A couple of days ago, Apple launched the Mac App Store, a new way to find, buy, install and update applications for your Mac. It aims to replicate the success of the iPhone and iPad app stores. I believe it will be incredibly successful, breathing new life into the Mac software market by widely increasing the number of users installing (and paying for!) applications on their machine.
The reason is simple: the application purchase and installation process just got a million times easier, which for the first time brings it within reach of many users.
The old user journey of installing Mac software
- Browse the Internet and find a new application’s website.
- Decide that you want to install it.
- Download a .dmg file somewhere on your hard drive.
- Find and open the .dmg file.
- Drag the .app file to your application folder (or follow the installer wizard process for some applications).
- Run your application from the application folder.
- Find how to buy the software from the application UI.
- Go to the website that handles licensing.
- Create an account on this website (not systematic, but frequent).
- Provide your contact details, pay by credit card / paypal to the software developer.
- Receive a serial number in an email.
- Copy paste that serial number into the software.
- Enjoy your app!
- Optionally, right click on its icon in the dock and select keep in dock.
The new Mac App Store way
- Browse the Mac App Store and find an application.
- Decide to install it.
- Type in your iTunes account password.
- Watch as the icon seamlessly animates from the app store page to your dock and the application installs in seconds.
- Click on the new app icon that is immediately visible on your dock.
- Enjoy your app!
Key advantages of the Mac App Store for the user
- Much faster and simpler process
- We geeks often forget it, but everything that requires the user to explore the file system (via finder) will be beyond the skills of many users. The MAS (Mac App Store) follows the long Apple tradition (iTunes, iPhoto, iOS in general…) of abstracting the file system away, hiding it from the user fully.
- A consistent install and purchase process
- No need to learn how each software shop website works.
- Cheaper apps making deciding to buy one easier
- The price of applications is likely to get cheaper than it used to be, as demonstrated by Apple’s own Aperture which used to retail for $200, but is priced at only $80 on the MAS. The additional volume of sales generated from the MAS.
- No need to trust a new third-party with money
- It’s much easier to trust Apple Inc. that every little independant software shop.
- No worries that installing a new app could mess up your system
- Apps have to be approved by Apple first, so there is no (or very very little) risk that it can damage your system.
- An easy app update process
- Apps can be updated easily as soon as new versions are available, just like on your iPhone/iPod/iPad.
I believe the Mac app Store is removing many of the barriers that until now prevented a huge number of users from installing new applications. This is good news for users who will discover great apps and enjoy their Mac even more, and good news for the developers who will see their addressable market expand considerably.