Over at Venturebeat.com, Maya Baratz talks about who Apple hurt with its Macworld announcements. Apple does write software for its platform and sometimes it does creep into what other people are doing. iPhoto/Apeture vs Adobe, iWork vs Office, Garageband vs Protools. The list of things Apple has gotten into is interesting and has helped stimulate other vendors' products. Competition isn't all bad. If you are a computer maker developing software to keep your platform vital is generally good idea.
Garageband vs SmartMusic?
Baratz does find a connection between the current Garageband and SmartMusic in that Garageband is now tutoring people learning to play. I need to go take a look at the new Garageband to see what it is all the buzz is about. I think I will end up getting a copy, but I don't think I am going to be switching away from SmartMusic for my teaching purposes.
I like to be able to send and receive assignments and comments. I also like to use the computer as a course management tool. SmartMusic Impact is helping manage these chores. Throw in a little FileMaker or a few Office tools to do what SmartMusic doesn't and you are set. SmartMusic Impact is a useful tool for working music teachers.
Garageband runs only on Mac. I would be way out of line to expect families to buy a computer to run a particular piece of software. SmartMusic runs cross platform. I have practice room computers for the kids that don't make the system requirements. It is tough enough to get everyone an instrument; I am not a huge fan of adding too much more to the cost of band.
I also can't imagine the time it would take to teach a student to set up and use Garageband. No, SmartMusic isn't "Lego easy" to use yet. But I suspect they are further along and continuing to work on the ease of use factors.
On the other hand...
I do like the idea of how-to movies in Garageband showing play the instrument. It seems more useful to me than the In the Chair conductor. Though, that program may have improved recently. That may be worth a look to compare.
Garageband may also be a big boon to guitar players. The demos I have seen have involved that instrument. This may be the answer to the question does SmartMusic help guitar players, "Not yet, but have you looked at Garageband?"
I like the idea of people learning to play an instrument and if using your computer with any software helps you in any way, that is terrific! Practice!