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Apple brings App Store to Mac OS X (engadget.com)
155 points by there on Oct 20, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 223 comments

This is very exciting. The problem of distribution and monetization for desktop software is significant and largely unsolved. Steam is already proof that a digital store can make desktop users really happy, but it addresses gamers, who are cheerful early adopters. Most other people who don't game only know this model through their mobile device, but now they're ready for more.

As for developers? For more than half of 2009, the App Store paid for my rent and cell phone bill. It helped me move across the country to the west coast. This was huge for me. I barely had to do much more than write code, design UI, and ship things. A huge chunk of the business of actually selling bits to other people was abstracted behind a bunch of buttons on iTunes Connect. This was such a powerful thing – I couldn't have had anything close to the moderate success I did without Apple's App Store strategy.

This is going to enable a new wave of great work for OS X. This platform already has some of the best shareware and freeware ever. Now that indie Mac devs will have an easy way to get paid, they'll be able to devote even more attention to their wares.

I'm not so excited about this. Am I the only one who thinks this is Apple's first step in exerting more control over developers and users on the OS X platform like they do on iOS?

EDIT: to all the replies about how you still have a choice of distribution on OS X: yes, you do right now, but who knows how long that will last? As I said, this might be the first step in locking down the platform. I don't believe this will happen in 1 or 2 or 3 years, but maybe 5 years.

> I'm not so excited about this... this might be the first step in locking down the platform.

Of course you're not excited about this. You're a brilliant nerd who founded a startup that invented a new programming language. This isn't for you. Or for me.

Getting to be Nerd Jesus every time a computer runs into trouble is gratifying. We get to be important. We get to trick out our gear to do all kinds of goofy, custom stuff. We get to build things that are neat.

Serving our needs is certainly important. It's important, also, to understand that we are the minority. Everyone else just wants a tool that works. The majority of human beings on earth find computers to be mystifying, frustrating, even scary things. Absent Nerd Jesus, the computer just seems to have a mind of its own. It has its own agenda and interacting with it is an exercise in guesswork and black magic.

What the iPad, and the iPhone before it, has taught us is simple: people want a computer they understand. They want technology, but optimizing for Nerd Jesus has given them shit technology that doesn't respect them, so they're used to being defensive around it.

This is all a long way of saying that I agree with you – this could be a first step in "locking down the platform" for you and me. And streamlining it so it's actually useful for everyone else who doesn't fetishize the Terminal, kernel extensions or compilers.

I think there will always be a place for Nerd Jesus to do his thing. But instead of being the focus of the market, we're finally going to focus on the vast majority of what most people actually care about doing.

We'll see what it costs us from a nerd perspective. I suspect it's less than we think – aside from the high of our indispensability as troubleshooters, of course.

I don't understand the geek self-flagellation that iOS has caused. It seems to have instigated the meme that if a platform appeals to geeks then it must necessarily be unfriendly to normal users, and I would think Mac OS X itself shows that to be false...

What the iPad, and the iPhone before it, has taught us is simple: people want a computer they understand. They want technology, but optimizing for Nerd Jesus has given them shit technology that doesn't respect them, so they're used to being defensive around it.

...except that so many Apple fans have also retroactively determined that OS X is actually completely unusable unless you're an uber-nerd.

And streamlining it so it's actually useful for everyone else who doesn't fetishize the Terminal, kernel extensions or compilers.

How does getting rid of the terminal improve the experience for the average user who has no idea it even exists?

> I don't understand the geek self-flagellation that iOS has caused.

A product like the iPad, which didn't exist a year ago, provides an interesting reference for what computing could be outside the existing rules. My mom has a much, much easier time using the iPad than her Mac, and can do many of the same tasks with it.

Oh, orangecat. Look at these strawmen.

> OS X is actually completely unusable unless you're an uber-nerd.

Not really. It's just a lot more usable for nerds. And less so the less you know about technology. Again, compare this to the iPad, whose usability remains about the same regardless of where you exist in the tech savviness distribution. Once you learn how to use it, which is easy, you're fine.

> How does getting rid of the terminal improve the experience

It... doesn't. Liking the terminal, like caring about compilers or kernel extensions, signals being a technical user. Getting rid of kexts or gcc would be similarly irrelevant to the user experience.

Who is getting rid of the Terminal here, exactly?

Absolutely, I understand I'm in the minority. I just hope if it does happen there will be a suitable replacement to switch to by then (and no, Linux is not there yet). That means both hardware and software, since by then all Apple hardware will likely only run Apple software.

I'm not so gloomy, though – I suspect that Apple will continue to serve us and mainstream users through some middle ground. There's money in both.

Apple dedicated a huge chunk of today's talk, and consequently a huge chunk of development resources, to their creative tools. The whole bicycle for the mind stuff – this is very important to Apple's overall mission, history and perception.

And in the end, being technically creative is something I think they'll always want to support. I don't know what form it will take but I do not think Apple is going to turn its backs on the sort of people who can help them make the very best stuff for their platforms.

It reminds me of At Ease, actually. When I was a kid, I was tired of the rest of the family breaking the computer in one way or another. So I set up At Ease for a couple of years and everything was great. When I needed the Mac, I'd log into the desktop proper.

I doubt the final mainstream outcome will be as draconian in its limitations as was At Ease. But I think it will be just as simple. And hopefully, just as opt-out for everyone who needs more.

As long as Apple wants people not employed by Apple to make software for their platforms, the Mac will probably remain a system developers find friendly.

I simply refuse to believe that locking a platform down is the best way to improve user experience. There has to be a better way!

It's one strategy. The other is opening it up so much that no one breakout distribution, application, or interface could possibly emerge "victorious" (meaning, the vast majority uses it), which is what Linux does. There is so much room for experimentation, so many flavors and choices and configurations and ways to do it, that no one but the most hardcore and devoted users can seriously figure out how to do things with any respectable degree of confidence.

I've run Linux on the desktop in one form or another (laptop, desktop, or server) since Red Hat Linux 6.2. That was over a decade ago. And, guess what? We're still fighting over GNOME vs. KDE (or fluxbox), and apt-get vs yum (or port), .rpm vs .deb (or .tar.gz). You still can't grab a package from Ubuntu and install it on your Fedora box (well, not without a tremendous amount of headache), and if you go strictly upstream, you have to be at the terminal every time a new version comes out (./configure + remember the build options you want, make, make install).

Windows, unfortunately, is in the middle, and it's still, 15 years later, a virus-prone rooted-zombie mess, albeit with a supposedly pretty good modern browser coming real soon now.

Dude, you're one of my favorite commentors as of late Danilo. You've got a way of taking abstract and dry concepts and making them lively and interesting. Great stuff.

  > Of course you're not excited about this. You're a brilliant nerd who
  > founded a startup that invented a new programming language. This isn't for
  > you. Or for me.
The AppStore is not for "you or for me," but his fear is not that Apple is creating an AppStore for OS X. His fear is what this says about Apple's future strategy for the Mac OS X platform.

  > Getting to be Nerd Jesus every time a computer runs into trouble is
  > gratifying. We get to be important. We get to trick out our gear to do all
  > kinds of goofy, custom stuff. We get to build things that are neat.
You're conflating a lot of things here. You're claiming that all 'nerds' like the feeling of superiority they get when they solve computer problems for other 'non-nerds.' Are you really attempting to apply this generalization to all technical people?

Secondly, what does 'tricking out your gear to do all kinds of goofy, custom stuff' have to do with being 'Nerd Jesus?' Would you call car-modders 'Auto Jesus' if they were to complain that an car company made it harder to perform 3rd party modifications to their products?

How does building neat things and 'tricking out your gear' make you 'Nerd Jesus' or make it so that you 'get to be important?'

  > Serving our needs is certainly important. It's important, also, to
  > understand that we are the minority. Everyone else just wants a tool that
  > works. The majority of human beings on earth find computers to be
  > mystifying, frustrating, even scary things. Absent Nerd Jesus, the computer
  > just seems to have a mind of its own. It has its own agenda and interacting
  > with it is an exercise in guesswork and black magic.
You're setting up a false dichotomy here. There isn't some 'line' that divides all people between extreme technical competance and 'caveman-level' technical competance. Also remember that 51% is a majority, and that a 51/49 split is a hell of a lot different than a 95/5 split (i.e. tossing out 'majority' and 'minority' is meaningless).

