Why the Mac App Store is a brilliant idea

October 20, 2010 in News,Technology

Apple announced this afternoon that the App Store is coming to Macs - a brilliant move on their part. When the iPad was announced, I speculated that it would imitate the Dashboard of Mac OS. Instead, it pursued a "single serving app" model, with great success. So great, in fact, that now the tables have turned and Mac OS will adopt a healthy chunk of iOS's winning recipe.

Why is a Mac App Store a good idea? Can't we already install and run any application that a developer wants to build (and isn't it just as easy to build a Mac app as an iOS app)? Sure -- you just have to locate the application's website, download the appropriate version, mount the disk image, move the application to your Applications folder, eject the disk image, and run the application. In the future, you will have to launch, update, and quit the program as necessary.

With an App Store, running software becomes as easy as playing music.

In the App Store model, there's no hunting for an app's website or version - they are ordered by category, rating, downloads and price, and they are always up to date. Just hit "download" and you're ready to go - no mounting, placement, installation or ejecting required.  Start an app just like you'd start a song; stop it just the same. Don't worry about saving or quitting -- that's all handled for you. When you come back to the app, it'll be just as you left it, a la iOS multitasking/fast switching.

Let's take Angry Birds for example. I want to play it - so I click it in my App Store. A few seconds later, I launch the app and begin playing. A few hours later, I need a break, so I just stop. Maybe I switch to a different program. Maybe I walk away from the computer. It doesn't matter; I just stop. Whenever I want, I launch the app again and pick right up where I was. No quitting, saving or loading required.

Those hurdles may not sound like much, but they are extremely significant. The iOS platform has been a success due to its stripped-down simplicity, which belies an extremely sophisticated interior. Unsurprisingly, that's always been the Mac's claim to superiority as well. The new model will take it to another level.

I know there's a lot of users out there who will complain about the lack of file-structures, customization, interactivity, etc. etc. Those of you who feel that way can go right on using your Macs like you always have. The rest of us will get to enjoy one of iOS's best feature on our desktops.

Make no mistake, apps have entered the public perception - whether iOS, Facebook, Android, Amazon, Blackberry, etc. They have been successful because they distill the software acquisition process into its simplest, purest form -- and Apple is making an excellent move by bringing it to the desktop.

p.s. I've always held that the iPad was "more than just a big phone." Now we'll see it's just like a small computer. It's no coincidence that the new iLife '11 applications look just like iPad apps - they are iPad apps! That new "full screen mode" is just the precursor of their single-serving app implementations.

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