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Is the Mac App Store a software game changer?

Rory Cellan-Jones | 08:22 UK time, Friday, 7 January 2011

Now why would Apple choose a day in early January for a significant launch? Could it be just a coincidence that the Mac App Store made its debut right in the middle of the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, a huge event for the tech industry but one always boycotted by Steve Jobs and co? Of course not.

A computer displays onscreen the new Apple App store

For the Mac community - once a tiny group of zealots, now quite a mob - the arrival of this online store selling software for Apple computers caused a frenzy of excitement. The rest of the world stifled a yawn and pointed out that buying software online is hardly new. But, as ever with Apple, a flashy new twist on an old but hitherto poorly presented idea could prove a winner.

Because ask yourself this - when did you last buy any software for a home computer? If you're like the friends I've questioned your answer is "err, never" or "I think my wife once got Norton to put on the PC", or "my son got us a sneaky student discount on some outrageously expensive photo software so we got that."

For whatever reason, the software industry has been hopeless at selling its products to the general public, preferring to concentrate on getting businesses to shell out huge amounts to acquire licenses for enterprise products like Microsoft Office.

If you're a home user who wants to edit some photos, for instance, and needs something a bit more sophisticated than the free program bundled with your computer you might choose Adobe's Photoshop - and then find a bewildering array of products at prices ranging from £51 to £613.

Or you want to get some presentation software from Apple and find you have to pay more than £70 and can only get it bundled with a word processor and a spreadsheet that you don't need.

The result is that many people choose to live with what comes pre-loaded on their computers, acquiring the odd free open-source download or perhaps a pirated product passed on by friend. Like music for today's teenagers, software is something we have come to expect to get for nothing.

Until that is, the arrival of the App Store for the iPhone in 2008. By getting phone users to pay small amounts for apps - everything from a train time checker to the wildly popular Angry Birds game - Apple introduced millions to the idea that new software could enhance your device and might have a value.

So there will be a ready-made audience for the Mac App Store on computers which looks identical to those on Apple's mobile devices. What will people buy? It looks as though games are already popular with Angry Birds top of the sales chart' so that's yet another new source of revenue for Apple , which until now has failed to sell the Mac as a suitable platform for gaming.

Then there are cheap apps like Weather HD - a 59p weather forecaster. Why you would pay for something you could get for nothing by opening a browser isn't clear but I bet quite a few will. More revenue for Apple and more importantly another reason for the new army of app developers to concentrate on the Mac OS rather than Google's Android.

And then there are Apple's own products - and here there's a fascinating insight into the economics of software. Go into the Apple Store and buy the photo editing package Aperture and you will pay £173. But download it from the Mac App Store and you will pay just £44.99.

It's the oldest lesson in business - slash prices and you'll have consumers hammering on the doors of your store. If Apple can still make a profit on a product whose price has come down by 75% and I bet it can as Aperture is currently listed as the biggest earner in the App store - then surely others will be forced to follow suit.

So, yes, selling software online is nothing new, however well it's packaged. But if by clever pricing Apple can get people to buy it in large numbers then it will have done the whole software industry a service.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Good points, but it should surely be mentioned that the concept of an online software store in a desktop OS was pioneered a decade ago by free software. Users of popular Linux operating systems like Ubuntu have long been able to browse a store full of tens of thousands of software programs - from image editors and word processors to weather applets - and click to download and install in a seamless manner. The only real difference is that the majority of such software on Linux is entirely free.

  • Comment number 2.

    When did I last buy software for the PC? You mean apart from content driven by Steam?

    You know, Rory, the web enabled store that has been selling content to a wide audience for years?

    Apple: getting attention for something someone else did years ago again. How novel!

  • Comment number 3.

    No matter how clever Apple is with its pricing, people will not buy their software in large numbers because the Mac community is still and always will be a tiny group of zealots. Before Mac fans start complaining, that's Rory's description - not mine.
    Applications for the Linux platform have a cleverer pricing policy - zero, and that includes Linux itself. OK, so you have to install Linux, but its just as easy/difficult as installing Windows. The main problem with new installs is the lack of or incompatibility of drivers, and that's just as big a problem on Windows as Linux depending on how exotic your hardware is.
    But the main advantage of Linux and applications is that they are open-source or free software. That means free as in free speech, a concept which many - including Rory - can't seem to grasp. I won't attempt to explain the concept here, there are plenty of resources on the internet which explain better than I can.

  • Comment number 4.

    Inspite OSX being a very good operating system - windows still has dominance and will for many many years. I got rid of my mac because of lack of free software. All the good stuff runs on linux or windows. (Yes there is fink but wasnt good enough).

    The future on the traditional desktop PC is linux because its free , secure , highly customizable , has tons of software (apart from games) and most importantly will keep evolving without monetary investment.

    This is because sooner rather than later Microsoft will stop selling discounted software to OEMs when the revolution of tablets takes many consumer sales away from them.

  • Comment number 5.

    @1 - Yeah but Linux is still niche.

    I am not sure how they can get away with selling the same piece of software for £173 in one place and £44.95 in another place. Surely those who buy the product via the web store should be entitled to a refund?

    If Logic or Final Cut make an appearence (haven't had a good look yet) then I will be interested in what they are charging!

  • Comment number 6.

    Look at from the other side, from the developer - like me. If I can make a few quid out of a nifty piece of software I wrote that can only can be a good thing.

    Apple, like it or not have provided an excellent delivery platform for this. And no, I'm not a big company emplying lots of staff. I'm one bloke trying to pay his bills...

  • Comment number 7.

    @5. At 10:27am on 07 Jan 2011, Jedra wrote:
    "
    @1 - Yeah but Linux is still niche.
    "

    So is Mac - about 5% market share. Linux has 1.7% and majority in servers. Also Mac is a Unix based system. Linux has issues of it's own. Plenty rests on manufacturers for not providing drivers for it, so people need to develop their own. if all hardware is compatible, it rocks. if not it can be difficult. so many software companies also decide not to support it. but this si slowly changing as things are moving to cloud computing - and clouds often rest on Linux. so why not have a linux desktop as well? it would be more compatible wouldn't it?