  > What the iPad, and the iPhone before it, has taught us is simple: people
  > want a computer they understand. They want technology, but optimizing for
  > Nerd Jesus has given them shit technology that doesn't respect them, so
  > they're used to being defensive around it.
Do you really believe that the majority of systems out there are 'optimized' for your 'Nerd Jesus' rather than 'Nerd Jesus' just happening to understand the system that already exist?

  > This is all a long way of saying that I agree with you – this could be a
  > first step in "locking down the platform" for you and me. And streamlining
  > it so it's actually useful for everyone else who doesn't fetishize the
  > Terminal, kernel extensions or compilers.
"locking down the system" != "steamlining the system"

To frame this discussion a little differently, do you believe that instituting a police state would result in a more stream-lined society?

Things like kernel extensions and compilers aren't "going away." Apple is just trying their best to obfuscate them, and the fears in technical groups is that Apple wants to make it impossible to access them. Are you really of the mind that it is impossible to have a stream-lined experience on a technical device if the possibility of gaining access to a compiler exists?

Most of people's annoyance with iOS is not that it's streamlined. It's that Apple wants to be the gatekeeper, who gets to tell you what kind of software you can run on your device. There are plenty of types of software that are outside of the realm of uber technical people that Apple will not allow on the device that would enhance the lives of many.

  > I think there will always be a place for Nerd Jesus to do his thing. But
  > instead of being the focus of the market, we're finally going to focus on
  > the vast majority of what most people actually care about doing.
Focusing on the 'majority' of people is different than actively trying to thwart 'Nerd Jesus.'

  > We'll see what it costs us from a nerd perspective. I suspect it's less
  > than we think – aside from the high of our indispensability as
  > troubleshooters, of course.
Now that you're down off our high-hor^w^wsoapbox, the question that I pose to you is this: Do you seriously believe that the issue that people take with the possible changes that Apple might make to the Mac OS X platform is 100% to do with technical people losing their ability to assert superiority over the 'mendecants' through troubleshooting their computer problems?

To all that upvoted this: Really HN? Really? Anyone that doesn't want a locked-down system is just some 'stupid nerd' that thinks he's going to lose his 'in' with pretty girls because they won't need their computers fixed? That seems to be the crux of this argument.

The difference is on OSX you have a choice; Mac App Store or adhoc/old way.

Besides, Apple are being much more liberal re iOS approval of late - the old times are long gone except the odd mistake here and there.

EDIT: I wonder if this will act as a proving ground for apple re dual App Store + adhoc distribution ala android market?

EDIT2: I'm just going to come out and say it... At times I worry about installing random dmgs I find on the web. If Apple can approve the apps and ensure they are genuine and won't harm my system then I wouldn't be surprised if I'd end up switching to the Mac App Store for all my apps... With exceptions for companies I know well. This is a potentially an awesome social-engineering solution to malware/viruses in the long-run.

EDIT3: Final edit as my startup won't launch itself! :P To anyone suggesting Apple will take away adhoc OSX installations and replace purely with Mac store: 1/ On what timescale? This would be very long-term - we'd adapt 2/ Is it really a problem? See Edit2 above for at least one benefit.

Today you have a choice. Who knows what the next version of iOS/OSX brings.

I personally don't think Apple would try to go this way, but I also didn't think they'd be such pains in the ass about cross-compiled applications getting on to iOS devices (i.e. Flash apps compiled down to work on iOS).

Apple stumbled a lot dealing with iPhone platform developers. It was very much a series of amateur mistakes. They've reversed most of the bad decisions, including the language ban. I really don't think Apple has an evil master plan — I just think they're fumbling around and trying to figure out the right way to do things.

I'm not suggesting it would be an evil master plan. I could easily see Steve Jobs deciding that the Mac experience would be much simpler and better if Apple reviewed all software that went on the Mac, exactly the same way he's decided that for the iPhone and iPad.

No, you're just spreading FUD, and it is a dead horse. One thing Apple has over most other businesses is a much higher level of integrity.

Well, consider this: it doesn't even need to be explicitly enforced to have a detrimental effect. By sheer force of market value app developers will stop developing apps that won't make it into Apple's store and will self-censor and self-restrict what they make to satisfy Steve Jobs personal preferences. A sort of "chilling effect" that will freeze out much of the non-Apple-approved development on the Mac.

As for integrity - personally I think they've done many things that lacked integrity. The language ban was very low and put many small companies that were developing cross compilers right out of business. That's a huge ethical issue even if you think it was justified for whatever reasons Jobs claimed it was necessary.

What does this have to do with integrity? It wouldn't be evil if Steve Jobs / Apple decided to make OSX more iOS like. We may not like it, but it's not evil.

Today OSX users are very fortunate that they don't have to deal with viruses or spyware, but the good times will change eventually and Apple will lose the marketing advantage of being able to brag about being worry-free. If they felt that their market would be interested in some kind of Apple version of Microsoft Bob then why wouldn't they pursue that?

You clearly seem to be a fan of Apple's products, help me understand how speculating on the possibility of Apple converging its operating systems is even remotely FUD?

Speak the truth on hacker news and get voted down. Here's the truth: Facebook: promised your data was private so you could open up with friends, then made data public by default, allows friends to leak your data. now spreading data all over the web.

Google says "do no evil" yet arbitrarily punishes websites with ranking, cancels people's adwords and adsense accounts, and employes (apparently) zero customer service and has no interest in resolving any issues people might have.

Microsoft- do I really need to go over the history of microsoft's lapses in integrity?

Dell-- was making all of its profit via kickbacks from intel and failed to report it to investors, denying investors an honest accounting of how its business was really cratering.

I could go on....

Yes, you could go on — to include Apple.

Apple brands itself as "different" and progressive, using '60s counterculture icons, then turns into the most prudish schoolmarm imaginable and bans any app that could offend anyone — including a Pulitzer-winning political satirist, and any book-reading app that doesn't explicitly block you from reading the Kama Sutra. I swear I am not making that second example up.

Apple proceeds to promise developers that adult-oriented apps will be accepted once parental controls are in, accepts a bunch of them at that time, then retroactively removes all of them from the store with no recourse for the developers. Apple also arbitrarily rejects apps (much more viciously than Google rejects Web pages — Google around and you'll read horror stories), and kept Google Voice in approval limbo for more than a year.

You could also remember that they have published their guidelines now, so while they still block a lot of stuff, at least we now know exactly what that is. Actually, I've seen a lot less "horror stories" since then.

Not saying it's fixed, but I do think it's a lot better.

I think the adult oriented stuff is a US problem. I see adult apps in Europe and it asks me if I'm over 17 (the local required age I guess) if I download it (it is strange that the one I always get asked on is actually a news app but we show bare breasts over here...).

I hope they they DO add a Parental control, to limit apps to Appstore only purchases. That's be Perfect for my mother, for example- It nearly eliminates the chance of Viruses and Malware, while still giving her access to all the apps she needs.

That would be childal control, then :)

Yes, you have a choice... for now. If Apple wanted to take away that choice a Mac App Store is the obvious first step.

REPLY TO EDIT2: The iOS App Store's review process doesn't do much for security. As demonstrated by the flashlight WiFi proxy app it's trivial to get code (malicious or not) past the reviewers. The security on iPhone comes from sandboxing of apps.

That's a little too much FUD.

With the phone, it was a new device, and in many ways, it makes sense to lock it down.

The Mac has a 25 year legacy, and if they were to take away that choice, so many people would leave the platform. Apple might be jerks a lot of the time, but they're hardly stupid.

Disagree it's FUD. It's an intelligent observation or prediction of what this might be the first step towards. It's called the slippery slope phenomenon. It happens.

> "It happens."

Absolutely. It's happened (and happening) to Android. Carriers block rooting. Carriers block sideloading. Carriers add apps that can't be removed. They swap search engines and remove the settings. Each time a change flies in the marketplace, they get emboldened.

Today, experiencing the "choice" Android promised is contingent on flawless and thorough research, with tomorrow looking increasingly worse.

But where's the earnest geek concern about the slippery slope when we talk about Android fragmentation? That ball is busily picking up speed, but we don't talk about it.

