Saturday, July 30, 2011

Is Apple dropping its pro customers?

The Future of the Mac After Lion, article.

Apple is slowly but inexorably moving towards making and selling only computers for home users and light users. Every new iteration of the OS makes it harder to manage the computer on a professional level, the Mac App Store has basically only amateur apps. The newest top display is smaller than the previous one, the loss of "Rosetta" in Lion leaves several important apps behind for me, and the signs are in the stars that the upcoming version of the Mac Pro tower model may be the last ever.

I must admit I feel a little betrayed by Apple. We professional users have for decades now paid the highest profit margins in the business to Apple, just so we could get the computer we loved in the most powerful form we could get. We defended and promoted the company even back when it was a shadow of itself and had lost its way. We were the users who kept the press and the general public from pointing at Macintosh and dismissing it as a Toy Computer, the very existence of pro users proved it was not. We are the ones they are proud to showcase, the guys who are making top Hollywood movies on Apple hardware and with Apple software. And they are just going to throw this away? Just because it's a small part of the business these days?

If I need a professional sound card to do my work, or need three internal hard disks, do I really need descend into the confused, hostile mess which is Windows? O my god.

Adam Engst speculates (hopes?) that OS X will be bifurcated into an iOS-like version and a professional version. And perhaps there'll be a more modern (smaller) Mac Pro with professional expansion possibilities. If these things come true, I'll eat these bitter words and continue to be a happy Apple customer. But they are both just free speculation, so I'm not holding my breath.

33 comments:

Stephen A said...

Um, what about Ubuntu? Rock solid, virus and malware proof, centralized package archive (apps before apps existed), and enterprise grade system management. It even runs flash

I use Ubuntu for everything from my living room home theater computer, to cluster based multi-spectral laser tracking systems, head tracking and autostereoscopic displays.

Paul B said...

[part 1]

Eolake says:
“Apple is slowly but inexorably moving towards making and selling only computers for home users and light users”.

I’d rephrase that as “Apple is slowly moving towards making its computers more accessible to newcomers without losing any of their professional features”. Lion is a good example: there are no professional features that were in Snow Leopard that are missing in Lion. Indeed, they’ve added Versions, application Resume and a host of other stuff to make professionals’ life easier and quicker. There’s better security built in now, application sandboxing, Airdrop for quick casual transfers.

Eolake:
“Every new iteration of the OS makes it harder to manage the computer on a professional level”.

I really don’t see how this is true? To my mind, Lion just made most things easier. Sure, I know they hid the Library folder, which I admit is maybe just a tad too condescending, but it’s in the ‘Go’ menu if you hold down the Alt key. As for navigation, with a Magic Trackpad, I’m zooming around like never before, with less wrist strain and more speed.

Eolake:
“the Mac App Store has basically only amateur apps.”

I’ve been a professional photographer all my working life and for the past few years I’ve itched to get hold of Apple’s ‘Aperture’, but couldn’t justify it because I already have Photoshop, Bridge, ACR etc. which is, let’s face it, pretty comprehensive, and if nothing else was available you wouldn’t exactly feel hard done by. When Aperture appeared on the App Store for £49, I went for it like a shot and it’s like having a whole new OS just for pictures. It’s very far from being an amateur application, and I rarely launch Photoshop these days; it’s a simply lovely application. I do agree that there is an awful lot of tosh on the App store, but there are truly professional applications there among them.

Paul B said...

[part 2]
Eolake:
“The newest top display is smaller than the previous one, the loss of "Rosetta" in Lion leaves several important apps behind for me, and the signs are in the stars that the upcoming version of the Mac Pro tower model may be the last ever.”