    Ubuntu's Software center (and similar repositories system) is really great. no viruses, fast download... and they plan to simply expand it with adding some payable applications. Which if they are good people will also pay for it.

    As for photo editing. why pay 170 or 50EUR for them when G-I-M-P is just fine (for home and medium use), powerful and free. while Photoshop costs 600EUR+ for a good reason. It's a professional tool.

    Also STEAM is way ahead in gaming area. With special offers for as little as 3 EUR on titles that sometimes cost 15EUR in shop.


    Oh yes. Downloading software to computer is such a novelty indeed.

  • Comment number 8.

    @At 10:33am on 07 Jan 2011, deanoj wrote:

    You are correct. Except they are nto the first one that provided it. As said before it exists in Linux for a long time now.

  • Comment number 9.

    I, for one, have downloaded a large amount of software from online stores. I wouldn't touch Steam with a bargepole, but I've bought software from sites such as Matrix, Gamersgate and Paradox Interactive many times and for many years.

    This is no different. Another triumph of Apple Marketing Hype over actual substance.

  • Comment number 10.

    Apple let you download from teh internet - let's blog about it

    The same service found to be vulnerable to hackers and pirates - ignored
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12135460

    iTunes accounts being used to steal money from people - ignored
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12127603

    Same old, same old....

  • Comment number 11.

    RedLinuxHacker wrote:

    "No matter how clever Apple is with its pricing, people will not buy their software in large numbers because the Mac community is still and always will be a tiny group of zealots. Before Mac fans start complaining, that's Rory's description - not mine."

    Actually, this is what he said: "For the Mac community - once a tiny group of zealots, now quite a mob -"

    And you don't see the irony in calling Mac users a tiny group of zealots while promoting the Linux platform in the rest of your post and by naming yourself RedLinuxHacker?

    "But the main advantage of Linux and applications is that they are open-source or free software. That means free as in free speech, a concept which many - including Rory - can't seem to grasp."

    What does "free speech" have to do with someone charging for software or not?

    Most people in this world like to get paid for their efforts so little in life will ever be free.

  • Comment number 12.

    gregor3000 wrote:

    "So is Mac - about 5% market share. Linux has 1.7% and majority in servers."

    In America it is at 10% and growing. It's also growing internationally. Linux is very tiny and insignificant compared to Mac when it comes to consumers.

    "so many software companies also decide not to support it. but this si slowly changing as things are moving to cloud computing - and clouds often rest on Linux. so why not have a linux desktop as well? it would be more compatible wouldn't it?"

    What is invisible to the end user is meaningless.

    "As for photo editing. why pay 170 or 50EUR for them when G-I-M-P is just fine (for home and medium use), powerful and free. while Photoshop costs 600EUR+ for a good reason. It's a professional tool."

    Most people that buy Photoshop know exactly what they are buying it for. They are willing to pay for what it can do. When you say "medium use" the following word, "powerful," doesn't make much sense, especially to the kind of person looking to buy Photoshop.

    G-i-m-p is also not user friendly for the type of people you seem to want to steer away from Photoshop.

  • Comment number 13.

    @RedLinuxHacker
    Most people couldn't give a crap about open source or not.
    Most people probably don't even know what open source means.
    Also, you fail to point out that at its core OS X is darwin, which is an open source OS.

  • Comment number 14.

    @gregor3000

    Not sure where you got the Linux 1.7% from. Could you provide a link?

    I found Linux on 0.86%, Mac on 5% worldwide in October 2010 (http://bit.ly/h8Me9i%29. Same source, which allows filtering by geographic location, shows the US with 0.56% Linux, 11.46% Mac (http://bit.ly/d1az2n%29.

    Another source (http://bit.ly/9LlNU6%29 shows that for US college students, of the 83% who own laptops, 27% own Macs.

    @RedLinuxHacker

    Rory didn't claim that "the Mac community is still and always will be a tiny group of zealots". He actually said "once a tiny group of zealots, now quite a mob".

  • Comment number 15.

    Once again, Apple does what it does best: making things easier. I've never understood why software, especially professional tools like Photoshop, Quark etc, was always sold in a big box with a 300 page book. Once you've installed it all, you've just got piles of these boxes taking up space... I guess the public just weren't ready for the idea of buying something intangible back then. But times have changed, and as more people have got used to the idea, this was an inevitable step. No, it's not a jaw-dropping, revolutionary idea that no-one has ever seen before: but it is a very good idea, that no-one else (i.e. Microsoft, Google etc) thought of doing.

    And yes, it will change things a great deal, I think. Computers are now an intrinsic part of our lives: back when I left college, only superheroes had a personal computer, and the idea of us ordinary folk buying one for use at home was quite ridiculous. But as the variety of applications increased, more people realised just how useful they could be, and that computers were no longer "just for work".

    As for me, I use professional tools such as Adobe's Creative Suite, amongst others, so I regularly buy updates etc online. I don't tend to buy apps that I wouldn't use in some professional capacity, as they just take up much-needed HD space.

  • Comment number 16.

    @ 12

    I moved to OS X some time for the very reason it is based on Linux. It's a lot easier to develop software for the web when you are running the same OS variant as the servers that will be running your software...and I also need to be able to run Photoshop. Although I would love the 'free'dom of running Ubuntu or something like - until the major vendors like Adobe properly support it, it's not really an option...and I know all about WINE - but I didn't leave windows behind just to emulate it on another platform...

  • Comment number 17.

    So iTunes has been compromised, and so has this new bit of software. but lets forget about that, and do a blog on their new bit of software. *rolls eyes*

    People have been able to download software from a centralised source for years. It's nothing new, or super special.

    Just because Apple have stumbled across it and thought "We can do that" and made it with a pretty GUI does not make it any different to anywhere else.

    Apple is not the centre of the universe, they are a small insignificant part of it.

  • Comment number 18.

    Rory makes a good point. What software does the average consumer buy? Microsoft office and probably their first year of a Norton subscription. Oh, and the purchase of Windows but that doesn't count. Everything else people use is either free or bundled with the computer: paint, web browser, MSN etc.

