Apple can never require an App-Store-only future and all of the simplicity and security benefits that it could bring, if that was ever their goal. And with reduced buyer confidence, fewer developers can afford to make their software App Store-only.
This even may reduce the long-term success of iCloud and the platform lock-in it could bring for Apple. Only App Store apps can use iCloud, but many Mac developers can’t or won’t use it because of the App Store’s political instability.
The Mac App Store is in significant danger of becoming an irrelevant, low-traffic flea market where buyers rarely venture for serious purchases. And I bet that’s not what Apple had in mind at all.
Replace Mac App Store with iOS App Store and Marco’s predictions become far fetched.
Marco’s concerns with the Mac App Store are reasonable: “Political instability”, “only App Store apps can use iCloud”, and “low-traffic flea market” are each true. They won’t have any impact on the success of the App Store though because these are only concerns of inconvenienced developers.
The Mac App Store That Users Will See
From the point of view of consumers, the Mac App Store will look just like the iOS App Store. The App Store’s pages will be updated weekly, new curated collections will appear, and top charts will help them find the best apps of any category. It will be a flea market for crappy apps as much as iOS is, and just like the iOS App Store all those apps will be hidden from users.
iCloud on the App Store
Instead of thinking “only App Store apps can use iCloud?” I think it’s more likely that users will look and say “App Store apps use iCloud!” Not all applications are supporting iCloud, and maybe there will always be some that choose to implement their own syncing solution. Regardless, the default frame of mind for users will be iCloud. Developers that don’t support iCloud have more work to do in selling their apps to users.
For example, take the task management apps Things and OmniFocus. Each app has a non-iCloud syncing solution, and because they can’t simply include “iCloud sync” as a feature, they have to spend more time communicating to users just what their syncing is and how it works.
Because the beauty of iCloud, when you are a user is that it just works. When iCloud just works, then Apps using iCloud just work, then the App Store just works.
People already do make serious purchases on the Mac App Store
- Lion ($29)
- Mountain Lion ($19)
- Pages, Numbers & Keynote
- iPhoto, iMovie & Garage Band
- OmniGroup apps (Priced $15-$200)
- Development software (Coda 2 is $75, BBEdit is $50)
- Aperture ($80)
- Final Cut Pro ($299)
Speaking of Lion and Mountain Lion… Before the Mac App Store I only ever got a new operating by buying one at Future Shop, or by downloading and burning an ISO image of a Linux boot disc!
The idea of “serious purchases” is only up for debate when you talk about audiences (designers, photographers, developers, businesses), alternatives (Firefox vs Safari, Word vs Pages), or apps that require deeper system access (Concentrate, TextExpander, Dragon Dictate).
At that point though “serious purchases” doesn’t even describe what you have a problem with. “Serious purchases” just becomes the label applied to anything that you want but isn’t in the Mac App Store.
This is all to say that if you’re a developer deciding to stay out of the Mac App Store, you aren’t doomed. After all, web apps exist outside of the Mac App Store and they do alright.
When the model of the iOS App Store & the Mac App Store work so well for hundreds of millions of Apple users, it’s hard believe that a few edge cases (users or apps) will make the Mac App Store irrelevant.
To me, the App Store is the best feature of iOS Apple has brought to the Mac. Desktop software has never been so accessible to users.