Not only that, but CD/DVD slots are gone now, or going fast. But when did you last use one? I used to back up my photographs onto DVD but I haven’t done that in a couple of years now; hard drives are so cheap, I just do a couple of SuperDuper backups every night to two separate disks. Interestingly, the Mac that the extremely professional Rob Galbraith’s site chooses to ‘big up’ is the smaller of the new iMacs, see link.
There was a time when I needed, professionally, a big tower stuffed with RAM in order to work efficiently, but I find these days my needs (I’m only speaking for myself here, obviously) get smaller and smaller. I have a 24” iMac, and my next machine will almost certainly be smaller; I find the screen quite tiring, both to move my eyes around and to mouse around, and I find there’s no way now that I need that kind of room. I’ve got 8Gb of RAM in the iMac, but it, and Aperture, ran fine with 4Gb. Ten or fifteen years ago I used to work routinely with 75-150Mb files; nowadays, it’s rare for me to handle any photographic files bigger than 50Mb.
I know I’m just one case out of millions, but I’m just saying this to get across that I think Apple is going in just the right direction: powerful machines (way more powerful than anything we’ve seen in the past) with no useless stuff stuck on them, and a streamlined way of working; less of a reliance on brute-force RAM, more of a refined way. GPU used to good effect instead of just CPU.

Eolake:
“If I need a professional sound card to do my work, or need three internal hard disks, do I really need descend into the confused, hostile mess which is Windows?”

I doubt it very much, although with the sound card, you’ve hit on one thing I know zero about. I can’t believe that sound people are going to suffer too much though; the Mac is the machine that leads by a huge length in sound recording and effects, and I can’t see that stopping anytime soon. It may be that it turns out to be not so much a physical problem as a difference in the way you think about it; that, to me, is what underlines all the recent Mac changes, and has been most exemplified in the recent furore about Final Cut Pro X—it was greeted with horror by professionals worldwide, but after the initial outpouring of bitching, it seems that it might, in a few months, turn out to be rather a good idea after all. Perceptions take a while to change, although even I would admit that not being able to open legacy projects sounds like a bit of a killer …
As for ‘three internal hard disks’, that suddenly got a lot better, not worse, with the new Thunderbolt port that is/will be on all new Macs. Faster (gulp) than eSATA, daisy-chainable, and you don’t even need to crack the case, just stick ‘em in a cupboard, and have as many as you want.
Sorry if I’ve gone on a bit, but I didn’t agree at all with your outlook and wanted to redress the balance a tad; hope you don’t mind. I’d be interested to hear about anything that you feel you can’t do as well on Lion as you used to do before?

Bruce said...

Good article and good points expressed. I would add a few things:

When Apple has a choice between satisfying existing power users or appealing to new, less empowered users, they always choose to build products for the newbs. Apple has done this over and over again. Now, with the iPhone, they have found a huge class of newbs to build Macs for. Of course they will do so.

I don't think Apple owes me anything. I have been doing Mac tech support for the last few years. One of the first things I tell people is that if computers were any good they wouldn't need to use me. The day when computers don't need routine tech support is coming closer and closer. Certainly iOS devices don't need routine tech support.

The price of software development and distribution has gone way down, thanks to the Xcode and iOS app store. Developers who had no choice but to build expensive apps for professional people can now build cheap apps for the masses. It is natural for developers to pay less attention to Pro level apps. If Apple didn't create an app store for the Mac, more and more developers would ignore the Mac completely.

Maybe a better way to look at things is that in the past people who didn't need professional level features were forced to pay for them anyway. Now Apple is giving those people more of what they want instead of what they had to settle for.

Where does that leave power users? I think they will end up using software made by other power users, instead of software made by Apple or major software development companies.

eolake said...

You have some good points, and I hope you're more right than me.
I read in an article that some super-geek controls have gotten *very* hard to get at in Lion, like ten steps instead of one. Sure, I'm no super-geek, but I just dislike the general direction. The X-Serve is gone you know.

I use 3-4 old apps for routine tasks every day which won't run under Lion. Long story, but I haven't yet after weeks of research found really good replacements for any of them. I think it's the first time ever (16 years) I've had the problem to that degree.
And GraphicConverter in the Intel version runs really poorly for me, slower and very buggy.

I'm sure I *could* use an iMac (if it can use a second monitor), they've gotten fast, but I'd really prefer a pro machine, with choices in screens etc.

eolake said...

(Oops, last comment was reply to Paul, not Bruce.)

Paul Bradforth said...

