Is Apple Building A Photoshop Replacement?

by James R. Stoup Aug 02, 2007

Am I the only one who ever wondered why Apple made Aperture? Doesn’t it seem a little out of place? It doesn’t fit in with iLife or iWork because they are designed for the consumer, not the professional. Likewise it doesn’t fit with in with the Final Cut Studio package because that is a video editing suite and doesn’t have a thing in the world to do with photos. Aperture certainly isn’t a natural extension of OS X, so no need to try and bundle the two together. And it doesn’t fit in with Apple’s web development, iPod, iPhone, .Mac or iTunes strategies either. So why did they build it? Why bother investing so much time and money into a project that doesn’t fit with any other product you sell? And if that wasn’t enough, Adobe, the king of all things image-related, is releasing a competing product! I ask again, why do it?

When Aperture was first released I remember thinking two things. First, that Adobe was going to have to respond aggressively (and they did, it was called Lightroom in case you missed it) to protect their interest in this field. And even though it wasn’t a direct competitor to Photoshop, it did have some of its features. Thus, professionals might find a place on their dock for it, even if it was just beside Photoshop instead of replacing it. In fact, Adobe had to see this for what it was, namely an attempt by Apple to encroach upon their territory. Which brings me to my second point.

I couldn’t figure out why Apple would antagonize such a critical partner. Because, let’s face it, that’s what they did. They created a product that was completely independent of all their current software endeavors knowing full well that Adobe would see it is a threat. Now, how big a threat is up for debate, but it was a threat nonetheless. So why would they do it? Why not just focus on the iPod/iPhone/iTunes business? After all, that is where all of the excitement is at the moment. Why try and enter a market that already has a dominant player?

Here is my guess, I think Apple is putting together a suite of applications, very similar to Final Cut Studio, whose focus is images rather than video. And at the center of this suite will be a replacement for Photoshop that will be tightly integrated with Aperture. I didn’t think Apple would do this until the iPhone came out and it was revealed that it didn’t support flash. How is that relevant you ask? By not supporting flash Apple is trying to diminish Adobe’s grip on the web. Putting aside all of the problems inherent with flash, I think Apple wants the iPhone (and its future plans for the web) to be based on either a) its own technology, or if it can’t swing that, b) open standards. Flash, I’m afraid, doesn’t fall into either of those categories. But lets get back to Photoshop for a moment. Apple is going to use this new image editing suite as a club against Adobe. I’m not completely sure why yet, but apparently Apple has decided that things will go smoother for them if Adobe isn’t in the way.

So, here is my prediction. Before next June I think Apple will announce its Photoshop killer. Then, in June, I think they will announce a product to compete with Dreamweaver. Eventually, these products will all be bundled together and sold along side Final Cut Studio. I’m not sure how Adobe plans to counter this, but I don’t think it looks good for them.


  • What the hell?

    Apple makes an editing tool for digital photographers, and suddenly that means that they’re about to release a Photoshop replacement - correction - an entire image application suite?

    This is how rumors get started, (esp when anything Apple is concerned) but even rumors need some semblance of a source. The only statement given to support this is that Apple doesn’t use Flash. Hardly concrete.

    ANY source of information would lend this article some credibility: patent filings, Apple hiring software engineers, references to other websites, references to unknown applications within current Apple software, ANYTHING. Without sources, this is conjecture and should be treated as such.

    magicg had this to say on Aug 02, 2007 Posts: 8
  • I would simply point out that at the time Aperture was introduced, Adobe did not own Macromedia and so was completely unrelated to flash.  The whole iPhone design was pretty much set at the time of the takeover.  So I don’t think that’s any reason to say that Apple’s building image editing software.

    That being said, Photoshop needs some competition.  It’s not an easy program to learn or grasp.  Apple is one of the few companies that could produce a strong alternative.  And with Core Image it might not even be all that tough to do.

