With the App Store, Apple has positioned itself as one of the most powerful players in digital content. Millions upon millions of customers now acquire everything from music to mobile apps through it.
But when it comes to Mac desktops and laptops, the App Store is irrelevant. Until now.
Last year, Apple announced that it would develop a Mac App Store that allows developers of desktop Mac software to sell their wares in the same fashion developers sell iPhone and iPad apps.
Today, the Mac App Store makes its debut, and Apple is confident. Pre-launch, the store landing page states, "The App Store brings a world of possibilities to iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. It’s about to do the same for your Mac."
The Mac App Store could very well change the desktop software landscape, and that has some worried. ZDNet's David Gewirtz, for instance, thinks today is Armageddon for developers of Mac software. He writes:
Mac software has historically been priced on a parity with other desktop software. That means small products are about $20. Utilities run in the $50-60 range. Games in the $50 range. Productivity packages and creative tools in the hundreds, and specialty software — well, the sky’s the limit.
Tomorrow, the sky will fall. Tomorrow, the iOS developers move in and the traditional Mac developers better stick their heads between their legs and kiss those price points goodbye.
While there's reason to expect that the Mac App Store will lead to the proliferation of new, less expensive applications, doom and gloom would seem premature. Yes, 'traditional' developers will need to compete with lower-priced apps. And the new store will probably increase competition generally, but none of this is inherently a bad thing.
For starters, if Apple has its way, the Mac App Store will help drive a lot more purchases of desktop applications. So even if developers in certain categories have to lower their prices to be competitive, there's a good chance at least some of them could still realize increased revenues based on increased sales volume. Some developers may also find that they can be successful producing simpler apps that take less time and money to develop, boosting profitability.
But there's a even bigger reason traditional Mac developers shouldn't worry yet: the desktop isn't the iPhone or iPad.
The capabilities of a Mac desktop (or laptop) differ significantly from the capabilities of an iPhone or iPad. And what consumers use them for is different too. In short, it's logical that consumers will expect different things from desktop apps than they expect from mobile apps, even if both types of apps are being distributed through an app store. That means that traditional developers can still thrive, even if some of them have to strengthen their value propositions.
At the end of the day, traditional software developers shouldn't fear the Mac App Store any more than they might have feared the internet and the cloud.
There is always going to be demand for a wide range of software applications regardless of how those software applications are sold and delivered. The traditional software developers that succeed will be the ones who position themselves to embrace whatever new demand for their wares the Mac App Store delivers.
Photo credit: mattk1979 via Flickr.