I think Bruce puts it very well above; Apple have been trying to make support unnecessary, and Lion is, I think, a step in that direction. The thing that confuses most newbies is the file system; I do a lot of 'work' on the RapidWeaver forum, answering questions, and there is a huge number of posts that show just how little people understand about even the basics of the file system. People 'lose' their files when they drop off the end of the 'Recent Items' menu, because they have no idea where they saved them! It's very hard to compete with that, and Lion still hasn't managed it, but I think it's a step on the way. I don't think it'll ever manage it completely; there comes a point where you have to say to people 'hey, if you want to drive a car, you do actually have to learn how to drive a car'.

@Eolake: what are the three or four applications that you're having trouble replacing, what do they do? Is it possible that there are good replacements around but they don't do it the way you used to work, and you're having trouble accepting that? I'm not trying to make you out to be daft, but the 'we've always done it this way' is really easy to fall into, I do it myself ...

eolake said...

People should be able to use a file system! Just see how much mess it is for real users when they simply hide it, like on the iPad.


I need to replace:

1) Tex-Edit Plus (I use it for pure text, notes, writing, and cleaning up text (line breaks and such).

2) Adobe Golive. (I mostly use it for page editing only, 1999-style HTML really. But when I drag links from one page to another in a different folder, it will automatically change the link so it still works. I hope to find a user-friendly replacement for Intel Macs.

3) Iview Mediapro, old version. I use it only for making very simple web thumbnail pages. Again I would like a simple and user-friendly app for this. (Unlike Photoshop for instance which makes very complex html out of this simple job.)

Paul Bradforth said...

Eolake says: "People should be able to use a file system! Just see how much mess it is for real users when they simply hide it, like on the iPad. "

Funny thing is—the phrase 'just see how much mess it is' is not one that I've come to associate with iPad use! I usually hear 'Intuitive' and 'Elegant' and 'No need to know how it works'. I don't own one, by the way, I'm waiting for the next model.

Regarding your three applications ...

"Tex-Edit Plus (I use it for pure text, notes, writing, and cleaning up text (line breaks and such)."

TextWrangler, free from BareBones sofware. There are text-formatting 'services' you can download which appear in the 'Services' menu of any application you're running, which can do all the line-break stuff and cleaning up. If you download one of those, you could even use Apple's TextEdit, which with Lion has become rather lovely. I'm not linking to the downloadable services because I don't have time at the moment and I'm sure you can find them :-) If you can't though, let me know and I WILL find them and let you know.

Eolake: "Adobe Golive. (I mostly use it for page editing only, 1999-style HTML really. But when I drag links from one page to another in a different folder, it will automatically change the link so it still works. I hope to find a user-friendly replacement for Intel Macs. "

Strewth, you're scraping the bottom of the barrel here Eolake! My first web design experience was with an application called CyberStudio, by a German firm called GoLive. Adobe bought it, renamed it, spoiled it somewhat, and it's been derlict for the past ten years or so. I'm sure you'll have no trouble at all replacing that. I don't really know what you use it for, or I'd suggest something. Come back to me on it?

Eolake: " Iview Mediapro, old version. I use it only for making very simple web thumbnail pages. Again I would like a simple and user-friendly app for this."

I used iView for years, and very good it was too, still is. I didn't know it wouldn't work with Lion. If you just want to make thumbnails, I can think of lots of options. RapidWeaver springs to mind; although it's a fully-fledged web application, it will make, with the aid of a plugin, make lovely thumbnails with any effect you like—rounded corners, drop shadows, whatever. It'd be a bit like using Photoshop just to make screenshots, but it doesn't cost much. There are probably much better solutions too; give me a while :-)

Bruce said...

For Tex-Edit Plus, take a look at TextWrangler or it's bigger brother, BBEdit. Both are Universal.

http://barebones.com/

There must be a gazillion programs that will do thumbnail HTML pages. GraphicConverter will do it. I was using Galerie for a while.

http://www.myriad-online.com/en/products/galerie.htm

I suspect that one reason iMedia Pro is so easy is because you spent a lot of time setting it up in the past. Whatever you change to will definitely take time to set up the way you want it.

