A long time ago, in a Mac industry far, far away, there was a project I was secretly working on. It was a Mac App Store.
For the sake of the developers, I’ll call them Team X. Team X had a great product on the market, it was great at updating Mac software. I wanted to take that to another level, and add App Store functionality, get funding, and make a software marketplace that would transcend Mac and Windows.
I’d been watching the iPhone (now iOS) App Store, and saw its potential. Mind you, this was circa 2007-2008, when Cydia was impressive before it took a single jailbroken App Store purchase.
So, what killed the project off? I listened to Steve Jobs. No, not the way normal people do. I listened for his commentary on a Mac App Store when someone asked him about its potential. He said bluntly that there were no plans for one.
When you hear something that blunt from an Apple leader, you should know, then and there, that it’s the exact opposite of what you were just told. Just like nobody wants to watch videos on their iPod, the screen after all is just too small. When I heard that, I knew it was inevitable that Apple would leverage the iTunes Store infastructure, combine it with digital signatures (which at the time were brand new to Mac apps), and roll out their own App Store.
What’s next? I suspect Apple will continue the burn and roll out a Windows App Store. You might think this is insane. After all, Apple wants to ship Macs, not convince people to stay with Windows.
I however would argue there is a lot of merit in a Windows App Store, fueled by the largest commercial digital content distribution store ever (iTunes).
First, it’s a product that Microsoft has failed in completely. The Windows Marketplace was so much of a dud that Microsoft had to kill it off to give Windows Phone Marketplace a fighting chance… the desktop version paled in comparison.
Plus, Apple wants to show users the “Apple experience”. They want to prevent people from buying into the “Google experience”. Those two factors drive Apple to be okay with distributing Windows apps, so long as it takes place inside of Apple’s systems and Apple’s rules. It convinces more and more people to use iTunes on a daily basis, and that will fuel the additional sale of more iPhones, iPods, and iPads… all of which are successful because they are Windows-friendly.
Take Safari. Apple’s brilliant web browser was ported to Windows in order to ensure people could get a taste of the Apple browsing experience. It wasn’t needed for iTunes, despite what many think.
And, let’s not forget QuickTime for Windows. Many (too, too many) forget that QuickTime existed on Windows a good decade before Apple shipped iTunes. Some have screamed at me in postings that QuickTime only exists for iTunes, a laughable assertion. The reason QuickTime existed on Windows was the same as all the above examples; to get people to like Apple.
If people are buying, downloading, updating, and maintaining their their Windows software, the Apple way, it will be pure profit for Apple, and pure sting for Microsoft. I’m not interested in getting into a product fight with a company that has billions in the bank, hence why you can rest soundly that I won’t be building a Windows App Store right now.
I really like these stories, and these opinions. This is why I visit your site, even though new posts appear infrequently enough for me to check the feeds about once a week.
You’re absolutely right about Steve Jobs always saying that there is no market for something, before releasing a product that does just that. Didn’t he previously say “people don’t read”? And, here we have an iPad.
I’ve always hated Quicktime, and I”ll be the first one to say that. In 1998, it was only slightly better than RealPlayer. And it’s still terrible. Why can VLC open a video in 2 seconds, and Quicktime takes 15 seconds to open the same video?
I agree with you about how scared Apple is of Google. However, I have to say, almost everything Google creates is free, or close to it. Sure, you give up some privacy. But for the long haul, I’m willing to do that to save money. Hey, at least it’s not Facebook.
Apple certainly doesn’t think of VLC as a bad product, in fact VLC was given an Apple Design Award, their highest honor to a third-party developer.
The reason that QuickTime is slower on Windows is primarily because it was designed for Mac. Plus, being one of the first video players ever, it is well over a decade old. To maintain compatibility, that means code that was written 10 years ago still has to linger around.
Don’t forget, QuickTime was used as the basis for MPEG-4, Apple has a duty to the format makers to not be the fastest, but the most reliable of the codec developers.
The main improvements today to QuickTime for Windows are to aid iTunes, as such, under the hood code that accelerates iTunes gets first priority. Still, Apple is keenly aware that QuickTime 7 is archaic in many respects.
QuickTime X on the Mac was introduced with little fanfare externally, but represents a complete re-write of the QuickTime code. Eventually, that code will likely be re-ported to Windows and replace the existing QuickTime 7 code base in apps like iTunes. That version will likely take advantage of hardware accleration and other modern features that products like VLC can use on Windows.