Yes, everyone was bubbling over the screen of the MacBook Pro with Retina Display unveiled at last week's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). But the lackluster refresh of the Mac Pro and continuing issues with software updates are ringing warning bells with some professional content creators.
In a post at PhotoFocus, founder Scott Bourne runs down the issues for content-creation pros: The minor refresh to the Mac Pro (yes, more and better processors and cores but no Thunderbolt); the point release to Aperture (still a sore point with photo pros); and continuing questions about the commitment of Apple to photo and video markets.
Bourne points out that there's likely no hardware and software currently on the market that can calibrate the Retina Display. Pros should wait until third-party color calibration companies update their firmware and plugins.
They may pay lip service to it but there’s nothing there that can compete with Windows machines in a high-end video/photo production environment – even still – I won’t switch to Windows unless I just have to. If you think the current top-of-the-line Mac Pro can come close to competing with the current top-of-the-line Windows machines, you’re just kidding yourself. It’s not even close. And it pains me to say this because I exclusively used Apple computers since the introduction of the Apple II.
But the emphasis on mass market mobile is clear. Those of us in the professional photography community need to understand that we are no longer targets of Apple. They aren’t a pro apps company or a hardware company they are a mobile company. In so far as you are interested in mobile – then they are one to watch.
Bourne said that while he might appreciate the white balance brush and Retina Display compatibility in the Aperture update, it's not what he wanted nor expected. He said his staff is moving over to Adobe Lightroom and "I won’t be switching back."
Apple isn't serving professional content markets anymore, he states.
Here’s the writing on the wall. Aperture’s library now fully integrates with iPhoto’s library. Does that ring a bell with anyone but me? iPhoto is a purely consumer product. Aperture was originally touted, marketed and sold as a professional application and was managed by Apple’s pro apps team. Does anyone really think there’s a place for integration between a free consumer photo app that kids use in grade school and a pro app like Aperture?
This is like the Final Cut Pro debacle. Apple essentially has decided that the broader consumer market is more profitable so pro apps are history. I can’t and don’t blame them from a purely business point of view. If I were an Apple stockholder (and I am not) I would applaud these moves. As a professional photographer – I can’t say I am happy.
At his Betalogue blog, Mac designer and consultant Pierre Igot also expressed let downs with the "speed-bump" update of the Mac Pro as well as the absence of news about the future of the Mac Pro at WWDC.
However, he was encouraged with recent message sent by by Apple CEO Tim Cook to a professional user. It was described in an article posted last week on Macworld:
Our Pro customers like you are really important to us. Although we didn’t have a chance to talk about a new Mac Pro at today’s event, don’t worry as we’re working on something really great for later next year. We also updated the current model today.
Igot said this news might get him to hold out for anther year waiting for "something great," the line that Steve Jobs would use about the latest Apple release.
One wonders how many Mac Pros hopes to sell between now and mid-2013 with such an announcement and why they are not introducing much needed features like the new ports sooner, but sometimes Apple works in really mysterious ways.
Or not. Cook continues in his message in the story that the Final Cut Pro X updates are "terrific" and "incredible" and same with the new Aperture features. Apple has its own strategy for its high-performance tools and that direction may, or may not fit in with the workflows of longtime Mac content creators. That's something that may be hard for some to hear and accept.