Apple has kept its premise to go Back to the Mac this year rolling out the much anticipated Mac App Store, a portal to purchase software directly from a desktop application. Similarly to the storefront Bodega, Cydia and other repositories, it follows the success of the business model used in the iOS App Store on iTunes. The thinking heads in Cupertino have adopted the profitable 30-70 per cent cut in concept of hosting, promotion, distribution and payment transaction.
iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad users will be jealous of the simplicity and responsiveness of the new storefront. The categories and top lists are the ones you would expect, but this is still so new that is difficult to predict which apps will stand out from the surprising high amount of cheap games. The design and layout essentially follow the one seen on the iTunes stores, although it feels like a missed opportunity to do something more Lionesque. Fanboys might say it has a familiar face on your desktop, but if you didn't know it was Apple who did it, you would say they have been lazy. First Look
One of the most appealing features, specially when you think of new Mac users, has to be the automatic installation and software update. Apps download on the background, the icon appears on the dock and a progress bar indicates the installation, just like in iOS. From know on, you will never see those mounted disks used to install applications left on the desktop for years… (I think the previous installation process was too cumbersome for new users). Having said this, buying is so easy that can turn a simple free download into a shopping frenzy with prices starting as low as 0.59p/0.99c.
Unlike the iOS App Store, the Mac version is just another option for developers to market their apps. Let's not make it so drastic: Big firms including Adobe, OMNI or Microsoft are not going to gift Apple 30% of their premium applications, because they have alternative ways to sell their desktop software. With iOS is a different story and must accept the deal and pass the censorship.
I have heard a lot of criticism on Twitter about how previous licenses will be handled, discounts, free-trial versions and different pricing for students or families, for instance. I'm sure that when one dev will crack it, many will follow and will see more value in the Mac App Store, but is seems over the top this attitude towards software: My first iLife and iWork came free with my laptop, but have bough the newer editions every year at the same price than everyone else. I have also upgraded essential software such as 1Password over the years and as a valued customer, I always get discounts and cheaper upgrade prices than new customers. I don't see how Lite versions do more good than discounts to be honest, but hopefully for users many devs won't chose to go Mac App Store exclusive and there will be some room for freedom.