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Apple's latest "App Store" will launch in early January

While a handful of "app stores" like Valve's Steam have delivered software to PCs in the past, these stores generally lacked diversity, mostly just offering game downloads.  No PC app store really offered customers the opportunity to buy instantly-downloadable apps of all kinds -- everything from games to productivity software.  That's about to change as Apple is set to introduce the world's first full-featured personal computer App Store on January 6.

Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, fond of bragging about the company he founded, states, "The App Store revolutionized mobile apps.  We hope to do the same for PC apps with the Mac App Store by making finding and buying PC apps easy and fun. We can’t wait to get started on January 6."

The Mac App Store will come to Mac users in the form of a Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) update.

The initial Mac App Store will launch in 90 countries and include familiar categories like Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity and Utilities.  As with the iPhone/iPad App Stores, Apple will keep a 30 percent cut, handing developers 70 percent of app sales.

Apple's press release even included this nugget: "Apple...recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices."

Apple often describes its products as "magical", but it's hard not to give Apple its dues when it comes to its success in pioneering the mobile App Store concept and its equally pioneering effort to port that success to the PC.

Apple won't be alone in this market for long though -- Google's incoming Netbook/Notebook Chrome OS will feature a "Web Store" filled with internet apps.  While that app store has technically launched, its app catalog at this point is very sparse.

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RE: Success or flop?
By protosv on 12/16/2010 11:03:35 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, I think it will be a success with radical implications. However, I think the "radical implications" part is where you and I will likely interpret things a bit differently.

Most Mac users will enjoy the convenience of being able to go to a single portal to purchase the vast majority of their applications. However, I think this sets a dangerous precedent for private software vendors. Apple clearly has a strong incentive to push developers to sell through their own app store. They'll market these reasons as "higher product visibility, headache-free distribution," etc, but it's really about that 30% cut. They want to be able to charge for a slice of all software that runs on their machines, even if they had no part in developing it.

You would imagine that it's only a short hop skip and a jump until Apple does away with the term "computer program" and everything becomes an "app", in an attempt to bring consumers' perceptions into line with what they already have with the iPhone app store. We're even already seeing premonitions of this with OSX 10.7, which is beginning the "iOSification" of MacOSX. At this point, it almost seems like the "reasonable thing to do" to ban all "non App-Store" applications from running on a mac, just as they already have done with the iPhone. This will be, of course, to ensure that "it just works", and remains "secure". I can imagine that people will have to resort to "jailbreaking" their iMacs to be able to run software from "non App Store-approved" software vendors.

Not to mention that if software vendors are now forced to go through the Mac App Store, they're going to have to raise their prices in order to still meet their own margins, while factoring in an additional 30% cut for Apple now. I can imagine that won't encourage developers to focus on Mac applications. Why pay $149 for an "app" when the PC version of the same exact "program" is $115?

If Apple manages to keep a hands-off policy with regards to which programs are allowed to run on a Mac, or the app store is relegated to "apps" instead of actual programs (something that I think would depend on the first point above) then the app store may very well succeed alongside other software and enhance the Mac user experience. However, if Apple gives in to their desire for ever-increasing control over their products and user experiences, then it could be dangerous for the Mac as a platform.

What do others think?

RE: Success or flop?
By cserwin on 12/16/2010 11:27:39 AM , Rating: 2
For most developers, the 30% cut to Apple will be significantly less than the negotiated discounts they need to pay to box retailers - if they can even get their software stocked. Or the cost of maintaining their own online store and promotion. I'm guessing 70% is generous, especially for someone developing something new.

The key for Apple will be if they can become a trusted source. No malware, no trojans. Fair user reviews.

One nice thing about the app store is that there are not 20 different background applications managing updates. Like being pecked by a freaking pack of magpies every time you restart your windws machine.... I'm guessing the PC/MAC app stores can centralize the distribution of updates, which would be good imo.

RE: Success or flop?
By Tony Swash on 12/16/10, Rating: 0
RE: Success or flop?
By Iaiken on 12/16/2010 12:17:53 PM , Rating: 2
zFinal prediction. Microsoft copies the App Store for Windows in about 18 months time probably when Windows 8 is released (i.e around the time that Microsoft's revenues start to decline).

MS already tried this for office etc... they got sued and had to drop the idea.

RE: Success or flop?
By mellomonk on 12/16/2010 9:26:40 PM , Rating: 2
By eliminating the software publisher and the App Store paying for the bandwidth for the downloads, I would think the developers stand a good chance of actually making more money. The issue with software stores is 'software discovery'. Try picking out an individual app from the multitude of similar choices in the iOS store. It can be a nightmare.

There is no way that any of these software stores are going to have a non-vetted section of their store, or links to 'everything'. Each store owner is going to want to carefully curate it's wares. I would bet that in time there will be several software 'stores' each with it's own style or audience.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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