Aperture Is Dead: What Does This Say About The Future Of Other Apple Pro Applications?

June 30th, 2014

Aperture3It was no big surprise to me to hear that Apple is going to stop development of Aperture beyond OS-X Yosemite. Aperture will be updated to run on Yosemite but won’t be developed further.

I effectively predicted this a year ago. The writing has been on the wall for many years. Apple hasn’t been keeping up with Adobe Lightroom. Their actions over the last 3 years have essentially been abandonment.

I’ve always had a copy of Aperture and there are many things about it I’ve always liked. I think the adjustment brushes in Aperture are wonderfully smooth and great to use. That’s probably because they were coded by some one that really understood the internals of OS-X. I hate to delete it from my machines but there’s no point in keeping it around any more.

Adobe made a statement on their Photoshop.com blog concerning the retirement of Aperture:

Put simply we’re doubling down on our investments in Lightroom and the new Creative Cloud Photography plan and you can expect to see a rich roadmap of rapid innovation for desktop, web and device workflows in the coming weeks, months and years. We also continue to invest actively on the IOS and OS-X platforms, and are committed to helping interested iPhoto and Aperture customers migrate to our rich solution across desktop, device and web workflows.

The fact that Apple is walking away from Aperture makes me a little nervous that same thing may be coming down the road for Final Cut Pro. Although there was an update to FCP that came out shortly after they made the announcement to discontinue development of Aperture.  I get the feeling that Apple has more important things to do than to develop professional applications. In the total scheme of things developing and refining professional applications can’t be a very big income stream for Apple. It’s not their core competency. The last big update to Final Cut Pro X a couple of years ago was very controversial  to long time professional users of FCP. Some, like Thomas Fitzgerald at the Aperture Blog points out that:

Both Final Cut Pro and Logic have far more market share than Aperture ever had. Despite the difficulties surrounding the FCPx Launch, it’s still the market leader. The same goes for Logic. FCPx sells Mac Pros. It’s as simple as that, and the Mac Pro is a high end, high profit margin product. A friend of mine who visited NAB this year commented on the number of new Mac Pros at the show. Even though Apple wasn’t exhibiting, Apple’s presence was felt everywhere. Unfortunately, Aperture never had this kind of impact in the market.

Perhaps, but I’m still nervous about FCP. I’m concerned that Apple’s core business is more consumer oriented to expect them to stand by their professional applications in the long term. What do you think?

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14 Responses to “Aperture Is Dead: What Does This Say About The Future Of Other Apple Pro Applications?”

  • I remember an episode of the Photofocus podcast when Scott Bourne switched his office from Aperture to Lightroom. His complaints were that Apple wasn’t updating the program frequently enough to stay on par with LR and that Apple’s policy of complete secrecy about planned updates and feature implementation made it too hard to plan for the future. I’ve seen the same black curtain with FCP plans. Adobe has been far more forthcoming with planned upgrades, bug fixes and feature additions as well as supplying beta releases so work in progress can be given some feedback.

    New hardware might be good to keep under wraps until it’s ready to go as people will put off buying a new computer if they know a new model is just around the corner where they can choose between getting a good discount on purchasing the current model when the new one comes out or getting a machine with better performance for the same money. Software is very different. It’s easy to offer a free upgrade to the next version when it’s released if you purchase the shipping version immediately. They can even discount the current version and still offer the free upgrade to woo and lock in customers.

    I had considered Aperture when I was looking at both it and LR, but finally choose LR since a friend of mine was already fluent with it and I could call him for tips and tech support. They both had very similar features sets at the time and played leap frog from month to month. Apple quit developing Aperture some time ago and it’s about time they pronounced the patient dead.

    I suspicious about the reasoning that dropping a product is good because it’s such a small piece of the profits. If the product is profitable, it’s bringing in money and therefore an asset. Apple’s core audience is still the creative market and one software product can often bring ideas to another. The Aperture team might come up with image processing routines that would work well in FCP and the other way around. Besides, if some company DOES come out with an iPhone killer next week, wouldn’t it be nice to have several other products that are in the black?

    Disclosure- I’m not a fan of the iPhone, but I’d really like to have one of the new Mac Pro’s. When they announced the prices, I cried.

