Apple Partners Expect Mac App Store To Boom

There's a fair amount of trepidation in the Mac developer ranks over Apple's forthcoming Mac App Store, but Apple resellers are confident that it'll add more value to the Mac platform.

Apple will launch the Mac App Store on Jan. 6, and it's reportedly planning to remove all apps from the Mac OS X download site at that time. Developers are also concerned about Apple's policy of not allowing demos, trials, or beta software on the Mac App Store, since these have been important sales vehicles in the past.

Apple says it will only consider "fully functional, retail versions", and it won't allow kernel extensions, private APIs, or apps that request root user privileges.

Apple's Mac App Store rules show that Apple isn't interested in migrating the existing base of OS X apps, but instead wants to grow a base of small scale developers around the Mac platform. So it's understandable that longtime Mac developers would be feeling uneasy about where things are headed.

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Nick Gold, director of business development at Chesapeake Systems, a Baltimore, Md.-based Apple partner, says Apple's restrictions will essentially block higher end software from the Mac App Store. "It won't meet the guidelines, but people will go there for smaller scale apps, and I think it will end up being a value-add for the Apple platform," he said.

Gold acknowledges that some developers are concerned that Apple will be dumbing down the Mac platform, turning it into an appliance and becoming the sole distribution channel for Mac software. However, he doesn’t believe Apple has these goals in mind.

"Apple is aiming for users that want buying, downloading, installation and management of desktop Mac software to be as easy as possible. It's a new venue for certain developers get software in front of more eyes," Gold said.

Marc A. Wolfe, CEO of Proactive, an Apple specialist in Oakland, N.J., also sees the Mac App Store as an expansion on what Apple has already done with the mobile App Store. "You can't leave the millions of desktops alone when you already have something that’s working and bringing tighter integration on the mobile side," he said.

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Apple and various third parties have tried to build Mac application marketplaces in the past, with varying degrees of success. This time around, Mac developers will be giving up 30 percent of their sales in exchange for riding the mighty wave of the Apple marketing machine.

It's a trade-off that has worked well with iOS, and Michael Oh, president and founder of Tech Superpowers, a Boston-based Apple partner, believes it'll also work with the Mac.

Oh sees simplified application installation and automatic updates as the key selling points for Mac App Store. "These were game changers on the iOS side of things, and Apple has the potential to do the same on the desktop," he said. "The Mac App Store will appeal to small development shops that are craving the opportunity to use some of Apple marketing muscle to get their app in front of users. "

Apple is making the Mac App Store available in 90 countries initially, and app categories include Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity and Utilities. Apple CEO Steve Jobs expects the Mac App Store to flourish in the same way that the mobile App Store has done.

"The App Store revolutionized mobile apps. We hope to do the same for PC apps with the Mac App Store by making finding and buying PC apps easy and fun," Jobs said in a statement in mid-December.