What the app store future means for developers and users

Apple's iOS and Mac app stores have popularized the concept, but Microsoft, Google, and others are now adopting it

By Mel Beckman, InfoWorld |  Software, iPhone apps, Mac App Store

Apple's App Store for its iPhone and other iOS devices is an unqualified success, blowing through the 10 billion downloads mark in January. Seeing the store grow from 500 apps to more than 400,000 in just three years, Apple decided to take the app store concept to the Mac this year, with its App Store feature in Mac OS X 10.6.6. That new sales venue is off to a fast start, with 1 million downloads in the first day. Although Apple has not released sales numbers for the Mac App Store, CEO Steve Jobs noted in his iPad 2 announcement that Apple has paid a total of $2 billion to developers across both stores. Apple's 30% share of that bounty amounts to a tidy $850 million.

That net income potential hasn't been lost on Apple's competitors. In the years since Apple's 2008 iPhone App Store launch, other mobile OS makers -- Google, HP, Microsoft, and Nokia -- have launched their own stores. All are reportedly profitable for their operators.

[ See why InfoWorld's Neil McAllister says the Mac App Store is the blueprint for software retailing. | Discover the Mac App Store's hottest productivity apps in this slideshow. | Subscribe to the InfoWorld Daily newsletter today. ]

Thus, they're likely to gain even more prominence. Users, IT, and developers will have to adjust to their increasing role as a distribution mechanism for software. For developers in particular, that could mean significant changes to how they run their software businesses.

Apple rules the app store -- but didn't invent it It's easy to forget that Apple didn't originate the app store concept, even on the iPhone. Although Apple today is the major app store purveyor of desktop apps, the concept is floating among other desktop operating systems. Canonical's Ubuntu Linux, for example, offers access to various apps directly from its menu bar, so users don't have to search randomly for software. Google does the same with its Chrome Store for Web apps.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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