iDVD hung out to dry as Apple pushes movies online

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
One of the original pillars of Apple's iLife suite, iDVD, has increasingly been given the cold shoulder to the point where it is not even depicted on the retail package anymore. How much longer will the app stick around now that the company has focused on pushing media sharing online?



The origins of iDVD



Apple introduced its iDVD authoring software in 2001, originally shipping it only with SuperDrive-equipped Macs as a way to sell users on new DVD burning hardware. While data and files could be burned to DVD as easily as standard CDs, mastering DVD movies that could playback on a standard DVD player required special software for titling and chapter definition as well as transcoding the video into the MPEG-2 format.



Apple didn't want to waste any time entering the new market for DVD authoring, which it saw as a key element in its software-centric, digital hub strategy for differentiating its Mac platform from generic PCs in the late 90s, so it acquired Germany's Astarte, the maker of DVDirector and the original developer of the CD burning app Toast.



While Apple was reworking the firm's DVDirector to become the original DVD Studio Pro, it also wanted a simple consumer version. Astarte had a consumer version of its DVD mastering software in the works, but "it was terrible," reported Mike Evangelist, who joined Apple from Astarte.



In an interview printed by Pioneer Press, Evangelist and a group of Astarte developers described pitching the simplified app concept to Steve Jobs. "Jobs never glanced at their presentation," the article noted. "Instead, he walked up to a whiteboard and drew a square. This is the program, he said. Users will drag their movies here to create DVD menus. Then they'll click 'burn.' That's it. 'I don't want to hear anything about drawers or pop-out' windows, he said."



Jobs also had harsh criticism for the Astarte team building DVD Studio Pro, calling the original interface "brain-dead stupid." Apple ended up spending an additional six months on the product. It also released the simpler iDVD just in time for Macworld. Both products helped set the Mac platform apart at a crucial period of Apple's return to relevance.



DVD authoring was both computationally demanding, a factor that helped highlight the PowerPC processor's particular savvy at tasks like video transcoding, and also complex enough to greatly benefit from Apple's prowess at developing simple and easy to use software interfaces.



Part of the iLife digital hub



Shortly after introducing DVD Studio Pro, Apple bought Spruce Technologies and used its software to release DVD Studio Pro 2 in 2003 as an entirely new pro authoring app with a completely different interface. The same year, iDVD 3 was bundled along with iPhoto, iMovie and iTunes as part of the new iLife package. Previously, all of the individual apps had been free downloads.



Over the next three years, iLife expanded to include GarageBand and iWeb. In 2006, iDVD was opened up to enable burning to any DVD-R device rather than being exclusively tied only to Apple's built in SuperDrive models. From that point forward, iDVD was no longer helping to sell extra hardware by motivating users to upgrade to a SuperDrive.



Instead, all of the iLife apps were now being sold at retail, albeit at shareware prices, in order to add value to the Mac platform while generating enough revenue to sustain their development. That left Apple with less motivation to push DVD authoring, but another product from Apple would help deflate the company's interest in promoting iDVD to an even greater extent: online video sharing.



Gallery in the clouds



In 2007, Apple announced iLife 08 at a special event that demonstrated a new Dot Mac web application called Web Gallery built using the SproutCore JavaScript framework. The suite's various apps were tied into the cloud computing service to allow users to easily share and present their work online rather than burning it to disc. Jobs explained at the time that users could upload their vacation videos via iMovie at better than DVD quality and gave short shrift to the new version of iDVD that shipped in the box.



The next year, Dot Mac turned into MobileMe, and the fledgling Web Gallery became the harbinger for a new suite of web apps for handling email, contacts, calendar events, file transfers, and of course, a gallery of online photos and videos. Apple's aggressive software release schedule forced the new online suite into production to coincide with the release of the iPhone 3G.



That resulted in a weak introduction and lots of complaints from both Dot Mac users who experienced some transition issues as well as new users who found the apps overburdened to the point of being slow or even unreachable. Even so, Jobs' Apple wasn't about to retreat back into a media sharing strategy centered on disc burning.



