Feeds

App Store II: Steve Jobs sucks Mac's soul

The Human Interface Commandments

Boost IT visibility and business value

Comment Apple has hacked the Mac's software ecosystem in two.

When Jobs & Co. opens its iOS-style Mac App Store early next year, there will be two types of apps available for the company's flagship — but aging — Apple Macintosh platform: simple consumer-level apps that the vast majority of users will purchase through the online store revealed by Steve Jobs last month, and professional apps sold in traditional ways — for now, at least.

And the Mac universe will be a less interesting place.

As revealed in Apple's recently published Mac App Store Review Guidelines, Cupertino's control over the future of consumer-level Mac software will discourage innovation, and will be defined — quite literally — by what Apple believes to be Good for You™.

The Mac App Store, for all intents and purposes, will bring an end to the rogue, piratical culture that Jobs once championed.

"Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?"

— Steve Jobs, 1983

Up until the day the Mac App Store opens, Mac apps will be able to jostle for advantage on a level playing field where developers wrestle to out-innovate one another, and where — more importantly — the arbiters of success are folks who buy Mac software, and not folks who are employed as Apple's App Store police.

That's called the free market, and it has been a cauldron of innovation since Adam Smith stirred the pot with his timeless invisible hand.

The day that the Mac App Store opens for business, however, buyers of Mac software might feel as if they're free to choose which apps to install on their iMacs and MacBooks, but in reality their choices will be "curated," to use Jobs' deceptively kindhearted term.

As has been true with the iPhone/Pod/Pad App Store since its inception, Apple will decide the universe of apps from which consumer-level Mac users will be allowed to choose.

We'll quickly admit that Jobs, when introducing the Mac App Store, noted that "It won't be the only place [to buy Mac apps], but we think it'll be the best place." Unlike iPhone/Pod/Pad users locked into the current iOS App Store, Mac users will still be able to load non–App Store apps onto their Cupertinian desktops and notebooks.

But let's be realistic: most won't.

Consumer apps

Jobs described his company during his surprise appearance at Apple's recent financial-results conference call by saying: "We're a very high-volume consumer-electronics manufacturer." Consumer-electronics companies sell stuff to consumers. Consumers, well, consume. Once they've chosen their platform, they predictably follow its guidance.

And the Mac App Store will be there to provide that guidance by narrowing — "curating", in Jobs-speak — their choice of apps. And those choices will be determined solely by Apple and its view of what's acceptable.

And how will Jobs & Co. decide from which apps consumers will be able to choose? Well, the Mac App Store Review Guidelines detail 93 strictures that narrow the range of what Apple's new iOS-meets-OS-X store will accept.

Many of the elements of that superabundance of no-nos are reasonable restrictions that protect against fraud or promote privacy. Wonderful. Thanks, Steve. Really. The positive side of a curated App Store is that someone is watching your back.

On the other hand, however, some of the 93 no-nos are ridiculously over-reaching. Our favorite, for example, is the commandment that "Apps that exhibit bugs will be rejected."

If bugs make an app unacceptable, then Mac OS X — especially in its earlier incarnations — would be banned. If Apple software were bug-free, why would the company's Safari browser have a Report Bugs to Apple menu item?

And let's not even start on Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, or other popular Mac apps. Software has bugs; that's just a fact of life.

A conspiracy-minded observer might see the "no bugs" stricture as a catch-all kick-out that Apple might use to reject apps it simply doesn't want aboard the Mac App Store. That may or may not be the case, but we don't need a tinfoil hat to be concerned about many of the the store's other guidelines.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Microsoft refuses to nip 'Windows 9' unzip lip slip
Look at the shiny Windows 8.1, why can't you people talk about 8.1, sobs an exec somewhere
Intel's Raspberry Pi rival Galileo can now run Windows
Behold the Internet of Things. Wintel Things
Linux Foundation says many Linux admins and engineers are certifiable
Floats exam program to help IT employers lock up talent
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
Linux kernel devs made to finger their dongles before contributing code
Two-factor auth enabled for Kernel.org repositories
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?