Adam Banks recalls Apple’s early dabbles with media software
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.