Jobs the creator, destroyer



After all, this was the Jobs that had decisively killed the 3.5" floppy disc with the 1998 iMac after first introducing it in the 1984 Macintosh. After initially falling behind the curve with CD burning in the late 90s, Jobs' Apple had rushed to put CD burners on Macs but then largely obsolesced disc burning with the iPod just a few years later, using iTunes as a catalyst for the transition.



With the iPod, Jobs similarly pushed hard drive mechanisms into the limited capacity Flash-centric MP3 player market with the iPod Mini, only to then effectively kill off hard drive-based iPods with Flash models like the Nano, Touch, and iPhone, once flash RAM became cost effective enough to do so.



It should therefore not be too surprising that, after having jumped into DVD burning and become the leading prosumer authoring software vendor with DVD Studio Pro as well as a leader in consumer disc burning with iDVD, Jobs has now made it pretty clear that Apple sees the future of media sharing as happening through the cloud, not etched into plastic discs.



At this year's Macworld event, iDVD got no mention when marketing chief Phil Schiller took the wraps off iLife '09. Even the iLife banners at the event excluded any mention of the product (below). Since then, Apple has issued two press releases on iLife '09, and in both cases iDVD was relegated to one-off mentions as software capable of "creating DVDs." Similarly, references to the software on the company's iLife product page are anything but standout.







The iLife landing page prominently features iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, and iWeb while, information on iDVD is tucked away and accessible only via an inconspicuous link near the page's header. If those instances aren't enough evidence of Apple's lack of excitement for the software, bloggers pointed out Wednesday that the company fails to even mention iDVD on the retail packaging for iLife '09. Retail copies of iLife 08 referenced the software on both the front and back of the software jacket.



Thinking outside the disc



Apple's software-centric strategy draws attention to the new MobileMe Gallery and iWeb publishing features of iLife, which allow users to upload their video creations to the web for playback from desktop computers, mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch, as well as Apple TV, the company's video distribution hobby.



Apple's conspicuous lack of promotion of iDVD also underscores the company's intentional snubbing of Blu-Ray, which the industry hoped would replace the DVD with an even more complex to author interactive menus, far greater transcoding demands, greater DRM security, and virtually unlimited storage.



Given Apple's healthy business in both HD and mobile movie rentals and MobileMe online publishing, contrasted with the disappointing pace of Blu-Ray adoption, it looks like the company has picked the right strategy.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 125
    Perhaps they are waiting to come out with iDVD HD? Fresh with blue-ray compatible themes, apps and such? DVD Studio HD in Final Cut Suite 2 only? Who knows...



    Snooze alarm folks... hit the button till our iMac/Mini/Pro refresh comes out.
  • Reply 2 of 125
    cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member
    Hung UP to dry?
  • Reply 3 of 125
    doroteadorotea Posts: 323member
    I'm not looking for much from iDVD. But I want the program kept alive. I want to be able to create content that is viewable from some kind of removable permanent media. I don't always want to be connected via Web to look at content.
  • Reply 4 of 125
    elrothelroth Posts: 1,201member
    This is not the right strategy, at least it's not right to get rid of iDVD.



    My boss is going to switch to Macs later this year. The tipping point? My taking his vacation videos and making a simple but cool-looking DVD from them (in one night). That's 3 Macs that will be bought because of iDVD.



    I can't believe people want their wedding, vacation, performance, etc. videos only online, instead of on DVD (of course, I still buy CDs, so what do I know?).
  • Reply 5 of 125
    dluxdlux Posts: 666member
    I'll wait to get/install iLife '09 after the first round of patches, so I don't know if this has been fixed yet, but the previous version of iDVD was seriously broken if you wanted to create your own theme. I made a very simple no-frills 'Black' theme - black background, white letters, evenly-spaced buttons showing a still frame from the chapter - and every time I launch iDVD to make a new project or import something from iMovie it screws it up. The buttons get re-arranged, the font changes, navigation becomes random. I then have to manually correct everything and burn the disc before anything else happens. If I save the project in its final state and open it again later iDVD swaps in one of its own themes as if all the work I did never happened.



