Skip to main content

Apple Needs to Change for Creative Pros

This complaint is aimed squarely at Apple. It needs to evolve as a company or risk losing its most loyal base: creative professionals.

Apple must realize that power users, that small number of us willing to pay for any creative edge, cannot be surprised by the "Next Big Thing" at the end of the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). We need a clear roadmap. No, we're not why Apple earns billions of dollars, but we influence other users. Our decisions lead others to embrace or reject technologies.

I teach in the School of Communications and Information Systems at a university. Our school includes everything from "Media Arts" to "Computer Forensics" — it is an eclectic school, with a strong emphasis on rhetoric, communications, and technology. We train graphic designers, computer programmers, and English teachers. It's that eclectic.

Our students will learn specific programs on a mix of Apple and Dell systems. Then, they will go off and influence buying choices.

As a university, we have to plan ahead. We have to purchase hardware and software just as any corporation or large organization must: with an eye towards the future. Many of us are Mac users. Many are Windows users. Some use Linux. We use the tools that best meet our needs, but that's hard when the tools might not be around in a year or two.

Although I love writing, I am also a programmer, a designer, a typophile, and a Mac enthusiast. While I'm also a Windows and Linux user, and each of the operating systems have their place, Apple's place is in the creative arts — unless Apple messes things up even more than they have in the last few years.

Consider Apple Advanced Typography (AAT). Test it by using Zapfino in TextEdit and watch the magic. From an early embrace of SCSI for high-end scanners, PostScript printers (I miss the LaserWriter), FireWire (great for audio and video), Apple has recognized that "creatives" need some tools that are specialized.

Yes, the technology sometimes cost more. But, it served a purpose. Apple wasn't the best business computer for business. As a programmer, I've always found the DOS and Windows tools easier to use. Sorry, but Apple never did have something equal to TurboPascal, Delphi, or even Visual Studio 6. (Blasphemy, I realize, but I did like Visual Studio 6 a lot.)

Apple had HyperCard… and killed it. Apple had Objective Pascal… and killed it. Recently, Apple managed to mangle the Final Cut Pro upgrade. It is as if there's a self-destructive edge to Apple, not merely of the "creative destruction" sort.

I understand that things must change. Apple's move from System 9 to OS X was essential to the company's success. Apple's move from PowerPC to Intel was essential to maintain supplies, though in theory the PowerPC design could have evolved. (Ironically, it is the A4 and A5 chip designs powering Apple's growth today, not Intel chips. The Arm designs are more like the PowerPC than Intel designs.) FireWire is now being replaced by Thunderbolt. DVI video has evolved to HDMI and DisplayPort. Things do have to change.

But the Final Cut Pro fiasco? Dumping the Xserve? Just plain stupid. Yes, Apple can be stupid.
Apple, we need a vision. We need a roadmap.

Is there going to be a Mac Pro for five or ten more years? Will there be a commitment to design, audio, and video technologies? We have to know or we'll shift towards non-Apple products.

With a new CEO, shifts in the board, and other changes, now is a great time to start being a bit more open. Yes, you can keep surprising us with good ideas, but we don't want surprises at the high end. Creative pros need predictability.

Tell me I am right to wait for the next MacBook Pro and Mac Pro tower. Reassure me, and others, who have to think years ahead to make purchasing recommendations today.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Slowly Rebooting in 286 Mode

The lumbar radiculopathy, which sounds too much like "ridiculously" for me, hasn't faded completely. My left leg still cramps, tingles, and hurts with sharp pains. My mind remains cloudy, too, even as I stop taking painkillers for the back pain and a recent surgery.

Efforts to reboot and get back on track intellectually, physically, and emotionally are off to a slow, grinding start. It reminds me of an old 80286 PC, the infamously confused Intel CPU that wasn't sure what it was meant to be. And this was before the "SX" fiascos, which wedded 32-bit CPU cores with 16-bit connections. The 80286 was supposed to be able to multitask, but design flaws resulted in a first-generation that was useless to operating system vendors.

My back, my knees, my ankles are each making noises like those old computers.

If I haven't already lost you as a reader, the basic problem is that my mind cannot focus on one task for long without exhaustion and multitasking seems…

MarsEdit and Blogging

MarsEdit (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Mailing posts to blogs, a practice I adopted in 2005, allows a blogger like me to store copies of draft posts within email. If Blogger, WordPress, or the blogging platform of the moment crashes or for some other reason eats my posts, at least I have the original drafts of most entries. I find having such a nicely organized archive convenient — much easier than remembering to archive posts from Blogger or WordPress to my computer.

With this post, I am testing MarsEdit from Red Sweater Software based on recent reviews, including an overview on 9to5Mac.

Composing posts an email offers a fast way to prepare draft blogs, but the email does not always work well if you want to include basic formatting, images, and links to online resources. Submitting to Blogger via Apple Mail often produced complex HTML with unnecessary font and paragraph formatting styles. Problems with rich text led me to convert blog entries to plaintext in Apple Mail and then format th…

Screenwriting Applications

Screenplay sample, showing dialogue and action descriptions. "O.S."=off screen. Written in Final Draft. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) A lot of students and aspiring writers ask me if you "must" use Final Draft or Screenwriter to write a screenplay. No. Absolutely not, unless you are working on a production. In which case, they own or your earn enough for Final Draft or Screenwriter and whatever budget/scheduling apps the production team uses.

I have to say, after trying WriterDuet I would use it in a heartbeat for a small production company and definitely for any non-profit, educational projects. No question. The only reason not to use it is that you must have the exclusive rights to a script... and I don't have those in my work.

WriterDuet is probably best free or low-cost option I have tested. It is very interesting. Blows away Celtx. The Pro version with off-line editing is cheaper than Final Draft or Screenwriter.

The Pro edition is a standalone, offline versio…