How Apple’s revolutionary Aperture lost to Adobe’s Lightroom

“On October 19, 2005, Apple released a new tool for professional photographers. [Aperture] promised much, it ultimately delivered a great deal, and it has fans to this day,” William Gallagher writes for AppleInsider. “Apple’s software wasn’t Photoshop, it was a new class of app entirely. It was for photographers to handle large numbers of photographs, to do the kind of processing and editing they need daily, and then to send these images on to clients.”

“Then Adobe released Lightroom, a very similar idea to Aperture, and that seemed to validate the concept. There were key differences between the two but they both aimed to serve pro photographers,” Gallagher writes. “Adobe Lightroom succeeded and is still in use today. Apple’s Aperture is no longer in development or on sale.”

“Neither app was a tool for everybody, Aperture was and Lightroom is a niche application, but what they set out to do, did create a new class of software for users pro and casual,” Gallagher writes. “They both launched a genre of apps that professional photographers would now find difficult to do without.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As with the Mac Pro and the Mac mini, Apple simply seemed to have inexplicably lost interest.

Even when profitability is overshadowed by consumer products, Apple should always look to satisfy and supply creative professionals with the absolute best tools for their needs.

These pro users are the opinion makers. They have outsized influence that extends far beyond their numbers.

It both saddens and maddens us that Apple took their collective eye off the ball when it comes to Mac professionals. Hopefully, those who stuck with Apple and the Mac platform are soon to be rewarded handsomely for their unbelievable patience!

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  1. Patience beyond the pale. We still haven’t seen what claptrap or further misguided Mac Pro design Apple has in the offing for pros. They have taught us to be disappointed and underwhelmed by this point by their effarts and no longer hopeful they will pull off a miracle.

    As a result 2019 might well be The Year Most Serious Pro’s Went All-in On PC Workstations.

    1. Sad when it really doesn’t take a Miracle. Create a decent looking case with the Apple logo, slap a motherboard in there that will support the latest processors, USB-C, USB3, Thunderbolt-3, Two EtherNet ports and a WiFi, support GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD. All people to install any old SSDs, RAM, etc. Provide for good cooling and overclocking, and boom yer done.

      Charge what it’s worth. About $1500 and it’s faster than anything Apple already builds. It’s not Jony Ives science here. It doesn’t take years. It doesn’t require committees to study workflow. It just requires that you support it.

      You’ve just made Pros and Enthusiasts happy alike.

      Get fancy, provide the facility to cluster them.

      I can only surmise that we’re going to get some sealed, impossible to upgrade or fix machine costing $25,000 that barely keeps up with the average consumer build.

      1. I totally agree as many here would. It’s not Rocket Surgery. But Apple being Apple they just can’t help themselves wanting to be technologically “clever” (that no one asked for) but shooting themselves in the foot in the process.

        Which is why I have set up other platform options just in case Apple fails – again. I am not optimistic. Sad since this will probably be my last big pro computer purchase and my needs wind down. I am also watching for a certain budget and an elite pro & unreasonable Apple Tax would also be their undoing.

        1. I agree with you, too. I also love your mixed metaphors (rocket science + brain surgery = rocket surgery). Had to think about that for a minute; I thought my cognitive skills were somewhat diminished!

  2. Mostly it was that Adobe was essentially giving it away on “Try It” licenses forever before they began to enforce licensing. People who never even used iPhoto would have it on their computers believing it was the best way to manage and edit their 54 vacation photos. And when you mention and demonstrate Aperture, price would come up, and that would be the end of that.

    1. Aperture was very much price competitive with Lightroom. And Aperture came first so had no competition for several years. It was a HUGE success until Pipeline inexplicably closed up shop.

      1. True true, but people were downloading Lightroom left and right for free and it just caught up with Aperture. I liked Aperture better as well. I found that most people who had either, really only needed iPhoto. Every so often I’d run into a real photo editor working in a real photography production environment, and for some strange reason, they’d always have Lightroom.

