The Mac App Store’s in people’s thoughts of late. Marco Arment recently wrote about how sandboxing (essentially, a much stricter set of entitlements every app—bar Apple’s own, naturally—has to abide by) has impacted on available apps. Some developers have had to reduce the functionality of their product or remove it entirely. Arment said he’s now
lost all confidence that the apps I buy in the App Store today will still be there next month or next year. The advantages of buying from the App Store are mostly gone now. My confidence in the App Store, as a customer, has evaporated.
This, he argues, has the knock-on effect of causing problems beyond the world of geeks. Pretty much any user who suddenly finds an app no longer available on the Mac App Store might get annoyed at the developer, but they’re at least as likely to lose trust in Apple. Arment:
To most of these customers, the App Store is no longer a reliable place to buy software. This jeopardizes Apple’s presumed strategic goal of moving as much software-buying as possible to the App Store. By excluding so many important apps and burning the trust of so many customers, the App Store can never become ubiquitous.
Neven Mrgan adds that the Mac also isn’t iOS. With casual users increasingly opting for iPads over Macs, there’s the possibility Mac users will skew slightly away from the casual end of the spectrum, but they’ll be faced with a Mac App Store lacking advanced apps, apart from Apple’s own or those neutered to work within Apple’s sandboxing rules:
[Put] the two facts together—the loss of casual users to iOS, and the loss of non-casual apps on the App Store—and it starts to look like a problem.
In a follow-up post, Arment argues against the assertion that the issues currently being experienced will only affect geeks, and Lex Friedman for Macworld today also suggested customers should be wary of the Mac App Store.
My own thinking with the Mac App Store has been the biggest U-turn I’ve had since first owning my own Mac in the 1990s. I started off loving it. It was, I thought, the future, especially when setting up a new machine. No more hunting for DVDs and installer files! Just type in your Apple ID, download your software and—boom—sorted! And then a critical Coda update arrived for the direct version but only for the Mac App Store release a week later. And then the new version of Moom was direct-sales only. And then WriteRoom started to suffer annoying sandboxing issues regarding switching formats and saving a file. And. And. And.
My confidence has gone in what should have been Apple’s biggest and best feature from the Lion era. I had planned to rebuy apps on the Mac App Store and transition to it as fully as possible; now, I just don’t see the point. I’d sooner deal direct with developers, because then I won’t run the risk of an app I use daily being forced to cut itself back or be removed entirely at the whim of Apple. But this isn’t due to me being a geek, but through being repeatedly burned by a store I thought I could trust. That’s something anyone can and will empathise with, not just people who live, breathe and eat Apple.