    The only real exception to this is games, which are software as well. And for PC games, Steam has digital downloads down to a fine art. In the same way as the App store for the iPhone enabled indie developers to sell to a wide market, Steam has allowed small games studios to sell to a wider market.

    That said, I can see this new app store being successful. The only downfall is people not realising just how big a download full professional software is. An app is a few MB, a full program is several GB.

  • Comment number 19.

    What Apple have inadvertently shown us, by selling cut-price software as ‘apps’, is how overpriced most software really is.

    Will they still make money? Of course they will, they’ve already developed it; other than paying a few engineers to add a few bells-&-whistles they can flog as a future ‘upgrade’ they’ve already spent the bulk of the costs required to develop the software in the first place. Even at a 75% discount they’re probably making near 100% profits.

    One shake up the software industry really needs is over licensing terms. Do businesses actually buy Windows software? In fact they’re effectively renting it as Microsoft licences require annual renewal. It’s effectively a scam (Imagine buying a car, then being told that all the money paid only entitled you to one year’s use!).

    One product of the current ‘austerity’ measures might be to persuade many businesses and govt departments to switch to open source.

    Let’s not forget Open Office – a rival suite of office programs to MS Office - that is wholly free (open source) and available as a download for Apple Macs and Windows & Linux PCs.

  • Comment number 20.

    @19 One product of the current ‘austerity’ measures might be to persuade many businesses and govt departments to switch to open source.

    Fully agree. I forget which, but some countries have done exactly this for governmental departments and it saves them a fortune...

  • Comment number 21.

    "So, yes, selling software online is nothing new, however well it's packaged. But if by clever pricing Apple can get people to buy it in large numbers then it will have done the whole software industry a service."

    Maybe so, but the simple fact of the matter is that Steve Jobs could defecate into a bag and legions of people would still go out and buy it.

    As been previously expressed, online content delivery is nothing new. I do however have to commend Apple on the creation of a platform for small teams, or single developers to get noticed. The single best (and totally inadvertent) thing to come out of this "app store".

  • Comment number 22.

    Would the reason for Apple dropping the price of Apeture through the App Store not be to encourage people to visit the App Store to get a bargain, and then hope they download from there in future?
    It's a great way for Apple to generate a new revenue stream from applications that were available elsewhere on the web.

  • Comment number 23.

    @SheffTim: As far as I'm aware, most Microsoft Licences (except for Online Product ones of course) don't require annual renewal. A company can buy Windows or Office (etc) under Volume Licensing and can continue to use it for as long as they want whether they buy anything else or not.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hello All

    As i have mentioned on other comments sections I have switched all my computing to Macs in the past couple of months.
    I have used this new App store with my New Mac Air and all i will say is that, for me , if i choose to purchase anything from there (which I have) then the whole process is simple, quick and efficient..

    It is purely a way of making the purchase simple, that is why the App's on the iPhone are a winner because even the more technologically amongst us can easily use it and spend our money quicker !!

    Regards
    Ganretti

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    How long is it before we see this message on screen "only applications bought through the Mac App Store can be installed on this version of OS-X".

  • Comment number 27.

    @ Ganretti,

    I don't doubt that purchasing software from the app store is very simple. However, this is also the case for Steam. I click add to cart, confirm my purchase and click install. The game is then automatically downloaded and installed with the option of creating a desktop shortcut. There are links to community forums and the likes.

    Also, Windows licenses do not need renewing every year.

  • Comment number 28.

    The biggest problem with the AppStore (be it on the Mac or iOS platform) is that paid apps can't be tried before purchase. I've already wasted £2.99 today on an app that turned out to be a pile of poo. Apple have such a tight control over the operating system & appstore technologies that I can't imagine it would be beyond their wit to allow software to run on a system for a few hours or days and then stop until purchased!

    Saying that, I've also come across a couple of gems on the AppStore that are going to be permanent additions to my macs, so the model does work to some extent.

  • Comment number 29.

    @21 "Steve Jobs could defecate into a bag and legions of people would still go out and buy it". Couldn't agree more.
    Fools and their money have always been easy to part and when you add in the magic of Apple 'convenience' you have an addictive mix similar to crack.
    Apple strategy: use a pretty GUI to tell fools that something is a problem or difficult and then provide the 'solution', just click here ... no thinking required
    As a strategy it's hardly new or novel now is it? It is a successful for them as it is for Big Corp Worldwide. It's just 'newer' and 'prettier' than that which was around last week/year is all.
    @26 - I give about 2 weeks!
    I'm just waiting for Apple and Tesco to merge, then my life will be complete.

  • Comment number 30.

    You make a very good point point about prices, Rory. Having used the AppStore, though, I would say that its big plus point is just how easy it is. You sign in with your Apple ID, click the button and the App just downloads and installs. Not only that, but it remembers what I've bought so that, if I should accidentally trash a piece of software, I can download it again for free.

    This is as simple as buying software online has ever been.

  • Comment number 31.

    As noted the concept isn't that new and aside from the name it might not be expected to go too far - but where I would expect this to go if Apple can manage it is for there to eventually be a restriction, whether absolute or just for most users, is for all software for macs to need to come through the apple shop. Ahh, I see JH beat me to that one, but it's one to watch.
    The first step I would guess is for programs being installed to use the app store in some way.

  • Comment number 32.

    @26 JH.....am accepting spread bets for any period up to 6 weeks from now.

  • Comment number 33.

    PS...didn't we go through this Apple business last year Rory..

  • Comment number 34.

    @AllenT2
    Yes I know what Rory said, and I'm disagreeing by saying that the Mac community is still a tiny group (zealots or otherwise) and yes the same could be said of the Linux community.

    I call myself Linux Hacker because Linux is open-source and can be hacked!!!
    Unlike MS Windows or Apple Mac.

    If you don't understand the phrase 'free as in free speech' when applied to software then you've obviously got no idea about open-source.

    @WelshBluebird1
    You're quite correct, most people couldn't give a crap about open-source, because they aren't aware of or understand the concept.

    Darwin is open-source, Mac OS X is proprietary. I didn't point it out earlier, because 'most people couldn't give a crap about open-source'.


