Dear Steve

I’m really glad to see the news about the iPhone 3g. I’m interested in how the new mobile me service takes a small step toward cloud-based storage services that I’ve wanted for a while. And the news that Max OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” will focus on speed and stability, rather than features is good, especially considering the following.

You see, I’m a fan of Apple products. Not because I like the brand, but because the products work for me. I do enjoy that the Apple style is rather compatible with mine, and I have to admit that Apple products have influenced my work and choices, but now I’m realizing that I really do enjoy the products simply because they help me do the things I want to do faster and better…until they don’t.

I used to love iPhoto. Even more than taking pictures, I enjoy sharing them. iPhoto did that, and the editing tools made quick work of preparing my photos for sharing. I find iPhoto’s adjustment tools faster and easier to use than Photoshop’s (I started using Photoshop at version 2.0, so I’m more than comfortable with it), and the organization tools — the digital shoebox — have given me been a fair place to keep the large number of photos I’ve taken over the years. And that’s the problem.

I now have over 20,000 photos in my iPhoto library, and the performance of the application has dropped significantly. Further, my whole computing experience falls down when it’s open, even though I’m running a not-too-slouchy 2.16 GHZ Mac Book Pro with 2GB of RAM. It’s gotten to the point that I cringe when I plug in my iPhone after taking a few pictures and it opens to download them. And yesterday I finally worked up the courage to download the 300 photos that had been collecting on my DSLR.

In short, I realize now that iPhoto’s non-performance has taken the fun out of photography.

People suggest that I could archive my old photos to DVD or create separate libraries, but that misses the fact that a huge part of iPhoto’s value to me is in having easy access to all my photos without having to remember what disk they’re on. The storage issue was what had me propose Space Ship, as the 53 GB of photos hardly have to remain on my local hard drive, and it’s keeping me from switching to a MacBook Air, but the performance issue may drive me from iPhoto, and possibly the Mac platform all together.

You see, without easy access to my media, I lose much of the value that the iLife suite brings to me. Why use iMovie if the media browser can’t find the source photos and videos that are no longer in iPhoto? Keynote’s integration of the iLife media browser was great, but again, if my source material isn’t there, why use it? If I have to go through the effort of manually managing my now far-flung media, why use a Mac at all?

Please Steve, I’ve loved Apple products all these years because they did what computers where supposed to do: they made my life easier, more fun, and more productive (even if “productive” means getting an great photo of a family vacation). But you’ve not mentioned the Mac being the center of my digital life in some time, and it’s clear from Apple’s recent product announcements that the company is focusing elsewhere. Please remember that I enjoy creating media as much as consuming it, and I need products and services that support that creativity.

We knew iLife 08 was a bit ho-hum when you announced it in January, but now it’s looking pretty tired.