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● On Apple's recently announced, first foray into professional photography:

Aperture is an application for organizing and archiving photographs. In addition to viewing, minimal editing and organization facilities, it handles backup and replication. At $500, it's a bit pricey for amateurs, but may be attractive to those already spending $1500+ on digital SLRs. The nearest competitor seems to be iView Media Pro, which announced a lightbox facility in its latest release, similar to Aperture's, shortly after the Apple announcement.

There are three reasons why this might be a positive move for Apple:

  1. The "pro-sumer" market is growing fast as the price of digital SLRs falls, and at $500 a pop this could be an attractive growth market for Apple.
  2. Due to the explosion of digital photography, photos are becoming a more important part of graphic design -- a software market that Apple already dominates.
  3. Leadership at the high end will ensure that Apple can offer the best features for its free iPhoto program, as they "drip-down" into the consumer market.

● Apple computers have always had an education niche. But an insider tells me that now computer systems researchers at MIT are switching from Linux on Intel to Apple machines and OS:

Why? The Unix base of Apple OS X makes it as attractive a research platform as Linux, and the windowing system is more user-friendly. Moreover, no other company seems to be able to make laptops as sleek as Apple's -- and portability is desirable for peripatetic computer scientists.

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Source: Apple's Aperture and Growing Ivory Tower Appeal (AAPL)