  • With all the hoopla over the cloud, what is really needed is a cloud management system as everybody and his brother feels compelled to offer it. The cloud had become dark and congested. Did I leave that file at Auntie Apple, Uncle Microsoft, cousins Adobe or Dropbox or one of my distant cousins like my ISP now offering it as a ‘benefit.’ The Achilles heel to each is the assumption that Internet is available to actually access the file you need, or worse, that it is actually there and the person you were sharing it with didn’t delete it (like I train my Dropbox clients to). You don’t have to be a landscape photographer camping out in the wilderness to not have internet access. Even the meeting place for our local photo club, members know to bring photos or presentations on a memory stick as there is no wifi, and bringing your own 4G, Sprint is SOL and ATT is spotty.

    Hopefully, it doesn’t adversely affect FCPX as I find it far more fluid and intuitive than Premiere Pro. Once you get past the timeline/storyline differences, other actions such as stabilization, ken burns effect, color grading, titles etc are far more user friendly in FCPX. In terms of workflow, in addition to offline backup, photos and video clips are on a USB connected harddrive, and not the SSD in the MacBook Pro. With that rather standard arrangement that works, would hate to be dependent on cloud connection to work on photos or video and wonder if the cloud is current or a couple revisions old compared to the harddrive. Worse, I typically mass delete my “1 Stars” to save space and not archive them, will the cloud come along, see the missing files from a previous session now lacking on the harddrive and re-instate them. Perhaps marketing needs to realized that “having photos everywhere” isn’t the benefit they project and may in fact be a handicap. I don’t use Microsoft’s, Adobe’s, Google Drive’s cloud functions – just their programs. Why would I want to give Apple, or any other corporation, that power over me.

  • In late 1984 I spent about $10,000 on an Apple Lisa. I’m a programmer and it had what was touted as being an extraordinary development system. They killed both the hardware and the development software about 18 months later. I’ve never purchased an Apple product since.

  • Aperture is a strange product, not unlike some of Apple’s others. The reason you buy MAC is to have a top notch machine… and the logic follows that you would then want to populate it with top notch programs, no? And, it’s not like Apple doesn’t have the resources to make competitive software, it’s just their focus seems to be on machinery and licensing. i-movie isn’t much different. There are a host of partially effective, but easy-to-learn applications MAC’s come with, and maybe that was the only goal they had: easy programs that don’t crash…. because trust me, PS, Premier, and After Effects will crash a MAC in 2 seconds flat.

  • I worked as an Avid Media Composer editor for years. It is a very powerful software. And we have Final Cut 6/7. Final Cut X had a really cold reception on release. It is a consumer product by comparison to older versions. It looks as if much of the market is moving to Premiere. We will continue to use version 6 for as long as we can. Larry, if you are right about Apple software programs, we will need to switch to the Premiere or Avid products in the future.

  • Most of the web reporting on this seems to be misconstrued. Yes, Apple is stopping development of Aperture, but it doesn’t mean that they’re discontinuing development of their photo tools. If you look at the in-depth discussion at Aperture Expert, and the linked developer session from WWDC, you’ll notice that they’re actually advancing the filters (e.g. lens correction), raw processing (e.g. combining tone mapping via one slider), and performance (e.g. utilizing 2nd GPU) etc. available to programmers, and thus, users (eventually). They’ve already announced that there will be at least one maintenance update to ensure transition to Yosemite, so it’s not like they’re leaving Aperture users out in the cold.

    As others have pointed out, it maybe one step backwards (for pros), but it will set up a new level of workflow for the future. Think about how clunky it is right now to share in the current “pro” apps (i.e. shoot, import, process, export, share), and how simple it is on mobile devices. Aperture-era development was started about a decade ago… before the current way of doing things… and when the software direction started changing, I’m sure the internal debate was whether they should continue developing an evolutionary dead-end or put resources toward the future.

    The potential for even greater tools is really exciting to me actually. Plus, it’s not like Aperture on your machine is going to stop working now. Nor are they going to “require” you to store photos in the cloud, despite the “sky is falling” attitude being spread about. Do your own research and determine how this will affect you.

