Friday, August 17, 2007

The Apple iMovie debacle: Pogue smacks 'em

Pogue is a longtime Apple user, author, and informed fan. So this smackdown might get noticed in Cupertino (emphases mine) ...
Apple Takes a Step Back With iMovie ’08 - Pogue’s Posts - Technology - New York Times Blog

... To rephrase (and sanitize) the wailing on the discussion boards: What the [bleep]! What was Apple thinking?

Apple says that it was thinking: “It’s 1.0. We’ll bring it up to par with free software updates, like we always do.” Internally, I’m guessing that it was also thinking, “iMovie had gotten pretty old, and it was haunted by some intractable bugs.” And also, perhaps, “iMovie was getting so powerful, it was taking sales away from Final Cut.

But it must also have been thinking, “Then again, it is a little embarrassing to take so many steps backward.”

That’s why, with what I imagine is a certain degree of sheepishness, the company is offering a free download of the previous iMovie version to anyone who has iMovie ‘08. In that regard, all the wailing is a bit overblown; Apple is not actually taking away the older version. The only real raw part of the deal is that people who pay $80 for a new software rev expect an enhanced version—not another copy of the old one.

I can’t remember any software company pulling a stunt like this before: throwing away a fully developed, mature, popular program and substituting a bare-bones, differently focused program under the same name.

I’ve used the real iMovie to edit my Times videos for three years now. The results are perfectly convincing as professional video blog work. But the new version is totally unusable for that purpose. It’s unusable, in fact, for anyone doing professional work that requires any degree of precision...
Apple's historic danger is getting drunk with arrogance. That's why we Apple customers love them to feel the blistering heat of competition -- it keeps 'em sober. The iMovie story tells me they've fallen off the wagon again -- but the rapid release of the 'free version' (I've read anyone can get it) suggests they might be back in rehab. Maybe.

I don't buy the 'continual free upgrades' to iMovie_II 1.0 though -- Apple's been saying they can't do free function upgrades any more without charging for 'em (accounting rules).

My money is on the 'protect Final Cut' answer. I think that's the same reason Apple won't provide Library management (import/export Libraries) for iPhoto.

Thanks Pogue. Please kick Apple again for us. Harder.

Alas, what's really needed is more competition for iLife, and I'm afraid there's nobody likely to do that. Apple has pulled far enough ahead that they can do things like this and still have the best solutions for any platform.

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