Mac App Store Reviewed
January 23, 2011 2 Comments
Apple launched the Mac App Store on January 6th 2011, approximately 90 days after it was announced. The Mac App Store follows the success previously set forth by the iOS iPhone/iPad/iTouch App Stores. It has a similar look and feel to the iTunes interface, albeit much cleaner and less cluttered.
My initial impression on this was I didn’t care much for the new store concept, and that thought stewed for 90 days while waiting for the launch date. Upon using the new Mac App store, I formed a newfound appreciation for it.
My quick summary: I think this will be a huge deal for the Mac platform… correction, this IS a huge deal for the Mac platform.
Here is why the App Store is great…
- As a Mac user I now have an easy one stop shop location to find applications and their respective updates. This is something every platform can benefit from. If you are a gamer, the Steam store is a similar concept. Steam provides for an awesome game purchase/ownership experience. I think the Mac App Store will be as useful if not more.
- Each application uses the rating/review system as similarly defined by the iOS App Store. This system lets you rate the apps with a one through five star rating. You can also add a review to share your thoughts and opinions on each application you have purchased. This rating and review can be very handy when trying to find feedback before you buy. Prior to the Mac App Store this process was sometimes difficult and spread-out across various news and forums sites.
- Mac Developers benefit from higher exposure to their apps since users will flock to one central location. Apps can become listed in various ways on the store such as; Featured, Top Charts, Categories, or by Search. I like to browse through different app categories to find new apps or to just get ideas for applications that I never knew I needed. I think this increases exposure to many more apps than I would have been able to see by searching via distinct websites. This can only be good for both developers and users.
- Developers will no longer have to worry about complexities with app hosting, download fees, registrations keys and piracy, as well as simplified money handling (i.e. Apple).
- I can install all my apps on all of my Macs running OS X Snow Leopard 10.6. No longer do I need to worry about silly license codes, and policys that restrict how many machines I install my apps on. This makes it easy to reinstall my apps on new machines or if I decide to re-stage my OS.
- There are some crazy good deals and discounts on previously expensive Applications. For example, Aperture is now $80 (normally $200), RapidWeaver 5 for $40 (normally $80), SketchBookPro $30 (normally 80) and many more.
- I think Apple may consider giving free or discounted OS upgrades in the future…. ala the iOS model. Yes, the OS may require better newer hardware (like Snow Leopard does) but it will be in Apple’s best interest to get as many Mac users on the latest OS software from a App Store and developer relationship stand-point. This would help get rid of older OS versions quickly, oh and it likely sells more hardware.
Here are some issues with the App Store…
- For Developers, Apple gets a 30% cut, you the developer get 70%. Some may see this as a win-win as they don’t want to worry about hosting fees and registration keys. Some company’s like Adobe may not want to incur a 30% hit on their high priced products (i.e. Photoshop).
- If you previously purchased an App outside the store you don’t automatically (at this time) receive the benefits of the App Store automatic updates and simple App Store licensing. To get the full App Store benefits you would have to re-purchase the App via the store. One exception to this I found… some developers are providing deep introductory discounts on their apps to entice users to repurchase and get included App Store benefits. Some developers (like the fine folks at Realmac Software) have provided refunds to recently purchased RapidWeaver 5 purchases that were just prior to the App Store roll-out. They did this for me when I had purchased RapidWeaver 5 in early December 2010. I asked for a refund so I could re-purchase RW5 on the Mac App Store. Developers like this should be praised for handling this scenario.
- There is no way to try an app before you buy. Developers have to create a separate “lite” version like we have seen on the iOS App Store.
- At this point there is no easy way to get a refund if you don’t like an App. You can of course request one from Apple, like if you accidentally purchased an app, but this is a one-off formal process that involves opening a support ticket with Apple. I’ve done this in the past and its not an impossible process, its just not as easy as clicking a button to get a refund.
- Apple controls whether you can list your App on the Mac App Store. Most Mac users won’t care, but some will, especially when this affects the app they are trying to buy (or sell). Apple reserves the right to reject any apps they deem inappropriate.
- Apple controls the information around customer data. Basically this means it is hard for Developers to know who its users are since most (all?) data is held by Apple. Apple may choose to open this up further in the future but in the mean time Developers are left mostly in the dark about its customers.
- Sometimes it is almost too easy to buy an App. After your App Store password has been entered, one click on the purchase button essentially “buys” the app. Think Amazon one-click. I hope Apple will let users configure a dialog box “are you sure” message for those of us that are sometimes click happy.
- You need a Mac with OS X Snow Leopard 10.6. Older PowerPC systems (PowerMac, Powerbook, iBook, etc) won’t be able to use the store.
Well that concludes this discussion for now. I am curious to hear your experiences with the Mac App Store… good or bad.