Gift Horse in the Mouth

Does the fact that all these iApps are free mean that I have no right to point out their flaws? Aren’t I being ungrateful, looking a gift horse in the mouth? How can I complain about free products? I’m at liberty to go pay for a competing product, right?

Umm, right. Except for one thing. Like I pointed out in Tales of a BeOS Refugee last December and as Andy Inhatko says in this month’s MacWorld, there is no competition possible in the fields occupied by the iApps. Or precious little anyway. What incentive does a software vendor have to create a kick-ass audio database for OS X when Apple already hit that one right out of the park?

None. It’s exactly the same as the situation under Windows. Who can make a living developing Office software, or a mail client, or a browser for Windows? Microsoft has completely sewn-up and extinguished those markets. As good as the iApps are, Apple has to realize that they’re doing the exact same thing – cutting off limbs all around them.

That said, there are older image database apps out there, like iView MediaPro (the “i” does not imply Apple kinship) which I may try out soon.

Music: The Clash :: Mensforth Hill

6 Replies to “Gift Horse in the Mouth”

  1. some of those comments on MacSlash were a bit harsh.

    I’d be surprised if there are any major speed increases in iPhoto 2. From the information on the website, it looks like they’ve spent their time on better ways to manage and archive multiple photo libraries. “Things getting a little sluggish? Start a new library!” :(

    I’d love to see Apple open up the backend of iPhoto like they did for Keynote. If they did that, we could keep the iPhoto GUI, but run it off a different storage engine (file based, MySql based, etc.) That would potentially open up a niche market for some shareware writers. They wouldn’t be completing w/Apple, just leveraging the tools that are already in place on every OS X Mac.

    That said, I do like some of the little things they added. Like the visual indicator of how much space your album (or a selection of photos) would take on a CDROM.

  2. Apple didn’t open the backend for Keynote, they simply used an open file format. You cannot, for instance, replace the XML storage in Keynote with a database backend..

  3. I agree that what I’m proposing would require a degree of openness/modularity that they don’t currently have in the iLife apps (specifically iTunes and iPhoto.)

    My Keynote analogy wasn’t very good. :( What I meant was that they allow something other than Keynote to generate the data for a Keynote presentation. That seems to be a step in the right direction. This is something that the “other company” has been very reluctant to do.

  4. I disagree about iPhoto sewing up the market. I never felt the need for an image database (having the filenames sorted on my disk is quite organized enough for me, thanks) and the editing tools that come with it really and truely suck. I threw it out after trying it, and went back to Photoline 32. For the bottom end, for people who just want to get their pictures into their computer without futzing with it and do basic manipulations, iPhoto is fine. If you want to do more, you wind up buying something better.

    iTunes is harder to beat, although for people like you with zillions of tracks that overwhelm the database, you might want to look and find something better. It certainly is beatable, but for people like me with only a few hundred tracks who don’t want to screw with it, it’s fine.

    iMovie, again, is not a market beater. If it were, Apple wouldn’t be selling FCP or now FCE.

    About the only world beater I’ve seen thus far amongst the software that comes with your mac is Safari, and it certainly wasn’t as though Apple didn’t give the browser makers plenty of time to come up with good products, only to have them fail to do so. Opera is about the best of the lot, and it flakes and crashes distressingly often.

    Apple may have cut the limbs off of some of the very simplest software, but comparing the iLife suite to what microsoft has done with Office et al is, I think, unfair.

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