iLife

Adam Banks re­calls Ap­ple’s early dab­bles with me­dia soft­ware

Mac Format - - FRONT PAGE -

Ap­ple never wanted to be a con­sumer soft­ware com­pany. When it shipped MacWrite and MacPaint with the orig­i­nal Mac­in­tosh, it was in the hope that they’d in­spire third­party ri­vals. Few took the bait. By 1998, the big A had spun off a sub­sidiary, Claris, to avoid hav­ing to de­velop apps in-house – then ac­ci­den­tally killed it by try­ing to force it to adopt the ill-fated OpenDoc stan­dard. Now apps were tak­ing up time and at­ten­tion again – and still there were more to make.

In 1999, the iMac DV was launched with the unique sell­ing point of FireWire, a su­per­fast in­ter­face for which the only ob­vi­ous use was to im­port video from tape-based cam­eras. That called for a video-edit­ing app, and iMovie was born. DVD burn­ers were the next hard­ware in­no­va­tion in search of soft­ware sup­port, which duly ar­rived in iDVD. And in 2002, Ap­ple’s re­sponse to the rise of dig­i­tal cam­eras (even though it had stopped mak­ing them it­self) was iPhoto. “We be­lieve the Mac can be­come the hub of our new emerg­ing dig­i­tal lifestyle,” said Steve Jobs at the time.

A vi­sion of in­te­gra­tion de­liv­ered by three un­re­lated pro­grams – in­for­mally known as the ‘iApps’ – felt in­con­gru­ous, and on 7 Jan­uary 2003, dur­ing a pro­duct­packed Mac­world Expo key­note, Jobs an­nounced they’d be rolled into a suite, iLife. This was the big idea, by his own ac­count, of soft­ware VP Todd Basche. In fact, the iApps still felt like un­re­lated pro­grams, and when GarageBand was added in 2004, then iWeb in 2006, they didn’t in­te­grate par­tic­u­larly well either.

With the ad­vent of the Mac App Store, even the box bear­ing the iLife brand­ing dis­ap­peared, leav­ing no more than a name. To­day, only two of the iApps sur­vive. As for Basche, he works for Taser, in­te­grat­ing body cam­eras and smart weapons…

A re­luc­tant foray into con­sumer soft­ware led to Ap­ple’s rather cob­bled to­gether iLife suite.

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