Final Cut Pro X: the Android of NLEs

Monday, 10 August 2015

The choice of which video editing application to use shouldn’t be based on market share. You should choose the tool that fits you best. 

However some people find comfort in choosing popular tools - especially when it comes to hiring editing talent. On high-end jobs the ability to fire staff is important too, which you can only do if there are talented people to replace them.

As to what are the market shares of Media Composer, Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere might be, none of the NLE vendors regularly reports on sales, all anyone can do is make guesses.

Reading this article by Horace Dediu on smartphone switching prompted me to see some parallels in the NLE market:

Apple may have also lost a few users to Android but overall gained switchers from other platforms, mainly Android. This is what would support Tim Cook’s comments.

Thinking further ahead, as the markets mature globally, they may well evolve into the way the US market evolves today. Apple’s brand promise ensures loyalty while competing platforms slowly “leak” users. If this sounds eerily familiar then you’d be right. This is exactly how the PC market behaves today.

My first thought was that Final Cut Pro X is iOS in this story. However, this article is about those switching from and to iOS, Android, Windows Phone and not having a smartphone.

Perhaps Avid is like Blackberry, established users are sticking with it because of its business support and traditional business use. Windows Phone is like Final Cut Pro 8 - if Apple had brought out a more modern version of an established application.

Most established editors are probably switching to Adobe - as it offers an Apple-like walled garden of a complete solution but doesn’t require them to change too much.

Most Final Cut Pro X users are switching from not having edited before - just as most Android users are switching from not having had a smartphone before. Experienced editors might also consider X as the application that people who “who don’t know any better” would choose.

In case of these competing NLEs, which one is likely to ‘leak’ users? What makes a platform leaky?

Switching isn’t just down to price, it’s down to the whole experience. As it is inconvenient, there have to be very good reasons to switch. Those switching to iOS from Android find the Apple brand promise appealing.

I think Apple consider that video editing is an untapped market, whereas professional video editing isn't. For an NLE to do well, they should go after both markets.

That means once the Final Cut Pro X users who were new to editing get comfortable, Adobe must entice them over to Creative Cloud.

Conversely Apple must also convince people who help Adobe Premiere ‘free’ with Adobe Photoshop to try a video editing tool they have to pay for, and that is less well integrated with the tools they use already.

I’m looking forward to those Adobe and Apple case studies.