January 07, 2011, 4:53 PM — The Mac App Store is the biggest thing to happen to Mac software distribution since the Internet itself—some might say that the store is even bigger. Many users haven't bothered with boxes and CDs of software for some time, instead juggling combinations of ZIP files, Mac disc images (DMGs), drag-and-drop operations, and installation wizards.
The potential of the Mac App Store to simplify so much of the app ownership process is undeniably appetizing for end users. But for software developers, the story is a bit more complex. Macworld talked to several developers to get their thoughts on the Mac App Store.
In the big picture, the developers we spoke with are just as intrigued by the Mac App Store as Mac users. "The Mac App Store is fantastic," Andrew Sinkov, Evernote's VP of Marketing, told Macworld. "I like that it brings easy browsing and buying to the masses," said Isaiah Carew, founder of YourHead Software. There is an early sense of excitement that Apple is using what it learned from the iOS App Store to bring a fresh new round of attention to the established Mac platform.
"It's a really helpful addition to the Mac Platform," said Philip Goward, founder of Smile. "It enables software products to be more discoverable, and more easily purchased and installed by Mac users."
Selling Mac software in the new world with a Mac App Store poses a number of unique challenges. An App Store for the fledgling smartphone market is one thing, but the Mac and its users are no strangers to third-party software. Is Apple's new store too large to ignore? Is there a market outside of the Mac App Store, or even completely independent of it? What about Apple's decidedly constricting policies? These are only some of the big questions developers have been wrangling with since Apple announced the Mac App Store in October last year, and some of these questions will only be answered with time.
One of the biggest questions is that of price. The App Store created a "race to the bottom" for $1 iOS apps—will the Mac App Store have the same effect? The developers we spoke with were mostly united in optimism.