Thursday, June 30, 2011 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Final Cut Pro X FAQ

Apple:

Can I purchase a volume license? Final Cut Pro X, Motion 5, and Compressor 4 Commercial and Education Volume Licensing will be available soon via the Apple Online Store for quantities of 20 or more. After purchasing, customers will receive redemption codes they can use to download the applications from the Mac App Store.

What about third-party developers?

17 Comments

Joel Bernstein

They can buy as many as they like

@Joel Not sure whether you’re being cute or whether my point wasn’t clear. What I meant was: what about third-party developers who want to offer volume or educational licensing? Apple gets to play by different rules.

"What about third-party developers?"

Hmm, have you seen the word "democracy" or "fairness" in the Mac App Store Guidelines?

bob, one of the unwritten rules of the relationship between Apple and third-party devs is that if Apple needs, for one of its applications, to develop new infrastructure, then they should provide this infrastructure to devs as e.g. as API; maybe only after a time of internal validation, but they eventually do (the other way round, they guarantee that they only publish APIs they use themselves). Maybe this is obsolete post-iPhone and App Stores, but then it needs to be replaced by a different one to prevent abuse similar to the infamous secret Windows APIs used by Office and others.

(devs can issue redemption codes, but only a limited number of them, and certainly not in exchange for money; note the volume licensing will be available through the *Apple Online Store*, and then the individual licenses can be redeemed on the *Mac App Store*)

"Maybe this is obsolete post-iPhone and App Stores, but then it needs to be replaced by a different one to prevent abuse similar to the infamous secret Windows APIs used by Office and others."

What on earth makes you think that Apple in the AppStoreMonster era isn't working off the exact same playbook that Microsoft was working off of in the late 1990's?

Apple's playbook in the AppStoreMonster era consists of a few core principles: openness is the enemy, middlewear is the enemy, lock-in is the holy grail, and commerce done on the box should be kicked up to the mothership. Does this remind anyone of the playbook used by a certain company based in Redmond during their moment of great dominance?

From the POV of Cupertino management, abuse is part of the gameplan, not something to be avoided.

Pierre,

"one of the unwritten rules"

unwritten stuff is not worth the paper it's not printed on.

"Maybe this is obsolete post-iPhone and App Stores, but then it needs to be replaced by a different one to prevent abuse similar to the infamous secret Windows APIs used by Office and others."

In case nobody noticed, we are right in the middle of it with the Mac App Store:

- Apple can use private APIs (it makes sense, it's theirs) but strictly prohibits 3rd party developers from using them on the Mac App Store.

- Apple can distribute an installer through the Mac App Store (e.g. Xcode 4). 3rd party developers are not.

- Apple can use custom looks on the Mac App Store to present its applications. Almost every 3rd party developers are not.

- Apple can reject applications that compete with its own products. But Apple can release applications that compete with 3rd party developer applications.

It's not the Mac App Store, it's the Apple App Store.

It is fine as long as 3rd party developers who do not want to distribute their applications through the Mac App Store can still have access to official APIs and OS services. Not sure iCloud is a move in the right direction regarding this.

My point, if I do have one, is that this is of concern to third-party developers even if they have no illusion of Apple being fair. Indeed, another issue this raises is that it will give users the perception that it is possible for third-parties to provide volume discount through the Mac App Store, when it is not in fact the case.

Also, Apple going full-on bad-old-days Microsoft is not a foregone conclusion: Apple relented on intermediate platform layers, and they did more recently on the most absurd requirements introduced along with subscriptions.

"Also, Apple going full-on bad-old-days Microsoft is not a foregone conclusion"

Agreed. The future is unwritten. But they seem to be intentionally wandering down a path that seems to end up there.

"Apple relented on ... the most absurd requirements introduced along with subscriptions."

Sure. But that's seems to be the house style these days, no? Grab ten and then magnanimously give back two upon protest. (That, perhaps, is what currently separates them from the Microsoft of the late '90's. Redmond was insistent on keeping all ten it had grabbed.)

"My point, if I do have one, is that this is of concern to third-party developers even if they have no illusion of Apple being fair."

But once you have no illusion of Apple being fair, then you are developing as a partner with a rapacious corporation worth more than oil companies, whose only concern is pleasing their stock holders over the next several quarters. Everything they do is a potential source of concern to both developers and customers.

