Weekly Poll: The Future of the Mac App Store

The announcement of the Mac App Store was something of a semi-surprise. We all considered it a future possibility, but there was a significant amount of doubt over whether Apple would actually flip the switch and implement the idea. As it turns out, in less than 90 days, we’ll have the Mac App Store sitting on our desktop!

For the majority of Mac users, this will be a great addition. It takes away the headache of a complicated installation process, removes the need to understand what a .DMG is, and gives them an easy way to find software they may not have otherwise.

Many people, myself included, take solace in the fact that this is “just one way” to install software on our Mac. We’re not tied to only installing software that has passed Apple’s approval process, and are free to tinker to our heart’s content. This isn’t a closed eco-system.

But will this always be the case? Today I’d like to ask what you think Apple’s future intention is with the Mac App Store. Will it always be “just one way” to install software, or will it one day be the only way to install new apps on your Mac? And would this be a good or bad thing?

Have your say in the comments!


  • Mike

    I have a deeply unsettling suspicion that this is just the beginning, as Apple try to further their obvious ambition to have total control over all things Macintosh. I sincerely hope that I am wrong but have a nagging feeling that my love affair with my Mac could be coming to an end.

    Oh well, Ubuntu is looking better and better with each release.

    • http://developerpanda.com/ Deb

      Oh yea man, only last evening installed Ubuntu 10.10 on an old laptop. Its a beauty. If Apple goes the evil way I know where I will be heading. It won’t be Windows.

    • Brian Hanifin

      After I left my programming job to become a stay at home dad I wasn’t tied to Windows anymore. I decided to switch to Ubuntu, and I used it for a year until my old laptop died. I then bought a MacBook Pro and have been a mostly satisfied Mac user for almost 3 years now.

      I think it was easier to switch to Ubuntu from Windows, than it would be to switch from a Mac. Everything just works for the most part on a Mac, while Ubuntu there were a lot of things that were a hassle to get working. But then again I bet they have made a LOT of improvements in the last 3 years. :)

  • http://blog.azizlight.me/ Aziz Light

    With the Mac App Store, Apple introduced a closed environment. I would be very surprised if it becomes the only way to install apps on the mac though. That is because Apple knows that it doesn’t matter if it’s the only way or not. With time, people will end up using the Mac App Store all the time unless they really don’t have the choice. That means that the number of users that will use the Mac App Store will increase and the number of users who don’t will decrease. The end result is that developers that want to make a profit will end up having no choice other than to use the Mac App Store.

    The only problem that I have with the App Store is the validation of apps. It limits creativity. If you have no problem with that, then think about freedom of speech, how would you feel if the government controlled everything you said, now apply that to the world of computers, that’s how I feel about the Mac App Store.

    • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

      I think you’re right Aziz. The only thing I’d argue is that, one day, we could hear a similar argument to the iPhone: In order for a iPhone to be “secure”, software must be installed only through the App Store.

      Could we see the same scenario with the Mac if security becomes a larger concern in the future?

      Imagine if the first thing you did after taking your new iMac home was to Jailbreak it… :-)

  • http://www.metzener.com/ Dave M.

    I, like @Mike, have a horrible feeling that Apple will make the Mac App Store the only way to get applications for the Mac in the future. Making the Mac, the iPad of computers.

    However, since Mac’s are used in a bunch of high-tech enterprises, movie making, print content (photoshop), audio editing, etc… Apple would be shooting themselves in the head if they made the moved to a fully walled garden Mac.

    I think what Apple wants here is the best of both worlds. An application store, like the iOS App Store where non-computer savvy people can get applications and keep them up-to-date with very little effort and know-how, and the normal installation method that we are used to now for the higher-tech enterprises mentioned above and computer savvy hobbyists.

    What’s humorous about the new Mac App Store is that most of Apple’s software including iTunes would have to be rejected since there are so many bugs.

    @Mike, you mention Ubuntu as an alternative. I attempted to install Ubuntu on an older Dell desktop a few weeks ago and failed miserably. I got as far as the installation attempting to detect video, where it just kept trying over and over again, never proceeding further. I tried a second time with the same result.

    There is nothing unusual in the Dell since it’s a stock desktop that was purchased directly from Dell about 4 years ago. It runs XP fine, but my father doesn’t seem to understand the idea that Internet Explorer is a bad browser and doesn’t know how to tell when it is running rather than Chrome or Firefox. I was hoping that Ubuntu would stay up-and-running longer.

    • Mike

      @Dave M. I managed to install Ubuntu on a 8 year old Sony Vaio laptop without any real problems. Sadly I’m stuck at the “Hardy Heron” release because of the nvidia graphics card that Sony saw fit to use. All I can suggest is that you check out the Ubuntu forums, which I found to be a great resource.

