Think Apple Stores, iPod, iTunes Music Store, Mac to Intel, Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, Watch. Even iCloud, despite some misgivings and well deserved criticisms, has hundreds of millions of users. But Apple does not have a perfect record in the Steve Jobs-Tim Cook era.
Hello? Is This Thing On?
Apple had a string of product failures during the original Steve Jobs era, even more after Jobs was dismissed from the company he founded, but even after his return in 1997, and Apple’s resulting rebirth or reincarnation, there have been a few product duds.
Remember Xserve? How about MobileMe? They came, they were seen, they disappeared. What I consider Apple’s biggest blemish in an otherwise stellar 21st century performance is… insert drum roll here… the Mac App Store.
Someone called the Mac App Store a ghost town, but I think ghosts have better things to do than inhabit a place where hardly anybody bothers to use except for a few basic apps and utilities that get updated sporadically anyway.
Mac App Store pales in contrast to the iPhone and iPad App Store in iTunes. The latter has over a million apps available, and there’s little doubt that iOS iDevice users try and use more apps– partly because they’re less expensive– than Mac users (who are known to use more apps per device than Windows users).
What’s wrong with Mac App Store? Apple is the only real anchor tenant in a shopping center that should be flooded with major apps. I see a number of issues that inhibit shopping in the Mac App Store. First, search sucks. Second, new apps don’t show up often, and when they do, they’re anything but worthwhile. Third, Mac users don’t need and try or buy as many apps as iPhone users. Fourth, the sandboxing requirement makes apps more secure but less powerful than many non-App Store apps, so there’s been a trend where many Mac app developers published apps on MAS, then abandoned the app to sell on the open market instead.
There was a time when I would check the Mac App Store every day or two to find what’s new. Now, I can perform the same search task once a week and not miss anything because so few new apps are published on MAS these days. Check it yourself. Click a category in the Mac App Store menu. You’ll be greeted with a list of the promoted and most popular apps, right above the latest apps. Not much is new there, sometimes for days.
Another problem with the Mac App Store might be the problem of comparing the Mac ecosystem to iPhone and iPad. The latter two have perhaps 600-million users. The Mac? Perhaps 60-million, and while that’s an all time high, the volume of apps available to the customer base does not compare.
For now, Apple’s Mac App Store quickly is becoming Apple’s biggest 21st century dud.