 2. The fact that these were apparently external people who were let go leads me to believe these were primarily Quality Control and Testing type of people. The folks who hammer on the software to check that it functions as expected and to catch as many bugs as possible before the product is released. They might have also been folks who were advocates for new features and such.
Do I have anything to go on besides my own intuition? Nope, just a guess on my part based on what little information we have available to us. If we see a Final Cut Studio 4 or a Final Cut Pro 8 at NAB, then we’ll know that was the case. As usual with Apple, we’ll all know the truth when we know.