Apple’s OS X Lion has launched out of gate with already a better reaction than Apple’s previous release, Final Cut Pro X, which hit the entertainment industry below the belt. For those of us with a reserved perspective on upgrading and purchasing of new software, we are not too keen on the idea of immediate upgrade for our current operating systems. Is this a bad thing? In my opinion, absolutely not. When we look at the histories of some of the most influential “tech” companies we see plenty of situations where products get released before they are “consumer ready.” Apple had issues with its iPhone’s when they first released each new generation; yellowing screens, poor service reception, and of course the infamous “Deathgrip” design of iPhone 4. Many other companies follow in suit of these dilemmas, so it’s important not to regard Apple solely as a company having issues with their products as some would compare how far that company has grown since the birth of the iPod.

But a question I have been receiving a lot lately from friends, colleagues, and co-workers is “should we be more reserved into the purchases of products right from their launch?” My thoughts are yes. My answer is more complex, however. Many are beginning to argue the demise of Apple products – that quantity is taking precedence over quality. Like any other corporation this thought process is not axed from probability, but we want and hope for the best. If we look into the past history of multi-billion dollar corporations many have a downfall after their peak. Sony products were in their peak in the 80’s and 90’s to the point where their stereo and TV components were considered the best in the industry; today, many would say otherwise. Samsung has taken the TV industry by storm. Stereo components have gone up and down like a rollercoaster due to the advancement of digital technology and the birth of portable sound. JBL has been sold and transitioned so many times along with Altec Lansing, just to name some of the former outstanding performance audio companies. More of us listen to music in front of our computer, iPod, or car, as opposed to the good old days when analog stereos and uncompressed analog audio was the only choice of listening to music the “proper” way. So it’s truly hard to get a read on products because companies have such a diverse customer base. The best bet during this day and age is to wait, wait, and wait longer. But how long is too long? Days? Months? Weeks? Years? Well, years are out of the question due to the non-stop out-dating of products only after a few months of release. Each waiting period truly depends on the company and the product.

For consumer customers, which make up the majority of the world, waiting is not a major issue – but it could be a smarter option to ensure a product is worth its retail price. It truly is in the eye of the beholder. However, for those of us purchasing for use in the arts, trades, and career work we have many hurdles to clear.

For those of us who work in media, animation, web, video, audio, production, print, and even programming we have a lot more to worry about than just the upgrade of our systems and their components. Due to Apple’s digression of their products many of our third party software creators do not have the opportunity to prepare their programs for the immediate update, therefore putting us at high risk of inconsistency of performance in any of our aforementioned trades. This is a widespread problem for all those working with third party devices and software. Apple’s Final Cut Pro X is (currently) not a wise decision clearly for anyone working in the A/V field due to the fact that if you’re currently an FCP user with clientele currently in works you’re putting yourself at high risk for incomplete projects. Since FCP X is not compatible with previous project file formats or other software and doesn’t operate anywhere near to the industry standard we have no smart choice but to wait for a proper update or switch to another NLE (non-linear editing) software. You end up using a software that forces your other programs to be obsolete (when they really aren’t, they’re just not usable with your backbone software). The question arises “Do I want to stick with this new software and not use the other thousands on dollars in software I own? OR… Do I want  to continue to do things the way I designed them to work in my  personal workflow that has been consistent across the board and throughout the industry?” Many of us don’t want to accept that following the suit of a Corporate Industry is right… but when it comes to money and efficiency sometimes it is the  smart choice. Especially when we’re bound by restraints of file formats, performance, and hardware. There are too many holes and expenses in technology to  go rogue and possibly tarnish a career or develop financial debt that will complete squash someone in this field. Change will come. When it’s ready.

This same idea applies to those of us considering the update to Mac OS X Lion. It’s smart to wait and see what happens with this update and wait for our third party software to catch up to speed. If you’re now an FCP X prophet then you have no choice but to update since your program requirements were OSX lion to begin with. But don’t expect the transition to be too easy. It won’t help you with your other software especially if your still on CS2 (and, if you are, then it’s time to upgrade) because Rosetta is no longer supported on OS X Lion. Your older Adobe suites from CS2 will most likely not be compatible according to Adobe. However cs5 will be compatible, but it is currently not. Some programs work better than others, but there are still some bugs to be worked out. And since its only day two of the release… not all the bugs have even been discovered.

In conclusion to this blog to all those asking about Lion and the fields you share with me… my advice is to wait. Lion isn’t going anywhere and neither is Apple. You’re not gaining much in processing power and speed by this upgrade. Instead, you’re rushing a tedious update that’s a complete birth and lead into the changing of your whole interface. And as stated above… the software is not ready for it. Check your software creators for an update daily and view their websites for a complete list of the error messages or issues you will face with an update and see what’s worth it for you. Until then use caution when you consider upgrading your career components.

Thanks for reading. Email me with comments, suggestions, or even links to add that support this widespread thesis.

Michael Belardi
Post-Production Supervisor