Creating and maintaining an illusion of being fair, (most easily accomplished by actually being fair), is underrated in long-term business, and Apple's current focus risks that.

I think there are whole shades between being "merely" unfair and being a completely abusive partner. Maybe it is right that Apple has the intent of being the latter, I don't know; but it is not my opinion. And third-party App Store developers may be just pragmatic and not necessarily in an abusive relationship.

"third-party App Store developers may be just pragmatic and not necessarily in an abusive relationship."

Look, no doubt. It's a rock and a hard place situation, as I see it.

I understand why folks develop for the AppStoreMonster, just as I understood why folks developed for Windows when Microsoft was at its worst. Nothing wrong in doing so, just as long as your eyes are open.

And I'll all in favor of yours and Michael's expressed distaste on this one of the manifold manifestations of distasteful policy.

I'm just sayin' that this is what I expect these days.

"I think there are whole shades between being "merely" unfair and being a completely abusive partner."

Again, no doubt. The whole world is shades of grey. And, as stated, I think Apple is still less of an abusive partner and vendor than Microsoft was at its worst. But is AppStoreMonster really too far off the mark as a coinage? The entire philosophical underpinnings of the implementation seem pretty dark to me.

(And it is worth noting that until the dawn of the AppStoreMonster, Apple had created and maintained an incredibly strong illusion of being actually fair.)

So (and I hope Michael doesn't mind our natter in his blog comments) with the iPhone, then the iPhone SDK, Apple changed not only the game with regard to the mobile phone landscape, but also changed the relationship between platform holder, third-party developers, and users. In my opinion, some of that change was sorely needed. But thing is, most of the third-party developers have more self-reliance and independence spirit than a far west frontiersman, and see any such change as a threat. And part of this change indeed is, but other parts of that change will simply be how things are done from now on. So it's tempting to be blinded by the amount of change and see Apple as going the wrong path, but the truth is it's impossible to tell how much of that change is going down the wrong path and how much is going down the path of the future; only time will tell what's sustainable and what's not. So some of the stuff will remain, some of it Apple will realize is unsustainable by itself (or from developer feedback), and for some of it Apple will have its hand forced as a competitor will have success allowing something Apple has forbidden (currently, though, Android is mostly courting incumbents like carriers and Flash, and Apple does not feel threatened in that area, and the other competition doesn't register yet on Apple's radar).

So, is it what I expect from Apple? Yes, in a sense of "expecting", I expect there will be other distasteful edicts from Apple in the future, but I also expect better from Apple, and will express myself against such things I find unsustainable. I'd rather focus on what's sustainable for the ecosystem as a whole and what's not, as opposed to what is taking power away from developers, as let's face it, pretty much all the changes from Apple in the App Store Era have taken power away from developers; but it's hard to argue when this power has been to an extent given back to users, allowing ~200 million iOS customers to experiment with third-party software like never before, improving the ecosystem as a whole. On the other hand, it is important to argue when for instance the disruption to the developer/user relationship outweighs any advantage elsewhere (e.g. demos not allowed).

Heck, I'm sure Nintendo caught a lot of flack when they set up their seal of quality/proprietary cartridge/mandatory royalties system with the NES in 1985, but there is no question it was sorely needed after the crash of 1983. It got softened eventually (due among other things to run-ins with the regulators), and then adopted by basically everyone, despite the critics (I guess there are some who still criticise the system, but history went past them).

Oh, there is certainly a huge aspect of Apple-having-to-play-his-momma's-nice-little-boy-because-they-weren't-dominant-but-now-they-don't-have-to-anymore; that was kinda obvious when they tried to prohibit intermediate platform layers. You can almost feel the resentment from the Time They Had To Do So (and indeed they faked liking it pretty well at the time) in their philosophy (and as we know, this resentment leads somehow to the Dark Side in the end). But regardless of the dark underbelly of their intents, I know that they want to win even more, and they would rather cannibalize themselves rather than let anyone else do so (thus making sure the stagnation and politics that often afflicted Microsoft will be avoided). It will turn out that they will be vindicated on some of these things they resented doing, and in other cases it will turn out to be a necessary chore to do as a platform owner, even as the dominant one; what matters is that they realize which are the latter in time. Hence why we call attention to what we think is part of the latter.

