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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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RE: steam
By Tony Swash on 2/8/2011 9:26:41 AM , Rating: 2
Which they should lose because if Windows can't come with IE preinstalled without offering another choice than Apple has no right to do that with an app store. And neither should any OS provider. I want a ballot page of at least the top 5 app stores that I can chose to install. Really I think the best option is not allow any app stores to be installed by default and that the consumer should chose which one they'd like to use. This isn't like a browser that is pretty much required to get another browser like on windows. (Yes I know you can FTP to get a browser downloaded.)

So what other Mac App stores would appear on this ballot paper of yours - cos I can't think of any.

There is a nothing to stop anyone setting up an alternative Mac App store of their own, but no one will because it would not be able to offer a single advantage over the Apple Mac App Store.

The IE ballot was probably one of the last shots in an old, old battle that is now all but irrelevant. For while, back when it did stuff that counted, Microsoft maneuvered very adroitly to exploit it's old monopoly of the desktop to crush Netscape (who hardly put up a fight) and make IE the internet browser standard. And then absurdly they forgot about it. Microsoft made many enemies and put much effort into winning a position of browser domination without a clue as to what to do with such an advantage, they were just motivated by fear that their precious Windows monopoly would be undermined. Now all that is irrelevant and none of it matters anymore. Who cares about IE, or for matter Windows, anymore - no one.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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