Following the announcement last week of the Mac App Store, an upcoming centralised location for downloading new Mac programs, we’ve had a bit of time to analyze what this means for apps as well as software going forward, plus the pros and cons for developers.
The App Store for iOS [iPod, iPhone, iPad] has been a overwhelming success for Apple, with more than 7 billion downloads in little more than two years. The App Store is successful because it makes it easy to discover apps, easy to update apps and easy to get apps on all your iOS devices. This is what Apple will be bringing to the new OS Lion Mac App Store.
So why are Apple bringing Apps to the Mac now? Well the iPod and iPhone is a mass market device, and dominate a large segment of their markets. Mac’s segment isn’t so impressive, with around 3.6% of the world market share according to estimates. So in truth, the Mac has yet to reach its full potential. Can an Mac Apps store help it gain in market share? In launching the store within iTunes, Apple can tease their iOS users with thousands of Mac apps.
Shop window for developers
This shop window will also entice developers, with Apple already encouraging developers to prepare to submit applications in November. There are numerous excellent software applications for Mac that are literally unknown and the Mac App store could work wonders for many a developer.
Developers will receive the same 70/30 split with Apple for their commercial apps, something that may either strike application developers as a good move [Espresso?] or a bad move [Adobe?], depending on their market segment and budgets.
Initially the Mac App store will just be a distribution option. You will still be able to install non Apple-approved software on the Mac.
But will this always stay the case or will the process change? Will Apple eventually lock down the Mac, so the only software allowed to run on the system is Apple approved? Then what? Will other manufacturers such as Dell, HP etc. follow suit? Will App stores pop up across the web?
Or maybe perhaps we’ll all realise that the web is ‘the’ App Store, and revert back to web apps, undermining the whole concept? Apple doesn’t allow plug-ins in the App store. This would channel out mainstream applications such as Firefox and for a vast amount of Mac users, the Adobe Suite. So what would happen to these applications in the long term and how will Apple deal with updates and application backup?
So, Yeah Or Neah?
On the surface at least, it seems a Mac App Store would be good for developers, consumers and, of course, Apple itself. But a negative aspect to it would be that it creates yet another wall that goes against the grain of the open web. It could also spark new conflicts between Apple and the developers with their strict rules and lengthy processes for Apps.
We’ll have to wait and see how this one pans out. Is it all a bit too ‘1984‘? We’re still over two months away from the opening of the store. Many additional details will be heard between now and then, hopefully some clarity will come from this.