I continue to use my MacMini daily but it is far from my only computer. If asked about Tim Cook and Apple products, I would be more likely to subscribe to this view, Tim Cook’s Apple: Middling Products Designed to Pad the Bottom Line While Gouging Loyal Customers.
Some place between the two views of Apple lies the truth, but as a heavy user of technology and one who sees problems that could use the magic Apple touch, I remain unconvinced that the changes at Apple are anything more than cosmetic or that we will see products that might help us have an easier time doing our jobs in a digital world that Apple helped create and even complicate.
Still I am glad to see Apple finally embracing a blog even if it is just for developers who have had a special relationship with Apple for many years. In fact developers have often had a better relationship with Apple than many Apple employees who oft times are in the dark about what the Cupertino mothership has planned. Maybe having a blog will help Apple better understand the needs of web content creators.
Perhaps as a heavy technology user who creates content I am in a small minority, but I remember well the days when Apple brought us WYSIWYG technology that worked very well in the black and white print world of the mid-eighties. Apple kept pace for many years delivering color printing capabilities that set the standard for the rest of the industry.
As content also found a home on the web, Apple got lost. It never came up with a web tool that was worth using. In fact Apple ignored the whole blogging world and missed one of the essences of the web, that your content has to be editable on all sorts of devices even one that you might not manufacture. I always thought Apple was clueless about blogging because no one at Apple ever did any blogging. Certainly iWeb was never a serious competitor.
I started my first blog using TypePad not long after leaving Apple in 2004. That was ten years ago and Apple has finally decided to do a blog but only to try to win developers over to yet another new language. I would be much more impressed if some Apple executives were blogging and trying to learn what Apple needs to do next.
While other companies have been figuring out the web and using it to better understand their customers, Apple has been busy becoming a consumer company with just as much secrecy as the old Apple. Those of us who still use products like RapidWeaver for the Mac to create content are obviously in the minority but I do not think Apple should give up on people like me. While Apple let the whole web world slide by and has been inconsistent with its tools, there is still a vast opportunity out there for an innovative company.
Unfortunately Apple's recent products have not helped. While I like the new Pages 5 tool, you cannot even export HTML from it. With the Beats acquisition, I see Apple moving farther from its roots as company that provides great productivity to users who have to work with digital assets.
We are in a strange world right now where often content is on the web, in ebooks, and in print. It is a very complex process to take content and have it work in a variety of environments. There are tools out there that promise to do this, but they are either expensive or complex to use.
The real genius of Apple that kept the company alive was reducing the complex to simple. When the Mac was introduced, we could print what we saw on the screen. Screen resolution and printer resolution did not increase in lock step but it was close enough and the tools were good enough that we could do a pretty good job producing print jobs and eventually that included color ones.
I just finished publishing the third version of my book, A Week at The Beach - The Emerald Ise Travel Guide. I ended up doing the final Kindle version on Word for Windows and the final print version on Word for the Macintosh. It would have been nice to pull everything together with an Apple product, but Apple obviously wants you to use iAuthor and publish only on their store. Word on the Mac does not do well what the Kindle world requires which is filtered HTML.
While I can understand Apple wanting to tie content to its devices, it would seem logical to me if Apple's devices are the best products for writing Kindle books that Apple will sell more products and probably get more books for the Apple platform. Yet the most recent version of iBooks Author will only export as an iBook, PDF, or Text.
I am not going to pretend this is an easy area to tackle but neither were products like iMovie and iPhoto. There is a huge opportunity for Apple to create an amazing writing tool that gives content creators more flexibility than iBooks Author and also lets them create books for Apple's store, the Kindle store, and for the print world. Apple already has a leg up on being able to use video in iBooks Author but the company also has a serious tilt towards a closed eco-system instead of an open one.
There are also sort of directions Apple could take, but I would love to see something like John Gruber's Markdown language used so that the same content could have different formatting applied to it. I already use a cloud-based product called Draft. Draft has introduced Kindle support so I am anxious to try it.
Right now those of us trying to publish in multiple environments would probably jump on an Apple solution. One that would let me publish to a blog, a web page, a PDF(x3 of course), or a real paper book would be most welcome. Third parties can build those things, but those of use who used the old Apple LaserWriters remember how well things worked when Apple worked closely with Adobe to make sure software, hardware, and printers all worked together seamlessly. I would love to no longer worry about hidden HTML in a Word document.
Amazon with its Kindle reader product for virtually every platform has done a great job making sure a work published on the Kindle store is widely available even on Apple hardware. They also have CreateSpace as an in house paper print publishing firm. They have their delivery mechanism down pat. However, other than emulators to check your work, they provide little help in the actual creation.
If Tim Cook's Apple is truly a more cooperative Apple, it would be great to see Apple become the publishing platform of choice once again even it means having to talk nicely to Amazon.
When I am not trying to coerce last generation tools to produce next generation books and content, you can often find me here on North Carolina's Crystal Coast enjoying one of the most beautiful places on earth.