The most important goal for Apple is for the Mac App Store to help sell more Macs. And we think it will.
How? By solving a simple problem: Buying and installing apps on a PC/Mac is still cumbersome and complicated. There’s no central place to buy apps (on DVD or downloads), the installers are often crappy, and there are security holes.
Meanwhile, the Mac App Store makes app shopping extremely fast, simple, and secure. And the selection is decent, and should grow. And that should be a strong selling point in Apple’s marketing versus Windows.
It’s hard to argue that Apple would have sold as many iPhones as it has if it hadn’t launched the iPhone App Store in 2008. That is what has set the iPhone apart from its rivals the most. (Though they are catching up in that regard, particularly Google Android.) Same goes for the iPad — without the App Store, it would not have been as useful.
So it makes sense that the same infrastructure — to make developing and selling Mac apps easier, faster, and better — could help increase Mac sales, too.
The old argument used to be that Macs didn’t have any apps, and that Windows PCs had all the apps. Now it may soon be that Macs have lots of great apps that PCs don’t even have, and a much better and safer app purchasing system.
Add that to the fact that web apps are starting to replace some desktop apps, and all of a sudden, many PC buyers have more reasons to consider a Mac instead of just a cheap PC.
It’s hard to predict how much of an impact this will have on Mac sales, though. It may be modest, or moderate, or even large. There are other factors involved, such as the rise of tablets, which could eventually squash Mac (and PC) sales.
It may force Microsoft to start a Windows App Store, the way other mobile platforms have copied Apple.
But, in the near- to medium-term, it should help Apple steal more market share from Windows in the PC market. And that’s what this is all about.
(Why is selling more Macs the most important goal? Apple is primarily a hardware company — that’s where the vast majority of its revenue and profits come from. Apple has great software — and mostly good services — like iTunes, OS X, MobileMe, and the App Store, but they mostly exist to help it sell more hardware. Sure, it’s important for the Mac App Store to help developers make money, too. But it’s mostly there to help Apple sell more Macs.)