Why I'm Opposed to the Mac App Store

I'm sometimes asked why my apps aren't on the Mac App Store and I thought I should write an article about this. The pros and cons of the Mac App Store have already been widely discussed, but I think that the most discussed issues are rather unimportant. Yes, the easy payment system is nice, yes, the 30% margin is high (despite what Apple wants you to believe), yes, the review system is a bit opaque (but it seems to have improved lately) and yes, it takes a while for updates to be published. But all these issues are mundane compared to the real big fat problem: Apple is in the process of positioning itself as an unavoidable middleman for software.

It's simple: iPhone and iPad apps are in Apple's Walled Garden, right? Despite that, the iPhone and iPad are still rather popular right? And Apple gets to make a fat 30% of all software sales on the iOS platform right? I think we can thus conclude that it's clearly in Apple's interest to establish that kind of walled garden on Mac OS X. You can be sure that when every developer has flocked to the Mac App Store, Apple will bring Trusted Computing (making the computer run only code that has been signed by Apple, nothing else) back on the table. When they do, they'll have a monopoly on software distribution and suddenly, 30% of all software sales will go in Apple's pockets. Even if they don't do it, a Mac App Store monopoly or near-monopoly would kill alternate distribution websites such as MacUpdate and greatly reduce visibility for non-MAS apps.

I find it ironic that iTunes contributes to break the monopoly of record labels for music while Apple is trying to establish the same kind of monopoly for software. The situation is really similar to record labels. You're an artist and you want to publish your music, what do you do? You can try the indie way, but the quickest way to success is through record labels. Then they decide if you're worth promoting. In the last few years, the situation of indie music have been getting better, but it's an uphill battle because the record labels are very well entrenched (they control MTV, the radio, all that stuff that suggests you that this or that music is good).

Apple isn't in that situation yet with Mac OS X software but very well could be, and I think it's in everyone's interest to oppose this upcoming monopoly early. This is why I don't submit my apps to the Mac App Store.