Today Apple will launch its Mac App Store. We're happy to be part of the party with our popular consumer Apps: SongGenie, CoverScout, iSale and iSale express. Till Schadde, founder and CEO of equinux, answers some questions concerning risks, opportunities and the potential success of the Mac App Store.
Do you think the Mac App Store is an opportunity for developers?
Till: “Currently developers don’t really have access to all the customers that join the Mac platform every day. This target group, usually referred to as a ‘switcher’, is already familiar with the Microsoft Office package and would get VMWare from their resellers when buying to use Windows. A lot of these people actually don't know where to buy Mac software even though it is available. These customers are apparently untapped to us. The potential will be enormous now that everything is centralized.
For longtime Mac users, the simplicity of buying software from a central platform like the App Store creates a big opportunity to increase sales incentives. Download an app quickly and try it – the threshold is simply reduced.”
What about the risks?
“There are of course some risks for software developers. Firstly, Apple is not a pure reseller, but a kind of co-publisher with its own tastes and whims. That doesn't make life easier but more complex and, at worst, it gets confusing when you have to spend a lot of time in discussions.
Secondly, as a software developer you almost completely lose contact with the end user. It's prohibited to ask for user registration details in your software. I fear that in the future the customer support will shift to the App Store as with iPhone Apps where developers won’t have a chance to respond. In this respect Apple has to be active because Mac applications are often more complex than small iPhone apps.
Thirdly, some apps are not adjustable because they simply need to use kernel extensions, etc. The big challenge is that Apple has too many technical guidelines in place that many apps won’t meet. This might lead to a flood of non-sense apps, as we've seen with the iPhone and iPad.”
What do you think Apple has to do to successfully launch the Mac App Store?
Till: “We hope that Apple doesn’t repeat the mistakes they made with the launch of the App Store for the iPhone. They were trying times when you had to wait three months for an approval and no one at Apple could give any information on what the status was.”
Some developer’s complained about the guidelines for approval in the Mac App Store. What's your opinion?
Till: “To us it's not a big deal, because there is another space beside the App Store. Therefore the rules are fine for us. Those who accept Apple's rules can start developing their software for the App Store, those who disagree with it can distribute their software conventionally. Everyone has the freedom to choose, Apple is not forcing us yet. It could be problematic, however, if the App Store is the first step to stop the free distribution of Apps in Lion.”