iApps? My Eye!

As the dust settles on Apple’s decision to charge us for the intangible iTools services (see Kiss iTools Good-ByeFree mac.com Email Becomes Fee Mail, and The iTools Bait and Switch), people begin to ask how this will affect Job’s plans for the digital hub.

I, for one, don’t care.

The digital hub always struck me as a ropey idea. It’s not that I object in principle to people connecting digital cameras and camcorders to their Macs, it’s just that I don’t want to be forced to sit through the dross that they subsequently create.

The Apple propaganda machine has been going full tilt for the last while, informing us of the wonderful free iApps that come with every Mac. So what? I like to think that for an investment of over €1,000 I’d get something other than an operating system thrown into the box.

When Jobs announced iPhoto, I dutifully went to the Apple site and downloaded it. I looked at it – and erased it. Yes, it’s very nice, but I’m not going to give up Photoshop any time soon.

iMovie? Sorry, my Adobe Premier habit is too ingrained.

I do use iTunes, but then again, I’d be irritated if people expected me to pay for software that just plays music, regardless of how nice the graphics are.

If Apple want to impress me, then they’d better write a HyperCard style iMedia and Homepage style iWeb tout suite.

The problem with the iApps is this – they’re not powerful enough. Okay, you say, but they’re not aimed at commercial users. This is absolutely correct, and it’s also the nub of my argument. I am genuinely concerned that Apple is beginning to neglect its core professional user base in the graphics and media industries. If Adobe ever pulls Photoshop, the party’s over. Macs will be stone dead as far as designers go, and mine will go out the window. Literally.

People talk about the “empowering” potential of the iApps, but having tools available to edit photos and video does not a professional make. The effect is more likely to be similar to that of Microsoft Word and PowerPoint – where people like me were once paid embarrassingly small amounts of money to produce professional presentations and stationery, offices are now awash with printouts and presentations made by people who think that combining double underlining, bold, and italics is a good thing.

It isn’t.

So, what do I want? Well, I don’t want Apple to stop making the iApps; I just want them to stop pretending that having them equals instant creative professional. The marketing strategy seems to be that “ordinary users” can bask in the reflected glory of the purple haired professional designers and movie makers. Maybe, but then again, maybe not.

Besides, I know plenty of graphic designers who are far from cool or interesting in any way whatsoever.

Power to the people? Certainly, but the digital hub is more of a strategy for selling hardware than a rallying call for creative democracy, which, incidentally, will never exist.

Next week Jason Walsh will look at your responses to Macs in the workplace.

Keywords: #iphoto #itunes #imovie #itools #maclife

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