    Consider Motion.  Motion has compositing and filters just like Photoshop.  Modify it to deal with larger images and it might look strikingly like a Photoshop competitor.  So it might be that you don’t need many more programmers to create a Photoshop alternative because all the heavy lifting is done through Core Image.

    Motion may need to deal with larger images soon in any event because the RED camera [] is coming.  This camera shoots continuous 4K (digital SLR-sized) images.  Motion will need to deal with this format and so you might as well add full still image capabilities, just as Photoshop now has moving image editing abilities in its professional version.

    So why not give Photoshop a little competition?  It would force Adobe to redouble their efforts on the Mac platform, as they have with Lightroom.  And it would make the Mac platform more relevant as many people would try and adopt the new program.


    David H Dennis had this to say on Aug 02, 2007 Posts: 7
  • I think it’s great if Apple starts dishing out pro apps like FCP and Motion to counter the competition. All mac users will follow what Apple puts out because it will be that much better (FCP VS premiere pro or AVID)... I can’t wait till all my main pro apps are all Apple designed to run on my machines. Let’s hope this happens.


    macgomez had this to say on Aug 02, 2007 Posts: 3
  • Wow, this is the first time I’ve ever agreed with something on this site.

    I think you’re absolutely right about a CS3-type suite from Apple.

    And, iWeb Pro, or whatever, will certainly be a competitor to DreamWeaver, too.

    But, they have to have a twist. What will it be?

    It will have a touch interface, so that when the rumored new touch displays come out (and eventually MacBooks & MacBookPro touch screens come out), you’ll be able to do editing and drawing with your fingers—and a mouse, of course. The mouse won’t go away for detail work.

    It’s not as silly as it sounds.

    matters had this to say on Aug 02, 2007 Posts: 21
  • I don’t think Apple is developing an alternative to Photoshop, but stranger things have happened before.

    That being said, Adobe can’t and shouldn’t be trusted. They’re a business, and the first responsibility of any business is to maximize profits for its owners/shareholders. Logically, to maximize profits, a company should minimize its expenditures. To minimize expenditures and cost, logically, Adobe should try to focus their development efforts on as few platforms as possible. Since Windows is the bigger market (by a huge margin), logically, Adobe should restrict their development resources on Windows. Logically, if they could manage to move all their clients to that single platform, then they should do that.

    In the late 90s, Adobe was in the process of doing just that. They started releasing windows versions of their software ahead of their Mac versions and in the case of Acrobat, releasing inferior versions of their software, and in the case of Premier, stopped development for the Mac altogether.

    Their aim was to gradually make the Macintosh platform as unattractive as possible to their clients in order to encourage them to move to Windows. Adobe even put a notice on their own website, recommending Windows to their Premier customers.

    To be sidelined by one of the biggest software developers for the platform sucks for us as Mac users and is very dangerous to Apple as the owner/developer of the Mac platform.

    It was highly publicized that Adobe bluntly refused to keep development of Premier for the Mac going and move it to the then upcoming Mac OS X. Apple said that because of that, they went looking for a video editing package for the Mac and bought what was to become FinalCut from Macromedia.

    Apple managed to punish Adobe severely for their attempt at neutralizing the Mac platform by nearly taking away the whole video editing market from Adobe. I believe that it was a hard lesson to learn for Adobe. The lesson was not to try to force Apple into a market, otherwise Apple would take it away from them easily. I believe one of the main reasons behind Adobe’s purchase of Micromedia was to take it before Apple had any reasons and chance to buy it for themselves.

    Maybe Apple had some info about Adobe’s intentions regarding their publishing suite and built Aperture as another club to beat Adobe with into submission. While Photoshop is a formidable and very sophisticated piece of software, I have no doubt that Apple could build something that fills the void left if Adobe decides to take it Windows-only; and I believe that Adobe believes the same thing after what happened with Premier and FinalCut.

