A brief history of “i”
Developer: Apple Computer (product page)
System requirements: 256MB of RAM; Mac OS X 10.3.9, 10.4.3 or later; PowerPC G4, G5, or Intel Core CPU
Price: US$79 as part of iLife ’06 (shop for this item)
It wasn’t too long ago a hunter-gatherer would get up in the morning and spread his seed, then roll out of bed and into the Ice Age to hunt the Woolly Mammoth. If he wasn’t gored on bloody tusks or stampeded off a cliff, he would return home to eat fresh steak, spread his seed, and paint about his day on the walls of the cave. Fast forwarding 15,000 years finds the globe warming and the mammoths gone, yet the urge to express oneself remains—and to brag about it too.
In the Internet Epoch, anyone can tell their story, but it’s not as simple as breaking out the charcoal sticks and berry paint. For the technically declined, grappling with an endless stream of uppercase letters—HTML, MP3, PHP, SQL, FTP—makes for an apathy-inducing experience at best. And while there are WYSIWYG web publishing tools, the number of end-to-end solutions that can create a media-rich experience of a "day in the life" and that use a lowercase "i" in the title are few indeed.
At Macworld this year Steve Jobs introduced iLife ’06, the latest version of the "digital hub" software suite based upon a visionary philosophy first introduced at Macworld ’01, that being Apple had to make some money. The company had started the millennium with an embarrassing beta of OS X and RISC hardware that was stuck in a 500MHz hell. Beyond that, the iPod had yet to be incarnated in a special-event manger (which happened later that year). That left the iMac, the most colorful Mac in history having given an entire generation of users with limited computer skills easy access to pornography and infringement of music copyrights, but what else was there to do with the Internet, and more importantly how could Apple make money off it? Thus came the iRevolution. In 2002, Apple converted a million iTools (free e-mail and web space) into about 900,000 bitter people and 100,000 .Mac subscriptions at US$99 a year. In 2004, iLife began to leverage the Internet as an outlet for content, from camcorders and cameras with iMovie and iPhoto to music and podcasts with GarageBand.
What US$79 really means for Steve
Now, in 2006, more than a million .Mac members have the latest addition to the iLife suite, iWeb (assuming they spend another US$79 for iLife). The redundantly named web publishing program makes creating beautiful web pages easy, at least that is the matrix marketing theory as outlined by Steve Jobs in January when he built a website in a few minutes. The reality is that iWeb 1.0 has been followed by three updates in four months. While iWeb 1.0.1 was a minor update, iWeb 1.1 was 95 MB, nearly a third the size of the application itself. Surprisingly, it included feature addage normally associated with a Macworld Keynote and another US$79, as well as plenty of fixage, and that was the problem. The second 95 MB of update, iWeb 1.1.1 came in response to an apparent deluge of feedback about iWeb 1.1 publishing woes, but why was such a major update put out less than six months after iWeb was released in the first place?
The answer is in the using, the first person-pronoun symbolized by the "i" in the title, and as an actual iWeb user I can definitively say iWeb is better than a cave wall. How much better depends largely on your point of iView.