Cydia moves from jailbroken iPhones, iPads to the Mac - can it succeed?

Cydia, the unofficial app store for jailbroken iPhones and iPads, is planning a Mac version. As Macs aren't a closed platform, is it something Mac users need or want?


One of the big features during Apple's Back to the Mac event in October was the preview of the next iteration of Mac OS X – Lion (a.k.a. Mac OS X 10.7). Lion borrows a number of user interface concepts from the Apple's iOS, which powers the iPhone and the iPad. While almost all the features previewed won't be available until Lion ships sometime next year, one will be coming to Macs running Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6, which is the current Mac OS X release) as early as next month: the Mac App Store.

Apple has seen a lot of success with the iOS App Store and it seems natural that company would bring that experience to the Mac. In fact, it's been somewhat of an expected concept in computing for quite some time and Google's web app store (released last week in advance of Chrome OS netbooks) borrows heavily from the concept as well.

A Mac App Store offers a lot of potential for users: a single source for discovering and purchasing applications, one-click purchase/download/install as on iOS devices, a single secure payment mechanism, automatic updates, and presumably one-click uninstall as well. For developers, particularly smaller developers, it offers an ability to compete on a level playing field where there's no need to worry about getting titles onto store shelves or making them available online and dealing with promotion, payment, and other details.

Some developers aren't happy that Apple will be curating the Mac App Store and taking a 30% cut of sales like it does with the iOS App Store. A particular point appears to be Apple's refusal to allow beta software or software released using a shareware/demo model, both of which are common for many titles available online. To a certain extent, I'm not surprised by this. Apple is only going to want to feature polished and stable titles and it is planning the Mac App Store as a solid storefront for sales, which obviously conflicts with the idea of bets or a shareware mentality.

Of course, free but limited or ad-supported versions of titles, common in the iOS App Store, are also being excluded, which doesn't make a lot of sense (though develoeprs could theoretically post betas or demos online outside of the Mac App Store).

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