    Please, Apple, if you're going to orphan the software, at least fix the themes so we can use it for basic video archival navigation. I don't care about moving clouds and baby toys. Keep it simple and reliable.
  • Reply 6 of 125
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,129member
    "Apple doesn't care about optical people"



    Kanye Jobs 2009
  • Reply 7 of 125
    dimmokdimmok Posts: 359member
    Steve Jobs is such a visionary. Its scary.
  • Reply 8 of 125
    rcfarcfa Posts: 737member
    iDVD is and was an uninspiring application, which is not to say that it's not useful.

    However, the FEATURE that Apple sells is the ability to create MOVIES, which is what generates excitement. Watching iDVD burn disks in long-lasting burning sessions is a necessity, but it doesn't generate excitement.



    Further, drawing any attention to iDVD will raise questions about if/when the BluRay stuff will show up, which in turn would create a REALLY NASTY requirement for DRM down to the far corners of the OS, which can lead to all sorts of performance degradation and loss of stability. e.g.

    AACS DRM tentacles reach far into operating systems




    More importantly, selling is ALL about excitement. So why would you talk about a boring app like iDVD, the only purpose of which is deliver a movie? iDVD was exciting when it was new, and when it was something Apple had and the competition didn't. Now it's just a must have feature that's more or less matured and taken for granted. There's no news content in it, and thus Apple would be stupid to focus media attention on it.



    Apple knows they get X amount of media coverage, and they will do everything they can to get the message about NEW and EXCITING products out in that window, and not clutter the message.



    There are plenty of features in the Mac and Mac OS X that were big news when they were first introduced, and which are now barely if ever mentioned, simply because they have matured, are working, but are not news worthy. To conclude form that, that these features are on their way out is stupid. Heck, it smells of yet another self-proclaimed wannabe pundit big-wig who figures he can get his 15 minutes of fame with an ill-conceived but controversy generating analysis piggy-backed on Apple's media presence.



    Lastly, the idea that iDVD is all about DISTRIBUTION and thus could/would be replaced with some online/cloud based service is ridiculous. Even if I distribute all my movies through the cloud, I still need backups, may have to use them in places where there's no internet or computer, etc. So even if movie distribution goes to the cloud, that doesn't render iDVD useless.



    At the rate the economy is deteriorating and companies randomly go out of business, I certainly would not entrust my life-time memories to some cloud storage that might decide to be "discontinued" when I don't have time or resources to download and burn many movies within the 30 day notice window given before the service shuts down.



    Next time, try harder.
  • Reply 9 of 125
    "brain-dead stupid." ha classic Jobs. love it.
  • Reply 10 of 125
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,129member
    You know... I dont' want people sending me DVDs of their homemade creations.



    I've got FIOS and a current OS. Feel free to slap the vids up on Youtub or Vimeo (both support HD) and let me view them instantly.



    The human obsession with physical medium is hard to break but little by little the connection is being broken and minds are being liberated.



    Now there is still a need for iDVD as their are trillions of DVD players and legacy support for our non-technical or non-broadband friends/family is a must. But it must be known that Apple is simply not investing in optical technology and that's likely going to be the case at large for Blu-ray. It'll make an appearance in the Mac Pro guaranteed for the people out there that need to author discs but I doubt that Apple has any interest in moving to yet another optical generation.



    In fact if they were wise and bold they'd deliver a Mac mini sans optical drive for those of us who simply do not need them anymore.
  • Reply 11 of 125
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Given Apple's healthy business in both HD and mobile movie rentals and MobileMe online publishing, contrasted with the disappointing pace of Blu-Ray adoption, it looks like the company has picked the right strategy.



    I couldn't agree more! I always thought Blue-Ray or even HD-DVD were just too late to the market or maybe it was the window for success was just simply too short of a time period.



    With better and better quality online video including HD content that already looks great... the time for the DVD or even Blue-Ray has passed.



    If you want an example... ask 10 of your friends if they own a Blue-Ray player and see the %'s. It's not good. Another example is the pitiful little sections for Blue-Ray carved out at retailers like Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy. Typically it's not much more than a single shelf.



