Apple Launches Mac App Store


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Apple Launches Mac App Store

As scheduled, Apple launched the Mac App Store on January 6. Bringing the success of its App Store experience to the desktop, the Mac App Store currently has 1,000 paid and free apps. All you need is an iTunes account (your current App Store account would do just fine) and Mac OS X 10.6.6 update.

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The 1.06GB Mac OS X 10.6.6 combo update is available for download from Apple servers and this should take about 20 minutes on a broadband connection.

“With more than 1,000 apps, the Mac App Store is off to a great start,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We think users are going to love this innovative new way to discover and buy their favorite apps.”

App, App and Away!

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The Mac App Store offers apps in Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity, Utilities and other categories, including a new one called Developer Tools. Devs would find familiar apps like BBEdit, OAuth for Mac, Coda and TextWrangler for purchase and download. Nice.

As expected, Apple also released its slew of MAS-ready products – iPhoto®, iMovie® and GarageBand® apps from Apple’s popular iLife® ‘11 suite are available individually in the Mac App Store for $14.99 each, and Pages®, Keynote® and Numbers® apps from iWork® are available for $19.99 each. Aperture® 3, Apple’s powerful photo editing and management software, is available for $79.99.

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Just Click and Install

The first app I installed? Autodesk‘s Sketchbook Express, which is made available free. I’ve been using Sketchbook Pro on my iPad for a bit and it’s really a great piece of kit for digital artists and illustrators. Sketchbook Express and SketchBook Pro ($29.99) bring that same experience to the Mac desktop, with support for gestures and multitouch. Awesomes.

Notables include (don’t shoot me!) Angry Birds ($4.99) and a hot new desktop version of Twitter for Mac, which looks mighty fine indeed, just like its iPad counterpart.

Positive First Impressions

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The Mac OS X 10.6.6 combo update ran without a glitch. I have a habit of downloading full combo updates as opposed to smaller singular updates. Took about 25 minutes from start to finish. You’re greeted with an additional icon in your Dock, and in the most unsubtle way, the second icon after the Finder. Firing the app for the first time, an updated iTunes T&C agreement pops up for your acknowledgment. Agree and you’re quickly on your way. The MAS looks identical to the App Store, albeit with less apps. The familiar big banners, highlights, sidebar and quick links, all there. Performance of the MAS is very snappy as compared to the App Store, perhaps due to a smaller database of available apps. Who knows for sure.

Apple has made it really, really easy to spend a lot of money in a short time, just like with the App Store. In several clicks you could easily be several hundred bucks poorer. It’s that simple. Definitely something to be emulated by other app stores out there (there are over 200 all over the world).

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What’s really cool about this revolutionary way of purchasing desktop apps is that downloading and installation is seamless and silky smooth. Click install and an icon will appear on your Dock, with a progress bar. Once downloaded, installation would take place automatically. You have an option to save the app shortcut in the Dock.

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Also, MAS keeps a database of all apps installed on your Mac, so it’s easy to track updates.

There is a pretty good selection of low cost and free quality apps, so install away. And by the way, if you’re a Mac developer, Apple wants you!

In Summary

The Mac App Store is yet another revenue-making platform for Apple. It has already seen 1 million downloads on the first day! For developers, I think it opens up more opportunities, thanks to Apple’s marketing muscle. I feel that smaller developers, especially those who produce shareware and freeware will definitely benefit. Especially now, as there are fewer apps to fight for visibility within the store. Also, I believe it encourages users to buy legally, thus indirectly combats piracy. Will the MAS see long term success? Will we see more big name developers like Adobe jumping on the bandwagon? We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, let’s go download some Mac apps!

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