    To continue, the main thrust of my original post was to counter this blog which seems to imply that the Mac App Store is somehow original, which it isn't, and that by clever pricing it will sell large amounts, which it won't. The Mac will always have a small but loyal fan-base, I don't have a problem with that.

    I prefer Linux to Mac (both are POSIX based), because it is free and open-source and Mac users shouldn't have a problem with that. What annoys me is that Apple products have a disproportionate amount of coverage when compared to it's fan-base.

    As for Linux being niche on PCs because of it's perceived percentage of the market, this is impossible to determine because of the very nature of open-source. It can be copied, re-distributed and installed on multiple machines, and no-one will have an accurate figure of it's uptake. However, we do know that Linux is the market leader on super-computers, servers, embedded devices and has a significant showing on mobile devices in the form of Android.

    Also we know that the uptake of Linux for PCs across Europe and other countries is good, with Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Brazil and Russia being particularly strong. The UK is the worst in Europe, apart from Greece. This is because the governments of Linux friendly countries have assessed that Linux is a cost effective and stable alternative after being ripped of for so many years by Microsoft. Where governemnts lead, business will follow, then residential use will follow that. Then the UK will have to get in line, if it wants to be compatible with the rest of the world.

    I can see in the future, Rory C-J blogging about the wonderful new OS that is Linux, when the rest of the world has known about it and been using it for years. And the Mac community will still be tiny group (zealots or otherwise).



  • Comment number 35.

    Not sure of the problem. Bought my first Mac in '85, and have often bought software for it online (no idea in what year I first did so). Sometimes I bought it from the Apple Store, and sometimes from other vendors. Not sure what difference the Mac App Store will make - probably be simpler, although I'm not sure how. Must check it out. In my work I have to use both Windows and Mac platforms - I'd always use Mac by preference. I have several friends who are long time Windows users and developers - recently most of them have bought Mac laptops, and use their Windows programs on the Mac, as they find it more friendly. FYI, I've never used Linux, but I use several open-source programs on my Mac

  • Comment number 36.

    Yet another blatant advert for yet another tiny backward step from one of the only three tech companies anyone at the BBC has ever heard of.
    Has no one here used TUCOWS ? Or versionTracker for the Macs? Or any of a thousand other collected software sites?
    What about download.com ? That's been going almost as long as PC magazines have been giving away free cover-disks.
    There are, so far as I can see, only two "new" bits to this "innovative" store: the first is that the owner of the Operating System is the one and only judge of what is allowed in the store, and the second is that *everything*, from tiny little programs that do one tiny trick (pulling in weather data, displaying your CPU usage, or a million other tasks), can be considered an "app" and sold in the same packages at the same site. That second is relatively new only in that most of the time tiny little "apps" are usually sold as "widgets" or "gadgets" and added to the "dashboard" or "sidebar" instead of being treated as fully-fledged programs. (They are also usually free-of-charge, but that's irrelevant.)
    All Apple have done is blur the barrier between tiny application and main program and constrain what gets sold on their virtual premises.
    *This* is "innovation"?
    True, it's flashy and glitzy and all wrapped up in nice, easy-to-open packages, and the tiny tools that once were part of programs can now be sold as sub-routines, macros, applicatons, or "apps" many times, in many guises, doing the same jobs but with slightly different data-streams so earning their developers many streams of tiny sums of income instead of one stream of large sums, but that just makes life *harder* for users, not easier.
    Instead of a System Monitor, you can now buy a disk monitor, a cpu monitor, a ... but you get the idea.
    I can browse the UK Met. Office site for rainfall radar, pressure charts, wind charts, whatever, all at once. I can browse, at the same time, a thousand other weather-related sites. Apple now supply those sites in tiny bits in tiny apps, some free some costing a few pennies but all tightly controlled. Yes, the wbsites will hang around, for a while, until it becomes cost-effective to suply the data *only* to apps.
    Instead of a web browser, you can have an app to read general BBC pages, an app to read BBC News pages, an app to read BBC Sport pages, and, possibly, another set for ABC and others for other suppliers.
    Yes, that sort of targeted information is useful for those who only want to read the "New York Times" but it hardly stands as "new", or "innovative" when browsers have allowed us to read newspapers from Turkey and India in addition for a decade.
    "Oh,but there'll be an app for that, too..." Cry the Apple acolytes.
    True, but this is my point.
    I already have four of them. IE, Firefox, Safari and Opera. I see very little that is newsworthy in a supplier offering me more.
    Of course, if that supplier is Apple, then everyone in the glitz-loving, media-studies-gradute-run BBC will *immediately* hail it as wonderful, magical, miraculous and new.
    Even if TUCOWS and download.com have been supplying me with software for over ten years.
    "Is the Mac App Store a software game changer?" Only for the users of Macs. Only because Apple will focus more effort, time, money and resources on this rather than their traditional models of distributing software and only because fewer people will be able to create and sell software for the Mac ecosystem through what was normal channels.
    Apple, in short, are strangling innovation.
    No doubt the myopic, glitz-obsessed non-technical folks at the BBC, and the Apple fanboi squads, will disagree. To them, anything three companies do is unique, newsworthy, genius, inspired by deities and the best thing *ever*, and the entire rest of the planet are mere sideshows, shadows, not to be noticed.
    I have a Mac. I quite like it. I like some of the software. It has its drawbacks, like any tool it isn't designed to do everything brilliantly, but it does what it does fairly well. I'm quite happy "improving" *MY* Mac with software I find on TUCOWS (yes, they do Linux and Mac as well as Windows) whether Mr. Jobs approves of my choices or not. I even run some Windows software on it, because I'm familiar with that particular tool and nothing on the Mac side does *exactly* the same job.
    I don't write much software for it. I'm too lazy, and there are *far* better software writers out there doing a better job than I ever could.
    I don't tweet, I don't use that other company who have trademarked the other name for a visage (the four-letter word beginning with "f"... no, not *that* one), but I can see how they might have limited uses.
    What irks me is that the BBC's only two "techy" columnists only *ever* comment on those three companies.
    Every little thing Facebook, Apple or Twitter do is considered world-shattering. Nothing several million other companies do is even worth noticing.
    Hint: that *you* and all your little friends at the BBC spend all day twitting on iThingys to faceblobs is no indication of the importance to seven milliard other people of those companies.
    Or hasn't it struck anyone at the BBC that "tech" and FacetweetPod are not synonymous terms?
    Doesn't anyone there *use* a PC?
    Or a mainframe? Or a supercomputer? Or a server? Or even a phone whose species name does not have a lower case "i" as it's initial?
    Isn't there anyone at the BBC who knows anything abut *real* technology and who can write?
    :} IDHA.

