NAB: Apple's Final Cut push hints imminent new Mac Pro launch

The Ishtar-inspired Easter festival is upon us and other than taking care there's no palm oil in those chocolate eggs, most folks are kicking back to relax -- with the possible exception of Apple's [AAPL] Final Cut team beginning a marketing blitz for NAB next week -- might this also include introduction of a new Mac Pro?

Apple NAB Final Cut push, Mac Pro imminent?

[ABOVE: In latest Final Cut X update, Apple introduces support for Sony's XAVC format, among other enhancements.]

Focus on pro markets

Apple updated Final Cut this week, introducing many more of the new features (listed here) the company was lambasted for missing out on the software's original release, when a tirade of criticism broke against Apple's then sturdy storm walls.

Apple listened to its critics and promised to improve its industry-standard pro video application. To be fair, the company has kept this promise through a series of updates since its 2011 introduction.

The software is now not only significantly faster than the previous version (7), but also equipped with some of the most important tools professional video editors had complained were missing in its original release.

The message here is pretty clear: Apple keeps its promises. (Apple has also promised to improve Maps and is currently recruiting yet more staff in order to improve the accuracy of its service.)

The latest Final Cut update appears a few days before the world's biggest video industry trade show, NAB, opens its doors. The software patch also comes as the company begins a new marketing effort to promote the software, publishing a series of user videos in which professionals talk about Final Cut.

"… Apple is aware of the damage it caused at the launch, to point out the things that it is doing to repair the damage, and to clearly state that Apple feels Final Cut Pro X is ready for professional use, as illustrated by the customers that are using it today," writes Final Cut expert, Larry Jordan.

[ABOVE: When launched, Final Cut X spawned deep resentment among some pro users -- some even parodied an Apple ad to vent their dissent.]

Speedy software, but where's the hardware?

One featured user, Julian Liurette, works for the Toronto Globe and Mail, they say: "It's better [than the preceeding version] on all fronts. Its interface is 100 times more interesting. And it's much, much faster."

Speed seems to be a central plank to Apple's argument for Final Cut -- this begs the question: Where is the speedy Mac to run the software on? I've spoken with numerous video editors who use the MacBook Pro for their Final Cut missions, but when it comes to more intense editing work the Mac Pro has traditionally been the top choice.

Apple's most powerful Mac hasn't been updated in what feels like years and years and years. (OK, not since 2010, which in Internet time is the equivalent of at least a decade).

Apple has promised to address this. A note from Apple CEO, Tim Cook, last year, reassured pro users the company was: "Working on something really great for later next year."

What better time to introduce "something great" for pro users than in or around NAB?

Just last month, a French Apple reseller told customers: "Apple informs us that the new Mac Pro will be released in Spring 2013." It makes sense to introduce a new model soon as the company has been forced to remove its existing Mac Pro from sale in Europe by law.

Time to display?

Once a new Mac Pro does appear, it also makes sense for Apple to move toward introduction of new Thunderbolt-equipped 4K displays to accompany the release -- perhaps including 30-inch configurations, potentially featuring the same IGZO displays the company is expected to use within any future Apple television product.

Apple has another professional application of use to video and audio creatives: Logic Pro Studio 9, a product that hasn't seen a version upgrade since launch in 2009. Once again, Apple's made a promise to address this, a note from Apple's music product marketing chief, Xander Soren, promised: "I want to assure you the team is still in place and hard at work on the next version of Logic Pro."

Apple's move to put some marketing clout behind Final Cut suggests it's getting ready for a wider push at its pro markets (which of course also includes Aperture for photographers). In the event such a push does begin, then it seems likely the firm will soon promote an all-new configuration of MacPro with new audio software later this year.

The company really needs to do this, or risk losing its hard-won space in the pro markets. (I don't accept that Apple isn't interested in the pro markets merely because of its focus on mobile devices.)


"You really have to be so fed up with Apple that you're going to run into the arms of a Windows environment," video producer Lou Borella said, but warned that Apple is on the brink of that happening with pros if the next model is not a hit. "If Apple doesn't release a machine that's close to what we're all hoping for, all of us are going to have to seriously consider making the jump."

With its recently-updated Final Cut and the imminent launch of new Mac Pro configurations and Logic software, Apple appears to be working to ensure pro users don't take that jump.

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