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Thursday
Jan062011

Mac App Store Launches

Earlier last month, on December 16th, Apple announced that the Mac App Store would launch today, January 6th, with this press release:

CUPERTINO, California—December 16, 2010—Apple® today announced that the Mac® App Storeā„  will open for business on Thursday, January 6. By bringing the revolutionary App Store experience to Mac OS® X, the Mac App Store makes discovering, installing and updating Mac apps easier than ever. The Mac App Store will be available in 90 countries at launch and will feature paid and free apps in categories like Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity and Utilities.

“The App Store revolutionized mobile apps,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We hope to do the same for PC apps with the Mac App Store by making finding and buying PC apps easy and fun. We can’t wait to get started on January 6.”

The Mac App Store lets you browse new and noteworthy apps, find out what’s hot, view staff favorites, search categories and read customer ratings and reviews. Like on iPhone®, iPod touch® and iPad™, you can purchase, download and install apps in just one click and start using them immediately. Purchased apps can run on all of your personal Macs and updates are delivered directly through the Mac App Store so it’s easy to keep all of your apps up to date. The Mac App Store is available to Mac OS X Snow Leopard® users as a free download through Software Update.

 

I’m looking forward to seeing which developers decided to make their apps available through the Mac App Store. I’m also curious to see which free Mac apps will be on the store, and whether or not they will be truly useful/helpful at all. I’m certain that there will be a bunch. Hopefully they will be more than just fart apps, ill thought-out widgets, and 40 versions of Chess. I’m also curious how many, or even if any, of the really big developers chose to include their software on the Mac App Store.

It should also be illuminating to see how developers handled the restriction of not being able to make demos, or shareware versions of their software available. I’m quite certain that some of them probably worked out ways to bend that rule as far as possible, such as making more versions of the software with single and dual use cases, instead of a one size fits all solution, without actually breaking it. At least for now anyway. For the sake of opening the store with a healthy number of apps that they can brag about immediatiely, Apple likely allowed entry to some apps that push the boundaries on this rule, and will begin tightening the approval screws later as the store matures and grows.

Once we see the implementation for the store, perhaps it will set the ground work for and enlighten us as to what Apple might announce either later this month or next month about version 2 of the iPad. I’m not convinced that Apple will have some big new hardware category to announce at the keynote this year. Instead, I think we will just new iterations of the iPad (hopefully with more RAM!), and perhaps iWork ‘11 (note, Apple pushed software updates yesterday for versions of iWork ‘09 and later, and they pushed an iLife update the day before. Not sure what this means, other than perhaps some prepartory work in advance of the new Mac App Store. These optimization tweaks might also mean that iWork and iLife will not be part of any announcements later this month.)

If they do pushed a new iWork ‘11, I imagine that this iteration will set forth to prepare us, and help us understand the vision of the iOS integration that is to come in Mac OSX Lion. These features will probably show how you can increase productivity between your Mac, and the various iOS devices family. This will likely be explained with the iWork improvements as well as a tease about the next iOS updates that will likely go to the developers in March as they have the past few years.

We also might hear about new content partnerships in either television, film, music, or books. If I had to put my money on which new content deals to expect to hear about I would put my money on books, newspapers, and magazines, but who knows? There seems to have been a bit more foot dragging by the content providers than usual, in this area as of late. If there is a new iBooks content announcement, expect a feature or two to be announced for the iBooks app.

The iPad hardware improvements will likely include more RAM and a rear camera. I’m not certain that they will bring Facetime to the iPad just yet. If they do, it would likely mean a complete reworking of the industrial design of the hardware. I cannot imagine adding the camera to the current iteration without either being forced to make it thicker (and heavier, which will piss off some wussies who already whine about the current pitifully small 1lb weight), or longer, which will annoy another batch of people. Both of these options don’t seem like the sort of design decisions that Jony Ive and Steve Jobs have been embracing as of late.

I don’t see them introducing a smaller 7” model this time around. I also don’t see them expanding the storage size. With the introduction of the Macbook Air 11” and 13” inch machines, it is increasingly unlikely that Apple will allow the iPad storage capacity to compete directly with the more expensive Macbook Air machines. I do think it is possible that they will continue keeping the separate WiFi and Wifi + 3G price points, but they will likely drop the prices a bit on the 64GB, and 32GB sizes, while eliminating the 16GB device altogether. The benefit of removing the 16GB is that it would allow them to stay ahead of the competition by making more powerful machines available at the current prices. I think that Apple would love to brag that their entry Wi-Fi model that costs $499, is now 32GB in storage capacity.

I would not be surprised if the “one more thing…” announcement at this year’s keynote will be the release of iPhone on other carriers. If not this year, then it will definitely happen next year, unless something unusually dramatic occurs that prevents either Apple or the carriers from wanting the iPhone. Unfortunately this has been an expectation for some many years that the world’s reception might be more tepid than expected, as the announcement of The Beatles on iTunes was received.

iPhone 5 announcements will most likely be reserved for their usual spot in the Spring or Summer of this year.  With the iPhone 4 out for such a short time, I don’t expect to hear anything official about the next phone until June or July. Probably at the Worldwide Develpers Conference (WWDC), as they have in previous years.

 

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