  • Comment number 37.

    RedLinuxHacker wrote:

    "Yes I know what Rory said, and I'm disagreeing by saying that the Mac community is still a tiny group (zealots or otherwise) and yes the same could be said of the Linux community."

    No, you specifically and dishonestly quoted one part of his comment so it would seem as if he was agreeing with you.

    "I call myself Linux Hacker because Linux is open-source and can be hacked!!! Unlike MS Windows or Apple Mac."

    And then you went on to promote Linux while criticizing so-called Apple "zealots." You didn't notice the irony?

    "If you don't understand the phrase 'free as in free speech' when applied to software then you've obviously got no idea about open-source."

    You used the general term free speech and that has nothing to do with whether a piece of software is free or not.

    "To continue, the main thrust of my original post was to counter this blog which seems to imply that the Mac App Store is somehow original, which it isn't, and that by clever pricing it will sell large amounts, which it won't."

    You, and others here, are reading much more into what the author wrote and that is driven, I believe, by a strong resentment and dislike of Apple.

    "The Mac will always have a small but loyal fan-base, I don't have a problem with that."

    It's growing at the fastest rate that it ever has. It is now over 11% in America.

    "I prefer Linux to Mac (both are POSIX based), because it is free and open-source and Mac users shouldn't have a problem with that."

    You obviously haven't noticed but Mac users in this forum couldn't care less what other people **choose** to use.

    "What annoys me is that Apple products have a disproportionate amount of coverage when compared to it's fan-base."

    You mean like the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad? Three hugely successful and market dominating products.

    "Also we know that the uptake of Linux for PCs across Europe and other countries is good, with Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Brazil and Russia being particularly strong. The UK is the worst in Europe, apart from Greece. This is because the governments of Linux friendly countries have assessed that Linux is a cost effective and stable alternative after being ripped of for so many years by Microsoft."

    No, it is due mostly to anti-Americanism. In this case against many American companies that are very successful, which the EU likes to target.

    "Where governemnts lead, business will follow, then residential use will follow that. Then the UK will have to get in line, if it wants to be compatible with the rest of the world."

    So Europe represents the "rest of the world?" Since when?

    "I can see in the future, Rory C-J blogging about the wonderful new OS that is Linux, when the rest of the world has known about it and been using it for years. And the Mac community will still be tiny group (zealots or otherwise)."

    By definition, and this is not an insult, are you not also a zealot? Look it up.

  • Comment number 38.

    I-dont-hate-Apple wrote:

    "Apple, in short, are strangling innovation."

    No reasonable person can logically support such a claim. One only has to look at the number of apps available in the App store and the fact that Apple made that store available in the first place.

    "No doubt the myopic, glitz-obsessed non-technical folks at the BBC, and the Apple fanboi squads, will disagree. To them, anything three companies do is unique, newsworthy, genius, inspired by deities and the best thing *ever*, and the entire rest of the planet are mere sideshows, shadows, not to be noticed."

    So am I a "fanboi" if I state facts about Apple computers and OS X that Windows users can not refute?

    In my experience most people that use terms like "fanboi" are incapable of objectively considering someone's remarks when it comes to their pleasure in using an Apple computer or device because of their odd and rather immature dislike for a company that makes outstanding products that people continuously choose to purchase.

    "I have a Mac. I quite like it. I like some of the software. It has its drawbacks, like any tool it isn't designed to do everything brilliantly, but it does what it does fairly well. I'm quite happy "improving" *MY* Mac with software I find on TUCOWS (yes, they do Linux and Mac as well as Windows) whether Mr. Jobs approves of my choices or not."

    Why would he care? Any software designed to run on OS X can be used on an Apple computer. There are no restrictions.

    "I even run some Windows software on it, because I'm familiar with that particular tool and nothing on the Mac side does *exactly* the same job."

    Who made it possible for you to run Windows on your Apple computer?

    "What irks me is that the BBC's only two "techy" columnists only *ever* comment on those three companies."

    What does that have to do with taking that out on Apple?

    "Doesn't anyone there *use* a PC?Or a mainframe? Or a supercomputer? Or a server? Or even a phone whose species name does not have a lower case "i" as it's initial?Isn't there anyone at the BBC who knows anything abut *real* technology and who can write?"

    You say you have a Mac and like it but now it somehow isn't "real" technology?

    Sorry, but I truly doubt you own a Mac after such a remark.

  • Comment number 39.

    Wow, AllenT2, your cage rattles easily doesn't? I don't know if I can be bothered to respond to your diatribe, but I'll have to correct the inaccuracies.

    If you read my post @34 again you'll see that I charge the Linux Community with being a tiny group of zealots as well as the Mac community, how is this favouring one over the other? The point I was trying to make in answer to Rory's question, 'Is the Mac App Store a software game changer?' and the contemplation 'If by clever pricing Apple can get people to buy it in large numbers..' is that I refuted both claims. I expand on this by saying that Linux (the Fedora flavour in my case) has had a an 'app store' for years and has a cleverer pricing policy of zero. This is favouring Linux over Apple. Last time I looked in the dictionary irony wasn't a suitable word to describe this standpoint.

    The phrase 'free as in free speech' is a well known term in open-source circles to disinguish software that is free as in freedom to use as one wishes, from software that is merely free as in cost.

    Your comment 'Mac users in this forum couldn't care less what other people **choose** to use' confirms the opinion that Mac users are zealots.

    We can quote and argue about Mac and Linux penetration in certain parts of the world, but the point I was trying to make is that the pricing policy of Linux app downloads is a more attractive proposition than the Mac App Store, if only BBC bloggers would give as much coverage to the tiny Linux group as it does to the tiny Mac group.