        By the time version 3 came out, I remember it being so cheap I would buy it for people just to get them to try it.

        But, like you said, they killed it.

    2. My recollection is that both were being given away for free trials…and during said free trials, I found that Aperture brought my G5 PowerMac to its knees, whereas Lightroom didn’t.

      Runs faster, lower cost … this isn’t Rocket Surgery (nice quip, Peter!).

      And now with the neglect from Apple of providing a strong enough “truck” to run the workflows on, as those old Cheesegraters finally start to die, the prospects of this customer base ever coming back are hanging by a thread.

      About the only way that Apple really has any chance to retain relevance in this field is with hardware. That means that “modular” actually isn’t YA lame Apple closed proprietary box, but user-serviceable with PC commodity parts, and similarly, for the MSRP to be a G4 Yikes!” price of $1599, not $15,999.

  3. Aperture was not just professional software. Anyone who bought a serious digital camera and was interested in photography bought either Aperture or Lightroom. Software like this is needed to store tens of thousands of photos.

    Apple created this category of software that photographers quickly embraced. For years it was ahead of Lightroom. And then Pipeline lost interest. With hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars in the bank, Pipeline could not find the pocket change it would have took pay for the development team to keep Aperture around.

    If Pipeline had even the slightest love or respect for Steve Jobs’ Apple, he would resign to underscore what a complete failure he has been.

    Apple used to make great, elegant software that just worked.

    No longer, thanks to Pipeline.

  4. I still love and use Aperture daily. I realize that it will no longer work one day, based on the inability to run the app on newer harder that ships with incompatible versions of macOS. Evaluated on a workflow basis, Aperture still crushes Lightroom.

    I refuse to partake of Adobe’s idiotic subscription scheme. Adobe: why won’t you provide the purchase option for those of us who want it? (Yes, I do understand that’s a rhetorical question in the sense that no one from Adobe will actually respond to that question, as no one at Adobe actually cares). Even lowly Microsoft offers both a subscription AND a purchase option.

    1. I too refuse to convert over to Adobe’s subscription plan. The time is ripe for Pipeline to publicly acknowledge what a blank eyed, knuckle dragging mouth breather he is and bring back Aperture. Of course, only a blithering idiot like Eddy Cue would trust Apple with this software after having been burned so badly the first time with Aperture.

  5. I was a long time Aperture user who moved to Lightroom within a year of Apple’s sad announcement – truthfully wish I had stayed longer. Lightroom’s interface is just cluttered and non-intuitive. They have some great tools but Aperture was just plain “elegant”. STILL cannot believe Apple just walked away from such an amazing product. I have thought many times about embracing FinalCut but I don’t want to get screwed again so I stick with Premier. You just can’t trust Apple to communicate their plans, follow a path nor support users for the long term. They do it their way, on their timelines…Mac, IOS and iPhone are the only things I trust them to support – and the Mac thing is looking pretty shaky…

  6. MDN best take EVER looking out for the LONG neglected Apple pro community. A big THANK YOU!

    With the exception of one “poop” comment, agree with all the spot on insightful comments. You know where I stand and 2019 is a make or break year for me…

  7. I’m not a pro but I’m stilling using Aperture. With every release of a new OS I say a little prayer that it won’t break anything. I work in genealogy and family history, and Aperture is still the best app for organizing my thousands of photos and scans. It also handles drag and drop interface with Reunion (genealogy). It offers metadata unbelievably well. My main problem with sharing photos is that no one has software that reads it. I have done searches of available software to see if there is something I can or should move to. All the options mean a lot of compromise (I won’t pay a subscription). I once wrote a company that could have made Aperture a companion to its main product and asked if they could buy the code from Apple. They said Apple would never do that.

  8. I used Aperture from the day it was launched and abandoned the use of Adobe products. Aperture was a wonderful product and it is a shame that it has been mothballed in favor of Photos. I just started using Capture One 11 and it is fantastic for those who shoot in RAW. I regret that Apple abandoned us with no future development of Aperture. Boo!

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