What does the Mac App Store mean for (iOS) developers? Simple: I have no idea.
Nobody could have predicted the creative and commercial innovation spawned by the (then) iPhone App Store. The same applies here.
My original #idevblogaday post for this week was going to be about game controller design patterns, and was going to be suffixed "...iPad not yet welcome". That suffix was a lead in to an enthusiastic, but still frustrated, mini-rant about how the iPad has really yet to shine as a gaming platform. The majority of its titles either use (or abuse) their iPhone ancestory when it comes to control mechanisms. That will change as the platform evolves, and I'm very excited to developing a title that I see being a part of that.
But, everything just changed. Again. The Mac App Store doesn't just open up new design patterns, it opens up new commercial models, a massivley expanded marketplace and another solid charge of creative enthusiasm.
So, what do we know?
The App Store opens up access to millions of customers that you couldn't get to before. Suck up the 30% because the expanded market more than balences that out.
Things like paid upgrades and grandfathering in existing licenses will need to be sorted out for some of the significant studios currently doing OSX development. Apple responded to feedback on the iOS App Store, why wouldn't they with the Mac equivilent? Remember it's in their interests to do so.
The most important thing to point out (and it would seem that many miss this), is that people love to buy stuff if shown how. Even more, they love to buy quality stuff. This is where we, as app developers come in. It was possible to purchase software for your smartphone long before the iPhone and the App Store - but it only became significant when Apple guided users down the path to purchase.
The stream-lined route to market makes a million niche apps feasible all of a sudden. And there are _lot_ of niches when you consider the evolved (sans a real cloud strategy) desktop experience we're looking at.
Standalone App Store app, not part of iTunes
A minor detail to some, but a telling sign for many -- if this had been based around iTunes I'd have had significant reservations about Apple's commitment. They understand how important this is, and we now know that they also understand that iTunes is a burden to iOS and the App Store in general.
This almost certainly means new technology (at least in the install/update and encryption space), but most likely also in a form of UIKit. Although developer.apple.com is sparse on detail right now, I'm sure someone will shout when we see more on what's coming down the API/SDK pipeline.
For iOS game devs there are a couple of technology treats waiting for you already - cocos2d already supports Mac OSX targets for example. How far behind do you think Epic and Unity are?
The many ways of multi-touch
As I said in the introduction to this post, even the iPad is yet to catch up to its multi-touch potential. Given the prevelance of multi-touch interfaces made available to us by Apple - particularly the MBP-style touchpad, the magic trackpad and the iOS devices (I'm not one for the Magic Mouse) - there's so much more scope for innovation here.
I'm particularly excited about touchpad-based multi-touch applications on a desktop interfaces - yes, the precision is not quite the same as on a touch screen, but there are no more thumbs in the way (and no more thumb prints).
Installation and updates
Ever try to explain mounting a .dmg, installing and unmounting to a non techie?
I've been a full-on Mac user for 2 years, and I'm still constantly frustrated (and often confused) by application updates. No two applications manage it the same way, and very few get close to acceptable user experience. I don't care why it's that way, I don't care that it's in part due to my impatience. I'm not an idiot and it frustrates me. I want it to be better - and the App Store update system makes it better.
Full screen apps - I've not seen many apps get this right on OSX. Blizzard's WOW and Starcraft share a CMD+M keyboard shortcut. That's about as good as it gets at the minute.
90 days - enough time to think, not too little to panic.
This is a positive thing. Yes, there are scary bits for existing Mac devs -- but I don't believe there are many who haven't envied the willing market the App Store provides. You've got a choice, get on with it and reap the rewards or don't. As @mattgemmell pointed out earlier, "Devs who are relieved the Mac App Store is optional haven’t yet realised that that’s an irrelevant point." And, just as importantly @chockenberry's "Remember how much the iOS App Store has changed over time (with our feedback) — the same thing will happen on the Mac."
Oh, and in other news, Chillingo was just aquired by EA for $20 million. It wasn't their Windows Mobile or RIM legacy that got them there.