‘The Mac App Store’s Future of Irrelevance’

Marco Arment is done with the Mac App Store, and worries:

The Mac App Store is in significant danger of becoming an irrelevant, low-traffic flea market where buyers rarely venture for serious purchases.

His arguments are not new and he certainly is not alone, but I think he is wrong.

Arment feels burned by the fact that he embraced the Mac App Store heavily, only to later see apps he purchased leave the Mac App Store — thus offering him no more updates — because of sandboxing rules (among other things). I don’t disagree that some of Apple’s rules are heavy handed and over reaching for geeky Mac users, but for the general Mac user, I think Apple has done a nice job creating a trusted place to buy Mac apps.

Some of the best apps will never make it to the Mac App Store, apps like:

  • Keyboard Maestro
  • LaunchBar
  • TextExpander
  • Dropbox
  • Hazel

If any of those do make it, they will likely be crippled. With the exception of Dropbox, every single app on that list is an app that I have tried to get my wife to use, and failed to do. Because she’s not a geek. And non-geeks tend not to be as effected by the apps leaving the Mac App Store as their geek counterparts are.

It is a big deal that some apps are leaving, it’s important, but let’s not kid ourselves here — it’s pretty much only important to geeks.

I’ve managed to survive on iOS without these geeky apps — where TextExpander exists, but isn’t as useful.

Additionally, if you look at the “quality” of the top-grossing apps in the iOS app store, you can see that they aren’t great apps in the same way that those listed above are. They are inexpensive or free games with paid currency you have to buy to use in the game. Apple doesn’t seem to care, because 30% is 30% and users like those apps.

As geeks we don’t want to see App Stores overrun with crap, but crap sells.

As for the worry of ‘low-traffic’, well Apple addressed that yesterday — ensuring that the Mac App Store will forever have high traffic: they made the Mac App Store the only place to get your OS updates for OS X, putting a notice in the Notification Center when you need to check for updates. Every Mac user will have to go into the Mac App Store from time to time, and I am certain many will click over to see what apps are featured. I can’t think of a better way to assure an app store of continued traffic.

As a geek, I’m right there with Marco, but I just don’t think it matters to Apple or non-geeks.

Originally posted for members on: July 26, 2012
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