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Apple’s Mac App Store: Will developers pay?

October 20th, 2010 at 4:11 PM

Today, at Apple’s “Back to the Mac” media event, company CEO Steve Jobs announced that within the next 90 days Apple would be opening a desktop application store; modeled after the very successful mobile store currently utilized by iOS devices. The desktop application store will provide an app catalog, automatic updates, and will allow users to install purchased software on any Mac they own. Along with having the same look, feel, and features as its mobile counterpart, the Mac App Store will also have the same revenue-sharing model; 70% of revenue will go to developers, 30% of revenue will go to Apple. This got us thinking: will developers pay? Hit the jump to see our take on the developer’s conundrum.

When you think about the iOS App Store, the choice for developers is pretty simple. The iOS App Store is the only conventional way to get your iOS-native code onto an iDevice (outside of jailbreaking) and access the millions of end-users currently using Apple’s mobile OS. It literally is, for better or worse, the only game in town. Desktop application development is, however, much different. Most desktop computer users are accustomed to visiting a company’s website or third-party retailers to look for software. This is done, everyday, by millions and millions of Mac users and it often doesn’t cost developers a dime. So what is the value-add for developers who decide to utilize the Mac App Store? In our estimation it is all about exposure.

If you’ve ever used iOS for more than a month, you’ve probably ended up buying an application that, without the App Store, you would not have known existed. iOS applications, splayed-out in an organized format, allows users to easily scour hundreds of apps in minutes buying some they need… and some they don’t. Apple’s Mac App Store could be a boom for shareware developers on its OS X platform. Applications like Pixelmator, Transmit, and Mailplane — which are excellent shareware apps made by smaller companies — would literally be “included” with every Mac. Normally, end-users would have to launch fairly specific Google queries, or know what they are looking for, to stumble across such great, smaller applications. The Mac App Store will allow people to instinctively and impulsively purchase applications by just entering a password.

Now, the likelihood of seeing Microsoft’s Office Suite — which retails for over $200 — on the Mac App Store is, in our opinion, pretty slim; we don’t see large software companies wanting to let Apple in on their revenue stream. But we’re pretty sure this isn’t exactly who Apple is targeting here.

If you’re a developer we’re interested in hearing from you. Would you sacrifice 30% of your application’s revenue to know that your app will be included in a catalog bundled on every Mac sold? Or does the thought of someone else making profits from your code turn you off. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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