Will Steve Jobs Open Mac App Store to Independent Designers and Smaller Software Firms?

The big story in the world of Mac OS X and Mac users is not the launch of Lion but the advent of the Mac App Store. Steven Jobs has said publicly that a Mac App Store for Snow Leopard will be launched within 90 days and one for Lion is coming.

The Mac App Store is simply an e-commerce site where people could buy programs for Macs and other Apple products. It would function much like the I-phone App store for music but could sell some pretty complex software. The idea is that users would download the software directly and install it on computers.

This obviously doesn’t sound like groundbreaking technology to long time computer users but it could be a market changing development. If Jobs can get the public used to the idea of an online market for software like he’s done with an online market for music he could create an opportunity for designers and smaller firms.

App Store for Independents?

If Jobs is willing to open the Mac App Store to non Apple products he could create a big market for independent Mac OS X designers and programmers. In particular, it could provide a venue for independents to sell their products directly to computer users.

The problem with this scenario is that Apple has been pretty to outside software as of late. It has decided not to load Adobe Flash on its products for example. Instead Apple seems determined to sell as much of its products as possible. The reason for this decision is obvious it makes more for Apple.

App Store Liability

The big question then is will Apple set up some sort of revenue arrangement which will allow individuals to sell their products through the App Store? That would potentially be a big revenue stream for Apple but it could be fraught with problems.

There are security and legal concerns for example. Apple could be liable if somebody downloaded an App Store product that contained a virus that damaged their system or a Trojan that stole their files.

Apple would also be liable under American law for any damage to a computer or system by defective files from the App Store. This liability concerns could make it difficult Apple to expand App Store in the US.

One interesting point is that the App Store could get average people more used to the idea of downloading and installing software. This could lead the way for bigger software markets elsewhere.

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