  • Ken Brown says:” Apple’s core audience is still the creative market.”
    I don’t believe that for a minute. Apple’s core audience is the consumer ie: iPhone, iPad, iMac (computers are quickly becoming a secondary market). And because computers are becoming a secondary market so is the software for a company that is not computer centric. Workhorse computers are a very slim market when you are a consumer oriented company like Apple. I like the idea of the Mac Pro but it may be as Greg Peterson experienced, a dying breed too. Sad!

  • @Aaron & David Chang – You’re right, it’s certainly possible that the new Photos Application will replace Aperture functionality and be more than a consumer application and raise photo management to a new level. It’s is a great goal and I’d like to have photo management like that. But can they pull it off?

    The thing that makes me skeptical of this is the fact that Apple has had so much trouble in the past with cloud-related applications. Me.com cannot be considered a resounding success nor can their early iCloud applications. I can’t think of a resounding success that they’ve had that gives me confidence in their cloud expertise… like say Google. When I think of Apple syncing every photo and video from every iPhone, iPad and OS-X machine on the planet to the iCloud I fear for them. I’m standing by to be amazed!

  • Hi Everyone,

    Whereas I love Apple products, and own a Mac, it was never a question for me. Photoshop and Lightroom are the go-to programs for a reason.

    Maybe this is just me, but Apple is wonderful at making user-friendly products. However I also think its tough to create a product for photographers that is user-friendly in the way that Apple users have become accustomed and truly professional. Anything as powerful as Photoshop and Lightroom are going to have a degree of complexity to it that your typical Apple user is not going to be happy with.

    In the end, this is just not a great niche for them. iPhoto is great for simple stuff….but don’t try to get too deep in the weeds with it. Going beyond iPhoto to Aperture, one has to ask whether there really is a market for that? I would think that the market for something that is in between playing and doing minor touchups and a complex pro-program would be rather narrow.

  • @Ron Rosenzweig – I should have written “The core audience for the Macintosh are creatives.” I hope that Apple stays in the computer market. From the last earnings statements, Macs still bring in an respectable amount of profit. The Power Mac brings in the least amount of profit, but many companies have found that if they drop their flagship product, the perception of their brand drops considerably. I don’t think they teach that in B-school, but there are loads of examples.

    @David Chang – “Sharing” is firmly in the consumer realm. Professionals may tease projects they are working on or post a few pictures to attract business, but they are not as concerned with “sharing” which generally equates to handing an unlimited license to the service where the photos are posted. If a company is advertising how easy it is to upload photos or videos from their device to a social media site, I immediately think of that device/software as a consumer product.

  • I was one of the founders of a company that developed film compositing software that we sold to Apple in 2002 which much of it went into Motion and FCPX. By 2007 (ish) Apple offered to sell it back along with the entire FCP7x suite.

    It gets increasingly difficult to justify spending so much on development when an increasing amount of your revenues come from consumer devices. None of the should come as a surprise.

  • @Ken Brown – I don’t disagree that most “sharing” uses today are consumer related. However, looking forward, I see much potential for this aspect that would disrupt the “traditional” professional workflow. Especially as you mention for social media marketing, for instance. Plus, as clients are exposed to that level of instant gratification, they will expect that more and more from their hired pros.

    @Larry – I don’t think I would trust cloud syncing either, at least not for everything, and I don’t think they’ll force you to use it for everything. However, it might be a good option for “off-site” backups just in case, and there is quite the potential for current working files. Imagine, for example, that you are providing a client preview in person on your iPad, and they have some last minute revisions they’d like to see. You could do that on the spot without much hassle, assuming too that non-destructive edits are still the standard.

    My (seemingly optimistic) attitude is that the potential is great for photo workflow. I have my doubts as well as to whether the new Photos app will be “professional” enough, but the underlying changes sound encouraging. The new filters, for example, are supposed to be at a system level (CoreImage), so if another application or plugins (e.g. Aperture, LR, etc.) support that framework, then you will have access to the improvements based on your workflow/application of choice. You will no longer be restricted to your photos “stuck” in a proprietary library as it is right now in Aperture, or having to use a specific plugin only within a certain supported program.

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