Evan Kline: Mac App Store doomed to failure

Writing in 40tech.com, Evan Kline comments on Marco Arment’s view that the Mac App Store will soon become irrelevant. He goes further, suggesting that the App Store is doomed to failure. He has made a firm decision to make all future software purchases from the developer instead of from the Mac App Store. He blames App’e new sandboxing rules which are intended to improve security and are part of Apple’s mission to nanny the consumer.

A good bit of nannying is not necessarily a bad thing. For millions of Apple customers with relatively modest software requirements and little technical knowledge, the Mac App Store is a safe playground. By and large, you can rely on what’s there and you won’t burn your fingers.

The problem is that in order to meet Apple’s sandboxing rules, developers often have to slim down the features of their apps. Some very useful utilities, such as Pathfinder, cannot be sold in the App Store because in order to to their job they have to plumb system depths that Apple doesn’t allow. Others, such as OmniFocus, are slightly watered down and have fewer features than the developer-marketed versions. 

Says Kline:

Apple’s new sandboxing rules might be great for security, but they limit what a developer can do with an app. For that reason and others, my confidence in the App Store is gone.

Given the choice, where would you purchase your Mac apps? Will anyone but tech geeks think of these issues? Marco Arment thinks that this isn’t just an issue for geeks. I agree with him. If enough customers get burnt by the App Store, they’ll stop using it. And if enough developers get burnt or fed up with it, the App Store will become the home of trivial apps.

Personally, I’m on the fence on this one. I like the App Store’s ease of purchase, the absence of registration codes to remember, and the automatic update to all Macs I own. But there are apps, including the already mentioned Pathfinder and OmniFocus, where I prefer to buy from the developer. There is probably room for both options. It is easy to criticise Apple for its restrictions, but I cling to the belief that Apple is seeking to protect us from ourselves. By “us”, I mean the overwhelming majority of new Mac users who really do want to be nannied.

Evan Kline, Marco Arment and the rest of us who delve a little deeper have the option to stop using the App Store, to use it sparingly or to put up with all Apple’s safety restrictions. It’s a free world, still.