  • Comment number 40.

    RedLinuxHacker worte: "if only BBC bloggers would give as much coverage to the tiny Linux group as it does to the tiny Mac group"

    I just did a search of the BBC blogs for the term Linux, and then again for the term Mac. Looking at Maggie and Rory's blogs for the last calendar year, there have been only two blogs specifically about Linux, and only two blogs specifically about Macs. I thought this worthy of note.

  • Comment number 41.

    We cannot look at this positively... sorry, your comments are true, but this is another case of a complete rip off by large companies like Apple and I am sure both Google and Microsoft will follow suit.

    When I buy a computer I spend a small fortune (er yes £400 or more), for that I expect to get something that does what I want. Sorry - where in the computer spec does it is say I am going to have to shell out loads more for years to come... And most alarmingly of all... what if I get a new computer (non apple).

    These software giants have got away with ripping us off for years - nothing new then in the Apple Approach. There must be a name for it. You buy an Apple and whoops - you have to pay more to get it to do something. It's morally reprehensible, the sooner the hackers break it the better.

  • Comment number 42.

    Apple - one of the most successful companies in the world. With customer satisfaction figures others can only dream about. Like them or not you can't argue with that. Who'd have thought that a newcomer to the smartphone business would overtake RIM in only a few years?

    But regardless, Apple have people who despise them for being such a success AND let's not forget made other companies sit up and take notice - hence we have many more smartphones and now tablet devices. Can that not be a good thing?

    In comparison.... look at Concorde. Everyone loved it - even though it was noisy, expensive, polluting and never spawned other to follow it.

  • Comment number 43.

    Something strange happens to people when they discuss consumer PC technology.

    1. Linux is dusted off and trotted out. Linux is not a consumer technology. Period.

    2. The Mac is belittled for two reasons: too much glitz and flash, and lots of copycat technology.

    3. People believe that Apple is a) too small to matter, and at the same time b) totally dominant to the detriment of better technologies.

    A few observations:

    1. Apple's consumer technology platform is not Mac. It is iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac. The company is working to create a seamless experience for consumers across this technology platform. This includes infrastructure for content delivery and applications, and now apps for the Mac.

    Apple does not need to invent anything new. All they need to do is build a solid, positive user experience for consumers, and they win. You be the judge: are they succeeding?

    2. Apple copies technology as fast as they can steal it. Then they make it usable for consumers. Then they market it to consumers. Apple is more or less alone in this: consumer marketing.

    What is marketing again? It consists of what is often known as the four P's:

    1. Product. Has Apple succeeded in creating products that are useful and attractive to consumers? I'd say they have. Another important aspect of the product is product support. Nobody beats Apple on product support.

    Lack of support is the single reason Linux is not a consumer product.

    2. Price. Is Apple's pricing palatable to consumers? Apparently so.

    3. Place (or distribution): The combination of brick-and-mortar Apple retail stores and strong online marketing and sales (iTunes, App Store, Apple Store, and now Mac App Store) seem to deliver the buyer and user experience consumers want.

    4. Promotion: Apple advertises its products extensively, and positions itself efficiently towards consumers.

    This is what makes Apple successful. It cannot be argued with. It can be emulated. Apple will fade from the marketplace one day, perhaps sooner than we think. In the meantime the company is the class of consumer electronics and PC technology.


  • Comment number 44.

    So Apple make it easier for you to give Apple money? *faint*

  • Comment number 45.

    Yep, it has been done before

    yep, Jobs et al know how to sell stuff

    BUT

    it really is a no brainer - for those of us who do not live in the cities/close to software vendors etc - we come across a situation where we need a solution - no need to wait for it to be delivered - just download and install

    I have bought more games for my PC due to direct2drive than wandering around any amount of stores - that looks alright and is only £xx - just buy it
    I would not consider spending £150 or whatever it was for aperture but 44 quid - thats fair and reasonable
    (I used the same criteria when i first bought a Mac - iwork 09 was so cheap compared to the bloatware that is office in windows...)

  • Comment number 46.

    Everyone, including you Rory, try to draw inane comparisons with other already existing services, trying to make what Apple Inc. is doing look somewhat strange or incompetent. There are somewhere north of 50 million Macs running OSX Leopard. Apple increased this user base by 13.7 million users in their last financial year. They are predicted, off the back of the halo effect of their exponentially increasing user base across all products (iPad, iPhone et al), expected to take that up significantly more in this financial year. So the Mac App Store already has a significant community.

    All of those people that have purchased through the online iTunes model (iTunes, iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch App Store) now have instant access to the Mac App Store through their Apple ID, which automatically allows them to use 'one click' software purchase, or indeed download free apps also with 'one click'. To summarise, to end of last financial year there are 73.8 million iPhone users, 7.5 million iPad users and the multiple millions of iPod users all having access to the Mac App Store if they have a Mac. Let's see how many additional flagship products Apple Inc. have added in the last quarter when they announce their financial results on 18th January 2011.

    What you are witnessing from Apple Inc. is the continual and deliberate expansion of their ecosystem in a cohesive and consistent manner that will only serve to attract more users, more downloads and frankly crush the ridiculous half baked competition.

    All retractors of Apple Inc. speak about them only being a marketing machine, well just look at the foot fall in each bricks & mortar Apple Store across the world. What Apple Inc. does is make it an incrementally easier experience to access and use their capabilities; adding the Mac App Store has simply brought the Mac experience on a par with their explosively successful foray into online App Purchase that they introduced with an equal amount of scepticism with the iPhone App Store.

  • Comment number 47.

    Yet again Rory stirs up the usual Anti-Apple protagonists with one of his blogs!

    I can see where everyone comes from with regards to the App-Store being "nothing new" as far as downloading software, but the difference is that this is the first time that anyone has developed a software downloader to be an integral part of an operating system.

    Yes there are very many places to download Windows, Linux, Ubuntu, and even OSX software however most of the posters on here are missing the very simple point..........

    A huge number of Mac users buy their machines because "they just work!".

