It’s an understatement to say Apple created a revolution with the iTunes App Store. It’s a huge success for everyone. Over 300,000 apps. One click to buy. 8-billion downloads.
I have over 300 apps on my iPhone. Now Apple plans to launch a Mac App Store with similar features. One click to buy, download, and install apps to a Mac. Easy updates to the latest versions. What could go wrong?
Easy, Meet Complex
What could be easier than buying a Mac app the Apple way? Not much. The only problem I see is that App Store apps for the iPhone, iPad, and iPad touch are not the same as apps for the Mac.
I want to see an easier more uniform way to try, buy, download, and use Mac apps.
So, the Mac App Store seems like a good solution with benefits for everyone. Mac users. Mac app developers. Apple. Unfortunately, it’s not all that easy.
Mac apps are not iPhone apps.
Easy, Meet Problems To Solve
For example, most Mac apps have a try-before-you-buy trial period. Even Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe have trials. How will a trial period be handled on the Mac App Store?
Could Apple set up a system where the app can be purchased as a trial app, downloaded, installed, and used for, say a week, then the app says “buy me?” and the user’s credit card gets charged? What if the user doesn’t click “buy me?”
What about upgrades?
Let’s say you have version 2.1 of a Mac app, and version 3.0 is available. Is the new version available at a discount? Or, does the user have to buy the app at the retail price?
A Mac App Store is a natural iteration of Apple’s new love of the masses, and demonstrates the company’s long-term commitment to the platform. Questions remain.
What about installation?
Not all Mac apps install the same way. In fact, some uniformity to installation would be welcome. Some apps install themselves automatically in Applications. Others wait for the user to drag and drop to install. Still others come with an installer built-in. How will the Mac App Store handle installations?
Frankly, I’d like to see Adobe required to use a standard Mac installer to be able to utilize the Mac App Store for Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, et al. Adobe’s installation process is a mess.
What about in-app purchases? I thought they would be annoying in the iPhone apps, but they’re actually useful. What about in-app advertising? Will Mac app developers be able to insert advertising slots for Apple’s iAds so we can be annoyed to death yet another way?
The New Way vs. The Old Way
As you can tell, I have a lot more questions than I have answers. Hey, it’s just software, right? So Apple can overcome all those issues. Someday. Here’s why the Mac App Store will be so compelling. Compare the process for purchasing an app for the iPhone vs. the traditional method for a Mac app.
Read review of Mac app, click to app’s web site, locate download link, click around a few times to buy (many clicks associated with the buying process), click to download app, click to unzip app, drag app to Applications folder (or, double-click to install), double-click to launch app, find registration serial number in email, find registration button in app, enter registration, hope to have enough time left in the day to use the app.
That’s not much of an exaggeration.
Compare that step-by-step process with how you buy an iPhone app.
Find app on the store, read reviews, click to buy, click to download, wait, use.
A Mac App Store will cause a revolution for Mac users, making it far easier to buy apps. However, the process will cause another revolution of complexity for users and app developers.
I’m looking forward to using a Mac App Store, but Apple has a lot more work to do than it did for iPhone apps. What about you? Do you look forward to buying from a Mac App Store? Or, do you prefer the old fashioned, 20th century method?