Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro's iPad subscription pricing is simultaneously terrific and terrible
A bargain but only if you don't use the apps for very long.
It's something that the creatives among us have been crying out for in recent years and it's finally here — Final Cut Pro is on the iPad. And as an added bonus, so is Logic Pro as well.
Both apps look pretty terrific and there is plenty to get excited about. We'll have to wait until May 23 to be able to test either of them out for ourselves of course. But as with so many things Apple, the good news is still somehow tinged with controversy — and I don't mean the fact you'll need one of the best iPads if you want to use some of the best features.
Why? Because Apple's pro-level apps have a pricing structure that some might not have expected. They have a subscription model and one that somehow manages to be both terrific and terrible at the same time.
It's so CHEAP
First, the good news. Anyone who has previously looked at the Mac versions of Final Cut Pro ($299) and Logic Pro ($199) and thought that they looked cool but too expensive now has a chance to try them out on their iPad. There's a free trial, and after that free trial, the apps will cost very little.
At least, they will initially.
Apple says that Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for iPad will have a free one-month trial that turns into a $4.99 per month subscription. Want to pay annually? No problem, that's $49 per year.
Both are prices very reasonable indeed and definitely a big improvement over the outlay that was (and still is) required to get into either app on the Mac.
The lower barrier to entry has the potential to be a huge deal for budding videographers and musicians who want to be able to use pro-level tools without paying pro-level prices. Yes, by App Store standards the $49 a year can seem a lot. But it really isn't. Especially considering what you're getting for your money.
It's so EXPENSIVE
But this is where things get a bit weird. Because while $49 a year isn't bad, and $299 and $199 are a lot, there's actually a good chance that you'll pay more than you would if you just bought the apps outright.
Now I know that we're comparing Mac and iPad apps here, but that's all we have to go on and I have a feeling things will change on the Mac side soon enough (I'll get to that later). But people tell me that they bought Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro years ago. Years and years ago, in fact. And they haven't been charged any other kind of fee since.
With no upgrade fees, people felt comfortable spending big sums because they knew they would get years of use out of those apps. And free updates to boot.
Now look at the iPad situation.
$49 per year is still a great deal. But after four years you're going to continue paying that $49 each and every year. If Apple charged you $200, you'd be done. So really, which way is best?
Welcome to subscriptions
This is the subscription situation in a nutshell and the paid update scenario is what makes or breaks the whole argument. Most developers charge for major updates which makes subscriptions more palatable. Realistically, for a lot of those developers, the updates wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for the recurring revenue of a subscription in the first place.
But Apple broke all of that by never charging for updates and, as a result, the one-time payment is probably better for a lot of people.
Except, it isn't better for everyone. Those who couldn't pay upfront would never get the apps in the first place and now, on the iPad, they can do that for $4.99 per month. That's a huge deal and a big win. And ideally, Apple would offer both payment options just as so many third-party developers already do.
Over to you, Mac
The next question is an obvious one. Where does this all leave the Mac?
Now that Apple has tested the water with subscription-based Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro for iPad, surely it's only a matter of time before we see the Mac apps go the same way. Ideally, I'd like to see a single subscription that gets you either app on both platforms under one subscription, and maybe that'll come. But for now, I think it's unlikely that a pay-once option is long for this world.
And whether that's a good thing or not will, as we've just discussed, very much depend on who you are.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.