We talk about how fragmentation isn't real or isn't a big deal. Even while every tom, dick and harry lets loose their plans of an Android future that doesn't include Google's marketplace, likely won't include side-loading, rooting or half the "choice" we like to pretend separates Android from iOS.

Yet in the context of Apple --where this change would require Apple reversing momentum, against developer wishes, after having quite publicly reversed the scope-creep of 3.3.1 after developer backlash-- we seem to be unable to talk about anything else.

So while an Apple U-turn is a legitimate concern, it's still FUD to put this big a spotlight onto it for those two big reasons:

1. Recent evidence suggests, if anything, it's less-likely than ever.

2. The focus is completely out of proportion with what the issue receives in other contexts.

It's a knee jerk reaction based on some prior misbehavior on a different platform from the same company.

The more realistic outcome out of this is that the App Store will be so popular that it marginalizes any developer who uses any other method of distribution.

That, I see as a negative, and more likely outcome than a complete application lockdown on the OS.

Claiming that data point 1 may be the start of the slippery slope certainly sounds like "fear, uncertainty and doubt" to me.

It's also worth noting that the slippery slope argument is widely regarded as a fallacy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slippery_slope

On top of that, it's an observation based on past and repeated history. Apple has a long track record of stabbing its own 3rd party developers in the back -- witness 64-bit Photoshop CS4, and what Apple had to do with it.

I know CS5 is now 64-bit on both Windows and OSX, but the OSX users had to wait an extra 18 months because of Apple, not because of Adobe.

You don't have to look further than iOS to see that yes, it is a problem. Charging developers a yearly fee aside, excluding apps that Apple is not comfortable with due to competitive reasons is a HUGE problem.

Also, a lot of us who develop on OS X actually use the unix tool chain. Something like homebrew or fink just won't fit into the app store framework.

Edit: that said, I do see the positive aspects of it. So long as it is permanently optional, I think it's a good thing. Sadly, it seems Apple does not have good relationship with it's developers. At least if you take the number of fearful comments as evidence.

The App Store guidelines pretty much rule out most big applications. Just like the iOS guidelines, you can't download loadable code bundles, you can't use your own licensing system, your own update system, etc.

Matlab, Photoshop, etc, are not compatible with the guidelines, so unless Apple wants to do away with entire market segments, they're going to continue allowing traditional development and installs, with the App Store being an optional distribution method.

Yeah, exactly.

It seems pretty clear to me that this is aimed at enticing small developers who are interested in finding a way to get exposure and don't want to deal with the hassle of setting up their own licensing and billing infrastructure. It's probably great for a one-man hobbyist looking to turn a small profit on the side.

It's manifestly not going to be interesting to companies that already have mind-share and marketing arms and multiple retail channels, and why would it be? They don't need the exposure or the overhead.

That more than anything else ought to indicate that this isn't some dastardly plot to lock down the desktop.

Just a note. If you're a serious Windows developer, you're probably paying the few hundred bucks a year for the basic MSDN software subscription.

...and many of those serious Windows developers started out as amateur Windows developers who weren't paying for that subscription.

Many Mac developers initially learnt by making small apps and making them available to everyone. I bet the iPhone App Store would have a lot less crap on it if new developers were able to learn iPhone development without having to pay a subscription and put their first apps on the App Store (and no, ad hoc does not count).

The fearful comments are not from Apple developers, but from freetards who have hated apple for the past 20 years and been making the same kinds of comments for that same period.

Meanwhile, those of us who have been developers for apple platforms during that time have never seen apple screw us over and find this kind of fear to be asinine.

It makes for good press to boost your page views, though, and so any burp eminating from cupertino is used to rationalize wild speculation and assertiosn that it is proof that steve jobs is a control freak who wants to run your life.

Apple introduced App signing in Leopard. You've been able to produce signed apps since around that time. That's all the appstore on the mac needs. Apple won't care what toolchain you use...

I've used Apple as a dev platform for the past twelve years, doing mostly UNIX application development. I do not have a blog. Thank you for making baseless assumptions and throwing around childish insulting terms. It really goes a long way towards stimulating good conversation.

As a multi-platform developer that doesn't use objective-c, but still finding OS X to be a great development platform, I am very much distrustful of Apple. Why? Because of how they've conducted themselves with iOS.

Is such fear reasonable? I feel it is. Mostly because I don't see users such as myself to be in Apples current or future target market. Few to no new features target users like myself, and the iOS platform is almost hostile towards anything that doesn't fit with Apple technologies and apis.

Not only that, but iOS has been extremely successful for them in terms of income. It makes a lot of business sense that they would want to push OS X towards the same highly profitable model. I do hope that they keep OS X as open as it is now, but I'd say the mistrust is very reasonable.

> At times I worry about installing random dmgs I find on the web.

You must be terrified by all things in general.

Hint: there's an easy fix for that. Search for people reviews on that download service or app ;)

Ok, you caught me - I was exaggerating for effect. Nonetheless, this is a real problem for OSX security - I'm happy looking at the md5 to double-check etc etc but my granny? She thinks the internet has gone down when she gets a popup because "I can't get on to Yoohoo" (which means in granny-speak: this window is obscuring my web-based mail client).

Remember, OSX is mainstream now. And mainstream is not sourceforge/github/aptitude/macports

I think that Apple should make what their customers at large want. That might mean that I cease to personally be their customer, but as a developer the AppStore is the least risky way to release a commercial product.

Ultimately I don't think that they will ever take away the ability to run arbitrary code on their desktop OS.

How can you say it's the least risky way to release a commercial product when Apple has the ability to reject your product at will?

My girlfriend has the ability to slit my throat at night without me having any way to resist, but I still think being around her is less risky than, say, walking across the freeway. A hopeless situation that is extremely unlikely to occur is less of a risk than a slightly-less-bad situation that is very likely.

In practice, it seems like the difficulty of getting eyeballs and converting them into sales is generally much more likely to kill your app than having Apple reject it. Optimizing for the latter case is not rational unless you have a strong reason to believe your app will be rejected.


Cohabitation: it could be fatal! Best to be avoided.

I wish I could say the same.

Apple has removed people from the app store and basically put them out of business, and no complaints or legal issues were an issue too.

Because you don't have to accept credit cards or enforce licenses? It is the least resistant path from someone's bank account to your bank account. The customer doesn't even take their credit card out of their wallet. Multiply that by the chance that they will accept your app (high), and you have good expected returns.

As much as I want to sell offline web apps to any platform, that store doesn't yet exist.

I think Apple could absolutely make a killing if they'd allow people to pay for other things with their iTunes account.

If they did that, Linux would get a massive influx of anal-retentive developers that know how to design nice apps...

You need a compiler to build iOS and OS X apps. Once you have a compiler on your machine, how can someone else prevent you from creating or running arbitrary executables?

In order to lock down the desktop so as to make a Mac App Store the only way to obtain executable content, Apple would have to fundamentally re-invent the way people build iOS and OS X apps. I just don't see developers sticking with the platform once Xcode is a hosted web app. Chasing away their developer community would effectively cede the market for mobile apps to Android.

Apple's strategic, long term focus is clearly and unambiguously "mobile computing for the common man." Providing a dirt-simple app distribution platform makes sense within the context of mobile computing. Making it substantially harder to create iOS apps, relative to other mobile platforms, is contrary to Apple's strategic goals.

How do you both prevent people from installing non-appstore apps and allow developers to develop apps? When Xcode comes with every Mac and a registered developer account is free?

That's true right now, but who's to say that won't change in the future. You can't run apps on iOS devices without paying $100 to get developer certificates to sign your app first.

Apple actually lowered the barriers to entry on Mac devs. They recently dropped the price to the premium developer access to $99, iirc.

But no hardware discounts.

Not sure how that is a big deal.

If any discounts amounted to more than the cost of the premium developer content (i.e., $99), non-developers would pay the fee just to get the discounts.

Even if Apple ultimately intends to close the Mac to non-App Store applications -- I'm guessing not, but a valid concern anyway -- it's unlikely to happen in the next five years for two key reasons: Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite. Half the App Store fear is the Kafka-esque approval process (the other half being the 70/30 revenue split), and neither Adobe or Microsoft could do ground-up rewrites even if they wanted to.

