Apple's Mac App Store arrives and the world doesn't end

Apple's Mac App Store arrives and the world doesn't end

Summary: No Chicken Little, the sky didn't fall with the arrival of the Mac App Store the other day. And neither did the Mac software market. Developers even appear to be mostly understanding of the proposition.

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No Chicken Little, the sky didn't fall with the arrival of the Mac App Store the other day. And neither did the Mac software market. Developers even appear to be mostly understanding of the proposition.

My biggest surprise was finding Developer Tools, right near the top of the list of 21 categories. Hello? From that I assume that Apple expects everyone — from the newbie switcher from Windows to a Macintosh developer — will look to the App Store for something worthwhile.

Developers are wondering how to address the restrictions, aka "guidelines," that Apple places on App Store apps.  I've talked with a number of them and each is taking different tacks: Some looking to change the feature list of a current product to meet the requirements, others considering a new title altogether. (On the Apple developer portal, the actual list of requirements is restricted to members of the Apple Developer Program, but you find the PDF here.

In late December, By5's The Conversation podcast featured developer Dave Nanian, founder of Shirt Pocket Software,  which makes a number of titles including the excellent SuperDuper! system cloning software.

[Note: I own several licenses of SuperDuper! that I purchased at full price. I have used the product for many years and still use it daily (in addition to Time Machine, btw).]

Host Dan Benjamin spoke to Nanian about a wide range of topics, including Mac developer issues and the elephant in the room, the then-forthcoming Mac App Store, as well as competition to Apple's iOS platform from Google Android OS-based tablets and phones.

Of course, Nanian's SuperDuper! isn't in the Mac App Store and never will be, unless some minds change down in the upper floors of Apple's headquarters. Many, if not all, heavy-duty utility software titles will be bared from entry. Nanian said that it was understandable that Apple would want to prevent users from "doing anything bad." That "bad thing" in this case relates to the deep privileges given to the software.

"That's one of the wonderful things about [Mac] OS X, if you don't actually authorize something specifically to do scary things, scary things can't really happen," Nanian said. "SuperDuper! by its very nature needs to get access to every file on your drive otherwise it wouldn't be much of a backup. And to do that you need to escalate its privileges up to where it could destroy your system — sort of."

"Apple doesn't want that kind of thing in the App Store. I understand that."

The ?Mac App Store rule in question is in Section 2. Functionality, line 27:

2.27 Apps that request escalation to root privileges or use setuid attributes will be rejected.

Still, Nanian said that he wished there was a "reasonable way" for Apple to give visibility to software like his. He decried the removal of the older software lists that were provided from under the Apple Menu.

On the so-called Gold Rush for developers in the new Mac App Store, Nanian warned developers trying to get into the store "no matter what" and changing their software to meet the guidelines of the App Store.

That [process] may not always results in a better product, it results in a product that meets the guidelines," he said.

Nanian makes an excellent point for developers. Some of them will be able to work under the restrictions and make a great product, others won't. Some categories will be more amenable to the guidelines. Putting out a lackluster product do any good for anyone, users nor developers.

Until we're told different, the Mac App Store is just one more way to discover programs. I can think of some better, not counting the Apple Core. More on that later.

Check out the entire The Conversation podcast.

Topics: IT Employment, Apple, CXO, Hardware, Software, Software Development

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15 comments
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  • Reboot refers to it as the...

    ...Apps Prison.
    Feldwebel Wolfenstool
  • RE: Apple's Mac App Store arrives and the world doesn't end

    had a look at it....bit of a red herring in my opinion. If I want software for my Mac, I will probably just do a google search etc as before. Why use it when only a subset of Mac software exists there?
    RonanSail
  • RE: Apple's Mac App Store arrives and the world doesn't end

    Oh wow, the world didnt stop revolving? Wow.

    www.anon-tools.it.tc
    VeenBeen
  • RE: Apple's Mac App Store arrives and the world doesn't end

    I can't say enough good things about SuperDuper AND Dave Narnian. I totally depend on this utility.
    mitchperkins
    • Yeah, I've been using SuperDuper for years...

      @mitchperkins and I've never had a problem with it. Perhaps Apple could have a special category of apps for the knowledgable user sort of a "Warning! "Use at your own risk!" page.<br><br>I don't expect Apple to do this but I hate to see quality software like SuperDuper suffer a disadvantage.
      godsfault
  • Looked at it and yawned.

