TechCrunch explains the incredible network effect behind Apple’s upcoming Mac App Store.
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The remaining puzzle piece in the intersection of the MacBook and iPad is all about the applications—both end-user discovery & distribution and developer support. The iOS storefront was the genius behind the iPhone becoming a low friction distribution warehouse for content.
In much the same way, the Mac Store is Apple’s umbrella strategy to encourage developers of long-tail content to have an easy landing pad on the Mac, developers who are already building apps on top of iOS.
Interestingly, the Mac Store allows Apple to do the reverse of what Microsoft is doing with Windows Phone 7: whereas Microsoft can leverage .NET familiarity to encourage the desktop dev community to write apps for WM7, Apple will use its iOS franchise to kick-start a vibrant ecosystem of Mac developers.
But there’s also something more magical that this network-effect provides for Apple: by specifying that developers use Apple’s tools, namely Xcode and LLVM, Apple gains a layer of control in how this hardware convergence plays out.
How so? Apple can have developers simply flip a recompile switch and upload universal versions of apps to the Mac App Store, which work on both ARM and x86. In this way, Apple is setting up a distribution mechanism to host and install code which will allow them to transition hardware seamlessly.
This is the ultimate in streamlined distribution, since a developer can focus on one unified environment based around Cocoa Touch and Objective-C, along with a set of UI / UX constraints. Apple then abstracts all this from the user, independent of the hardware.