I wouldn't worry too much. In order for the Mac to continue to serve as a development platform, it can't be completely locked down. They're making it clear these days that they care a lot about the app ecosystem, so there will have to be a replacement before they take away the ability to install your own apps and get at the shell.

More likely is that more of Apple's product line, and more of everyone's computing, will shift to iOs.

Couldn't they just require you to install Xcode to get an "unlocked/developer" system?

They would have to be utterly insane to try something like that. I would expect the stock price to drop like a rock if something like that came out.

On the other hand, streamlining the software-buying process and making buying software a regular activity is huge for the software market.

I'd bet there's a huge number of computer owners who don't understand or don't care to buy and install software. They get their computer from Dell preloaded with Office 20XX and never (intentionally) install software again. Apple is creating a market of normal people who impulse-buy software.

This unlikely to happen as long as Apple wants to have portion of enterprise market which has different requirements from end-user one. OTOH, if they manage to incorporate most of requirements by it departments into their app store and convince companies to use it this will bring them even more market share.

I think they can still sell the normal way.

Conversely, maybe this will lead to Apple opening up the iPhone/iPad to sideloading apps like Android.

> I'm not so excited about this. Am I the only one who thinks this is Apple's first step in exerting more control over developers and users on the OS X platform like they do on iOS?

Well... It's still exciting, specially if you root for Apple's competition ;-)

I see some potential negatives for developers (arguably positive for consumers).

1 - Price deflation. There is a bit of a connotation that App Store means lots of 99 cents apps. Yes, it's not the same platform as the iPhone, but people jumping from the iPhone App Store are going to have some preconceived expectations.

2 - Family licensing. You normally pay a premium for family licensing of a lot of Mac software. This is going to disappear as a pricing tier, so how are developers going to react, given item #1, above?

3 - Marginalization of devs who don't want to participate in the App Store. App Store will be a major way for users to find software. If you're not in there (whether by your choice or Apple's choice), your revenue opportunities could head south.

Having said that, I think the App Store is going to be great for the more non-technical users who use the Mac.

Re. point #2: IIRC, in the talk today, Jobs mentioned that apps installed via the mac app store will work on all your personal macs.

That was my point. As a developer, you lose that tier of licensing revenue.

* edit : Example, 1password is normally 39.95, 5 user family pack is 69.95. How would it be priced on the App store?

Yes, and as a user of 1password, this is what has prevented me from upgrading. I'm one user, with a number of machines, but I'm expected to pay for each machine. The latest version of safari also doesn't work with the version of 1password I have (n-1), and to reobtain functionality I once had, I'm expected to fork over $50 (or whatever the upgrade price is for a family pack) to be able to keep using it. Much as I like 1password, and I do, this really irks me

it also provides iphone-style copy protection for these 3rd party apps (the last bulletpoint on the slide was "apps licensed for use on all your personal macs").

that could be a draw to some developers.

They'd better streamline the DRM then - XCode/submitting drives me crazy!

I wonder if this means something for Steam? The UX for the Mac App Store is almost certainly going to be better than Steam's clunky app... And then I wonder about Game Centre too? It's not that great at the moment, but with Jobs meeting Zuckerberg the other day....

But yes - definitely excited!

/me stops speculating and gets back to work

Probably means nothing for Steam. Steam has the big advantage of being cross-platform. Game devs planning to only target the Mac (or Mac and iPhone/iPad) would probably be better off going with the App Store.

Developers planning to go cross-platform to Windows would be better off with Steam.

After all the trouble of getting Steam on the Mac, I doubt Apple will do anything to offend them or their app.

Actually, the app store for ipad is pretty damn clunky (steam isn't great, but I like it better). Honestly, I dont think they have anything to fear... They are, after all, cross platform. Game Center is a pile of schlock at the moment... I suspect, at least for AAA titles... steam will remain top dog.

This is how it was supposed be for Java, provisioning your desktop apps on the fly, on demand, over the network. Another Sun idea resurrected, like Google are with Chrome (nee NEWS, with Postscript instead of Javascript). Maybe they shoulda hung on just a little longer...

If your implementation isn't great right out of the gate, forget it. It's not really a matter of hanging on until people get used to the idea.

I don't think that's true, and I cite Newton -> iPad.

Danilo, If the App store was so good for you, why didn't you continue developing for the App store into 2010?

I disagree it's unsolved. Folks have been distributing and monetizing software for desktop-class machines since the 80's, just's fine, thanks. Been there, done that, have the T-shirt, and the T-shirt still fits fine.

For Average Joe there are still significant pain points that a Mac App store can remedy.

For example, I produce accounting software - here are the problems my would-be users face:

1. Where can users find a list of suitable accounting software products? Usually they Google 'accounting software', but this gives them plenty of crud such as: a) accountants websites; b) accounting software from other countries. c) advice websites. d) accounting software for big companies

2. When users get to a website for an accounting product, it can be difficult to to find out even basic information such as: a) The price; b) Screenshots; c) the Download button; d) the 'Buy Now' button. The App Store listings make this as plain as the nose on your face.

3. How can users compare accounting software products? At the moment you have to find a website with software reviews and hope the information is up-to-date, impartial and accurate. The ratings system in the App Store is better than almost any website.

4. The user doesn't know how easy or painful it is to install the software until they try. On windows, if they try downloading setup.exe they get TWO warnings saying 'This could harm your computer... are you sure?'. Maybe they remember last April when they clicked OK to a similar message and ended up with a virus. With the App Store the user knows that it's a one-click install and will not get any scary messages about harming their computer.

5. Can the user trust the website to process their credit card details correctly. Maybe they remember the last time they tried on another website and the site froze after they clicked 'submit' so they didn't know if it had worked. Or they read about a company that had all their credit card details stolen. The Mac Store is seen as far more trustworthy by Average Joe because it is run by Apple.

6. The software update process for App Store is a breeze - better than most ad-hoc software update solutions. And the user knows it before they install the accounting software because they have already used it for updating other software.

My guess is that the Mac App Store will be huge, and being ranked well will be like striking gold. Let the gold rush begin!

Negative -1? Really? Voting system is broken. I recommend for the Nth time that only trusted admins be allowed to take any piece of content down below 1 point. Right now, if any particular user simply disagrees with a given comment, they have the power to penalize and reduce another user's karma. Not because the user said something rude, trollish, juvenile or "evil", but merely because they might disagree. That to me is a broken mechanism. Please let's change this. Think HN will be the better for it.

I missed you being in negative land, but it may have been a simple result of your remark being both silly and flip at the same time. Silly in that you don't address the substance of the point and flip in that you felt the need to invoke the T-Shirt cliche.

Obviously getting software onto desktop computers has happened before. You're ignoring the power of Apple's approach.

I mean, what, should we stick with distributing everything on 3.5" floppy disks because that, once upon a time, worked? Cardboard boxes? Advocating to maintain a 30 year status quo on anything is... questionable, but doubly so on something as crucially important and evolving as digital distribution.

Similarly, I think you'd be downvoted for saying something like "Already do styling in HTML, works fine, t-shirt, blurgh" in a thread about the power of CSS3. Sure one works. But the new method works better.

The amount of work you simply do not have to do with Apple as your App Store distribution partner is incredible. Instead of giving away a piece of software because it wouldn't bring in enough money to offset the trouble and cost of a licensing mechanism and merchant account, you can throw it onto the App Store for $5 and make a bit of cash in a few clicks.

That's new.

from your original comment:

> "The problem of distribution and monetization for desktop software is significant and largely unsolved."

This is a factually untrue statement. Folks have been distributing and monetizing software quite successfully at least as far back as the 80's. I personally bought software, and sold software, in the 80's. Shocking, right? In the pre-App Store era. It's not difficult actually. Has Apple made it a little bit easier, given certain assumptions and constraints? Of course. But only if in exchange for that you put up with a whole extra set of problems and Big Brother rules you have to deal with, and hurdles to jump through, and restrictions to deal with, and uncertainty around what they will or will not allow you to do. I've been creating and shipping iPhone software for about 2 years now. I've distributed and monetized software both without and before the App Store, and in the App Store. I know whereof I speak.

I find your comment rude and full of hyperbole. Statements like these are just as easily reversible and would still hold true:

> "The amount of work you simply do not have to do with Apple as your App Store distribution partner is incredible."

For example, could be reversed as: The amount of extra work and bullshit you have to put up with simply by distributing through the App Store is just incredible.

