Zam Wessel and a Gammorean
I didn’t plan on posting another photo from the Hyperspace Hoopla so soon, but it kind of reminded me of the near-constant debate of Aperture vs. Lightroom. Both are capable products with legions of satisfied customers and each does, for the most part, what the other one does. Each has a few features that the other lacks. Yet despite all they have in common, I’m constantly seeing exchanges where one side is pimping their product and insinuating the other is inferior. I’m no stranger to that conversation. In fact, I think that Aperture has some features that provide a superior workflow to Lightroom. However, I would never recommend someone switch because of those features. They’re nice, but I don’t believe they would overcome the enormous effort involved in migrating thousands of photos from one system to another.
As I’ve said repeatedly, the only reason to switch is if you find a feature in the competing product that solves a problem for you. Yet, that doesn’t keep some folks from getting upset about issues totally unrelated to their workflow and using them as a basis to switch.
The Scott Bourne Post
Scott Bourne recently wrote such a post expressing his frustration with Apple and used it as a basis to rationalize a switch from Aperture to Lightroom. The gist of his post is that Apple is abandoning the professional market. His basis for a switch isn’t that he can’t do his work with the current offerings from Apple, but that he doesn’t trust them to have his interest in the future. I can’t say that I agree with his position, but it’s his choice to make.
In my view, Scott is making his business decision based upon nothing more than Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). He believes Apple is heading down a path, but he doesn’t know. In fact, some recent news about the Mac Pro contradicts one of his complaints in his article. While he was disappointed that it only received a perfunctory speed bump this year, news reports verified from Apple execs state that a more substantial update to the Mac Pro line is due for release next year.
The very fact that Apple made such a statement also indicated another flaw in Scott’s analysis. Apple has traditionally kept silent about future products, but here is a confirmation of a major update to the Mac Pro! Perhaps that news had not yet reached Scott at the time he wrote his post. Otherwise, it seems to fly in the face of his major complaint. It shows that Apple hasn’t abandoned its Mac Pro and has also started sharing information about a future product release.
The Aperture Expert Post
On the other end of the spectrum, Joseph Linaschke of Aperture Expert wrote an insightful article of what the Aperture 3.3 release means to its users. He addresses the issues of frustration expressed by folks like Scott Bourne and gives some insight as to what is really inside the new release. Aperture 3.3 represents a two-year development effort by Apple: hardly what you would expect from a company that was ready to drop a product line. In fact, Apple added features that specifically address professional photographers and aren’t found in consumer products. While Scott bemoaned the fact that Aperture and iPhoto now share a common database format, I see it as a code-saving effort that increases interoperability and reduces overall maintenance costs for Apple. As Jospeh notes, this change makes it incredibly easy for users to upgrade from iPhoto to Aperture.
Apple advertisements for the new MacBook Pro with Resolution Display prominently feature Aperture. In fact, Apple has consistently put more emphasis on photography and video usage in its product line. Just as the Lightroom 4 release added many features that were already available in Aperture, the new release of Aperture includes features that already existing in Lightroom (e.g., brush controls for White Balance, post-crop vignette). Both development teams are keeping an eye on the industry and adding features to remain on par with each other.
Who Needs to Worry?
Right now, I don’t think that either Adobe or Apple customers need to worry that they are going to lose support. Eventually, something will change the industry. It always happens in software. Adobe
PageMaker InDesign is the king in its field right now, but it used to be Quark. Visicalc gave way to Lotus 1−2−3 and it yielded to Excel. That’s why succumbing to FUD is, in my opinion, a silly reaction. Change is inevitable, but you don’t really know who will be the game changer. you can bet on Adobe or Apple, but I would put my money on some startup with a completely new product. Until it comes around, or until I find a new problem to solve, I’ll stay with my existing digital asset manager. I suggest you do the same.
For those of you who have switched from one to another, how did it go?