Apple launched the Mac App Store with over 1,000 apps back in January of 2011, and the digital storefront has been rapidly growing ever since. Thanks to warm reception from the developer community and the exclusive distribution of software like Final Cut Pro X and OS X Lion, Apple controls the largest and most vibrant PC software storefront in the world.
15 months in and the Mac App Store is home to more than 10,000 apps. While not as big a number as the iOS App Store’s 500,000+ titles, the success of the Mac App Store heralds the future of software distribution.
Considering the vast amount of apps available in the App Store for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users, one could be tempted to call the Mac App Store’s milestone disappointing. The iOS App Store reached 15,000 titles on January 16th, 2009 after launching on the iPhone in July of 2008. The Mac App Store is smaller, but that’s because OS X is a different kind of environment. Unlike the iPhone, anyone can install apps outside of the Mac App Store in OS X from third-party developers on the web. After you install OS X Lion, you don’t ever have to use the Mac App Store again if you don’t want to, while you have to use the App Store on iOS devices (jailbreakers excluded, of course).
Of course, with the introduction of Mountain Lion’s Gatekeeper, more Mac users will be downloading software from the Mac App Store than ever before. Expect the numbers to skyrocket over the next year.
Mac users running Snow Leopard, Lion, and the developer preview of Mountain Lion all have access to the Mac App Store. OS X Lion was the first desktop operating system to be offered exclusively as a digital download by Apple in the Mac App Store, and Mountain Lion will be distributed in the same way later this summer. Apple has stopped selling physical copies of its software, including Aperture and its iWork and iLife suites.
In the future Apple’s entire Mac lineup will likely move away from optical disk drives in favor for software distribution in the Mac App Store. Apple announced that the Mac App Store had severed 100,000 million downloads last December, and its success has pressured other companies, like Microsoft, to start implementing similar strategies..