Here's another one: > " (...) Instead of giving away a piece of software because it wouldn't bring in enough money to offset the trouble and cost of a licensing mechanism and merchant account, you can throw it onto the App Store for $5 and make a bit of cash in a few clicks."

PayPal makes it pretty darn easy to let people buy your software on the web. And however "easy" you think it is to just "throw something" in the App Store, I guarantee you it's easier to just throw something up on a web server. I can write a shell script, then with a few keystrokes push it up to a live site and my customers can get it, instantly, with no complex submission process, no rules, no fear of either the content or functionality being proactively or retroactively rejected, at any time.

I have an additive view of the world in that I think having more options is always a good thing. Does the App Store have good points? Sure, so it's great to have as an option. Are there bad things about it, and the iOS development model, and Apple's behavior/control in general? Of course. But to simply dismiss other ways of distributing software, and describe it as an unsolved problem, is clearly factually false and hyperbole. It looks at it through rose-tinted glasses, at a minimum, and arguably also with a great lack of awareness of both modern and past alternatives.

I'm smarter having read this post – I wish you'd led with it, instead of the other one. :)

Thanks for talking it out with me – I definitely see your point.

Especially with regard to my being hyperbolic. I should have said it's unsolved to the degree of my preference – in that there's no one-click purchase that lubricates things as there is on iOS. I mean, I'm biased because the App Store's market power really, really worked for me, so I want to believe it can work for many others.

PayPal, in the end, isn't bad, but it is frictiony by comparison. And while it solves the monetization problem, it does nothing for distribution, which is even harder.

For me, I view Steam as the finest digital distribution mechanism yet devised. I've been eager for it to go beyond games, and Apple's App Store is doing that, so I'm excited. Everything else looks like ass by comparison, regardless of the tradeoffs in Apple's devil's agreement.

Your comment was ignorant, arrogant and used one of the stupider (old) clichés around. It's a shame that it's up to +3.

You claim that people have been releasing desktop software just fine. Utter nonsense. If you're Microsoft, Adobe, etc. then it's been ok but if you're a sole developer making indie software the normal distribution routes weren't available. That meant going on some shareware site, freshmeat, make your own site or something else and hope people can find you.

The App store changes all this for the mainstream desktop [1] and it's going to be a big deal for indie developers. I'm surprised to see so many people on this site poo pooing it as this has to be one of the most startup-relevant things to happen to the desktop in decades.

[1] Linux has had this for a long time and it was one of its few advantages as a desktop system.

Thanks for your feedback! Do you live in Colorado by any chance? Or stopping through soon? If so I'd love to meet and discuss further over a coffee or something. You made a great point.

I live in Europe, but I will be coming to the states later in the year. Are you being serious or are you challenging me to a fight?

I was serious. A friendly invitation.

One thing that's always been really annoying about Mac apps has been the lack of an update system. Most Mac apps check for updates on launch, which is spectacularly annoying, since you're being prompted on the update right when you're most wanting to use the app, and it makes it really hard to make sure you're up to date (since you'd have to manually cycle through your Applications folder).

Compare this to Linux package managers, where a simple "sudo apt-get yada yada" line or two updates everything on your system, whether first party or third party.

Insofar as a Mac App Store solves that problem, great.

This is why I love Transmit's update popup. It has three options:

* Don't Install * Install Update Now * Install Update on Quit

The third option is perfect. I wish more apps did this.

I have a fork of Sparkle that does that http://github.com/fileability/resparkle

Excellent point. Is it too much to hope that Apple will base its app system software distribution on apt?

Apt is, at it's core, a dependency engine. These apps have no dependencies- It's the whole app package.

Also- Why wouldn't they base it on the already successful package distribution platform they have for iOS devices?

In short, yes.

Yes. (They already have rolled their own, why would they switch to apt?)

No need to use apt. Apt is great for handling dependencies, but when it comes to mac apps there are just two parts: OS X and the app. No dependencies between apps and no dependencies on libraries not part of the OS. Nice and simple.


I've found myself designing apps for iOS that should really be Mac apps, simply because of the commercial convenience of the app store.

My hope is that this will lead to a renaissance of development for the desktop.

I've been doing the exact same thing. I could easily build a web version of the app, but monetizing it is so much easier through the app store.

Anyone else looking forwards to iAds in every free app they use on their Mac? Just me?

1. I hope I can still build my own custom Emacs.app from source and install it.

2. I hope App Store apps will be sandboxed and prevented from polluting the system.

3. I hope Adobe switches to the App Store model, and that it will mean that the behavior of the horrific Creative Suite installer will finally be reigned in (take a look in /Applications/.AdobePatchFiles and check how large it is).

Oh, please, please tell me Adobe will work with the OS X app store. Adobe's updater needs terminated with prejudice.

I doubt it.

Adobe's installers are just a non-accessible custom UI on top of a normal (and perfectly accessible) OSX package installer. They're convoluted for the sake of being convoluted.

If it ever does, it's only going to be the updater. Adobe would never sell anything through that Mac App Store if it means giving a 30% cut to Apple.

What is the cut for the distributor / importer and for the retail channel?

I doubt it's less then 30% and I'd wager that Adobe still ships a lot of software in boxes.

Somehow, I doubt it. Adobe won't even deign to use the standard browser download mechanisms for linking to downloadable files on their web site, and "downloading a file over HTTP" is about as close to a solved problem as you can get!

During the keynote, it was mentioned that this was an additional way to distribute apps, not the only way.

It's like boiling a toad.

Lets hope it doesn't go that way.

I don't think it will go that way. It would be suicide.

IT is amazing that I can't go a week without seeing mainstream FUD about how apple is boiling a toad, meanwhile the countries economy is just shy of "roiling" and half the people are shouting "Turn up the heat!"

Too much worry about Apple- which has been treating people well and going above and beyond the call of duty for decades, and no worry about the government which has just blown up the biggest bubble the country has seen and then blamed it on bankers.

As you said, when it comes to the Government, Bush turned up the heat from 120F to 212 in a matter of months. And no one is stopping it.

I'm not worried too much about Apple, but no one can contest that Apple leans towards being very controlling over their platforms.

I don't think the ability to do whatever you want with OS X is going anywhere. A huge chunk of Apple's Mac business is with developers (of all types) and power users. A move like that (point 1) would be utterly suicidal.

To put it another way: how would you develop (and more importantly QA) OSX apps, if you couldn't do it on a Mac? Would they put out "OSX SDK Edition"?

Scarier idea: Charging, or restricting access to Xcode only for those who have paid the developers subscription.

Scarier idea: Apple charging $400,000 for special developer-only hardware.

I mean, if we are going to be making up unlikely scenarios out of whole cloth, why stop at half-measures?

Console developers pay something similarly ridiculous, be careful what you wish for!

Software distributed through the Mac AppStore is not restricted to a single user license so I doubt any higher priced applications will make the jump.

The day I have to get new versions of Unix-style software from an App Store, or the day I have to go through some Orwellian build/publish process to release a new version of a Python app to my customers, is the day I switch to Linux for good.

I'm pretty sure that Apple knows a decent portion of its Mac user base is made up people who chose OSX because it was the first Unix-based OS that had a great GUI.

I'm wondering if a somewhat larger portion of the Mac user base is now people who chose OS X because a Mac looks great next to their iPhone?

Does anyone know if you have an app in the OS X app store, but you also want to distribute on your own, if this is allowed under the terms? Or, is it pretty much once you go into the app store there is no coming out of it?

From Apple's business perspective, it would make sense to lock you in -- they probably don't want to foot the bill to advertise for you and then you go sell your software on the side full price without Apple getting their cut.

From developers' perspective, this would severely limit distribution channels, and force them to give up 30% of revenue.

In theory, a developer could release the "lite" version of his app, and link to his own distribution mechanism within that app. Is this allowed?

A more interesting question to me is, if I install an app—that's also on the App Store—manually, will the App Store still update it for me? To put that another way, are these apps "App Store apps" that make particular calls to the OS to tell them as such? Or are they just regular bundles, with external metadata stored only on the Store's servers?

There is nothing in the terms that says you can't do that, but that doesn't mean they won't add it later (I don't think they will).

From developers' perspective, this would severely limit distribution channels, and force them to give up 30% of revenue.

