But now both Microsoft (Vista photo management) and Apple (Aperture) are gunning for them. Astoundingly, Adobe, long known for their arrogance and dislike of customers, has launched an open beta of an Aperture rival: Adobe Labs - Project: Lightroom.
It looks like it came with their Macromedia acquisition. I'll wait to hear from more adventurous folks. I enjoyed the marketing blurb, emphases mine:
Heh, heh, heh. Open architecture. Runs on legacy hardware. Adapts to "your" workflow. Nice slapshots at Aperture.
Adobe today responded to Aperture with a free beta-test version of Lightroom, an open-architecture application for professional photographers:
Adobe Lightroom Beta is the efficient new way for professional photographers to import, select, develop, and showcase large volumes of digital images. So you can spend less time sorting and refining photographs, and more time actually shooting them. Its clean, elegant interface literally steps out of the way and lets you quickly view and work with the images you shot today, as well as the thousands of images that you will shoot over the course of your career. Because no two photographers work alike, Adobe Lightroom adapts to your workflow, not the other way around.
Lightroom Beta lets you view, zoom in, and compare photographs quickly and easily. Precise, photography-specific adjustments allow you to fine tune your images while maintaining the highest level of image quality from capture through output. And best of all, it runs on most commonly used computers, even notebook computers used on location. Initially available as a beta for Macintosh, Lightroom will later support both the Windows and Macintosh platforms. [...]
Recommended system requirements are Macintosh OSX 10.4.3, 1 GHz PowerPC G4 processor, 768 MB RAM and a 1024x768 resolution screen. Regular updates to the software will be posted on the site, feedback will be collected and the final product is expected to be introduced in late 2006. Further details around pricing, system requirements and availability have yet to be determined.
Even commie socialists like me have to love capitalism when there's real competition. Heck, back when IE had competition it was a great piece of software ...
Update: Derrick Storry has a characteristically enthusiastic pre-Review of Lightroom up. You can manage photos in the Lightroom database or externally. No mention of iPhoto importing! I suspect folks with a large iPhoto investment will be swayed by the import abilities of Aperture. The ability to manage images in the external database will make it tempting to try this in parallel to iPhoto, but there'd be a high probability of messing up iPhoto.
Update: And here's a very extensive review and TOW has a series of links, including an excellent one outlining the story of Aperture. It's got quite a history behind it. This should be a really great fight, but if Adobe really wants to get down and diry they need to add an iPhoto import utility.
Update: It's only an 4.3 MB download?! Huh? It installed fine as non-admin. As an experiment I tried importing a smallish iPhoto library folder. It quietly died. Oh well, more testing to come.