The Rise of Mac App Store & What it Means for the Future

Since its launch a couple months ago, the Mac App Store has grown significantly.  According to analytics from a research report by Distimo, in less than 2 months the Mac App Store more than doubled the number of apps to 2,225 since its launch.  While this is good for consumers, it begs the question…will the demand for apps grow proportionately to the supply?  If not, mac app developers may be in for a rude awakening when it comes to how much they are used to getting paid for their hard work.

In fact, there are already some signs of prices weakening.  One developer has already pulled together some data that shows app prices have declined an astounding 20% in the same time period that the number of apps doubled.  I am doubting this is a coincidence. 

From a consumer standpoint, the Mac App Store is pretty blissful overall with a few caveats. You search, you read reviews, you download and install. Seems simple enough and its certainly more efficient than the alternative. Additionally, all the apps you download from the Mac App Store are updated automatically just like Apple’s native Software Update included in OS X which is one of the best features in my opinion.

But the Mac App Store also leaves much to be desired for users – especially in terms of discovery. Today, the only real way I search the Mac App Store is by surfing the “top grossing app” or perhaps checking out the top 20 apps in a couple categories. In all, there are thousands of mac apps in the store but due to time and interface restrictions…I only ever view maybe a hundred of them – tops.  Some describe this as “meritocracy”, but others say it basically kills the chance for the little guy.  In my opinion, at best, it’s a major discovery problem from both a developer and consumer standpoint.

So, what to do?  How about invite a few friends!

Being void of any real social inputs, its like going to Disneyland without any friends. I mean, I can ride the best rollercoasters all day long, but without meaningful peeps to share it with…its just not quite as fun. I want to know what people in my social networks on twitter, facebook, and linkedin are using so my options aren’t limited to the top 20 apps!

So, what does it mean for the future?  

Well, Phil Libin of Evernote fame is a big fan of the Mac App Store and sees great things ahead for good reason…check out the graph below.  

But other developers aren’t so sure.

For instance, devs have to wait for apps to be reviewed before going live which can be problematic for a number of reasons.  First of all, as it usually is with Apple..the process is a black box so you never know how long it will take.  Secondly, if you have a critical bug fix…there is no way to get an immediate update to the store – users will continue to download a bunk version.  I’ve heard other concerns around the wait to get paid (typically around 45 days) and others aren’t happy with the fact that Apple’s cut is roughly 1/3 of the price.


While its not perfect from any angle, the Mac App Store is here to stay and should have an overall positive impact for all parties involved – because at the end of the day its about growing the size of the entire pie, not any particular slice.  If that happens, everyone wins.

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