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Apple lays off 40 from FCP team, My Take.

COW Blogs : 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.


Posted by: walter biscardi on Feb 20, 2010 at 12:41:50 pmComments (3) final cut pro, apple, nab

Comments

ooops
by Rob Grauert
"Except for 2000 and 2008, Apple has released a new version of Final Cut every year since. "

Oh, I didn't know that. I bought my first version of FCP in 2007 and used school's computer before then.
The GOOD news
by Tim Wilson
Rob, FCS 4 was released in July 2009. Except for 2000 and 2008, Apple has released a new version of Final Cut every year since. There are other companies who have shown themselves unable to safely keep up an annual schedule, but Apple has done pretty well.

I suspect that Walter is right, that the layoffs are among contractors whose work is complete, but I'm not sure it matters. As painful as it is for those being laid off, layoffs these days are often good news. The fact is that we aren't in a "tough" economy to be passed through. We're in a new economy, period, and the companies that will survive are the ones who adapt.

That said, not every company in every business will survive. That's the way it is. The nature of the new economy is that virtually nobody gets a free ride from general market conditions.

There are all kinds of downsides to this. Quality can suffer from smaller staffs, the wrong costs are often the first ones cut by clueless or panicky management, and inevitably, some people are cut who should stay, and too many who should go survive. Good companies fail.

Of course, this was true in even in previously sunny days, with one additional dynamic: weak companies got away with their bad habits for far longer than was good for anyone.

So, looking at the broader landscape, a small layoff from a large company, primarily from among contractors, and a return to the dominant release pattern - all of this indicates a company getting focused.

Good call, Wally.
really? FCP8?
by Rob Grauert
That would be crazy if Apple released FCS4 or FCP8. It seems like yesterday when they released FCS3 and FCP7


Professional Video Editor, Producer, Creative Director, Director since 1990.

Credits include multiple Emmys, Tellys, Aurora and CableAce Awards.

Creative Director for Georgia-Pacific and GP Studios, Atlanta. Former Owner / Operator of Biscardi Creative Media. The show you knew us best for was "Good Eats" on the Food Network. I developed the HD Post workflow and we also created all the animations for the series.

Favorite pastime is cooking with pizza on the grill one of my specialties. Each Christmas Eve we serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian seafood meal with approx. 30 items on the menu.

If I wasn't in video production I would either own a restaurant or a movie theater.

 




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