Sunday, December 09, 2007

Will Apple abandon Aperture?

The Aperture bloggers I read are worried about Aperture's future. They've even wondering how they could migrate to another platform. How can they ever move their metadata? What about all those RAW images that will render differently in any other toolkit?

Cue evil laughter.

They're doomed of course. Once you commit to a program like Aperture you're owned. I know a thing or two about that business.

So would Apple really abandon a project they once seemed to have such interest in? Isn't digital media their core market?

I can think of a few reasons, based on my own experience and what I read:
  1. Adobe Lightroom is doing well. It's said to be more popular than Aperture even on the Mac, and of course it's very successful on Windows.
  2. Apple has done a miserable job positioning Aperture as an upgrade from iPhoto. It's their natural market, and they've blown it. The pricing is wrong, they don't migrate enough iPhoto metadata, and you can't edit dates.
  3. Aperture is not staying ahead of iPhoto. In fact, iPhoto '08 seems to use a lot of Aperture source code (including the icky parts).
  4. Aperture has a bizarre UI. It's pointlessly idiosyncratic. Tiny fonts, ultra-skinny scrollbars, it looks nothing like a Cocoa app. Heck, it doesn't look like a proper Carbon app. What the heck is it written in? Was it originally written for Linux?
  5. Aperture is dog slow. It's not merely the fancy GPU based image processing, the database work is way slow as well.
  6. Did I mention Aperture doesn't even have a proper OS X Help file? I think it must be a Java app!
  7. You can't edit date metadata, you've never been able to edit dates, this hasn't been fixed despite several major updates. The fact that it's never been addressed speaks loudly.
  8. Aperture has gone a long time without a significant upgrade, despite 1-7.
So, what do I think? Will Apple really abandon digital photography?

I don't think they'll give up completely, but I can imagine them giving up on the Aperture code base. I think a lot of iPhoto customers, and even many Pros, would pay for an iPhoto-Pro that could import Aperture projects and iPhoto Libraries.

If we don't see a really major update of Aperture by March 2008 I wouldn't recommend any new Aperture purchases. Even if Apple does provide a conversion path to "iPhoto Pro", I suspect there will be rough spots.

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