Product naming going wrong, case: Apple Final Cut Pro X.

Since 2005 Apple has sold a professional video and audio production suite for OS X named Final Cut Studio. The core product inside this suite is Final Cut Pro, a video editing product. It has been around since 1999 and is used by many filmmakers.

A couple of weeks ago Apple launched the long-awaited successor of Final Cut Pro 7, called Final Cut Pro X.

Here is a test for all readers… by just looking at the name and without possibly any prior knowledge of Final Cut Pro…  what would you expect of Final Cut Pro X as a successor of Final Cut Pro 7 ?

Could it be: everything from version 7 and much much much more… including some super new innovations in video editing (why otherwise use the X in the name)? This expectation building was happening inside the community. To sum it up with two words, the expectation was nothing less than total awesomeness.

Apple however decided to do things differently. They build Final Cut Pro X from the ground up as a new product, leaving many features desired by the Final Cut Pro 7 audience out. To name a few: importing of video projects from version 7 to X does not work (hey? why do you call it still Final Cut Pro if it cannot handle Final Cut Pro files?), multicam editing (hey? isn’t this a Pro feature?) and many more.

Professional editors get even more the feeling that this is not a Pro product when they launch Final Cut Pro X for the first time. At that time a dialog is presented to import iMovie projects. iMovie is Apple’s entry video editing product that is part of iLife. Products considered to be used in the home environment, not by professionals…

As a result of all of this the product is rated really bad on the Apple Mac App Store. And note, consumers can only rate after they purchased the USD 299 product:

For any Apple product these are not normal ratings, far from it! So the question is could it be that the name positions the product wrong? I think partly it is. Let’s take a look:

  1. A name has a meaning. There is Photoshop CS3, CS4, CS5. A consumer expects all of these to be photoshop. The same applies for Final Cut Pro. Unfortunately Final Cut Pro X has little or nothing to do with the previous Final Cut Pro 7.
  2. Do not alienate your target audience. Clearly, for whatever reason Apple is not after the professional market and that is of course totally fine. But it is not smart to let your previous target audience believe you still make a great product for them. In stead, Apple could have simply named the product iMovie Pro as many have suggested on their product reviews on the Apple Mac App Store. That way it would have been clear to the professional market that they should switch to another brand, without letting them buy Final Cut Pro X and be double disappointed. At the same time not naming the product Final Cut Pro would show to the professional consumer that there now is a product beyond iMovie that is not as hard to use as Final Cut Pro was. Something Apple clearly wants to achieve.

Take a look at the two reviews below. These reviews were served first when searching for Final Cut Pro X on July 19.

The big questions: would all of this have been different if the product was called “iMovie Pro”?
… And by doing so would the one star ratings go away?
… Would the endless complaining about the Final Cut Pro X not being the same as Final Cut Pro 7 go away?
Ultimately: would the product have been positioned correctly by naming it properly?
Screenshot from July 19, click to enlarge

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