Erik Ableson 3 minute read
June 9, 2008

Musings on the App Store (pre-keynote)

Sometime later today, Steve will be unveiling the best and worst kept secret coming out of Apple this year with the second generation iPhone. I was in the midst of preparing an outline of my ideas and comments on the keynote to fill in as I follow the keynote and starting thinking about the App Store in light of some of the other rumours that have been floating around.

As I was typing, I started thinking that the name "App Store" is an intentional shortening that evokes both "Application" and "Apple". It could have been the iPhone store, or the Application Store, and similar to the iTunes Music Store that was shortened to the iTunes Store makes me wonder about future application delivery ideas that will target OS X.

While there has been much brouhaha over the conditions of the App Store (30% commission, $99 registration) these are actually fairly benign in the world of smartphone development (the long version from Roughly Drafted). When you also tag on the fact that the developer no longer needs to design and maintain an internet commerce site (although this has been mitigated with the advent of PayPal) it's a useful mechanism for simplifying the life of a beginning developer or a small development shop.

This would play in nicely to the future versions of OS X that will include better support for application signing (although the basics are already here) and other security measures that benefit both the developer (captive audience, simplified distribution, piracy control) and the customer (basic quality control, managed purchase lists, update management).

Although this looks like another form of DRM that we're talking about here, I find that it's an appropriate mechanism for controlling and managing software delivery as long as the terms of use are reasonable. I'm allergic to DRM when it comes to data like music and much prefer to purchase a CD and rip it myself, but this makes sense for Apple to be preparing for the future and ensuring that the OS is better equipped to protect itself from future generations of malware that will very likely masquerade as real applications. The Trojan is still the most effective means of compromising a machine, unless you have some kind of validation mechanism that the little application you downloaded hasn't been modified between the author and your machine.

So will Steve announce that the App Store can deliver applications to both OS X and iPhones? There interesting synergies to this approach, especially given that the next generation of applications will be all about synchronization. We're headed to a world where the key is ensuring that you have access to your data anywhere and presented in a form appropriate to the context. It would make an awful lot of sense to buy a bundle of the latest and greatest GTD application, Delicious Library, Evernote or NetNewsWire that are composed of a desktop application and an iPhone satellite version all at once.

A consolidated approach to streamlining the purchase experience that goes directly from the purchase and includes the actual download and installation would simplify the experience for a lot of users coming from other operating systems.

Am I reading too much into a name? Or does this make sense to anyone else?