The Mac App Store

Apple launched the Mac App Store last week, and with over 1 million app downloads within just one day, it really is a game-changer no matter how you personally feel about it.

The Good:

  • The Layout Concept: The layout is familiar to anyone who has used the iOS App Store. It’s very clean-cut and should be easy to navigate (more on that later).
  • No Wasteful Media: Your software purchases are downloaded and installed immediately, with no wasteful boxes, paper manuals, or CDs.
  • Exposure: The App Store provides a one-stop-shop for some of the best Mac applications, both paid and free. Evernote has already doubled their new user signups since the App Store launched.
  • Purchase Ownership: You’re free to re-download your purchased applications on any computer simply by logging in to the App Store.
  • Automated Upgrades: Upgrades for your App Store downloads and purchases are handled automatically through the App Store, much like they are through iTunes.

The Bad:

  • The Layout Execution: Despite the clean-cut concept of the layout, it is somewhat clumsy to navigate. The App Store itself is really just a storefront for popular apps, and you’ll probably have to just search for what you’re looking for.
  • No Demos: Traditionally, many applications could be downloaded for free and require a purchased license key to continue to use them after a set time or to unlock additional features. This is no longer possible with the App Store. Users will have to either be confident enough with the application to purchase it outright or download a separate lite version, if available. It sounds like some applications could be made available for free with in-app purchases like many iOS apps have been, but I haven’t seen this in the Mac App Store yet.
  • No Association with Existing Purchases: This is more of an obvious problem, but still a bummer. There is no way to associate existing purchased applications with the Mac App Store, so some developers are now left splitting their efforts between two distribution channels until they can release their next paid upgrade exclusively on the App Store.
  • Piracy: For the most part, this should be relatively locked down, but some applications during the App Store’s premiere were vulnerable to a relatively simple piracy hack.

Overall, I think that the Mac App Store is the future of software distribution, but it will need time to grow, like iTunes did when it first premiered.

For those who are curious, I have so far downloaded the new Twitter app (like everyone else, apparently), purchased Horror Vacui 2 (because it’s awesome), and I’m seriously contemplating Pixelmator’s special transition offer (re-purchase 1.6 for a significantly reduced price and get 2.0 for free).