      My 74 year old Mother is a mac user but her twin brother swears by Ubuntu and won’t entertain the idea of anything else.

      As regards your father, if all else fails, just make Chrome or Firefox the default browser and delete all shortcuts to IE. That way the chances of him ever opening it are minimal.

      • http://www.metzener.com/ Dave M.

        In regards to IE. Ah if only it were that simple. There are applications that do not follow the default settings when launching browsers. No matter what setting I set, IE will be launched in certain cases. (Mind you, this is WinXP I am talking about)

        I really wish we could get Ubuntu to install on that old machine. My father did manage to get Windows installed, but thanks to WinXP being so archaic, he wasn’t able to use the newly installed OS because it needed drivers installed. I managed to get all but the network card drivers installed with the Drivers CD, but thanks to DELL, I wasn’t able to get the correct drivers for the network card installed. Since there was no network accessible on that machine, I wasn’t able to go to a manufacturers website to download the latest drivers. Ah Microsoft!

  • Greg McAusland

    I dunno about this.. on the one hand obviously with the success of the app store on iOS being a one-stop-shop for customers making it a lot easier for developers to market their product to a larger audience..

    So presumably it should have a similar effect on the mac, very easy to get your product to the masses and increase sales while offering yet another security layer to the mac platform. The chances of you coming across malware or viruses while running your system and using the mac app store will effectively be 0%. So I mean thats great for users.

    I’m sure though dev’s are worried about losing 30% of their profit, but as long as they sell 30% or more with the additional advertisement and elegant delivery platform…

    Everyone’s could be a winner?

    I like the concept from a user perspective, i just hope that it doesn’t hurt independant mac developers who are responsible for many of the insanely stylish and elegant apps we geeks depend on.

  • David Ferguson

    I hope it doesn’t turn out like the Downloads page on Apple’s site. Too much crap in there.

    I don’t think that Apple will make it the “only” way to install software. Right now, some developers are on the fence about whether or not they want to move to the App Store with their software. I don’t blame them either. I don’t like the idea of not being able to get betas and pre-releases. Licensing from currently owned apps is probably going to be a nightmare for a while if the developers move to the App Store. It’s going to be a mess for a while.

    Another thing that scares me about the App Store is.. I like that a lot of Mac software is relatively cheap. I’ll admit I used to pirate a lot of software back in the day (mainly when I was in school, broke, and couldn’t buy all the stuff I wanted). Now I buy all the stuff I like. I like that the majority of the software I use regularly is pretty cheap. I wonder if all these developers are going to up the price of their software now that Apple is going to be taking a 30% cut. If so, that sucks and I hope they keep their stuff out of the App Store.

  • http://www.infrasoundkids.com L1

    Will. Not. Use.

  • Brendan

    I think it will be just like iTunes, meaning you can download from the mac-app-store or download your own software. The difference is you can search there database verses the internet. I think bodega might need to ramp up a little to compete then that would create competition. There is plenty of opportunity here for a smart developer. Thats all.

  • Mark

    I find it hard to imagine the app store becoming the only way to get your software. How is that going to work? What if you want to buy very large software packages like Adobe’s Creative Suite or something like Propellerheads Reason which comes with about 5 Gigs or more of extra material, you’d better have a decent internet connection.
    If I’m going to pay more than a couple of dollars for an app, I want to physically own the dvd’s it came on. What is going to happen when I reinstall my system or if I just want to reinstall an app? Am I going to be sure I can install them again without paying?
    If the app store really does become the only way to get software on a mac, I’m jumping ship to either Linux or Windows.

  • Orca

    I can’t see this failing due to all of the small/medium developers out there will sacrifice the 30% of there revenue to avoid all of the hassle of setting up/maintaining a webstore.

    I dont think we will ever see the likes of Adobe or Microsoft selling there wares on there, and I think the likes of the Coda, Versions, Billings apps wont show up on the App Store as the market they are aiming at are freelancer/developers who dont need there hand held to purchase, and unpack/install from a zip file/DMG image.

    For all of the other users the App Store will be brilliant, secure and you can see the reviews from other people to see what they think of the app.

    No one has mentioned something really positive about the App Store (as long as you pay using your exisisting iTunes account). Here in the UK a few retail outlets Tesco, Argos, Clinton Cards do a 2 x £15 iTunes cards for £30 everynow and then for 3 or 4 days, effectively you could save yourself 33% of an application using this method. Obviously you have to stockpile them when the offer comes out, but I bagged £60 of credits for £40 last time around.

    Thats my pennies worth :-)

    • Orca

      Oops meant 2x £15 for £20 saving £10 !!!

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