Mac App Store first impressions

Well, it’s here at last and first impressions are very good…

Everything looks slick and works seamlessly (as you’d expect). As soon as you log in using your existing Apple iTunes account details it’s refreshingly easy to purchase and download applications. I say ‘purchase’ and ‘download’ as if there’s two steps but really it’s just the one: click the little button and the App Store takes care of everything else. There’s a lovely little animation where the icon of the app you’ve just purchased jumps from it’s place in the Store down into your dock. Very cute and very easy to keep track of what you’ve just bought.

Ease of use

As I said above, the apps download directly into your Applications folder and are added to the dock – no downloading a zip file, unzipping then installing it, entering serial numbers – just one click simplicity. I really think this ease of installation is going to be a very important factor in determining how successful the App Store becomes. Part of the runaway success of the iPhone version is down to this ease of use. Yes, you could purchase apps for mobile phones before the iPhone (I know, I was one of the few people that did it) but it involved a torturous number of steps that only the most dedicated tech fiend could be bothered with. It wasn’t until the App Store arrived on the iPhone with it’s one click simplicity that mobile phone apps started selling in their millions.

The App Store has a handy Purchase page that lists which apps you’ve downloaded and when as well as an Updates page where future updates will presumably be listed. All very simple and elegant.

Content

The apps themselves are a mix of existing, well established Mac apps (like iPhoto and Pixelmator) as well as some iPhone familiars (like AngryBirds, Flight Control etc) – an interesting convergence of the the operating systems and the shape of things to come.

Prices

Prices are reassuringly high. I say that from both a developer’s perspective and as a Mac user. Many developers are (rightfully) worried that the market will force down prices in the same way as the iPhone App Store has and, unless their sales rocket to compensate, they’re up s*@t creek. Remember, the initial take up of the Mac App Store will be relatively slow (despite Apple certainly claiming enormous stats in a few weeks time). For a start, unlike the iPhone App Store, it’s Mac only and whether we like it or not there’s a lot of PC users out there that won’t care a jot about today’s launch. Secondly, it relies on existing Mac Users downloading the System Update to get at it – a smart move really, as I suspect this way it will end up on more Macs quicker than just hoping users will choose to download it.

There are bargains to be had though – not least Apple’s own Aperture app which has plunged in price and is tempting me at this very moment… And the usual selection of free apps – the official Twitter app looks like it’s doing quite well.

Concerns

I already own lots of the apps in the store such as iBank, Pixelmator, CoverSutra and many more but my copies live outside the new App Store ecosystem ie. as far as the App Store knows I don’t own them… They don’t show up in my Purchased list and obviously won’t be listed in my Upgrades page. Will I have to buy them again as developers abandon their existing way of distributing software and rely more heavily on the App Store? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way of migrating existing apps into the App Store in the same way that you can add music and books not purchased through the Music Store to iTunes?

It’s early days yet but I’m looking forward to discovering some little gems in the next few weeks.

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