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Wow, I'd forgotten how bad the economics of boxed software were.

The irony here is that Steve would eventually go on to put the final nail in the coffin of the boxed software world with the App Store. Sure people were starting to use web based software and yes other stores existed before the app store but he created the tipping point.

This is slightly revisionist. The App Store is really just a centralized portal for software purchase and download. People were purchasing software online and downloading it well before the App Store.

IIRC, it had become the standard for high-end, engineering, server, unix software by around 2002, but App Store really did do a pretty good job of replacing boxed software in the $20-300 range outside gaming (which Steam probably did first).

You mean "App Store did a really good job copying a standard practice in the software world to a specific domain that Steam was doing a really good job in already, and though brand and lock-in, managed to survive where on pure merit, it wouldn't have".

No, Steam was never doing a good job of selling apps outside gaming, and still doesn't.

I think with Lion they even added support to the Mac firmware to boot directly from Apple's servers.

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