Or increase their prices by 43% just for the store.

We'll find out in 90 days.

Here is my big question: "How do I move existing customers to the app store version of the software without making them purchase it at full price?"

The bigger question I have is: why would you/anyone move them at all? If you're already selling for OS X and have an avenue for updating your app, are you really going to give up 30% of your revenue to Apple for the same-old? This only works on the iPhone because it's the only way to get software on the device. Unless that's the next step...

I think the savings in dealing with credit card processing / paypal along with not having to maintain my own updates. Bandwidth / Hosting is not a small issue.

I pay PayPal about 2.5% for payment processing. For a full featured ecommerce provider you typically pay 5 to 10%. Hosting costs for a commercial software vendor are pretty trivial. 30% is taking the piss.

That's great until they balk at turning over a few hundred thousand dollars for whatever reason.

Avoid PayPal then, with their screwed up antifraud data mining. Everybody else should be glad to process your money and take their commissions.

It's not such a huge issue either. Most vendors figured it out a long time ago. Why should they give money to Apple for it?

You would probably be able to reach a lot more people and give them a better purchase/install/update experience that could easily compensate for that lost %30.

So why not go ahead with both means of distribution?

I believe that's what most people will do, unless Apple expressly forbids it.

I agree that the 30% chunk taken by Apple is a bit large. For iOS, the huge draw (apart from the obvious "it's the only way") is that your pool of potential customers is enormous. You give up 30% of your revenue in exchange for making your software easily available to millions of people.

I'd say try finding a software publisher that will give you a deal anywhere near that good, but if you're already distributing your software electronically...

The ease of discovery may make it worth it. Sure, I may have an existing online store for my software, but people have to Google for it, trust it enough to enter their credit card data, enter their credit card data, etc.

If a significantly higher number of people are going to find and one-click install my product on the App Store, that makes the cut well worth it.

Because you want to marketing of the app store and don't want to maintain two versions. Also, if Apple has built in copy protection and distribution that's a big advantage (it might not for this new store).

How many customers do you have? I imagine most of the backend powering this will be the same as for iOS, so you can do a couple of things:

1. Give out promo codes. IIRC, you get 100 codes per app version, so if you've got a lot of customers this isn't really feasible.

2. Discount the product for a given time period (ie the first 24 hours you're live) and blast out an email to existing customers. In the backend, you can even set automatic price changes so you don't have to go and manually change it back.

3. Release a new version. Customers are used to paying for major updates. If you give existing customers discounts on updates, see #2.

This brings up another question. In iOS, there is no good way to charge for an update - user buys once and gets free updates for life. Will they change that with the OS X App Store?

> This brings up another question. In iOS, there is no good way to charge for an update - user buys once and gets free updates for life. Will they change that with the OS X App Store?

The solution for this on iOS is the same as on Mac or Windows - release a new version. From 2.0 to 3.0, a lot of companies will charge for the update. Do the same thing on iOS by releasing a new app entirely. This also lets you fix bugs in the old version for users that don't want to update.

The only thing missing in that plan is an upgrade price. Apple really needs to consider adding something along those lines.

This is just conjecture, but couldn't they simply allow you to give your customers voucher codes? I was under the impression that the iOS app store supported something along those lines.

The codes can only be generated in very limited quantities as they're intended (I think) for reviewers and testers.

Make 2 versions, the original that retains the auto-update stuff most mac apps already have, and another that abides by whatever Mac App Store dictates. Continue selling the original however you are right now, charge 43% more (1/0.7) for the new one on the Mac App Store.

As long as it's not the only way to get software on your Mac -- and I don't really see Apple doing that with their "truck" line of devices since there's probably always going to be obscure stuff that the publishers aren't going to want in the app store.

For that matter, I can't really see Adobe (for example) wanting to give 30% of the cost of Photoshop to Apple.

On the other hand, I think this is potentially fantastic for smaller developers -- it will make it easier for people to find their apps, and as with the iPad/iPhone, that 30% cut to let Apple manage all the billing issues for you might be well worth it.

> For that matter, I can't really see Adobe (for example) wanting to give 30% of the cost of Photoshop to Apple.

Makes me wonder if big companies like Adobe will be able to negotiate a better price with Apple behind closed doors, in exchange for helping to legitimize the new store to both users and developers.

OTOH, if they don't jump on board, they might lose a large number of potential "prosumer" customers to upstarts like Acorn and Pixelmator.

Yeah, I don't think this sort of thing is targeted at Adobe or Microsoft or the other huge players.

Its about time this happened really. Its an obvious idea, and could potentially be a great user experience. I bet Microsoft have their own within a year.

Incidentally, an App Store is planned for Windows 8:


I'm still skeptical that MS can ship an app store with Windows and not run afoul of anti-trust laws. We shall see.

How would Microsoft run afoul of anti-trust laws? I could see that happening if and only if they made their app store the exclusive software channel.

There has been something like this for indie devs for a while.


The big difference being that the App Store will be preinstalled, and probably have a default place on the Dock and a permanent home under the Apple menu in the top left of the screen.

I'm hoping, but not expecting, that the App Store will replace Software Update, so updates to Safari/iTunes/etc can show up right next to updates to your own installed apps, and OS security updates can just be treated as updates to the (non-removable) OS "app."

Yes, I imagine so.

If you want to keep getting updates to Safari, etc., you better have the Mac App Store installed which will (coincidentally) try to get you to spend cash money while you're in there.

They're going to support people who didn't install 10.6?

I'm wondering what happens to AppBodega, now that Apple released an App Store for Mac (which I assume would be very tightly integrated with the OS).

AppBodega can continue along just the same. I think they serve very different purposes and markets, even though they are similar ideas. AppBodega is lots of indie/FOSS apps. It's more like MacPorts for applications, with purchasing.

Indie/FOSS apps should be in heaven on the iOS store, assuming changes needed to the app are minimal.

I guess next will be iAds availability for desktop Apps? I am not seeing anything about Free apps in the description of the Mac App Store, but free with iAds makes sense.

Good spot! In the deep dark recesses of my memory I'm fairly sure Apple applied for a patent on desktop iAd integration...

Yep, here's AppleInsider's coverage of that patent: http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/10/07/22/apple_shows_co...

For users, Macs are great. But Apple has always had a contentious at best relationship with developers. Their tone has always struck me as small developers are a pain, and they would rather have fewer developers ergo less software.

That said, I think developers should be very concerned for a couple of reasons:

1. People will automatically associated this with the iOS App Store experience, which will drive prices way down for richer desktop applications. That was my very first thought.

2. Apple will justify a review and approval process for desktop applications on the basis of something like "application security" and "keeping viruses off your Mac". They went that direction with the argument of eliminating porn, which was silly.

In the end, this closes the software ecosystem. It may work for Apple, but I'm not sure I would want to be a part of it.

"1. People will automatically associated this with the iOS App Store experience, which will drive prices way down for richer desktop applications. That was my very first thought."

Why does everyone keep saying this? Supply and demand! If you think your software is worth more, charge more for it!

I concur. There's also another factor that I think will make this a non-issue. For whatever reason, iPad apps are pretty consistently 3-5x their iPhone equivalent price. I doubt users will balk when OS X apps are 3-5 times that.

It will be interesting to see how well it does on Mac OS X. I doubt it will bring in the same number of new developers as iOS did, but I imagine it will bring in a nice chunk of new revenue for Apple and hopefully help some indie dev shops reach some more customers.

30,000 new OSX developers a month apparently... The iOS halo effect is pretty significant it would appear.

Will there be an approval process and what will it look like?

There's an approval guidelines document for the Mac App Store up on the Apple developer site now. It's behind a login wall, so I assume it's under the usual NDA, but if you're a registered Apple dev, you should be able to get it at the following URL:


Isn't about time this NDA got tested in court? It seems so ridiculous that anyone can get in and read it, but no one can talk about it due to the NDA.

Non-Disclosure Agreements are well-tested legal territory, and not uncommon for proprietary SDKs (you should see some of the terms you have to agree to for some company's hardware dev kits).

What about this particular NDA strikes you as being exceptional or impermissible?

Does Apple have a reason for the NDA other than letting their developers know who's the boss?

Apple's developer site member center is down. They'll probably be posting information later today.

Both 10.7 and 10.6.

