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.