In January, 2007, just days before announcing the iPhone, Apple Computer dropped the word “computer” from its name. Pundits noted the passage though it didn’t seem like much at the time. But we were wrong. Apple had consciously and very deliberately entered a whole new era without our even noticing. It was a change toward phones and content distribution and away from computers. We couldn’t know it at the time but Apple was also forsaking the professional customers who had kept it alive in the company’s darkest days — those desktop publishers, artists, musicians, and moviemakers. Apple was no longer their company.

Mac sales today represent just under 24 percent of Apple revenue with 40 percent coming from the iPhone alone. Apple is a phone company that makes computers. It is also the largest music retailer in America and one of the largest video retailers. The implications of these changes are being felt throughout the company.

We will probably never again see a Mac Pro computer release on the Apple home page. In fact I expect this current Mac Pro form factor to be the last tower they make…… ever. The lineup will be iMac, Macbook Pro, Macbook, and Mac Mini. Firewire will die when USB 3.0 arrives, though I’d much prefer Apple embrace eSATA, but probably not.

USB 3.0 is a big deal for Apple because if you are going to embrace generic hardware that hardware had darned well better keep up with the competition. So the next generation of Macs will come with USB 3.0, from the top of the line to bottom. Apple simply can’t allow their competitors any significant lead in USB 3.0 deployment. Customers complaining that their daughter’s Dell has USB 3.0 and their MacBook Pro does not won’t be allowed to happen.

As for software in this emerging era, Final Cut Studio will run just fine on a quad iMac — well, most of it at any rate. Apple can work out the kinks once they decide how much they want to advance forward with the next version. What I wonder is whether that version will be more — or less — capable than the current?  Remember how they’ve dumbed down iMovie?  Expect more of the same.

For video users, Apple’s Intermediate Codec will go away in favor of editing AVCHD movies natively like iPhone 4 does already. Log and transfer will come with the choice of using ProRes transcoding or not in the next version of Final Cut Studio. Customers — the great unwashed masses of consumer and prosumer customers, not Hollywood — are tired of not being able to just plug in their camera, drag over their clips and go to work. iMovie will go AVCHD-native, too.

Apple is trying to push Final Cut Pro into a more consumer space. That’s clear from the video clip of Steve Jobs, above. Apple has been dropping their pro apps prices for a while and now we know why. Getting more and more individual users instead of enterprise users (organizations) is the goal. So as long as the Pro Apps can somehow mold to Jobs’s romantic ideal of a consumer user base, they get to stay. Otherwise, who knows? He likes FCP users as individuals but appears to no longer have any interest in production houses or TV stations.

They just aren’t his bag.