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iMovie 08: The Missing Braincells

Only in the world of madness could making an application less powerful and capable of doing less be nodded in as a good thing. And yet that’s exactly what the people golf-clapping Eric’s post replying to David Pogue’s critique of iMovie 08 are doing.

The arguments go like this:

“Yeah, iMovie 06 was too complicated. Better to strip out features.”

Cop out. Removing features is simply a way of admitting that you have no idea how to take the product forward and improve the interface. ANYONE, even Microsoft, can simply remove features and make a product easier to use. The hard stuff – and the thing that Apple has always been good at – is adding them yet still making it easier to use.

“You get iMovie 06 free, so what’s the big deal?”

The big deal is that iMovie 06 has been end-of-lifed. There will be no further updates, no bug fixes, and at some point in the future (maybe as early as Leopard) it will no long work at all. What’s more, the fact that iMovie 08 doesn’t import iMovie 06 projects – it just grabs the clips – means that all those archived projects will, one day, be inaccessible (while Final Cut Express imports iMovie 06 projects, titles and effects are rendered in and can’t be re-edited).

This is exactly the kind of data lock-up which Mark Pilgrim made a lot of when he moved from Mac to Linux, and which many people flamed him over. This isn’t just a case of Apple making you pay for an upgrade path: it’s stopping you having any kind of upgrade path. Let me say that again: in a year or two, the iMovie projects you created with iMovie 06 will not be fully-usable with any application, even from Apple.

It’s really amusing to see the people who’ve totally drunk the cool aid nodding along with Apple’s claims that removing features and orphaning people’s content, and tying themselves into logical knots attempting to say that less is more.

Personally, I like iMovie 08, but that’s because I edit about three videos a year and all I want to do is post them on the web. If I were in Pogue’s position, or had a lot of content in iMovie projects, I’d be seriously annoyed with Apple right about now.

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