Thank you, Apple. It’s barely a week into 2011 and you’ve already found another way to take my hard earned cash. This will be one of those winters where there’s too much month left over at the end of my money.
The cause? It’s that new Mac Store that makes it easy to shop for Mac apps, find apps, buy apps with a click, download and install apps. How will I feed my kids, Steve Jobs? Did you ever think of that?
Where Are The Trumpets?
Apple’s Mac App Store arrived via Trojan Horse, stuffed as an app inside the latest version of Mac OS X Snow Leopard. Download and install version 10.6.6 and, Voila! Your Mac’s Dock became infested with a new money drain.
If you’ve ever bought anything on iTunes—music, movies, TV shows, iPhone apps—then you already know how to use the Mac App Store app.
Notice the App Store’s Dock placement? It’s snuggled right next to that devious and Picasso-inspired smiley face Mac icon.
Don’t be fooled by the non-trumpet, non-parade, non-hoopla entrance. The Mac App Store has one objective. To separate you from your money. Will it work?
Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid
Apple revolutionized the smart phone by giving users a phone that was really smart. My iPhone has a few hundred apps, so that must make me smarter than the average bear (guess which movie my daughters took me to over the weekend?).
Hundreds? Yeah, they just sort of add up because the buying experience is so easy. Fire up iTunes, search around, download some free stuff, and feel good enough with the samples to purchase something else. It’s like two for one. One has a price tag. One is free. Download both and together they’re each half price.
Be afraid of that logic. It works.
The Mac App Store works the same way. It’s familiar because it looks and works like the iTunes App Store. Apple knows where you live, has your credit card already, so once you’re into the Store, the only thing left to do is shop. Click and download is the name of the game. Buy now. Pay later.
The Word Around Town
TUAW says there are about a thousand apps available in the Mac App Store from day one. Assuming my credit-deprived memory is correct, the iPhone App Store had about 500 on opening day. Uh oh.
ArsTechnica did an Opening Day hands on and figured out the basics. The Mac App Store is easy to use, a little thin on inventory, and average Mac users are likely to love (I’m looking at you, Mom).
Engadget calls it an“ orderly, structured app buying experience.” They just didn’t want to say curated.
Macworld managed to do a full-on Q & A. My favorite? “Can I buy an app on one Mac for use on all my computers?” Answer? Yes. So long as they’re Macs. Otherwise, some apps come with the dreaded DRM (digital rights management) built in.
How It All Works
At first glance, the Mac App Store appears innocuous enough. I’m sure the citizens of Troy thought the same about the original Trojan Horse. Once they brought the horse into Troy, it was all over for them. Once you step into the Mac App Store…
Well, you get the picture. It’s just too easy to browse and buy, despite the thin selection of merchandise. Categories work the same as in the iPhone App Store.
Find something interesting and click to see the details. Like what you see? Then click to buy. The Mac App Store app sends a little animated icon hurtling from the app to your Mac’s Dock and the download process begins.
During that mesmerizing sleight of hand from App Store app to Dock, your credit card was charged. Steve Jobs could make it big in Las Vegas combining his famed Reality Distortion Field with a magic act. Patrons would smile as their money disappeared.
Apple keeps track of what you buy in the store. The App Store app even finds previously installed apps, kinda sorta wink wink hinting that you don’t need to buy it again.
But if you don’t, then the App Store won’t update it for you, ala Apple’s new found digital cold shoulder. That manual updating process is soooo 1999. Unlike Mac apps of 1984 through 2010, the Mac App Store doesn’t give you a free demo period.
Curating For The Masses
What you get is a totally curated buying experience, probably near perfect for the average Mac user, and certainly so for the Windows switcher who already knows about iPhone apps.
One notable trend is lower prices for Mac apps. iWork’s Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are in the $79 package from the Apple Store, but only $14.99 each in the Mac App Store. Likewise, Aperture 3 for Mac is $199 in the online Apple Store, but only $79 in the Mac App Store.
Apple’s new Back to the Mac direction means some of what made the iPhone and iOS so successful circles back around to the Mac. The Mac App Store app is drop dead easy to setup and use. No instructions or manual necessary. It knows who you are, where you live, and soon, what Mac apps you like and how much you’re willing to pay.
And, just like the iPhone App Store, it’s an easy way to spend money.