In defense of the Mac App Store
One common response to Arments arguments is that they really apply only to geeks and power usershardcore Mac users who run powerful software most likely to get bitten by App Store restrictions. In a followup post, Arment countered with his belief that the Mac App Store problems he describes arent limited to such users. Because geeks are evangelists and thought leaders, Arment suggests, their influence reaches many typical Mac users too, and those users will feel similarly put-off by Mac App Store apps that get forced out of the store.
But not all developers see the Mac App Store situation as negatively as Arment and Kafasis.
James Thomson from TLA Systems sells apps in both the Mac and iOS App Stores. And in important ways, the Mac App Store continues to work out great for him: Weve had PCalc in the Mac App Store since it opened, and weve seen noticeably higher sales from the App Store than through other channels. So, from a visibility and ease of purchase point of view, it would seem that [the Mac App Store is] a success.
That said, Thomson does have concerns. He told Macworld that TLA is in the process of submitting our first update with sandboxing switched on, and weve had to remove an (admittedly, very minor) feature to do so. Its not ideal, but we dont really have much of a choice if we want to sell in the store, he says.
But Thomson doesnt necessarily agree with Arments suggestion that more customers will increasingly shop for apps elsewhere: Even though you can see a lot of folk talking about it within our small sphere, I dont think were the average consumer by any means. Most people will just buy through the store because they are used to the experience from iOS, and its right there in front of them.
Rather than expecting more customers to abandon the Mac App Store, Thomson predicts the opposite: A small, and shrinking, number will buy specialist software directly.
What it all means for Mac users
If Arment and Kafasis are right, and the Mac App Store is destined for inconsequentiality, thats a clear problem for Apple. While Arment was quick to clarify that he never intended to suggest that users would completely abandon the Mac App Store, he added that such abandonment isnt the only way that the store could suffer: The problem is that itll be relegated mostly to simple, cheap, often subpar apps, and for the few good apps that remain, users will mistrust the Mac App Store as a stable place to buy them and expect future upgrades. The result? In Arments view, without significant changes, the Mac App Store will just never become good enough that Apple could require that Macs only run App Store software.