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Eliminating boxed software and going all-digital would save shelf space at Apple Stores.  (Source: MacRumors)
Love Apple or hate it, the company appears to be leading the industry in a new direction

Apple, Inc. may become the first major PC maker to ditch boxed software and transition its software sales entirely online.  Mac Rumors is reporting that the Cupertino gadget, software, and services provider is in the process of dropping its boxed software lineup and going entirely digital distribution.

The move follows Apple's successful introduction of the iOS App Store in July, 2008 and the introduction of the Mac App Store in October 2010 (the store actually went live earlier this year).  While many were skeptical of how well the model of internet-based software delivery that scored big in the mobile world would translate to the PC, sales so far have been impressive.  It only took the Mac App Store a day to reach a million downloads.

Mac Rumors writes:

Based on what we've heard, however, Apple is planning on making the move to all digital sooner than expected at their retail stores. Apple is working towards eliminating boxed software and presumably focusing sales through the Mac App Store.

They cite recent statements from Apple as clues to this.  In that statement, Apple remarks:

When you purchase a Mac at an Apple Retail store an employee will help you setup your e-mail accounts, walk you through the Mac App Store, setup an iTunes account for you, and show you the basic pointers of owning a Mac. Some stores will even have dedicated Mac setup stations.

There are a number of advantages to digital distribution.  A readily apparent one is that it gives customers instant purchasing access to software from anywhere they have an internet connection.  For businesses it cuts down on retail store space and the costs (monetary, environmental) associated with packaging.

There are also some downsides.  Namely, some high profile software (e.g. Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office for Mac) isn't currently available on the Mac App Store.  Second, the move could be a headache for Mac users with unreliable internet connections (as small in number as that group may be).  Lastly, some like to keep the box art for their software products -- digital distribution removes a bit of packaging charm.  Another issue is piracy, which is reportedly running rampant with Mac App Store software.

Apple may choose to go all digital with the release of OS X 10.7 "Lion", which is expected to be announced at the Worldwide Developer's Conference to be held in early June.

Microsoft is another proponent of digital distribution.  It recently switched to a DVD-free digital download for most of its Office sales, though customers can still order physical media.  Many speculate Windows 8, to be released in 2012 or 2013, will feature a full-fledged app store.



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By KoolAidMan1 on 2/7/2011 11:07:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
While Valve games do require steam they have every right to since they own both.


Sure, and it is Apple's right to sell things iLife via the App Store if they want to since they own both products. As it stands, you can still buy all Apple software via hard copy, if not through the Apple retail store then via other retailers.

quote:
Other companies sell their games in many places and steam is just one of those.


Same thing with OS X applications. Do you misunderstand the situation and think that Apple has banned all application sales and distribution except through the online App Store? You can choose to buy applications from developer websites, boxed copies, the App Store, or even other digital distribution services.

Example: You can buy software such as Transmit from the developers themselves (http://panic.com/ ), or via the App Store. Your pick.

No choices have been killed here, just like with Steam (with the exception of Valve games). In fact, like Steam it creates convenience for both customers (autopatching rules!) and centralized distribution (smaller developers and companies like Aspyr are making more through the App Store than they had through retail channels) with good profit splits for developers.

You are inventing problems, making a big deal out of nothing.


By nafhan on 2/8/2011 7:39:47 AM , Rating: 2
Step 1: OS X with app store as an alternative
Step 2: OS X with app store as the only means of getting software
Step 3: iOS for the Mac! (it's what you wanted!)
Step 4: Profit (for Apple)

Obviously, that's not guaranteed to happen, but it's what some Mac owners are afraid of. As much as Apple pretends to be about artists and innovators, they haven't been since most of their profits started coming from CE. At this point, I think of Apple kind of like a gentrified urban neighborhood. It used to be about artists and college students, but now it's just rich hipsters :)


By paydirt on 2/8/2011 10:16:09 AM , Rating: 2
(1) I gotta think it would be hard as a consumer to (a) figure out which product to buy and deal with that stress and then (b) stress out more and figure how how much in hundreds of software dollars to buy.

(2) At the store, I think it would be handy to--at a minimum--have display boxes for people to get an idea of what software is available for the Mac and what they might be able to do with that software.

(3) If you're truly selling to the mainstream, I'm not sure that Having a name and an icon will sell $50-$100-$200 pieces of software. It would probably be fairly bewildering to your moms and dads.


"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain














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