NLE innovation - does Apple want to keep up?

Friday, 13 September 2013

This weekend sees many announcements at the IBC Show in Amsterdam. Another set of features and innovations that Apple will probably ignore, as they have been for many months. 

Ben Thompson has written an article about why Apple might deliberately limit its innovation.


He starts with the observation that although innovative companies may succeed for one generation of a technology, they are usually usurped by the next wave of innovators from the low end. Quoting an article on innovation:

Using the rational, analytical investment processes that most well-managed companies have developed, it is nearly impossible to build a cogent case for diverting resources from known customer needs in established markets to markets and customers that seem insignificant or do not yet exist

Some would say this is the way Apple captured some of the editing market from Avid using Final Cut Pro ten years ago. Avid would have noticed the DV market, but probably considered it merely a consumer techology - not one that pros would ever be interested in.

Thompson goes on to ask: How does Apple prevent others disrupting their markets?

Apple’s focus on user experience as a differentiator has significant strategic implications... when you consider other more traditional features, Apple has demonstrated a remarkable level of restraint. This especially has been the case in version 1.0 products...

The net result of these omissions is that Appleʼs version 1.0 product often falls significantly below the consumer preference line for traditional features, meaning that adding features is more likely to bring the product up to the consumer preference line… Moreover, those features are added relatively sparingly…

This creates a fascinating dynamic vis a vis the competition. The reason Apple can successfully launch products that lack seemingly critical features is because of the intense focus on the user experience; however, competitors usually view the lack of features as an opportunity and quickly launch products that seem similar but with better features. However, they rarely if ever match the Apple user experience and usually fail to compete successfully. Therefore competitor’s quickly iterate and launch new products with more features. This results in the competitorsʼ products quickly overwhelming customers with features…

That reminds me of the way Apple didn't introduce cut and paste in the first few versions of the iPhone OS, or multicam editing in the first release of Final Cut Pro X.

Apple's launch Final Cut Pro X probably has galvanised Adobe, Avid and Autodesk. If Apple had brought out Final Cut Pro 8 in 2011, I don't think Avid would have updated their software quite so often since then.

Apple don't act as if they are worried about the traditional 'A' vendors. It's as if Apple doesn't seem the 'As' as companies selling to the people they are interested in. 

Maybe they only recognise one competitor: Blackmagic Design - they seem the most Apple-ish of the NLE vendors. 

The Ben Thompson article I'm quoting from here was written in 2010: