Of course, there were battles between “X” and Search. Apple was a big winner with iTunes, then the iPod. Then the iTunes Music Store.
After that it was Mac OS X becoming more secure and stable while Windows XP (and various incarnations) and Internet Explorer fell apart like so much bamboo during a termite raid. Finally, the highly-touted, much-delayed successor to Windows XP, Longhorn became “Shorthorn.” Or, “Shorthorn. It’s what’s for OS X’s dinner.”
We Americans love a good battle, especially when we’re Mac users and we’re winning (for a change). What’s the next battleground?
That’s where it’s at with Longhorn and with Mac OS X’s upcoming release, Tiger. Mark my words. Search is not important, despite the media (and Apple, and Microsoft) hype.
Why? Because hard drives are huge and we’re saving everything these days instead of throwing away files and organizing files appropriately. Does that make sense?
Doesn’t that really argue FOR a good search utility for the Mac (and Windows)? No. It’s like Sherlock, and before that, Watson. Great utilities that we just can’t bring ourselves to use much after we use it the first time.
Think for a moment. How many of us use Google or Yahoo (or whatever search engine’s handy at the time) to search for something? We all do. What’s our success rate? Poor, usually.
Why? Because we don’t know how to search. We don’t know how the information is organized (on the web, information is NOT well organized), so our searches take plenty of clicks to get anything close to what we want.
Our Macs (and Windows users’ PCs) are not much different. We keep files all over the place, at best just dumped into the Documents folder. This is true despite the fact that Apple does a relatively decent job helping us out; Documents, Music, Movies, Pictures. That’s about as organized as most of us will get.
So along comes Apple with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. What’s the highly touted new feature (among many)? Search. Why? Because Apple knew that Microsoft was coming out with a killer search utility for Longhorn cum shorthorn. Probably. Apple likes to be first.
Apple’s search utility for Tiger is called “Spotlight.”
The only problem is, Apple won’t change user behavior sufficient for any kind of sophisticated search utility to make much difference to the average user.
I can search email messages in Apple’s Mail app by subject, date, message content, but still, like many of you, I’m sure, I search by trying to remember the approximate date (or name of sender) and simply keep clicking until I find what I want.
Most Internet users “find” things on the Internet the same way. Keep clicking.
Apple’s “Spotlight” technology is a work of art, to be sure. Lightning fast. Indexed. Built in to Tiger’s menu bar. It’ll search everything from Mail to Address Book to iCall and all the files in between. Spotlight should be intuitive for even Mac users and return results similar to what you find while search iTunes.
Is a good search utility necessary?
For some Mac users, certainly. Hard disks are huge these days. I’ve got 160 gigabytes on my PowerMac G5 and about every utility any self-respecting reviewer would want—there’s still about 80 gigs left. That’s after 10 gigs of iTunes music (paid for) and nearly 7,000 digital photos in iPhoto.
The point is, we keep files these days. Everything. Files we haven’t looked at or opened for years. Many years.
Tiger’s Spotlight—the integrated metadata search engine—won’t matter. It won’t matter for two reasons. It won’t help us organize our files any better than we do now. And it won’t change HOW we go about searching. Click, click, click, click.
So far, after years of using Mac OS X, about the best I’ve been able to do is keep all the music in the Music folder, all the photos in the Pictures folder, and all the movies in the (guess) Movies folder.
Oh, and all the documents I’ve saved through the years are stored in the Documents folder. And they’re stored in more folders than Steve Ballmer has trophies from winning Peter Boyle look-alike contests.
There are some things about human nature (Mac or Windows) that are difficult to change. Look how much effort Apple has put into music with iTunes, iPod, iTMS. Market share is huge. Mindshare is more than huge. Money is nominal and only now are people (in numbers) beginning to make changes about how they handle, store, and play music.
So it will be with search, despite the new technology coming in Tiger and Longhorn. It will take us years to get to a point where we can search efficiently and will incorporate the steps necessary to search efficiently.
I doubt if even Steve Jobs’ well known reality distortion field in a Macworld keynote viewed by every Mac and PC user on the planet would make us organize our files much better than we do now.