Mac App Store opens with more than 1000 apps

Jason Snell
7 January, 2011
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Apple has opened the Mac App Store, releasing a software update for Snow Leopard that allows Mac users to buy software using the same mechanisms they use to buy iOS apps and media via iTunes.

To enable the Mac App Store, Snow Leopard users will need to update to Mac OS X 10.6.6, either by using the Mac’s built-in Software Update or via a download from Apple’s website. The update began to roll out to users early this morning.

“The [iOS] App Store really revolutionised the way you acquired apps on a mobile platform… we think there’s a really great opportunity to do the exact same thing on the Mac,” Eddy Cue, Apple Vice President of Internet Services, told Macworld.

Announced by Apple in October, the Mac App Store lets Mac users discover and purchase apps, though some familiar Mac software won’t be available due to the store’s exacting requirements. According to Apple, more than a thousand apps will be available initially, including many of Apple’s own iWork and iLife apps, as well as apps from vendors such as AutoDesk, Evernote, Omni Group, Pixelmator, and many others.

Once Mac OS X 10.6.6 is installed, users will find a new App Store app in the Dock, right next to the Finder. This new app, rather than iTunes, is the conduit to the store. But while the Mac App Store isn’t within iTunes like its iOS counterpart, it sports an interface that will otherwise be quite familiar to any iOS user.

The Mac App Store streamlines the process of purchasing Mac software: you buy the software with one click while using an iTunes ID and password. Apps are downloaded and installed automatically, including automatic placement in the Dock. And shopping for apps also has an iTunes flair, including charts for the top free, paid, and top-grossing apps as well as browsing by category.

Among the apps being sold in the Mac App Store as of opening are seven made by Apple, including members of the iLife and iWork bundles as well as Aperture 3. These apps will all be sold individually for prices ranging from $1.99 (for iLife apps) and $23.99 (for iWork apps) to $99.99 (for Aperture).

Some major Mac software vendors, notably Microsoft and Adobe, aren’t present in the Mac App Store on day one. It’s unclear whether Apple will work with those developers to bring their more complex installation and licensing procedures into the Mac App Store, or if it will be incumbent on those companies to modify their approaches in order to fit the Mac App Store’s guidelines.

Positive reaction

The technology-industry analysts Macworld spoke with seem to feel that Apple is making a savvy move in bringing the success of the iOS App store to the Mac, suggesting that it’s a strategy that opens open another difference between the Mac and PCs running Windows.

“It’s groundbreaking,” said Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies. “I think this will be more than just an experiment – I think it’ll be quite successful within the Apple community. Those who are familiar with the Mac way of doing things will easily accept this, and probably embrace it.”

“The computing universe has evolved in a huge way from the days when, if you wanted software for your computer, you went to Egghead and bought a shinkwrapped box and took it home,” said Gartner Group analyst Michael Gartenberg. “Even the largest Apple Store only sells a fraction of the software that’s out there – there’s a much larger universe out there that most consumers don’t know about. Apple discovered that when you create a central place for developers and consumers to come… magical things happen and billions of downloads occur. Applying that to the Mac makes so much sense.”

“It’s the beginning of the death of packaged software,” said Avi Greengart, research director for consumer devices at Current Analysis. “But it also shows the strength of the Mac platform. I think we’re going to see developers embrace this.”

Gartenberg said that the flexibility of developers being able to sell apps both in the Mac App Store and on their own websites – including to use their own sites to beta-test new versions – was a useful approach. “You almost say, gee, why not apply that that to the iOS as well? But for now iOS is staying iOS,” he said. And conversely, Gartenberg said, the idea of being able to install anything you want on your computer is too strong for Apple to diverge from it.

“This is a way of pointing out that the Mac is ahead of the other platform, and how Apple is making the personal computer experience much more appliance-like,” Gartenberg said. “I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see someone attempt to do this on Windows, but it would be much harder to [pull that off].”

Yankee Group analyst Carl Howe said that the advent of the Mac App Store spells the end for giant, monolithic software packages.

“This is the atomisation of the software market,” Howe said. “The Mac App Store means that instead of buying Photoshop for $800, we’ll see a lot more consumers buying an app for cropping photos and maybe two different ones for retouching, each of which will cost about $10. The consumer saves money and the developers can be more focused on things that consumers want instead of kitchen-sink app suites. The winners are independent app developers who have never had the kind of distribution an Adobe had, but now get world-class distribution of their app. Apple also wins, because it starts collecting a 30 percent cut of all software sales. Losers are the traditional software vendors who will be too high-priced for downloadable apps.”

NPD analyst Ross Rubin agreed that the Mac App Store is great news for Mac developers. “Particularly for smaller developers, or developers looking for more flexibility, this is a big opportunity,” Rubin said.


7 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. PierOz says:

    well it looks nice…but I can’t connect to the App store : (
    Is it available in Australia yet?

  2. AMW staff says:

    Hi PierOz,

    It’s definitely available in Australia. Should just be a matter of updating to 10.6.6 and opening the new App Store app that appears in your dock after restarting.


  3. PierOz says:

    Thanks Xavier,

    I had updated to 10.6.6, but opening the App Store I had a grey window with the message saying that it couldn’t connect to the store, but I found the problem…The app store doesn’t like internet connection through ethernet. I changed for airport and now it works : )

    very weird.


  4. PierOz says:

    Update: now it works with both, maybe it needed Airport for localisation?

  5. Kaboodle says:

    actually 999 apps. Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 was available as a featured app, and purchased by some, including me. The downloaded started then stopped. Going back into the app store the Harry Potter apps has disappeared from the “Purchased” page and also from the store itself.

    However my account is still debited by $60. No trace of the purchase on the ac App store, but it is listed on the iTunes account page.

    While noting the irony of a Harry Potter App disappearing as if by magic. I’m not happy that my account is down $60 for software I don’t have or appear likely to be able to have.

  6. Craig says:

    Be VERY careful with the new Apps Store!

    I was clicking around looking at the Apps and accidentally clicked the “BUY” link which is millimetres from the link you click to look at the app…and without any warning or “You are about to purchased this app” etc… BANG… it was downloading and I was $90 out of pocket.

    A quick email to Apple got a refund but they really need to address that.

    If you Google it, people have been making the same easy to make mistake – Apple are going to have to bring out an update to add an “Are you sure” screen.

    One guy in the UK was clicking around and accidentally spent over A$600 with one mouse click!

    So just click carefully!

  7. Martin Hennessy-Smith says:

    Is there a way for people, such as me, who can’t upgrade to 10.6 because they have an older Mac with a power pc chip, to use the new store? There must be other Mac owners like me who can’t afford to buy a new Mac!

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