Yesterday, Apple announced that it plans to launch a version of its App Store for the Mac, bringing a hallmark feature of its iOS platform to its desktop environment. The App Store on the Mac will fill essentially the same role as its counterpart on the iOS. It will be used as a virtual retail space where developers can submit apps to be sold.
Where this will go will be interesting to see. Apple has been fighting a PR battle over the App Store since it launched in July 2008. Apple vets all iOS apps that are submitted for the App Store. This same process will be applied to all Mac apps submitted for the Mac App Store. With this comes the same failings because it is the same system with the same people.
On the other hand, it could bring lesser-known apps to the attention of more people, thus encouraging small-time indie Mac developers. I recently started using a Tweetie-inspired Gmail client, called Sparrow, on my MacBook. It is still in beta, but it an impressive application with a great deal of potential. I would love to see more people discover this app, among others.
An advantage that this version of the App Store will have over the iOS version is that it is not the exclusive way to get new software on your Mac. Users will still be able to purchase Mac software online and on physical media, without Apple’s ecosystem or infrastructure. Ars Technica performed some informal interviews with indie Mac developers to see what they think about this.
Until we see the Mac App store launch about 90 days from now, it should be safe to assume that it will have most of the same problems and strengths that the current App Store does. It will not be exactly the same but it should be interesting to watch.