This week marks a turning point for many independent Mac developers, as the Mac App Store opens its doors for the first time. Over the Christmas break, we've been giving the Mac App Store a little more thought - what changes will the App Store bring to existing software developers like us, and how will it impact our product decisions in the future?
1. Apps Need To Be More Focused
With Apple including the App Store by default on Mac OS X Lion , apps will (as with iOS) be thrust into the mainstream. Apps that previously offered every option under the sun to account for every possible need will slim down, and feature sets will become much more focused on offering the majority of users the most important feature.
On Day One it's likely that we'll see some (seemingly single-purposed) focused new apps that fit this bill - a handful of Twitter clients, most likely. Most apps though will be existing apps brought to the App Store - with future iterations likely to focus the feature set.
2. Say Goodbye to Upgrade Pricing
For the past two-and-half years, iOS developers everywhere have eagerly awaited paid upgrades to come to the App Store. We'll stick out our neck here and say this: stop waiting. They're not coming.
Think we're crazy? Just take a look at Apple's attitude to upgrade pricing with their consumer suites - iLife and iWork. When you buy either there's just one price - no consideration for your previous purchase - with the price being reasonable enough to tempt you into buying the new release. It's almost stealth subscription pricing (with the upside for the user that the older version will continue to work just fine if they choose to not pay for the new release).
3. Say Hello to Cheaper Apps
Along with Apple sticking to the 'No Upgrade Pricing' line, there's one other thing we're pretty certain of: Mac apps are going to get cheaper. There's been plenty of developers posting that they'll keep selling their $50+ apps at the same price. We wish them the best of luck with that.
When it comes to pricing, the App Store has a habit of shaking things up, and we think that's exactly what'll happen with the Mac. We're dead certain that there's going to be 99¢ apps available at launch (though, at the risk of sounding snooty, we're also dead certain that most probably won't be any good).
With that in mind, when the Mac App Store debuts on Thursday you'll see the Realmac app lineup tweaked just a little. We think that the Mac App Store is likely to jump-start the already lively Mac developer community, and that developers would be crazy to either remain inflexible on the App Store or forego it altogether.
See you Thursday.