Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Apple Aperture Disaster

This is very good news. I'd come to decide that Aperture's performance issues and bugginess reflected advanced decay at Apple and a cynical ploy to force customers to buy new machines quickly. I was shocked, for example, that Aperture 1.01 couldn't import iPhoto 6.02 data. The performance problems seemed fundamental.

This claim that the real cause is a disastrous engineering/management failure is encouraging. This also explains the recent price drop.
Think Secret - Aperture future in question as Apple axes bulk of team

Apple recently asked the engineering team behind its Aperture photo editing and management software to leave, Think Secret has learned. The move, which resulted in the departure of several engineers while others were transferred to different projects inside Apple, raises questions about the future of Aperture, Apple's most heavily criticized and bug-ridden software release in recent years.

Sources familiar with Apple's professional software strategy said they were not surprised by the move, describing Aperture's development as a "mess" and the worst they had witnessed at Apple.

Aperture's problems stem not from any particular area that can be easily remedied but rather from the application's entire underlying architecture. In the run-up to Aperture's November release last year, for example, sources report that responsibility for the application's image processing pipeline was taken away from the Aperture team and given to the Shake and Motion team "to fix as best they can." Some of those enhancements emerged in the recently released Aperture 1.1 update, which saw its release delayed for about two weeks as a result of the extra work needed to bring it up to spec.

In tandem with the 1.1 update, Apple dropped Aperture's price tag from $499 to $299 and offered owners of version 1.0 a $200 coupon for the Apple Store. Industry watchers and users alike have viewed the price cut as a maneuver to stave off competition from Adobe's forthcoming LightRoom software, a beta of which is available for Mac OS X users, and see the Apple Store coupon as a concession for early adopters who collectively appear to have been expecting more from Apple.

Perhaps the greatest hope for Aperture's future is that the application's problems are said to be so extensive that any version 2.0 would require major portions of code to be entirely rewritten. With that in mind, the bell may not yet be tolling for Aperture; an entirely new engineering team could salvage the software and bring it up to Apple's usual standards.
Now that the news is out I hope Apple will make some kind of a statement. They ought to apologize to all the Apple Discussion posters who've had their complaints deleted ... Apple needs to set out a path of both incremental bug and performance fixes and architectural revisions.

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