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.

Patricio Robles

Published 6 January, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (5)


support services dc metro

Do I think it will be anything like an app store that sells titles for 99 cents? Nah. You just dont do many impulse buys at 15.00.

over 7 years ago

Yves Goulnik

Yves Goulnik, Digital strategy director at ZZZ

one good news for users at least, is licenses are valid for 5 Macs - granted, not everybody has more than one Mac, but those who do will appreciate. Less revenues for developers, but equally, less incentive to make illegal copies. on the other hand, the app store is only available to those Macs running the latest release of OS X - update aside, upgrading from even 10.5 costs $29. So, as long as the Mac OS is open enough, developers still have the option of offering their titles outside the app store.

over 7 years ago


Mark Eslice

Obviously the coverage is much wider with the Apple app store but similar models already exist on a number of Linux desktop platforms (most notably on Ubuntu). These mix paid and free apps and yet there's still a substantial market for the apps that charge (arguably in a much more price sensitive market than on mac).

Reputation and kudos of more established names in software developement will no doubt still drive comparable sales figures (if they don't in fact increase due to simplier access. It would be interesting to know how the profit margins will be affected though? Will it make products easier to promote and cheaper to get to the consumer? And will this move help smaller developers get their products in front of the right people.

over 7 years ago

Alec Kinnear

Alec Kinnear, Creative Director at Foliovision

Happy 2011 Patricio! May you develop a social conscience this year.

In the meantime, the real marketing menace to developers is that they get no contact information concerning their buyers.

The real menace to users is that all their data goes to Apple (what programs they use, tied to their physical address and their credit card details). I imagine there are huge security holes in the app store monitoring which allow Apple to poke their nose very deep into your computer. Under court order, the App Store software probes and installation could probably be used to root your computer for the US government security organisations.

Bad news all round.

over 7 years ago

Yves Goulnik

Yves Goulnik, Digital strategy director at ZZZ

re: Alec Kinnear - Under court order... without you even knowing about it. See http://t.co/NoO86z5, Twitter’s response to WikiLeaks subpoena should be the industry standard

over 7 years ago

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