Final Cut vs. Avid Redux
Digitalfilms by Oliver Peters

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People like competition for its own sake, so the NLE argument – just like other platform wars – never dies. In the past year, Apple and Avid have broken new ground with very solid updates to their flagship editor applications. Apple with its introduction of the “new” Final Cut Studio, featuring Final Cut Pro 7 – and Avid, first with Media Composer 3.5 and now 4.0.

A market share tally

Apple claims 1.3 million licensed Final Cut users, however, this figure includes all Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express and Final Cut Studio licenses since day one, excluding upgrades. One research study pointed to 47% market share for Apple and 22% for Avid a couple of years ago. Recently Apple execs indicated to me that FCP has now passed the 50% mark for all new NLE sales. If the figure of 1.3M licensed users represents nearly 50% of the total market, then this means that Avid must have between 400,000 and 600,000 systems (all products) out in the field worldwide.

Although this would seem to give Apple the lead in the NLE wars, one must understand that the Final Cut world is heavily skewed with a wide range of amateur users – students, hobbyists and non-editing video professionals who occasionally do some of their own “hands on” cutting. I think that it’s fair to say that a greater percentage of Avid users are professional editors. It’s my observation that broadcast news and traditional (major studio) film and television show post is dominated by Avid NLEs. In contrast, the boutique editing world of small and medium markets has shifted in favor of Apple’s Final Cut. In all likelihood, the number of users who make a living with either Final Cut or Avid (Media Composer/NewsCutter/Symphony plus Avid DS) is probably fairly even. read more...


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