There seems like there's one serious flaw in this idea.

What's to prevent people from inserting malware into their applications? Unlike the iPhone, OSX isn't sandboxed. And there's no way Apple's approval process can possibly check for possible badness hiding in the compiled code.

Unless, of course, they are building a special sandbox for these OSX apps as well. Which means that you'll have to write apps specifically for this platform.

Well, if you're going to stick malware in your OS X app, there's nothing stopping you from doing it right now.

Why you would wait until there is an app store that gives a large company a lot more information on who you are and where the authorities should come find you before inserting malware, I can't even begin to guess.

Right now I just don't download random OSX apps for fun. I only download applications that I really need - and I make sure it seems like a reputable company. And I certainly wouldn't download fart apps, or a lot of the other 5-second novelty apps that have a lot of traffic on the app store.

The first time an OSX app store has malware in it, it's going to be big news. And it's going to make Apple look bad, since by putting it in their store their effectively condoning it.

When that happens, Apple will devote its considerable resources to making the offender wish he was dead (he had to give up his information to get into the Mac Dev Program, remember?), and then it won't happen again.

Yes, but if someone makes an OS X malware app, they would still need to think of the distribution channel. Few will download from my-amazing-toolbar dot com. But if your malware is in official app store ... there we go.

What's to stop something like this from happening: http://venturebeat.com/2010/07/28/android-wallpaper-app-that...

OS X has a sandbox facility (also known as Seatbelt) that could be used. Chrome uses it: http://www.chromium.org/developers/design-documents/sandbox/...

It embeds TinyLISP for the policy framework — check out the config files for the stock sandboxed daemons in /usr/share/sandbox/

I'm surprised this is not getting more discussion. Are these apps going to be iOS-based or genuine OS X applications? (I think the latter.)

In the days when I used Windows, I naturally only downloaded "official" apps and avoided any sort of non-famous/non-open source shareware for years -- the spyware/toolbars/etc. are just too rampant. I have an Android phone that I use for development, and there, I too am incredibly cautious about what I download. The "open" Android platform actually prevents me from discovering potentially amazing indie software because, well, I just can't trust it.

The fact that once one user reports the malware, apple can:

Revoke the developer's code signing keys Freeze the developer's payments Alert the authorities about the developer Revoke the app from the app store Push an "upgrade" notification to every registered user to remove the application Or even more drastic, engage the application kill switch

I'm really not sure how you think a fully managed software platform will have more malware problems than the run-arbitrary-code-off-the-internet system we have now. It seems like it's actually a killer solution to the problem.

How many malware writers are going to pay $99 a year to Apple for the privelege of trying to sneak malware into Apple's store under the guise of something useful?

This is very exciting for those users who would love a fully integrated computing experience.

I am someone who uses multiple computing devices throughout my day, and the idea of having my phone, a hand held tablet, and my desktop/laptop all in sync sharing my data with a click of a button is a very enticing proposal.

Yes there are concerns about whether Apple completely closes down developers of OS X, but I just cannot see this as a likely event.

Apple is all about user experience. What Apple is doing right now is laying the ground work for the future.

Imagine 10-15 years from now your vehicle, home, place of work, even a personal robotic assistant all running on one platform acting in sync. Some may think it is scary, but to me it is the natural progression of technology.

Helping to make life more entertaining, and helping to rid us of our everyday problems is why we consume these devices. I think we are all lucky to experience what is happening in this industry.

Change is hard, but we are the consumers of these products and we get to shape them contrary to what it sometimes feels like.

As a Mac developer, I find this very exciting.

While I share tlrobinson's concern about the mac getting locked down (and therefore dumbed down) like iOS, I think at least it is now clear that we have several years in front of us, at least, where Apple won't try that.

A Mac app I worked on a couple years back got "Staff Pick" on Apple's old, lame, "Get Mac OS X Software" page that just linked to our site. Lame as that page was, we saw a considerable sales bump. But it was nothing like the gargantuan effect we've seen from getting featured on the iOS app store.

The exposure from getting featured is major, but even if it doesn't happen, the fact that Apple handles billing and provides the one-step, one-click process is a huge win for the developer.

I expect that with an Apple-backed Mac app store, if you have Mac apps that are at all successful in the market now, you're going to see a massive increase in unit sales.

I think that would be the case even if the Mac installed base was magically frozen at this point in time. (And that definitely _isn't_ the case.)

If it works similar to Ubuntu Software Center then it should be a very nice option for many people. I like being able to quickly download applications through the Software Center, while also having the ability to manually install packages or compile code when necessary. As long as those choices remain on OS X, it should offer a good balance for all user types.

Years ago, my boss at the time told me that every 5 or so years, the hot trend switches between client-based and server-based architecture. It was probably 2004 at the time, and web apps were getting hot.

He was definitely right. ~6 years later, and we're about to see a bunch of web apps re-written as desktop software.

I think we'll begin to see a ton of improvements to both App Stores once the Mac App Store is open for submissions, namely: bundles (see iLife), more/unlimited promo codes (for transitioning users from non-App Store to App Store), and customizable "developer" pages (rather than just a list of apps).

TUAW has posted a summary of the Mac App Store guidelines, for those not in the developer program. http://www.tuaw.com/2010/10/20/apple-posts-guidelines-for-ma...

As an Australian indie game dev, this presents an interesting situation. To sell games in Australia, you are legally required submit your game to the Office of Film and Literature Classification so that its content can be rated. This can cost upwards of $1000 per game, which isn't chump change for indie devs. For us, the iPhone App Store has been somewhat of a loophole, as games sold on the App Store somehow manage to avoid the classification system entirely.

Here's to hoping I can get away with using this loophole in the desktop App Store as well.

How exactly does it bypass that loophole, out of curiosity? (fellow Australian here)

I believe this will shift the marketplace to apps that consumers actually want - not the DTerms of the world. Little swiss-army type apps with consumer friendly interfaces. Stuff like a drag-and-drop photos to upload them to the cloud so they show up on grandma's digital photo frame.

Hooray, I called it! I was asking when they were going to do this a few months ago. It seems like a pretty obvious step, of course - they have that Mac Software link in the Apple menu in Finder, but it just links to a fairly boring website.

Gosh, that must have been a really offensive post. Sorry.

I'd be happy to analyze how awesome this site is http://www.apple.com/downloads/ if anyone wants to have an actual discussion rather than just anonymously show vague disapproval.

That link has been there since... oh, I don't know exactly, but I definitely remember it from 10.2 or so. So something like eight years.

Right, and the move to an App Store model seemed logical and imminent. But, people here and on Reddit were telling me I was wrong when I said that 4 months ago.

I, for one, would like to thank Steve for saving my desktop from Mac porn apps.

You touched on a good point that I haven't seen brought up elsewhere yet. If Apple brings the same kind of Big Brother censorship to the content of Mac apps as they currently do to iOS apps, that's going to have a chilling effect. There are plenty of big companies and small shops that sell media and software with 'adult' content, and if the Mac becomes locked down for them, that's going to suck. Both by reducing consumer choice, and reducing developer & vendor freedom.

They aren't censoring Mac apps, they are choosing what gets sold in their Mac software store. Same way Best Buy isn't censoring porn by not stocking it on the shelves of their stores. If you are tin-foil-hatting this and thinking soon the Mac App Store will be the only way to get software on the Mac, then guess what, you can use Linux or Windows. If they do something stupid the market will let them know about it by leaving their products. *

Apple is a minority player in computers, there isn't going to be a chilling effect even if they did something as monumentally stupid as only allowing apps installed via their Mac App Store.

* The market is currently validating their stance of no porn on the iOS App Store with quite good sales.

Censorship is censorship even if it's possible to get a thing through some other means. For example, if a library banned books by Mark Twain, yet you could get it from another library or from Amazon, or in another country, most reasonable people would still call that censorship. If all the governments on Earth got together and outlawed Mark Twain, that would be censorship even if in theory you could fly to Mars, and buy/possess/read Mark Twain there.

The danger comes partly in the so-called tyranny of the majority. Just because the majority prefers something over the minority doesn't necessarily mean it's right. Also, just because the iOS App Store has a heavy-handed approach to adult content and yet it's doing well financially, it doesn't mean (1) that it couldn't do even better if it didn't have the heavy-handed approach, and (2) that all markets/channels should adopt the same approach. Those conclusions just do not follow, in my judgment.