    Jbravo had this to say on Aug 02, 2007 Posts: 2
  • I wouldn’t mind seeing Adobe getting some competition on their turf.  They’ve taken the Mac platform for granted too long.  They’re slow to adopt Apple’s new APIs and their applications seem out of place with the rest of the Mac experience.

    I say go Apple.  Show Adobe (and any other foot-dragging company) how to write GREAT software.

    HG had this to say on Aug 02, 2007 Posts: 7
  • I agree with MacGlee. Adobe needed McMotivation.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Aug 02, 2007 Posts: 371
  • Adobe did not own Macromedia and so was completely unrelated to flash.

    Also, the idea that Lightroom was a “response” to Aperture is absurd, unless you believe that Adobe can code such a huge program in a matter of weeks.  But, in fanboy world, Apple invented everything, didn’t they.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Aug 02, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • Adobe can’t and shouldn’t be trusted. They’re a business, and the first responsibility of any business is to maximize profits for its owners/shareholders.

    Doesn’t that mean that Apple can’t and shouldn’t be trusted either?

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Aug 02, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • I say go Apple.  Show Adobe (and any other foot-dragging company) how to write GREAT software.

    Mac users should be lying down and kissing Adobe’s collective feet.  Without Adobe (or Microsoft for that matter), the Mac platform would not enjoy even the 5-6% market share it does today.

    Photoshop is not only a GREAT program, it is THE program for image editing.  I’m not sure that any other software dominates its field the way Photoshop does.

    That’s not to say that they couldn’t use some competition, but there is a problem with Apple entering every market in which a third-party developer has achieved actual success.  The faboys have been cheering the development of iWork as an Office killer.  They’ve been wanting a Photoshop killer ever since Adobe looked even slightly like they might not be devoting every single solitary modicum of attention to Mac users.

    For all their trumpeting of third-party apps on the Mac, Mac users clearly have little but contempt for any developer but Apple, and would be perfectly content if Apple were the only developer of software for the Mac.  But that is not a recipe for growth or long-term success.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Aug 02, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • Your current arguments are careless and without merit or substance. You just as might of suggested Apple was going to acquire Adobe.  What you seem to have missed is included below for your edification.

    Apple Education 101 for the editor…

    All if not most of all Apple software has an obvious direction, called consumer to prosumer to pro.  They offer solutions starting with the consumer and where it fits pro/prosumer.

    Lets take a look at it from a bird’s eye view, hoping this will help in your next assertion in editorial views.

    iMovie—>FinalCut Exprees—> FinalCut Studio
    iDVD—>DVD Studio Pro
    GarageBand—>Logic Express—>Logic Pro

    Looks like Aperture offers pro or prosumer solutions for Photographers not available in iPhoto.  The fact that no other product existed prior Aperture was an opportunity for Apple to provide a unique solution not yet met by the status quo.

    macfortruth had this to say on Aug 02, 2007 Posts: 1
  • For the life of me I can’t figure out why Apple hasn’t bought Adobe. Two stellar reasons why they should: they’d improve on apps like PhotoShop, DreamWeaver, and In-Design for us mac users. And they’d deliver a swift butt-kick to the PC crowd who’d be left swinging in the breeze when Apple stopped supporting those apps on the Windows platform.

    Win. Win. (except for windows)

    FilmPhotoWeb had this to say on Aug 02, 2007 Posts: 1
  • You can’t just knock up a Photoshop competitor in a year or two. It’s a massive undertaking. Those that have been doing it for years are still way behind. Those that have com onto the market in the last couple of years are also still way behind.

    The only way Apple would have any success with a Photoshop-like app is if Adobe dropped Photoshop for the Mac.

    It is much more likely Apple would develop a consumer image editing app as this market is a lot more wide open, although Photoshop Elements probably is #1.

    Apple bought their way into the high end video editing market - and music editing for that matter. It would be more likely they’d do the same with high-end image editing.

    Photoshop isn’t just an application. It’s a way of doing things. It is to image editing what the steering wheel is to driving.

