The Mac App Store

It’s been about a month since Apple launched the Mac App store on January 6. The Mac App Store is Apple’s attempt to bring the same easy of use of the iTunes App store to Mac app purchase and installation. While it does not quite deliver on that promise it does make things simpler than they have been in the past. It’s a step in the right direction.

Cosmetically speaking the Mac App Store will be familiar to anyone who has used iTunes to purchase apps, music or movies. The only difference is the lack of a sidebar.

Screen shot 2011 01 06 at 5 46 33 PM

I browsed through the Top Paid and Featured app sections. Some of the titles will be familiar to those who have bought apps for the iPad.  Apple’s iWork software has been broken into it’s component pieces with each (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) available for $20. I bought Keynote to complement the version I have on my iPad. I also bought the Mac version of Angry Bird; a wildly popular casual game for the iPad and iPhone. Angry Birds entered the Top Paid the list on the first week in the Mac App Store.  I also downloaded an installed the official (and FREE) Twitter client app for Mac. I already had Twitter installed but apparently the Mac App Store app did not detect that.

Screen shot 2011 01 06 at 5 46 58 PM

Installation is quite easy. Just like on the iPad or iPhone I simply clicked the Purchase button (or Free button for free apps). Once I entered my iTunes user-name and password the icon changed to Installing which indicated that my apps was being downloaded and installed.

Screen shot 2011 01 06 at 5 48 05 PM

Once the installation completed, the icon changed to Installed and I noticed a bouncing Twitter app icon in my dock. I can see how having the app icon placed in the dock can help new users who may not be familiar with the Application folder but more advanced users may be annoyed. There is no way to change this behaviour.

Screen shot 2011 01 06 at 5 48 28 PM

The Mac App store app also keeps track of which apps have been installed and provides updates as they become available.  This is similar to how app updates are handled in iTunes.

Apple is offering the same generous licensing terms for Mac apps as with iOS apps. I can install apps purchase through the Mac App Store on up to five Macs in my home. Of course this is only possible if all of my computers are running Snow Leopard (or Lion when it is released). The Mac App Store app keeps track of the licenses. That means that for $20 I can buy Keynote (all of the iWork suite are available individual in the Mac App Store) and install it on my iMac, and the two MacBooks in my home. For $60 you can buy the entire suite. That’s a 50% discount over the packaged app. The loss of a physical disc does not bother me. I simply backed up my the app to a CD.

I also noticed that Mac App store prices are lower than buying them online or from Best Buy. For example, Pixelmator, a popular Photoshop replacement was just $29.99 when the Mac App Store but $99 online.  The developer has since announced that they intend to move all future app sales to the Mac App Store.  A positive sign.

I think the Mac App Store is a significant benefit to new Mac users (there numbers are growing) but experienced Mac users will find it useful as well. And we know it can only get better.

Khürt Williams

Khürt Williams is Principal for Monkey Hill, LLC, a Skillman, New Jersey based information security governance, risk and compliance consultancy. He's also an avid landscape photographer, and *nix geek.