July 9, 2014
I don’t have a crystal ball, and I don’t know a trusted source inside Apple, but I do read certain blogs that do have some insight on what’s to come. Most of these sites focus on the specs of new iPhones and the next OS upgrade, but the sites I give my attention to are ones that report on changes that affect the end user. Recently there have been some stories that will impact users of Microsoft Office, iPhoto and Aperture. (Though to be honest, Aperture is a non-entity in the grand scheme of things and nobody will even notice when it’s no longer with us.)
First of all, let’s talk Microsoft Office. If history repeats itself, 2014 (or 2015) will see the release of an upgraded edition of Office for Mac. Every three or four years, a new version is unleashed; while the old version isn’t immediately rendered obsolete by this, there are usually new features available that make users want to upgrade.
But considering that Microsoft issued Office 365, a subscription-based version of the suite off-cycle, it indicates that it is looking towards the annual-pay model, a la Adobe. And as I mentioned in my March 2013 blog post, the world is moving away from physical media (software, movies, music) into the cloud, where you rent or lease these types of things. Look at the popularity of Adobe Creative Cloud (albeit force fed on us, as there is no alternative short of looking on eBay for a legacy version) Spotify and Netflix. What they all have in common is the “rental” aspect – you own nothing, you just pay to play. And when you stop paying, you stop playing.
My experience shows that users find the entire Office 365 experience underwhelming (to say the least), with problems ranging from a clunky password reset process to broken server connections, requiring a phone call/service ticket from Microsoft tech support. And attempting to upgrade from Entourage into 365’s version of Outlook is an exercise in frustration for most users. So if Microsoft is planning on heading out on that dangerous road, it better patch things up before pulling the rug out from under us with an overnight switch from physical media to subscription model.
Now for iPhoto and Aperture: According to Apple, both will soon be lame ducks. The statement from Apple is:
“With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture. When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.”
Do you see the pattern here? Again, it’s a move from the physical to the cloud. While in theory that’s not a bad idea, most users still want something tangible – a chance to retain a physical copy of their photos in a safe place. Chances are slim to none that Apple is going belly up any time soon, but a cloud-only photo library has some worrisome associations that go along with it, including privacy issues, possible tech glitches that delete files, or worse yet, a change in terms that forces you to pay for exceeding size limits or be forced to deal with a non-intuitive storage management process (a practice that continues to dog iPhone and iPad users to this day).