Apple [AAPL] introduced the new iPad this morning. Faster, with outstanding graphics, the first thing company PR wanted to show me wasn't the processor, but the iPhoto app. And, for many users, this really is going to be the only imaging app you'll need.
The new iPad!
Before I get into that I want to have a little moan about the new iPad's name: "The new iPad". The new iPad? I can already see the executive team laughing maniacally at that name as the Apple writers (including myself) wisely bowed their heads and, with sagacious fallacy, intoned to all who'd listen: "It will be the iPad 2 HD, the iPad HD, the iPad 3".
I don't believe any Apple-watcher would ever have believed the company would christen the future of its post-PC ambition "the new iPad". They did. I'd like to spend a little time processing that data, so lets move on.
iPhoto for the rest of us
So, iPhoto then. Early on in his presentation, company CEO Tim Cook noted that Apple has so far sold 315 million iPads, iPhones and iPod touch devices. Of these, a huge percentage (OK, I've not worked out the exact figure) are running devices we know will run the new imaging app. That's millions of users, many of whom will already be downloading the iLife app to their device.
That's great news for hobbyist photographers -- but terrible news for Adobe and its Photoshop fiefdom.
OK. Photoshop isn't threatened -- yet. Advanced users need its advanced features. Its transitions and effects filters are supreme. That application will always be an essential to graphics pros.
Or will it?
Look at iTunes. Look at the iPod. Look at the foundations they became to Apple's post-PC success. Apple's approach is both innovative and iterative.
Where we see an app that's becoming beloved of millions of photo hobbyist users today, tomorrow's people will see an app that's been added to and improved until it begins to offer the shopping list of features pro users need.
Apple's head engineer for photo and video application, Randy Ubillos, demonstrated the new app. When he did, he noted that the software can work with images of up to 19-megapixels in size (bigger images than you can edit using Photoshop Touch).
In other words, photographers in the field will be able to perform a series of image improvement tasks on their pictures while they are on location. Using their iPad. Which they can then use to upload the image in many different ways. The new iPad. (New! iPad! That still hurts.) This will be your portable imaging lab.
[ABOVE: And, of course, iPhoto is also on the iPhone...]
What does this mean? It means millions of users will see iPhoto as their standard-issue imaging app. That figure includes some who have probably never heard of Photoshop. In this way, Apple is capturing a slice of mind-share. And don't forget, once you've edited an image in iPhoto, you can perform further edits in any of the many other imaging apps available on iOS.
Adobe sees which way this is going, which is why it has already begun developing apps for mobile devices. But, as Apple adds new functions to its iOS photo editor, how much longer will the power of the Photoshop brand prevail?
This is only a warning right now. An illustration. A hint of just how far we've come already, in just two years since the iPad hit the stands, and five since the dawn of the iPhone.
The old software as an application models are in a time of transition. Where we see apps today, tomorrow I think it likely we'll see rapid evolution of software as a service models. And this may be the best place Adobe and other traditionally-based software developers may need to look to, if they wish to re-cast themselves within this evolving software paradigm. To find a place in the Post-PC age.
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