    Really not a major deal right now. Many top sellers seem to be games originally for the iPad/iPhone platforms. Can't see it hurting software vendors that much. In fact some may just boycott it anyway.
    jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376
    • True. Why share the revenue with Apple?

      @jscott418
      If people want your software, they'll buy as they did before.
      John Zern
      • RE: Apple's Mac App Store arrives and the world doesn't end

        @John Zern <br><br>Maybe because a lot more people will buy software through a simpler distribution chain than through a complex one?<br><br>Maybe it is actually a lot simpler to get an app on the store than to find another distribution chain?<br><br>I don't see the sky falling in - but I do see some user expectations changing, and for the better!!!<br><br>I also see a lot of apps on the store that may not have been ported to the mac without the store.<br><br>I see a lot of developers realising they can shift from iOS to OS X.<br><br>I also see bloggers trying to pretend this is going to fail like they predicted tablets would fail, iPhones would fali etc. etc. etc.

        Clearly it's just as useless as all of the iPads and iPhones that 10's of millions of users buy.

        And Apple is wasting everyone's time by so successfully providing a distribution, billing and update channel that is a cinch for the user!!!

        Much better to make the users spend more money and go to the trouble of giving credit card details away to many small sites, and then downloading installers, installing, checking for updates, downloading again, keeping copy of installer in case of reinstall or change of computer.

        Clearly all of that is better than 2 click simplicity, quality control and trusted credit card processing and 1 click updates.

        /sarcasm
        richardw66
    • RE: Apple's Mac App Store arrives and the world doesn't end

      @jscott418

      No need to boycott something that is by no means mandatory - this is an option for the user and the developer.
      richardw66
  • RE: Apple's Mac App Store arrives and the world doesn't end

    I don't care one way or another about the Mac App Store because I don't own an Intel Mac and don't plan on buying one unless/until I am compelled to buy one because it has capabilities that I absolutely need and cannot match on my ancient Power Mac G5. So far, this has not happened.
    K4thwright
    • RE: Apple's Mac App Store arrives and the world doesn't end

      @K4thwright <br><br>This is a good point - the Power Macs are still viable machines for many people.<br><br>I have to say though that the newer Intel Macs are another world altogether, the speed is wonderful.<br><br>If you are doing normal everyday web surfing, email & office type activities then a G5 will do very nicely still. If you want to watch HD video then think about a new iMac.<br><br>At home we are half using PowerPC and half using Intel - and both are productive, but at least one of the PowerPC users (iMac G4 800MHz) would really be better off with a new iMac for doing web content creation.

      I also have in one case replaced a friend's Dual Core Intel PC with a PowerMac G4 350MHz - so they could be more productive!!!
      richardw66
  • RE: Apple's Mac App Store arrives and the world doesn't end

    Went, didn't find anything worth my interest. Waste of time.
    Goldie07
  • apple copying linux/*nix...again

    so basically this is the same as repositories, which have been implemented in most mainstream Linux distributions out there. except that you have to pay, and you can't find useful apps (such as ones that require root privileges, hard-core utilities, etc). Apple will probably trumpet their pioneering success of a desktop app store when in fact Canonical (makers of ubuntu) have released a well-polished, highly functional repository manager which is basically the same as the app store, over a year ago. and before that, slightly-less-polished but still highly functional package managers were prolific and in fact the foundation of many Linux systems.<br>also, this is a step backwards. this increases the footprint of their already rather large OS. why can't they just remotely host their store interface, using, say, a web interface? you know, those things that are already commonly used? and provide great user experiences?<br>but, basically, this boils down to the fact that mac os x was born as, as someone else eloquently said, "the bastard child of linux and bsd". it uses a window manager very similar to xfce. it recently implemented a feature called "spaces", which had been used in virtually all common linux desktop environments. and now they are rebranding software repositories as their own. lame.
    DevonS
    • RE: Apple's Mac App Store arrives and the world doesn't end

      btw, just thought i'd say, the language censor blocks the word hard-core when not hyphenated. what's with that?
      DevonS
  • RE: Apple's Mac App Store arrives and the world doesn't end

    Developers may soon have no choice but to make their apps available on the Mac app store. Whether Apple 'enforces' it or not. The ecosystem of Mac apps will probably gear towards the app store via customer preference. More here:

    http://thesecondopiniontribune.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-mac-developers-have-to-embrace-app.html
    tdaonp