Thursday, June 11, 2020

Discontinuing iBooks Author and iTunes U

Bradley Chambers (tweet):

iBooks Author will no longer be updated, and iTunes U is being discontinued at the end of 2021. iBooks Author will continue to work, but you’ll need to make preparations to transition to Pages in the near future. Much of the functionality from iBooks Author has made its way into Pages over the past few update cycles. This announcement shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as we never saw iBooks Author transition into Apple Books Author or include a native iPad app. Apple will be included an import function in a future version of Pages.

Nick Heer:

I don’t think either one of these announcements is a surprise; these apps have suffered from inattention for years. But Apple’s rocky approach to education needs and lack of clear strategy cannot be confidence-inspiring for schools or teachers who need to decide what technology to use in their classrooms.

David Sparks:

As someone with a lot of experience with iBooks Author and its eBooks, I’ve known this day was coming, and it still makes me just a little sad.


The problem was a failure to iterate. Throughout this process, the iBooks Author app never evolved. Indeed it started to feel creeky and never quite got to the level you’d expect for an app to build books. I’ll always believe there was a significant memory leak (though friends at Apple still argue with me about this). As my books neared completion, every time the app would slow to grind and I’d catch myself saving after changing a single word in fear of crashes.


With my new platform, there are no caps for Field Guide sizes. […] Also, the move allowed me to take complete ownership of my product. Now, if a customer has a problem, I can usually fix it, rather than giving them an Apple email address and praying. The switch to my own store has also been more lucrative. I no longer have to give 30% of every sale to Apple.

See also: Juli Clover, Dan Moren, Michael E. Cohen.


2 Comments RSS · Twitter

All tech companies do it, but Apple is especially good at announcing products with overblown fanfare and then completely failing to invest the resources into meeting the expectations they set forth, or the needs of the users. Unless I'm confusing it with something else, I specifically remember the keynote when iBook Author was released -- they hailed it as the future of creating interactive books (particularly textbooks). iTunes University was the same... full of promises that were never delivered. Apple could have completely dominated e-learning but they just let it wither and die on the vine. I really don't understand why they waste time (their own, and that of customers) with so many half-baked solutions that go nowhere.

There's a website "Killed by Google" -- someone should make the same thing for Apple products. I think it'd be surprising to see how many promises that they made in various keynotes never lived up to expectations. For the world's biggest company, it too often seems like they can't walk and chew gum at the same time.

I think the Jobsian culture lends itself well to product launches: it means Apple (mostly) underpromises and overdelivers, because there's little in the way of pre-announcements (hence the intensive rumor mill), and the launch keynote is so important that there's a lot of internal clarity what this product is about and whom it's for. It's easy to explain internally and externally.

That works for launches. Not so much for ongoing things, like services: you can't keep stealing the show; you need to quietly and iteratively improve the thing without a big splash. Especially when there isn't a director or VP or two who has the service as their pet project. The things Eddy Cue is passionate about — Apple Music, Apple TV+, etc. — work OK (he doesn't appear to have a passion about UX, though). The ones everyone is kind of hohum about, not so much.

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