    As I said earlier the time frame for success was just too short. With the ability to stream or download HD content through devices like Apple TV, Netflix with XBox or Roku or even just the computer itself with most networks like Fox and ABC already offering HD content online, it's no surprise Apple decided the market just doesn't warrant Blue-Ray drives on Macs. No reason to pass the cost onto the customer for a technology that has already lived and died it's short life.



    So all you guys bitching about the new MacBook Pros not having Blue-Ray or hoping the new iMac's do... spend your energy more wisely by concentrating on getting Apple and other companies to invest even more in their online efforts and in getting even higher quality HD onto their devices.
  • Reply 12 of 125
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    DVDs were still about a $20 billion dollar industry in the US in 2008, it seems maybe a few years premature to write it off. It sounds like Apple didn't even bother to add a couple themes. It's not like it's declining as fast as the CD industry is, it's less than 5 percent down over 2007 rather than CD's serial double digit declines.
  • Reply 13 of 125
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    I can buy a DVD player for well under $100 that does a fantastic job of playing back DVDs, has a surpassingly simple interface, and connects easily to any projector or TV I might run across. I can stick cheap DVD players everywhere I need to be able to play back user created content.



    Or, I can try to make sure that I have an expensive laptop and an internet connection and a display device or bundle of adapters that can handle a computer.



    Steve lives in a rarified world of the future, where laptops and internet connections and recent model projectors abound. I live in a world of budget strapped schools and tech challenged users.
  • Reply 14 of 125
    dluxdlux Posts: 666member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bryanhauer View Post


    So all you guys bitching about the new MacBook Pros not having Blue-Ray or hoping the new iMac's do... spend your energy more wisely by concentrating on getting Apple and other companies to invest even more in their online efforts and in getting even higher quality HD onto their devices.



    Except it doesn't have to be either/or. No matter how much someone may wish it goes away, the 12cm optical disc format is here to stay, at least for another ten or more years. So if you have to have a device in your computer that reads them anyway, they might as well include BluRay capability as well. THAT's what people are complaining about - an artificial limitation created by Apple when there isn't even an option to include a BluRay reader (let alone writer) in their machine.
  • Reply 15 of 125
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    I think a lot of people seem to be mixing up the concept of being able to export a movie to a DVD that will play in a player, and making a commercial type DVD with titles and chapters etc.



    I work in a place with tons of iMovie action going on and have had to troubleshoot this software since it came out. iDVD has always sucked, has always been difficult to understand, and really is a "low demand" product in the suite. Even amongst large groups of people using and learning iMovie, the number of them that want to make a finished commercial DVD out of it is very small indeed.



    What I see far more often is someone with one of those near useless digital tapes that wants to "convert" it into a DVD so they can show it to someone without the camera. IMO that's what the average user wants from a DVD, a means to show a movie they made to someone, not a commercial DVD. They also mostly are not interested at all in finding out about how to author a DVD, what the menu possibilities are and so forth. They just want to show a movie.



    Let's face it, commercial DVD's are also fairly lame and don't even use half the potential of the medium. I have almost 2,000 in my collection and I can't think of more than one that uses the "multiple camera angles" feature for instance. BluRays are even "worse" in that (as the article mentions), they have tons of features and are quite complicated to author. Even with the best most user-friendly Apple software to assist, there is just a lot of junk there that no one really cares to learn for the most part.



    If they keep it at all, it should be a Pro level product separate form iLife IMO.
  • Reply 16 of 125
    parkyparky Posts: 383member
    I will be disappointed if iDVD eventually disappears.



    While I do use MobileMe galleries and have an Apple TV to stream my movies I also like to make DVDs.



    There are people who do not have internet access but they do have a DVD player. My mother in law for instance! She loves to see our holiday movies / photos and the only way she can do this is via DVDs. She will never have internet access.



    I have invested in an HD camera that iMovie supports, I can make great looking DVDs that we want to show on TVs not computer screens. When I go on a cruise I make a DVD of the holiday and send it to all the people we met. Yes they can see the movie and photos on the internet (if they have it and it is fast enough), but they really enjoy showing their friends the holiday on a TV.



