Steve Jobs introduced Apple’s next operating system today, Mac OS 10.7, or “Lion”. Part of the announcement is that the iOS App Store, from the iPhone/iPod/iPad universe, will move to all Apple computers. Users will be able to download their computer’s software from an Apple-controlled store just like on their iPhones. Apps will be updated directly and be licensed for all of the user’s devices.
I love Apple and am almost always in awe of the work they do. But doesn’t this seem like a big leap from what was originally built to control the stability of mobile applications into control of our computer’s software? Jobs says that of course the App Store will be one of many ways users can install software and that it won’t be locked down…yes.
However, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to imagine a day when developers will opt to cut distribution and transaction costs and rely on Apple’s built-in store to make it easier for their customers. Then Apple gains control of the hardware, the operating system and the distribution method of the software run on its computers. Are the possible costs of this system more important than the ease and convenience gained? Fostering a community of developers is important, for sure. But will it cost them creative license?
I remember when Apple prominently featured its “Downloads” page so that their developers had a prime showcase for their software. It has received less love each year and there are some fears that it will be shelved in preparation for the new App Store – a highly controlled and vertically integrated stepchild.
Alarmist? Yes. But, perhaps cautionary. I hope it’s just a knee-jerk reaction and that this fear isn’t realized.