    I was a PC (Windows 7) user until 9 days ago, but I got fed up with spending a quarter of my time using my computer trying to make the ruddy thing work smoothly. Now I'm having to learn to use a completely new OS but it's proving to be a very simple process, and for once in my computing life I'm loving the simplicity.

    I've built my own desktop PC's, and I've rebuilt laptops from the motherboard up, along with saving a couple of friends after catastrophic hardware failures, but do you know something?
    I'm fed up with it!

    A Mac is like a Volkswagen............it's reliable
    A PC running whatever is like an Alfa Romeo...........promises a lot, but then spends all its time in the garage being fixed.

    And finally..........
    My mother at 63 never got her head around a windows based PC.......my parents brought an iMac (my Dads 65) 6 months ago and both of them use it a huge amount without any problems. Any questions they do have get answered very quickly by the helpful staff in the Apple Store in Cardiff.

    Macs are for those of us who want to use a computer, rather than show off our computer knowledge by making one work all the time.

  • Comment number 48.

    Ignoring the tedious Macfan / Linix arguments I think there is potential in 3 areas here:

    1. Its great that there is a central place to buy software electronically. It just makes things easier and I wish Microsoft would do something like that for Windows software. (I don't own a Mac)
    2. I like the way everything is licenced, i.e. If I have a Mac and Macbook I can run 1 licence on both (like the app store lets you use 1 app licence on an iPhone and iPad). I've always been frustrated that software licensing is murky in this area.
    3. I think the store gives a great level playing field to independant developers who can write simple, niche apps and sell them at a micropayment price. I think this will spawn a lot of innovation.

  • Comment number 49.

    Suggestion 1 - if you don't like macs, don't buy one
    Suggestion 2 - you sound like you all need to get out more :-)

  • Comment number 50.

    It's funny that so many people completely miss the point, even though it's staring them in the face.

    It's not that downloading software is new.
    It's not that charging for software is new.
    It's not that there are software shops on the internet that's new.
    It's not that a major player (yes Apple is a now major player like it or not my jealous linux chums) sells software.

    The point is that they are the first major operating system developer to include a built-in way to distribute software written specifically for the platform directly to the user. It gives visibility to all software developers that they could not have dreamt of before. That's the point. People will use the store in preference to spending ages trawling the web, because it's just soooo easy.

    Of course if this isn't such a big deal and the critics here are right, then Microsoft won't even bother to create one themselves... but if I'm right and the critics are wrong then, they'll launch one pretty darn soon for Windows.

  • Comment number 51.

    @t9b

    Yeah, well that would be the case if Microsoft hadn't had an on-line store four years ago. They gave it up because third party vendors could do it cheaper.




  • Comment number 52.

    @t9b

    "The point is that they are the first major operating system developer to include a built-in way to distribute software written specifically for the latform directly to the user. It gives visibility to all software developers that they could not have dreamt of before. That's the point. People will use the store in preference to spending ages trawling the web, because it's just soooo easy."

    What about Aptitude, Yum, Emerge, KPackage, Pacman and the countless software centres? The principal behind all of these is "Search for what you want to do, click (or type) install the name of the package that'll do it for you, a quick download and you've got software on your computer ready to use", with the added advantage of not costing anything.

    All having existed for over a decade, with millions of satisfied users. Now the Apple folk can have it, with added curves and cost!

  • Comment number 53.

    Apple's primary concern is to make money, something they have been doing rather well lately, through a consistency in marketing, design and the reliable engineering of products. I think people feel safe with Apple, so even if its not something new, they may use it because they feel safe, and of course there's the flashy 'user' experience.

  • Comment number 54.

    "For the Mac community - once a tiny group of zealots, now quite a mob…"
    _______


    Hitch up your pantaloons, your prejudices are showing.

  • Comment number 55.

    The Mac App Store is a great "idea." Sorry if my dignifying as such upsets anyone here. I'd be taking advantage of what the App Store offers right now but for one little problem that Apple also has with the App Store on the iPhone.

    I'm English.
    I live in France.
    I'm forced to use the French App Store.
    I don't want to.
    I want English content.

    Sadly, this is totally beyond Apple's technological might, business savvy and who knows what else. I could register under a false name in a different jurisdiction, feed my account with gift vouchers, pull down my left eyelid while blowing my nose and otherwise ride roughshod through my terms of service agreement.

    Why should I?

    Love the Mac. Hate this stupid, utterly incomprehensible policy.

  • Comment number 56.

    Most people I know don't use software on their PC. They use their PC to go on the net or sometimes they go on the net with their games console, their phone, their ipad and recently their kindle. Most people that I know use software that somehow runs on the net and they connect to it from a variety of devices. The idea of installing software on a PC seems very niche these days.

    As a software developer I see a PC as a cheap data storage device and a last resort for use where it's not technically possible to run the application on the internet. My preferred architecture is to skin web services for a variety of devices.

    Maybe it would be better for Rory to ask some of his friends when they last bought a game or paid for something on one of the many devices that people use to run software.

  • Comment number 57.

    Mark Godden wrote:

    I'm English.
    I live in France.
    I'm forced to use the French App Store.
    I don't want to.
    I want English content.

    Sadly, this is totally beyond Apple's technological might, business savvy and who knows what else. I could register under a false name in a different jurisdiction, feed my account with gift vouchers, pull down my left eyelid while blowing my nose and otherwise ride roughshod through my terms of service agreement.

    Why should I?

    Love the Mac. Hate this stupid, utterly incomprehensible policy.
    __________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Why not learn French? That is, after all, the language of France.

    Apple may even be the one to blame seeing as the French are protective of their language, and good for them.

  • Comment number 58.

    RedLinuxHacker wrote:

    "Wow, AllenT2, your cage rattles easily doesn't?"

    Actually it is clear that it doesn't, but that doesn't stop someone in a forum from trying to somehow discredit my remarks as coming from someone that is otherwise, and usually by those exhibiting the same behavior they are accusing others of.

    "I don't know if I can be bothered to respond to your diatribe, but I'll have to correct the inaccuracies."

    So you'll "respond" by somehow trying to separate "inaccuracies" from my "diatribe?" Uh, ok.

