Apple to Open Digital Store for Mac Computer Apps
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Apple Inc. will open a digital storefront next month that will try to do for computer software what it did for music and mobile applications.
The Mac App Store will open Jan. 6, the Cupertino, California-based company said in a statement today. The aim is to let Mac owners purchase programs for their desktops and laptops with a single click, as they can buy songs on iTunes and games in the App Store for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
The digital method is a challenge to Microsoft Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc., which rely on networks of corporate consultants, retailers and online merchants to distribute their programs, often in the form of CDs costing more than $20.
“You’re not going to be able to sell a $39 shrink-wrapped box if people can get a competing product just by dragging a mouse, using a credit card that’s already on file and paying $5.99,” said Jason Izatt, a developer who makes a mileage- tracking iPhone application called Milebug.
The Mac App Store will be available in 90 countries and will feature paid and free applications in education, games and design, Apple said in the statement. Apple said at an Oct. 20 event that there were about 50 million Macs in use.
‘Easy and Fun’
“The App Store revolutionized mobile apps,” Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive officer, said in the statement. “We hope to do the same for PC apps with the Mac App Store by making finding and buying PC apps easy and fun.”
Developers will set the price of the applications and get 70 percent of the revenue, the company said. The store will be available as a software update for users of the Mac OS X Snow Leopard operating system, Apple said.
While most programs are available for download somewhere on the Internet, there’s no single storefront for consumers to find what they want. Saulius Dailide, co-founder of 10-person Pixelmator, said he plans to sell his company’s image editing program for $59. He said he expects London-based Pixelmator’s sales to double or triple because of the Mac store.
“All these years our biggest concern was reaching our customers,” Dailide said. “Even though many people agree that we have a great product, not many of our potential customers have heard of us.”
Scrapping Packaged Product
Omni Group, a maker of productivity software with about 40 employees, has told retail partners that it’s putting an end to its packaged product, said Ken Case, the Seattle-based company’s co-founder. An Apple-branded download site will help ease concerns about viruses when buying software online, he said.
“It’s something I warn my mother about if she’s shopping around on the Internet,” Case said.
Apple rose 89 cents to $321.25 at 4:29 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have risen 52 percent this year.
Apple, with final approval on what software can be sold in the store, also may face scrutiny about what’s allowed. Last year, U.S. regulators inquired about the company’s rejection of a voice-service application made by Google Inc. for the iPhone. The company has released a list of guidelines for developers.
Carl Howe, an analyst at the consulting and research firm Yankee Group, said the store may threaten the bundling strategies of big sellers of PC software. Consumers will be able to buy programs individually rather than as a package, similar to purchasing a song on iTunes rather than an entire album.
Many developers of iPhone and iPad apps probably will write versions for the Mac App Store, said Tim Bajarin, founder of the technology consulting firm Creative Strategies Inc.
Aaron Patzer, general manager of Intuit Inc.’s Personal Finance Group, said the company is working on an iPad version of its Quicken program and may then create one for the Mac store.
Howe said many consumers will prefer Apple’s process for finding and buying software, which eliminates steps such as unwrapping a box, putting the disc in a drive, running a setup program and picking a place for the application on the computer’s hard drive.
Adobe declined to comment about whether it will make software available in the store.
“Adobe’s millions of customers can already download our Mac software from the Adobe Store,” said Jodi Sorensen, a spokeswoman.
Microsoft is “working to understand the impact of the new app store to the Office for Mac business,” said Amanda Lefebvre, a spokeswoman.
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