    I have made DVDs for peoples weddings, children's parties, etc, etc. Yes they can be delivered from the 'cloud' but it is not the most convenient delivery method.



    I know iDVD will be around for a while yet, even if it has not been updated, as it is at least included in iLife '09. I suspect it will not be in the next major upgrade, but hopefully it will still work as movies and photos should still be able to be added to it.



    Producing DVDs is also in theory limitless, I can make as many as I like. The Cloud on the other hand has its limits, 20GB at the moment. I can soon fill that up with all the HD content I have. So I have a choice buy more and more space so that I can keep my movies available to everyone forever (as long as I keep paying for the ability to do so), or I delete content to make way for new stuff.



    What happens if I decide I don't want MobileMe any more, no more content for people.

    At least with a DVD they have a permanent copy regardless of what happens in the cloud.



    Yes it would have been nice to get new themes or features, but it does its job for now.



    Long live iDVD!
  • Reply 17 of 125
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    I don't see what iDVD has to do with sales/rental strategies, but it IS the simples one-trick app in iLife, with the least room to improve/grow. It's kind of just an add-on for iPhoto and iMovie, and is no longer big news. So I can see it getting less attention--touting a minor feature takes attention away from the big ones.



    That doesn't mean it's not very useful (my family and I have made half a dozen DVD projects with it, and iDVD made it VERY easy). I don't think it's going away.



    You don't see Activity Montor being touted on the Mac OS X box, but it's still useful and not going away.
  • Reply 18 of 125
    parkyparky Posts: 383member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    I think a lot of people seem to be mixing up the concept of being able to export a movie to a DVD that will play in a player, and making a commercial type DVD with titles and chapters etc.



    I work in a place with tons of iMovie action going on and have had to troubleshoot this software since it came out. iDVD has always sucked, has always been difficult to understand, and really is a "low demand" product in the suite. Even amongst large groups of people using and learning iMovie, the number of them that want to make a finished commercial DVD out of it is very small indeed.



    What I see far more often is someone with one of those near useless digital tapes that wants to "convert" it into a DVD so they can show it to someone without the camera. IMO that's what the average user wants from a DVD, a means to show a movie they made to someone, not a commercial DVD. They also mostly are not interested at all in finding out about how to author a DVD, what the menu possibilities are and so forth. They just want to show a movie.



    Let's face it, commercial DVD's are also fairly lame and don't even use half the potential of the medium. I have almost 2,000 in my collection and I can't think of more than one that uses the "multiple camera angles" feature for instance. BluRays are even "worse" in that (as the article mentions), they have tons of features and are quite complicated to author. Even with the best most user-friendly Apple software to assist, there is just a lot of junk there that no one really cares to learn for the most part.



    If they keep it at all, it should be a Pro level product separate form iLife IMO.



    iDVD is NOT for making commercial DVDs, it is a simple tool for making a DVD that will play in any DVD player. It does exactly what you said it should do, it even has an Easy DVD option when you connect a video camera and it will make a DVD right from it with one or two clicks.



    It is very easy to use, much easier than iMovie.



    What software do you use to make your DVDs?
  • Reply 19 of 125
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,152member
    Sooner or later someone has to do it. I've always imagined that some day we won't need optical media and instead will have kind of high capacity USB flash memory that can be plugged directly into TVs. But then those who make DVD and BR players won't make money
  • Reply 20 of 125
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,129member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dlux View Post


    Except it doesn't have to be either/or. No matter how much someone may wish it goes away, the 12cm optical disc format is here to stay, at least for another ten or more years. So if you have to have a device in your computer that reads them anyway, they might as well include BluRay capability as well. THAT's what people are complaining about - an artificial limitation created by Apple when there isn't even an option to include a BluRay reader (let alone writer) in their machine.



    Yeah but replace Blu-ray with Floppy Disk (which had much more market penetration) and you'll see that Apple doesn't give a flying f-bomb. I think that optical discs are done. If they last a decade as popular item I'll be surprised. I noticed that media vendors are always giving away discs. The competition with web storage and flash drives is having an impact.
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