    "If you read my post @34 again you'll see that I charge the Linux Community with being a tiny group of zealots as well as the Mac community, how is this favouring one over the other? The point I was trying to make in answer to Rory's question, 'Is the Mac App Store a software game changer?' and the contemplation 'If by clever pricing Apple can get people to buy it in large numbers..' is that I refuted both claims. I expand on this by saying that Linux (the Fedora flavour in my case) has had a an 'app store' for years and has a cleverer pricing policy of zero. This is favouring Linux over Apple. Last time I looked in the dictionary irony wasn't a suitable word to describe this standpoint."

    Didn't I already respond to your post? What exactly are you responding to? You should quote exactly what you are responding to because I don't have any desire to go back into the thread to try and figure out what you are talking about.

    "The phrase 'free as in free speech' is a well known term in open-source circles to disinguish software that is free as in freedom to use as one wishes, from software that is merely free as in cost."

    Then the "open source" community should seriously reconsider using a term that has zero to do with what you describe.

    "Your comment 'Mac users in this forum couldn't care less what other people **choose** to use' confirms the opinion that Mac users are zealots."

    By what form of logic? Zealots typically try to impose their views on others.

    "We can quote and argue about Mac and Linux penetration in certain parts of the world, but the point I was trying to make is that the pricing policy of Linux app downloads is a more attractive proposition than the Mac App Store, if only BBC bloggers would give as much coverage to the tiny Linux group as it does to the tiny Mac group."

    Because something is free doesn't mean it is worth having. In fact, the opposite is usually true.

    I also responded to specific comments you made that I felt neeed to be addressed. That's what forums like this are all about.

    W should you expect the "tiny Linux group" to get as much coverage as the much larger Mac group? To compare Linux consumer use to Mac consumer use is silly.

  • Comment number 59.

    Guy Hoogewerf wrote:

    "When I buy a computer I spend a small fortune (er yes £400 or more), for that I expect to get something that does what I want. Sorry - where in the computer spec does it is say I am going to have to shell out loads more for years to come... And most alarmingly of all... what if I get a new computer (non apple)."

    Who is telling you that you have to "shell out loads more for years to come" if you buy an Apple or any other computer?

    And if you get a "new computer" what exactly are you expecting?

    "These software giants have got away with ripping us off for years - nothing new then in the Apple Approach. There must be a name for it. You buy an Apple and whoops - you have to pay more to get it to do something. It's morally reprehensible, the sooner the hackers break it the better."

    Who is saying you "have to pay more to get it to do something?" Where are you getting these odd claims from?


  • Comment number 60.

    'A huge number of Mac users buy their machines because "they just work!".'

    Most amusing that even you put this in inverted commas. The fact that they make this claim (and then you repeat it) makes it all the more infuriating when it doesn't 'just work'. After all, wasn't part of the premium I paid for it because it 'just works'.

    Recently, they upgraded OSX - it bricked a £100+ device that I have been using happily for over a year because it changed how it recognises USB sound cards. Why? Who knows - after all isn't their priority to make sure it 'just works'. Have they fixed it? No. The vendor of the device told me Apple's 'advice' was to roll back my OS and wait for them (the third party) to rewrite a fundamental part of their code to be consistent with Apple's changes - Apple can't be bothered to undo their mistake (and it is a mistake). So no Mac App store for me - I believe that it is only available on the latest version of OSX.

    It doesn't always 'just work'. Don't say it does. It's not true.

  • Comment number 61.

    Sorry Rory, but app pricing isn't going to influence the developers to concentrate on Apple over Android. You seem to be implying that the devs wont get any money by going down the Android path, simply not true. I've been putting off making the choice for a while, but have finally thrown my hat into Google's ring. Why ? Choice. If I publish an app on the Android Marketplace, I can charge for it if I want. Or I can give it away free. Or I can give it away free & get revenue from embedding ads. Try doing that with an app in Apple App Store, it wont get published. Taking your example of Angry Birds simply reinforces my argument, it £0.59 on Apple App Store and yet its free on Android Market Place, a trend thats quite common among apps for both devices.

  • Comment number 62.

    @Dave Derrick
    Its clear you do not have a clue what you are talking about.
    There are many many apps on the iPhone app store that are free. Some are supported by ads, and some are not.

    The decision by Rovio to put the Android version out for free was more to do with the limitations of Android rather than anything else. Paid applications on the Android market aren't supported in all regions, so instead they decided to make an ad supported version for android so they could still make some money on it, but still have a larger reach.


    may have something to do with how long it had been out. They had already made a load of money on the iPhone version, so they could afford to put the Android one out for free.

  • Comment number 63.

    ps - ignore the bottom bit. It was my chain of thought before I found out the actual reason Rovio made it free on android :).

  • Comment number 64.

    @Mark Godden

    I am pretty certain that if you have an UK iTunes account - you'll see UK content.

    C.

  • Comment number 65.

    Is the Appstore a game changer? It only works for 5% of personal computers world wide or 10% in the US - which means that for 90-95% of the world's pc's the Appstore means aboslutely nothing at all.

    Apps on the iPhone - great idea - but on a PC - with a big screen and full keyboard - what's the point? If I want to access the weather or train timetables regularly I create a shortcut - for free.

    Interesting comments about people not actually buying software for their computers nowadays. Most people I know who pay Mac type prices for Windows PCs are gamers - and they are paying for a high performance machine - but most people I know who pay Mac prices for a Mac use them as web browswers - either very gullible of just have money to burn.

  • Comment number 66.

    Psycho B Delic wrote:

    "Apps on the iPhone - great idea - but on a PC - with a big screen and full keyboard - what's the point? If I want to access the weather or train timetables regularly I create a shortcut - for free."

    What makes you think an app is simply a touch version of a web site? An app is simply an application/program. It can be written to do anything you like. A big program like Photoshop by definition is an app.

    "Interesting comments about people not actually buying software for their computers nowadays. Most people I know who pay Mac type prices for Windows PCs are gamers - and they are paying for a high performance machine - but most people I know who pay Mac prices for a Mac use them as web browswers - either very gullible of just have money to burn."

    The value of a computer is not solely determined by the initial cost of acquiring it.

 

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