Why does Apple’s Mac App Store matter? (while others don’t)

OK.
You have App Store for Mac from Apple.
I talked about it a while ago here in this wordpress blog and there in blogspot blog.
Unlike what I expected, Apple didn’t enforce sandboxing or anything. You sill can obtain S/W programs from other sources and distribute your freshly-built programs by copying to other machines. You can still download open sources and compile them for yourself to use them. OK, good.

App store is not really a new idea. There were lots of things like this. freshmeat.net, though it is project page hosting service not source code repository, Version Tracker, ZDNet’s programs’ pages, Apple’s own web page to collect all Mac programs and make it easy to figure out what programs are there and how they look.

Apple’s own Mac software pages looks to have become more popular than Version Tracker or any other 3rd party web sites for enlisting programs. One of the reason, I think, is that Apple’s presents apps with nice looking icons and short description with which you can figure out what those programs do. Also, it is mandatory ( really? I’m not sure. ) to have screenshots on the pages. So, all of those attract people more easily.

However, what about App Bodega? Probably last year, or 2 years ago, when I attended NSCoder Night Santa Monica, I had an idea of making an app store for Mac. I wanted to talk with other developers to seek cooperation. I think we, interested programmers, can make an app store for Mac and it could be a good business. However, one day, App Bodega was out on the market, and I believe John (Badeen) mentioned about it. It was very nice. At that time, I was still curious why Apple Inc. itself didn’t push its own app store for Mac. I guessed some probable reason for that. Without sandboxing, without some way to protect piracy or copying, they couldn’t announce an official app store.Whatever it is, I guessed that Apple’s Mac software page was a test-bed for figuring out good model, usage pattern etc of probable app store.

Now, they have their app store.
Although people don’t look to be as excited as they did with iOS app store, it certainly gets some interest from programmers. However, how about App bodega? How about Version Tracker? Why didn’t people get excited with them so much before?

I guess one of the reason is “accessibility” or “visibility”.
To use the App Bodega or the Version Tracker, users, who may not be as techie as you are, should know about their existence. Even though developers post nice programs to those services, if people don’t know the program repositories’ existence, they can’t go there.
However, Apple’s own can be easily known to general Joe.
First, Steve Jobs, who gets a lot of attention from media, announced it and showed it on a stage.
Second, the “Apple Menu” has “App Store…” menu item. ( I’m sorry for Mac OS X 10.5 users for this. )
It means anyone can simply click the new menu item and it takes you to the app store.

I believe there are also people who want to publish their apps as they did before. ( Most open source projects. ) They would still want to maintain their own product pages on their own web servers. (whether they are hosted somewhere else or not. ) Probably their own product introduction page can be designed better than Apple’s.

However, people should type their URL. People should know the company name. ( There are a lot of people who don’t visit Microsoft web site to find product information or ask questions while they use their MS Office programs. ) You ( and I ) think it is not big deal. You can just type “www.blahblah.com”
But surprisingly, many Joe don’t do that.

So, I believe App Bodega and others will have big problem. (Actually on that day, Apple introduced their Mac App Store, App Bodega people tweeted a lot to say why theirs was better. )

If it was MS and Windows, without sandboxing and other security stuff, they would not be able to announce App Store. Any programs on that market would be unlocked and downloaded freely. Someone will find backdoors. ( I have heard that some people already broke the App Store, but good and kind Mac users don’t seem to exploit it. )

Probably… Apple did really important things at this moment. They can initiate S/W program market (again) finally. ( due to lots of illegal duplication, I believe there were many companies and individual developers who gave up writing S/W programmers. )

Let’s see what will happen.

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