The Mac repository - Best and worst things about the Mac App Store

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. 

Coming as an integral part of Mac OS 10.6.6 via software update, Apple justifies bundling the new software as a "compulsory addition" to download on every Mac. When I first heard about the Mac App Store at the last keynote, I was happy to discover it would be a separate app. I don't think anything else can be crammed into the mammoth that iTunes is. Let's all remember this used to be a music player and now has a online store, multimedia library, ebook management, mobile sync management and even its own social network. Wether you like the new Mac App Store or not, you must agree that is good news to have it as a separate app. I just wished my iOS apps could be managed as well from there.

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

The first impression when you launch the Mac App Store is that is goes beyond Snow Leopard in many ways. Although iPhoto, iMovie and others in the iLife family have embraced the full-screen approach to be used in the upcoming Lion OSX,  the new app feels so minimalistic that belongs in a place in between a desktop and touch applications. Apple has used a new style with with unaligned previous/forward buttons and a new glyph style that I particularly like a lot. It is a minimal app that lets the application icon and screenshots stand out.

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.

It is still early days, but I cannot help to notice a major flaw: The Mac App Store recognises all the apps you have bought and installed with it but cannot identify whether you have bought an app before or not, even if its installed on the system. This can be very frustrating, the number of apps included is also quite limited (1,000 is a lot, but just a small percentage of the Mac ecosystem,) and the few I own on the App Store are not recognized.
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.