Also, while Apple does many smart things, they are not perfect. I would not rule out them doing something you or I might consider as monumentally stupid. They are human. They make mistakes, and they have a different perspective, and their interests are not always aligned with ours.

By your logic then every company that sells any kind of product is engaged in censorship because they don't carry every possible product ever made. Also, I didn't say Apple couldn't do monumentally stupid things, I said if they did they would know about it when it affects their bottom line.

I would be careful applying a term like “censorship” to non-goverment actors like companies. It’s part of their freedom to “censor” – if you like that term – and I think that’s ok as long as they are not a monopoly.

A store is not a public library. Apple is not the government.

My big question, will non-App Store apps be able to use Home Screen?

edit: I mean Launchpad, not "home screen"...

Today, Apple announced four key products at its “Back to the Mac” event:

- An application store for OS X

- Facetime for the Mac, which links with Facetime on other Apple devices

- An instant-on MacBook Air, 11” and 13” models, starting at $999

- The next major version of the Mac OS X, “Lion” (and iLife 11)

Individually and as a collection, these new product announcements are interesting. Apple is extending the value it delivers to its Mac customers by launching a combination of new hardware (MacBook Air) combined with an innovative operating system (OS X Lion), building out a collection of new complements (OS X application store), and further linking Macs with Apple’s other thin computing devices (via Facetime).

If we step back, and consider today’s announcements from a broader perspective, we can gain some insight about Apple’s overall corporate strategy with respect to its position in the future of computing.

Apple’s recent product innovations have largely focused around thin devices, first the iPod, then the iPhone and Touch, the Apple TV, and recently the iPad. The new MacBook Air coupled with the new Mac OS X Lion represents a natural progression from the iPad. While Apple’s other thin devices are better suited for consuming content and media, the new MacBook Air is Apple’s first thin device that is particularly well suited for creating content and media (note that Apple is referring to the new MacBook Air as “The Next Generation of MacBooks”). Meanwhile, the new OS X application store extends Apple’s success with iTunes and the App Store to the Mac environment, thus further establishing Apple’s presence in cloud services and online media. Facetime, along with other services such as MobileMe, provides the linkages that begin connecting all these thin devices and services together.

Looking broadly, Apple is now pushing the frontier on two key fronts. On the one hand there’s thin device computing with the iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and now its new MacBook Air products; each targeting a distinctive market segment, roughly arranged by those customers seeking to consume (iPod) or create media (new MacBook Air). On the other hand, Apple is developing a range of cloud services and online media with iTunes, the current App Store, and now the new OS X application store. iTunes already operates across platforms and, despite its name, now includes much more than music, given it also provides a gateway to movies, TV shows, Podcasts, Audiobooks, and so on. As Apple continues to push forward on these two fronts it will soon have developed a full and coherent line of thin device hardware, a unified and powerful operating system (iOS/OS X, and slight variants), and a tightly integrated set of cloud services and online media.

In closing, today’s product introductions, along with Apple’s rapid progression over the last decade in thin devices and cloud services, brings into stark relief the gap between Apple and the historical high flyers in personal computing, such as Dell and HP. It appears Google is the only company that fairs a chance to stay competitive in this breakneck race.

(I just posted this to my blog and submitted the post to HN. If you enjoyed the read, I'd appreciate an upvote (article title is "A broader view on Apple's 'Back to the Mac' Event").

Ten years ago everyone talked about the burst of the Bubble, about how Microsoft would dominate the world, although Linux was growing, nobody saw it fighting for prominence in various areas, nobody saw the the prominence of Facebook in the network (or even the idea of social network), nobody saw the rise of Apple, only a small fraction saw virtualization as a game changer in the industry, the majority of players in the field were already there 10 years ago (Parallels and VMware) or came out of nowhere (Xen, Qumranet and Virtualbox).

Now the buzz is that Apple or Google will dominate, but real people are there, working anonymously in the next revolution, in the next previously unthought idea, time will come when Apple will not be so shiny, maybe 10 or 20 years from now, maybe even longer, this industry (consumer electronics and its sub-industries) have only a small history, yet there were cases of powerful companies going from heaven to hell in question of years, cases of previously anonymous players leading the directions of the industry, so I kindly disagree that Apple or Google will be the only companies in the new decade, maybe there are some unheard, powerful and new technology, but as Microsoft suffered to understand there are more things shaping the industry than just power and money.

But besides of that, you got an upvote from me.

Ubuntu's new Software Center is already on to this :)

A Top 10 chart is now going to be the biggest marketing lead generator for Mac devs.

the big question is whether the App Store will become the only allowed way to get software onto a Mac. Anybody heard anything? If they disallow all the historical ways I suspect there will be an exodus of disgrunted developers, many going to Linux.

Hmm... how about Python scripts? Would they disable running Python scripts? How about building programs using GCC? Or Java? Or Ruby? I'm sure they could restrict such things to registered paying developers, but that really seems phenomenally stupid. If we assume they wouldn't restrict things like this, I'd be surprised if they would try to restrict any other current method of installing / running applications.

"Won't be the only place, but we think it'll be the best place." -- Steve Jobs

Not sure they would do that, I think this Mac App store is purely a tool to create a vertical revenue stream to sell to the vast existing iMac user base. I also think this will increase the amount of business applications 20 fold and possibly propel the MacBook into many businesses as IT dept's could use the App Store to add software to these Mac's and restrict any other content from workers. Far Less IT support required plus Apps would cost less than Microsoft software etc.

No intelligent disgruntled developer is going to ditch OS X for Linux. OS X has 10-20x more userbase than all Linux distros combined.

I'm not hating on Linux here, so don't downvote me for that. I'm just being realistic.

In the role of dev workstation, I'd personally be willing to switch to Linux, at least as a protest vote. As a target OS to sell software on, a pragmatic vendor would be less likely to abandon it, agreed. However, if in order to ship a Mac app, you not only had to only distribute through the App Store and also could only develop with XCode, Objective-C, that whole inane overly complicated bureaucratic software development rat's nest, then I for one would abandon it, definitely. I currently sell downloadable Python-based software, written in vi, with no insanely overly complicated build, approval or distribution process, and it works just fine, thanks. If they forced me to jump through many more hoops, and over-complexify my software, they'd lose me in a heartbeat. That's a line I will not cross.

After their experience with the watchdogs in Europe on iOS, I think Apple's learned their lesson on attempting to shut down alternative development platforms.

I hope you are correct.

Can't see Matlab or AutoCad or Adobe CS5 being sold through the App Store, and I'm sure Apple knows that. There's also lots of research apps and such.

Jobs mentioned that the store would be one way of getting apps.

I'm pretty sure that apple will be offering big players a better revshare deal on account of their volume. I'm sure their respective legal departments will have their hands full in the coming months. I think what is more interesting is what will happen to new apps built on the app store which subsequently become big; apple will have no incentive to split the revenue more favourably when they already have lock-in.

Regardless, I'm a fan.

The big players have their own licensing systems, and have their own licensing deals with big customers. I don't see why they'd go through Apple. They don't need help with collecting payments, or file distribution, or bandwidth.

No one really says they have to. As Jobs said it won't be the only way to get Apps. But smaller devs benefit greatly. You can go from 0 to collecting payments worldwide, having distribution, updates, a 'store' to display your product, etc. with very little work (in comparison to doing it all yourself).

All the mac users can only hope not.. The fact that they have an app store is that we can see that Jobs is trying to pitch the Mac to the rest of the users as well... normal users wont be able to find apps online, they need a central location to do so. The thing that struck me was that, why is he doing that? Isnt the "iPad" meant to do all that, and leave the Mac as trucks?

I'd say that everything that was announced about Lion was targeted at happy iPhone/iPad users who have perhaps been on the fence about buying a Mac.

"The new OS X? It works just like that iOS thing you know and love!"

"Back to the Mac" should have been "Come to the Mac".

I don't see a reason why they would disallow it at all, especially since they're launching it on 10.6.

And through their website Apple has long featured their own and independent OS X apps, this seems like a logical evolution. But not one that excludes regular power users, and savvy users, from using the PC the way they have for years.

Lots of people drive trucks, even who only really need a truck once a year.

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