Why We’re Switching From Macs

Mac or PC?

This is a debate that I’ve been having with people ever since high school, back when Apple was a company on the verge of getting completely buried by PCs, when they actually (briefly) allowed other companies to clone their computers, and when a bizarre looking candy-colored all-in-one desktop machine was almost too radical an idea.

Since the moment Steve Jobs took back the reins of his company, much has changed. Apple went from total underdog to arguably the single most influential company in the home computing game. And while every iDevice that comes out spawns a slew of imitators, their focus on those devices makes pro users kinda wonder what’s down the road.

Apple has repeatedly stated that they’re not abandoning their pro users, but I think they are. Their actions speak louder than words.

Macs ARE PCs

For the longest time, Macs used PowerPC processors. Then, in 2005, they switched over to Intel processors, which is pretty much the equivalent of holding a pride parade at the Westboro Baptist Church. What this means is, for all intents and purposes, there’s really no significant differences between Macs and PCs (back in the day, there were all sorts of PowerPC vs. Intel charts and debates – no more).

In addition, with Boot Camp, you can install Windows on any Mac. And if you play your cards right, you can Hackintosh a Windows PC to run OS X as well. For the most part, the operating systems can be pretty interchangeable.

Hardware wise, we’re working with basically the same internals. The key difference here is that you can get an equivalent powered computer that’s a PC at a much lower price than a Mac.

This is, of course, assuming you’re willing to learn how to build your computer, which is a skillset that seems to be slowly becoming what “learning how to take apart an internal combustion engine” was for my generation. Luckily for us, we’re nerdily inclined, so we are comfortable with that prospect.

But let’s say we weren’t. Even going to a custom PC manufacturer who would have a healthy markup on a custom PC (say, OriginPC’s Genesis Pro Workstation) and comparing it to a comparable in price Mac Pro (in this case, it would be the low-end $2499 Mac Pro) yields some interesting results. Long story short, even in this case, the edge goes to the PC as far as bang for your buck is concerned – they’re pretty close across the board but the Genesis is a couple hundred bucks cheaper and has a faster processor (OC’d).

In my opinion, the only place that Apple still trumps PCs on a hardware front are their Macbooks. One day, I think, a PC manufacturer will make a notebook that doesn’t feel like a total piece of crap, but until that day, I really like the way the Macbooks are put together. Expensive? Yes. But you also get a really well put together piece of hardware.

What about software?

This is where things get tricky. Apple’s Final Cut Pro 7 was woefully out of date by the time Final Cut X came out. Premiere had the ability to playback and edit h.264 files and more in real time without the need to transcode. Final Cut X was a sorely needed update.

People who followed the release of that piece of software will remember the outcry from the professional community. What happened to multicam!? OMF export!? The response was not good.

Here’s what I’m 99% sure happened:

If you really play around with Final Cut X, there’s some really fantastic stuff in there, especially surrounding the editing process. The whole program screams of speed due to a ground-up code rewrite. The way timelines are handled, the wealth of keyboard shortcuts, the snappiness of it all – everything suggests that they were on track to create a truly pro editing system for the 21st century.

But there’s a slew of bizarre features and omissions. There are a lot of features straight from iMovie – stuff like the way you export, the file/project hierarchy. In some ways it felt like a major step forward, and in others, it felt like many steps back.

I think Apple was on track to develop Final Cut X as a proper, honest-to-goodness, fully featured pro editing application that would’ve blown Premiere, Avid, and any other editor straight out of the water. But at some point in that development process, word came from on high to change it up – to make the program appeal to a broader spectrum of users.

Hence that’s why Final Cut X feels like it’s part iMovie, part Final Cut. Thing is – their strategy worked – they’ve sold more copies of Final Cut X than they have Final Cut 7. And while they’re still putting back features that pros are demanding, I think it’s clear that those re-additions are afterthoughts.

Frankly, it just doesn’t feel like their heart is in the pro game anymore. They make a superior phone, tablet, and laptop. They don’t need pro apps or pro computers for their business to function. Take a look at their pro software lineup – they’ve basically dropped Logic, Shake, Color, and they’ve gutted Final Cut Pro. They’re not coming back.

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