Oct 6, 2006

Are Apple and Adobe at war over Aperture?

appleadobe.pngAccording to The Business News Source, Apple and Adobe are at war. Which comes as a bit of a shock to people I know at both companies.

The Business News Source, which bills itself as “a free and impartial review of global business news” obviously isn’t all that concerned with “getting it right”.

Normally, I wouldn’t bother to mention another news “article” if I thought it was pure crap. But this is a special case. In the article titled Are Apple and Adobe at war over Aperture? the article (posted without authorship) makes some pretty special (read: pretty weird and really wrong) statements. This one, in particular is really wrong:

It now transpires that the team that bought Aperture to market was probably some of the original team that started what became Adobe’s Lightroom.

Well, no…actually, the fellow that started Lightroom (aka Shadowland) Mark Hamburg is still at Adobe working on finishing up Lightroom. A simple read of my story The Shadowland/Lightroom Development Story would put this bit of silliness to rest. Ironically, Greg Gilly, the fellow that inspired Mark Hamburg to develop Shadowland did end up leaving Adobe and going to Apple (at about the time that Aperture was announced) but Greg has nothing to do with Aperture and Greg never actually “worked on” the development of Shadowland/Lightroom other than to get Mark to work on it. And Greg certainly isn’t a “team”.

The “team” that is primarily working on Lightroom (if there is a concept of team) is largely based just outside of Minneapolis. You can read about the Lightroom engineers in my story A Visit to the Adobe Lightroom Engineers.

The unnamed author of this story also seems to imply that Aperture was a shock to Adobe with this assessment:

The news apparently came as quite a shock to Adobe, who along with Apple, hold massive sway in the rapidly growing digital photographic marketplace with their own Photoshop software platform.”

Well, no…actually both Adobe and Apple were well aware that each company was working on a similar product for the same market-photographers-so the only mildly surprising aspects were what the Apple product would be named, what it would cost and when it would be officially released. And as time would show, Apple’s first target price of Aperture was a bit on the high-side which lead to Aperture’s price drop earlier this year.

This anonymous author goes on to speculate that Aperture’s 1.5 update “so annoyed Adobe” that “rumors of threats between the companies have been passed through various ‘back channels’“. He also postulates that Apple’s next step in the “war” would be to “take the small leap and build-in similar functionality to Photoshop“.

Small step? I don’t think so. It would be really, really difficult (not to mention pretty stupid) to try to get Aperture to have the same functionality as Photoshop.

So, why did I bother to post this in the first place? There’s enough misinformation out there about Aperture/Lightroom/Photoshop and the Apple/Adobe relationship I thought it would be a public service to point out just how wrong this particular article was. In the event you wish to read the original, uh, “article”, here it is: Are Apple and Adobe at war over Aperture?

Just be sure to read it as a fictional short story written by “anonymous”…


3 Responses to “Are Apple and Adobe at war over Aperture?”

  1. masterofall Says:

    Jeff – good insight into the process – certainly amazed that Adobe give you so much access – photographing the inside of the Apples campus is an ‘instant dismissal’ so good to see Adobe out in the open. I’ve left the infinate loop, but while there I too was told that the Aperture engineers originally came from Adobe – so that doesn’t quite square with your comments on the blog. Maybe it was only some of the guys. By the way I took the time to read the article and it did state that much of the stuff was rumor. I doubt that any Adobe exec is going to go ‘on the record’ and say “boy am I pissed at those Apple guys”. Sadly, Adobe took the choice focus on gettting CS3 out rather than benefiting the Photoshop community. Of course the other apps run ‘ok-ish’ in Rosetta, but Photoshop truly is a dog. – Anon (of course!)

  2. Jeff Schewe Says:

    Ah, if you are talking engineers, yes, Randy, the lead engineer on Final Cut Pro -DID- come from Adobe. He was a lead engineer on Premier before leaving Adobe and going to Macromedia, but that is -WAY- old history. Apple bought Final Cut from Macromedia years ago. Randy was the lead engineer on Aperture (or at least was-I understand he’s now off the project).

    But Randy never worked on anything remotely related to Photoshop or what would become Lightroom…as far as I know, he left Adobe in the mid 1990′s. And, as I said, he worked on Premier.

    So, again the “author” of that peice of crap wasn’t anywhere near on the mark.

    As for Adobe access…well, I’ve known & worked with the engineers on Photoshop for over 10 years…the access has been earned. I used to have an equal amount of access at Apple-I was brought on board the Apple Customer Advisory Board just before the original iMac was introduced and had an impact over the original G4 (silver plastice version). The 4th ram slot in that G4 was called the “Schewe Slot” because I told Phil Shiller it would be a cold day in hell before I would ever buy another Mac that couldn’t support at least a gig of ram.

    As for why it’s taken so long to bring Photoshop to UB? Well, all I gotta say is Xcode. While it’s now, finally at version 3, the earlier versions pretty much sucked for any project with the size and lines of code that Photoshop has. Even Apple’s own app developers were complaining. Simple fact is that the Steve Jobs “Reality Distortion Field” only works on humans, not on compilers. So, while Steve tried to make it SEEM like converting to Xcode was easy, the reality was pretty far south of that.

  3. Jeff Schewe Says:

    Oh, yeah-with regards to shooting in the Adobe buildings…I was told by security “No Photographs”, but that’s like waving a red flag at a bull. What are they gonna do, fire me? Well, since I don’t WORK for Adobe, there really isn’t anything they can do (and the amount of positive that has come from my little “photo essay” has Adobe PR very happy with me).


    You never ask for permission, you only ask for forgiveness…

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