Marco Arment’s Learning from Competition inspired me to reflect on iPhoto now the Top Paid App, period, and what it means for me and my apps. While the $1M a day it’s probably earning at that spot would be epic, I’m not after that much money. $1M/year would be epic. $100K/year would be pretty damn awesome. I’m happy as long as I can afford sushi for 2 on Saturdays.

First, I think iPhoto is a much more serious threat to things like photogene which are general purpose editors. iPhoto is a general purpose editor with more features, but with great power comes great complexity. Without watching the demo or using the in app help, I had to do a lot of poking around to figure out what exactly the app could do, and I’m still not sure. I’ve always felt that the best iOS replacement for a desktop app isn’t some complicated $5 or $10 app but rather it’s 5 or 10 $1 or Free apps that have focus. When you launch Auto Adjust, the only thing you can do is open a photo. When it opens, the next thing you see are a bunch of simple controls which then move themselves to fix your photo. You’re welcome to fiddle with them, open a new photo, save, whatever at that point. Since iPhoto is equal parts photo organizer and fixer, that concentration gets a little hazy. When you’re adjusting something, you can flick left or right to the next photo in the album. It’s not clear what happens to your changes on the other photo. Were they saved to the original, or a copy, are they still temporary, were they not saved at all, will they be there when I relaunch the app?

IPhoto’s editing features are amazing. The HDR capabilities (dimming clouds while lightening foreground) are incredible and something I wish I got around to perfecting. There are some quirks I hadn’t found a good way around yet that Apple seems perfectly OK with. Specifically, when you do crazy things to curves or color ranges, inflection points and border regions can end up looking inverted or loose all saturation. The fact that Apple does it based on colors feels like cheating to me too. I like doing things that work in all scenarios.

This will be the focus for my new features. The Auto Enhance in iPhoto seems no better than it is in the stock Photos app. There’s also so much UI in iPhoto that your photo is barely the focus of the app. This desktop-like experience is definitely what I like while wearing my Pro hat, but I’ve never considered that my demographic. I’m glad I introduced Normalize so I can go in two directions at once. It’s worth noting that adding an app didn’t split my sales. The net results is positive but less than double. You may not see updates for a while though. Being recently compiled and presupplied with 2X artwork both apps already looks great on the retina display, so I’ll forgo the “adds Retina display support” update and wait until I have new features to introduce. Also, it’s about time iDecorate got a content upgrade.

Oh, and one more thing, Auto Adjust works on iPad 1 and the original iPhone.