Shawn brings up some great points and I agree with most of them. One thing that I don’t quite agree with though is the implied motivation for Apple to launch the App Store. Many think Apple launched it for profits, or to simplify their software — I don’t think I agree with those notions.
I think Apple launched the Mac App Store because they felt forced to open one. Perhaps that is silly sounding to most — they are a huge company and rarely listen to any one, so why would they feel forced to do anything? My guess is that if they truly did this as a simplification of the OS they would have waited until 10.7 — giving everyone a clean breaking point for making the transition.1
Apple felt forced because they wanted to keep their fantastic iOS developers in the Apple family.
They wanted to get them on the Mac.
Apple reached a fork in the road: they could have gambled on iOS developers being willing to develop for the Mac when they release 10.7; instead they chose a safer path of launching now, at the very moment interest in such a distribution channel was at its peak.
Sure Apple wants users to find great software, yes they want a cut of developers profits — all of that though could have waited until 10.7.
After all Apple isn’t hurting for cash right now and their users have been pretty happy without a Mac App Store.
Not to mention a great bit of marketing material to push a new OS update. ↩