Excitement and Trepidation at the Prospect of the Mac App Store

Setting aside the geeky shame in admitting it, I’m quite excited to see the launch of the new Mac App Store this Thursday (6th January).

Excitement

I’m excited about it for a number of reasons but the main reason is how it restores the process of shopping for software to the way I remember it to be. I remember the pre-Internet days of buying software - I used to take my pocket money to the local computer store and peruse the shelves for games and other software that would take my fancy.

The Internet revolutionised the way companies distributed software and the way consumers bought software, but to me it didn’t completely improve upon the original process. Sure, you no longer had to trudge to the shop (in inclement weather or fair) in order to see what was available. The downside was that the huge range available and the lack of a centralised distribution point made it harder to truly browse for new software.

The App Store changed this for iOS, and the Mac App Store will hopefully do the same for Mac OS X. I’m looking forward to being able to browse categories for new software and especially to a centralised update mechanism for software. I’m particularly interested to see how it fares with new and less experienced Mac users.

Trepidation

I’ll say it up front: with anything that Apple control, there’s always going to be a risk of a censored view of the world. They are already the law when it comes to iOS apps, and they will also be the same for everything sold in the Mac App Store. Thankfully, side-loading is not prohibited with OS X the way it is on iOS so developers who cannot pass Apple’s stringent controls can still offer their apps for sale through their own channels.

I’m also concerned about how Apple are going to handle some aspects such as multi-user systems. At present I (begrudgingly) share my Macs with my wife, and when I buy a piece of software and install it, my wife is licensed to use it also. Apple have said that software bought from a Mac App Store account will be usable on other Macs tied to the same account. What they haven’t said is whether the Mac App Store account applies to the whole Mac, or if it is tied to the Apple ID only.

For me this could really make or break the new Mac App Store. I’ll still scour the Internet for independently licensed software rather than pay twice for 2 users to use the software on the same Mac.