And if ever Apple turns out to be too stubborn to stand, it will always be possible to switch to the best competitor, who will have to have its game be better than Apple's, so we lose nothing by enriching the Apple ecosystem (which is the bar by which all will be judged) in the meantime.

@Pierre and @Chucky, I don't mind at all.

"Heck, I'm sure Nintendo caught a lot of flack when they set up their seal of quality/proprietary cartridge/mandatory royalties system with the NES in 1985, but there is no question it was sorely needed after the crash of 1983. It got softened eventually (due among other things to run-ins with the regulators), and then adopted by basically everyone, despite the critics (I guess there are some who still criticise the system, but history went past them)."

I've got nothing against game consoles. iOS is a heckuva game console. Good for it.

My only real problem is that the game console model is very slowly but surely migrating to OS X.

And there was no crash to the OS X market that necessitated such measures. OS X is very slowly but surely moving to a game console model merely as collateral damage in Apple's drive to use their moment of dominance to embrace and extend lock-in the iOS ecosystem.

"And if ever Apple turns out to be too stubborn to stand, it will always be possible to switch to the best competitor, who will have to have its game be better than Apple's"

Sure. My only problem here is that OS X over the past decade was the bright, shining hope for a platform that was both open and easy to use. There are huge barriers to entry in creating a platform from scratch, and the other established player in Redmond has its own Cupertino-like concerns that may keep it from serving the market very well. (Though only time will tell on that count, and Microsoft's core respect for legacy is starting to look pretty damn intriguing to me moving forward.)

In short, market vacuums always present market opportunities, but a very long time can pass before those opportunities are taken advantage of.

-----

At the end of the day, I see OS X as a whole moving in an almost perfectly parallel direction as FCP. The "pro" market will simply be abandoned, with little notice or migratory paths. (Different issue than FCP volume licensing, but my hook nonetheless.)

"Simple things should be simple, complicated things should be possible" will be replaced with "Simple things should be simple, complicated things that 80% of people might want to do should be possible." And that's got core foundational problems as a philosophy for a general purpose computer platform, which brings us back to Mark Pilgrim's prediction...

How much these measures were needed can be discussed for years, as it's very subjective, but to me they were needed. It could probably have waited a few years on the Mac side, but might as well do it while it's hot from the iOS side. But regardless of how much or how little they are needed right now, the current free-for-all model of desktop computing is not sustainable in the long run. Not to say execution of code not signed by Apple should be disabled, but (to make an analogy that's worth what it's worth) most users should be expected to go to the local retail outlet selling safe goods, while only those who know what they are doing actually do buy (or rent), say, an excavator.

As long as one can build and execute one's own code and execute it, 100% things should be possible. The second Apple starts disallowing code they didn't sign on the Mac, I'm switching and contributing to Ubuntu.

Argh, "one's own code and *distribute* it"

"regardless of how much or how little they are needed right now, the current free-for-all model of desktop computing is not sustainable in the long run."

We seem to disagree on whether or not "general purpose computers" are sustainable in the long run. I think they are. You think they're not. We disagree.

I think there will be game consoles in the future, and there will be general purpose computers. There will be market niches for both.

You seem to think the future includes no "pro" market whatsoever accessible to the individual.

"The second Apple starts disallowing code they didn't sign on the Mac..."

But we're only a couple of hours ahead of that second ticking by on the clock. And you've determined to be an evangelist for the coming changes until the very second that ticks by, at which point you will be simply outraged.

Or, call me a cynic, but at that point you more likely explain how the changes are part of "the future", and can't be resisted. After all, why shouldn't Apple disallow code the didn't sign on the Mac? Seems to be working just fine at the moment on iOS. And might as well as do it while it's hot from the iOS side, right?

It's all very subjective whether the gear you run belongs to you or Apple, no? Whether or not your data belongs to you or Apple is immensely subjective. Whether developers can work for themselves instead of working for Apple can be discussed for years. We all have our opinions. After all, the feudal system from the medieval period offered many advantages to its participants, and whether or not it was a better system than a democratic market system is merely subjective. Everyone has an opinion.

[...] really more like 5–6 years, but the point stands. Of course, Intuit is not the only company to replace an important work product with a new one that’s missing features and can’t [...]

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