As far as web site creation and maintenance, I can only think of apps that are too complex or too simple for what you want. It will probably be difficult to find something that suits your current workflow.

"People should be able to use a file system" does not correspond to what I see in the real world of tech support. I think that's your 20 years of experience talking. Note that 100 years ago the phrase "People should be able to use a horse" probably seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to say, although the Model T started production in 1908...

Paul Bradforth said...

Tried to post a comment on your Applications, Eolake, but it didn't appear for some reason. I was mostly just agreeing with Bruce again, but had some additional ideas. Just trying this one to see if it gets through ...

Paul Bradforth said...

Oops, just noticed that the post that Bruce made, much of which I was agreeing with, hasn't appeared either. I only got it as an email subscription notification, but it's not on the blog?

eolake said...

Possibly because of the links, both your posts had been filtered out.

I am trying out Textwrangler, I like it, though it doesn't take any formatting at all, like bold.

I also started with Cyberstudio Golive! Hottest thing in 1998.
I haven't found any other app which edits in WYSIWYG mode. Not to mention which will update links by the finder hierachy when you copy a link to a different page in another folder (*without* a special big file managing the site, note. (Those got too big very fast.)
Not even DreamWeaver can do it, and it's far too expensive.

GC (although version six sucks so far) will make thumbnails, and I may use it. But I don't think it will make embedded pictures with navigation. I could live without that, though, and my members would have to. It would mean the browser would scale the image so they can see it all, a good thing.

Paul Bradforth said...

How about Apple's TextEdit? It's quite powerful, don't be put off by the simple appearance. It'll do bold, italic, and all the usual things. You can make and save styles, you can have a ruler with tabs, you can do first line indent or a hanging indent, all kinds of stuff.
Do you know about Markdown? Conceived and written by John Gruber, it means you can write HTML pretty much as plain text, and have it converted into HTML by any application that understands it. Worth a look, and can be written AND opened in any text editor or word processor, with all styles intact. It's here: http://goo.gl/1CRG

Still not sure how you use GoLive, without looking over your shoulder while you do it. I'm fond of Freeway, and there is a 'lite' version for not much money. It comes with a separate application called Showcase which is purely for making pages of thumbnails for the web; you can see an example on a site I designed here:
http://goo.gl/Zad1c
Any good?

eolake said...

I've been looking at Markdown. It has far more than I'll need, but I like the idea of universal and readable formatting.

TextEdit is just good.
And beyond that I'm spoiled for choice for real word processors, like Mellel and Nisus (Express or Pro).

--
I am not sure if I want to go into the spooky modern, opague-code page which has pictures tone up and out in front of the page like ghosts. I like code I can fix if it goes wrong.

Bruce said...

"Adam Engst speculates (hopes?) that OS X will be bifurcated into an iOS-like version and a professional version"

I don't think there is enough future profits in OS X for that to happen. Even though Mac sales are doing well, I think it's clear that tablet sales are cannibalizing PC sales in general. Macs and OS X will continue to make money for Apple for a long time, but I believe their day in the sun has passed. Eventually they will move into the background where iPods are now.

"I am not sure if I want to go into the spooky modern, opague-code page which has pictures tone up and out in front of the page like ghosts. I like code I can fix if it goes wrong."

I know what you mean by that. However, it *is* the modern thing to do. You may want to consider going ultramodern and converting your site to WordPress. Then you don't have to worry about code at all.

eolake said...

Thanks for the helpfulness, guys.

I fear the day I have to modernize. I just know how much BS comes with such. It never works well, and even experts struggle long time with it always. And even if I use experts, then I have to deal with them and their schedule problems.

eolake said...

iPods in shadowland. It's scary, they own the whole MP3 player industry, and yet the product is of little importance to them!

I fear they will get rid of the classic, or get rid of physical buttons. They don't see to understand some people's need to operate things by feel! (In a pocket or on a bedstand while you rest). I hate the confusing iPod interface on the iPhone.

Paul Bradforth said...

Eolake said: "I fear the day I have to modernize. I just know how much BS comes with such. It never works well, and even experts struggle long time with it always. And even if I use experts, then I have to deal with them and their schedule problems."

