Last week Apple released an update to their desktop operating system OSX. The update included a brand new image application. The app, simply named ‘Photos’ is essentially a replacement for iPhoto with an interface almost identical to its mobile iOS counterpart.
Perhaps more interesting is Apple’s simultaneous removal of the professional grade photo editing and management program “Aperture” from the app store. The move forced long time users of the application to try out ‘Photos’ and discover how woefully inadequate it was for their needs.
Photographers are not without options though, with many flocking to the Adobe program ‘Lightroom.’ Of course video producers and filmmakers are likely to remember another time where Apple’s software decisions sent long time users rushing to another Adobe product.
I personally grew up using Windows machines, and I still know the ins and outs of Windows XP like the back of my hand. In film school though I was introduced to Mac’s. We edited on Final Cut Pro on iMac’s and I remember collaborating with students in other art departments as well as the journalism department who all worked on iMacs.
It was around that time that I bought my first mac, a refurbished MacBookPro and I’ve used MacBookPro’s as my primary system ever since. I came to love the elegance of the system, and Final Cut was an Apple only product, making it a real selling point to counter the high price.
Then Final Cut X happened.
The simplified, iMovie like interface was a stark change from the complexity of FCP7. More importantly though was the removal of a slew of features necessary to professionals using the software. The result was a mass exodus of power users onto other systems. As time has gone on FCX has slowly rebuilt itself, but the damage to pro users was done.
Over this same time frame Apple has undergone some significant changes. It became the largest company in the world. Steve Jobs passed away and Tim Cook took over as CEO. Their most significant products became smart phones, tablets, and soon watches. They are the luxury fashion brand of the modern age – to the point that they have now dropped the ‘computer’ from their original, ‘Apple Computers’ company name.
With iOS drawing so much water in the company we’ve begun to see the lines between OSX and iOS merge. The latest mac operating system has mobile and desktop applications working hand in hand. In the case of Photos, they seem virtually identical, with the simplified mobile interface overtaking the more robust, task oriented interface typical of desktop programs.
Meanwhile updates to the new, trash can shaped, Mac Pro have been few and far between. The support for such high priced hardware has been severely lacking.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that professionals and power users are no longer a priority for the company. Where once Apple was known as the company that makes computers for artists and professionals, they now make fancy gadgets priced just under the average middle class tax return.
The point is professionals are not their market any more. There is significantly less money in pro gear and pro apps than there is in literally everything else. With platform agnostic companies like Adobe stepping in to fill the void on the software end it is only a matter of time before customers stop seeing the benefit of a Mac system.
A Mac hardware set up is significantly more expensive than an equally powerful Windows system. With the new Windows 10 on the way it could be a very tempting value proposition to groups of users who very recently would never have considered leaving the Apple eco-system.
Once the pro level customers start to abandon Apple it will only be a matter of time before the company stops catering to that market segment entirely. As a company that’s always seemed to be one step ahead of what their customers want Apple may just pull the plug before that happens.