Print 47 comment(s) - last by Alexstarfire.. on Feb 8 at 7:58 PM

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 Tony Swash on 2/8/2011 7:04:24 AM , Rating: 1
So Apple is leading the way in Anti-competitive business practices yet again. If you can eliminate the box and train your users to go to your app store then you've now taking control of pretty much all application sales. Eliminating competition from Retail and companies like Newegg and Amazon. If Apple doesn't allow other application stores like with the iPhone then I hope the European Commission slaps them with a multi-billion dollar fine and forces them to. I'm pretty sick of how apple thinks it has the right to control consumers choices.

You are missing the point.

This is not about a new model of software distribution per se, it is about improving Apple's already cutting edge retail operation. From what I know the aim is to free up valuable space at the retail stores for an enhanced customer service function. Several very non-techie friends have recently switched to Macs and were very impressed when the Apple staff at the stores offered to transfer all their data and set up their email accounts, iTunes accounts etc on their new Macs. That's the sort of stuff they most ordinary people hate and find scary and difficult. It just another aspect of Apple eliminating any costs to the customer of switching to Macs (or upgrading their Macs)

So it seems Apple wants to expand that area of activity in their retail stores and the old shelves of boxed software looks pretty old fashioned now and takes up a lot of valuable space so it's time for them to go.

For more info see

Apple are very good at killing the past and embracing the future - hence their success.

In a few years boxed software will as dead as the floppy. Considering that this is supposed to be a techies forum it always surprises me that so many people seem to get so anxious, threatened and het up about actual technical change. Embrace the future - let the past go :)

By Alexstarfire on 2/8/2011 7:58:07 PM , Rating: 2
We've been saying that last part for quite a while. It'd be nice to think that we won't have boxes, but the way most DDs are now I don't see that happening in a few years, perhaps a decade though. I think boxes will always be available, even if you end up having to specifically ask for it and pay more to get it, simply because some people won't have access to the internet.

I thought about this for a while and decided that this made more sense than them just getting bigger stores for 2 reasons. First, you can't really expand stores that are in a mall easily. Second, the software selection in Apple Stores is pretty paltry as is. Fry's has more software for Mac than they do at the Apple Store.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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