    Ok, maybe that’s a little extreme, but the point is Photoshop is a way of life for so many people, that asking them to change is pointless unless you produce something that is essentially a clone.

    Just like Office suites. The most successful ones are the ones that clone MS Office.

    Ditto Linux. Everyone wants it to be more user-friendly - by which they mean more Windows-like. Which we’ve seen happen. Linux hasn’t become more OS X like, it’s become more Windows like.

    I’ve tried heaps of image editors, but Photoshop is the best and more importantly, is the standard.

    Do you think you saying “I’m an expert in Apple’s ImageShop” will get you a job?

    Go ahead Apple and make us a consumer image editing app - that integrates with iPhoto and Aperture - but don’t waste your time on a Photoshop competitor. We don’t want or need one.

    I think there’s as much chance of Apple developing a high end image editing app as there is of iWork (a consumer app) being a serious MS Office (a corporate app) competitor.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Aug 02, 2007 Posts: 1209
  • @Beeblebrox

    Mac users don’t need to kiss anyone’s foot.  The fact of the matter is that Microsoft and Adobe made plenty of money in the 1980’s off of the Macintosh and the desktop publishing phenomenon that Apple ushered in.  By the way, that phenomenon was created by Apple’s one-two punch: the simple WYSIWYG interface found exclusively on the Mac and Apple’s introduction of the first laser printers for computers.

    If any foot kissing is in order, it should be from Windows users to Apple, for all the software that was developed on the Mac that was then ported to Windows once that crappy OS finally became usable.

    As for entering other companies markets.  Adobe and Microsoft have been unpredictable partners.  You could even say that with partners like these two, who needs enemies.  Their software has been inconsistent in quality and quantity.  Mac users have had to endure Adobe’s and Microsoft’s glacial code-base creaking toward another update, while fresh and exciting software is being produced more quickly by younger companies using the latest Cocoa APIs.  I wouldn’t worry that a dominant Apple will scare developers.  Quite the contrary, Apple backbone only inspires confidence in others.

    As for Photoshop.  Just because people are good with Photoshop (which requires contorting one’s intuitive nature) doesn’t mean that Photoshop is worthy of existing.  Photoshop is an abomination.  Even Adobe’s John Nack admits Photoshop has an unnecessarily high barrier to entry.  It seems Adobe’s admittance of this fact reveals that the old farts are the die-hard Photoshop ‘experts’, but new users are finding the software too daunting to use.  Of course Adobe needs new money so they’re scrambling to improve the product.

    Apple should write an image manipulation application that’s fun, truly creative and intuitive to use—not so much to teach Adobe a lesson, but just to help right-brained users be more productive.  If Adobe (or Microsoft) cop some ideas from Apple’s efforts, then that’s fine too.  People on the Windows side will benefit as a side-effect and there’ll be more foot kissing owed to Apple.

    HG had this to say on Aug 02, 2007 Posts: 7
  • HG said: It seems Adobe’s admittance of this fact reveals that the old farts are the die-hard Photoshop ‘experts’, but new users are finding the software too daunting to use.

    I’m an old fart who’s new to Photoshop and don’t find it daunting.

    What REALLY, REALLY, REALLY p*sses me off tho about Adobe is the TOTAL inconsistency between Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

    Some things, such as basic keystrokes, like deselect, should be the same across all those apps.

    Using all three, I tend to have no confidence in using keyboard shortcuts because I have to stop and think which app I’m in. So it becomes quicker to navigate the menus.

    The color selection system is another that needs to be made consistent across all the apps.

    Admittedly, it is Photoshop that is most often more inconsistent than the other two.

    In CS4, Adobe’s single goal should be to standardize the apps as much as possible, so switching between them means not having to relearn so much.

    That will upset a lot of long time users, but that’s better than upsetting every new user year after year.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Aug 02, 2007 Posts: 1209
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