You shouldn't fear it, you should embrace it. And do it yourself. Bruce's idea about WordPress is a good one, and makes a lot of what you're worried about routine.
Can you point us at a part of your work/sites that you're referring to?

eolake said...

Very simple setup, very simple.

http://domai.com/
http://domai.com/news/2011/07july-29/

(warning, nudity)

Part of the site is behind a pay wall, but it's just galleries like this: http://domai.com/promotional/17march

Paul Bradforth said...

Eolake said: "Very simple setup, very simple".

Eolake, are you talking about what you do to make just those thumbnails, or do you mean to produce the whole page? If the latter, then you're talking web design as opposed to just graphics. I'm sure WordPress would handle this quite easily, although I'm not a user myself. RapidWeaver would handle it with ease too.

eolake said...

The page.
I never progressed beyond the basic text-based page, and I never felt much urge to, seeing how many sites give you problems if just so much as change the text size.

eolake said...

Sorry, Paul, I misunderstood. I was just talking about the thumbnail pages, well, mostly.

Paul Bradforth said...

Eolake, if you have a look at my site on this page http://goo.gl/93w5v you'll see an example of thumbnails that are linked to, in this case, other sites. Is that sort of thing any good to you?

eolake said...

Maybe not. With iView, I just drag a folder of pics onto a window, give it a target folder, and in 30 seconds it has made all the HTML pages, thumbnails, and navigation. I just need to drag it into the site and update with the name of the model and such.
As you guessed, that took a little work to set up because it tended to make designs which were unnecessarily complex, like Photoshop does. Nobody sells simple, because nobody buys it.

Paul Bradforth said...

Hmm, I still don't think I'm getting it. Also, I think maybe you're wedded to your method of doing things, which might cause some problems in the long run. What you want to do is available in a variety of applications these days, very simply, but I don't think I'm really understanding what you want enough to be able to recommend any course of action. You originally said 'just thumbnails' and I told you I could recommend something for that, but then you seemed to be saying, in effect, that what you wanted was something that would make thumbnails on entire web pages for you, and I just showed you something like that, so I'm not sure where to go from here ...

eolake said...

I'll look into that one you first mentioned.

BTW, I thought Wordpress only did blogs, not multi-page sites?

Paul Bradforth said...

"I'll look into that one you first mentioned. "
Not sure which one you mean there ...
"BTW, I thought Wordpress only did blogs, not multi-page sites?"
Eolake, where have you been for the past few years? Wordpress will do just about anything you can think up, probably a lot easier than you're doing it now.

eolake said...

In the past few years I've been locked in to-the-death combat with what I hope is the last battalion of my deepest inner demons. Not much time for non-essentials.

I tried wordpress for a blog maybe 3-4 years ago, it didn't seem to me to be all that much more userfriendly than Blogger. That's all I know about it.

Seems I may have to take a new look.

Paul Bradforth said...

Bloody hell, I hope that's not as serious as it sounds. Having a few of my own, I sympathise.

Wordpress comes in two versions, one that lives online and one you download to your hard disk. It's capable of producing very swish whole web sites indeed, and, of course, blogs, but that really isn't the half of it. Worth looking into, as is RapidWeaver. If you need any more info, just ask.

eolake said...

Thank you. Rapidweaver seems very promising. though the name seems familiar, I wonder why I haven't heard more about it, like on a couple of app-comparison articles I've read.
It has wysiwyg editing?

--
Well, I've chose myself to go on spiritual quests rather than focus on more earthly things, so I can't complain about a few dragons. And fortunately my site is not all that demanding despite being profitable, and the schedule is flexible, so I can sleep when I best can, and such.
It's just very exhausting work! :-)

I have a blog about the area:
http://power-of-source.blogspot.com

Paul Bradforth said...

Eolake says: "Thank you. Rapidweaver seems very promising. though the name seems familiar, I wonder why I haven't heard more about it, like on a couple of app-comparison articles I've read."

You mean you haven't downloaded the demo and played with it? ;-)

eolake said...

Getting there.