In silico veritas.

Apple’s infrastructure problem, revisited

Posted: April 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Tech | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

It’s been some time since I wrote about my concerns about the increasing iOSification of OS X in 10.7 Lion and the Mac App Store. Since then, we’ve seen new reports of tweaks and enhancements that will help further improve an already-impressive user experience. But more importantly, I’ve had plenty of time to get acquainted with the Mac App Store, and to reconsider my original skepticism.

While I did note in my prior posts on the subject that I believed that the consolidation of quality, Apple-approved applications in one convenient and integrated storefront would be a boon to consumers, I still wasn’t too keen on the idea of a desktop app store. Perhaps it was the often-frivolous nature of most App Store transactions — $0.99 for Angry Birds here, another $1.99 for Hipstamatic there, etc. — that caused me to sense some inherent bad fit for the OS X environment. Desktop software is often substantial by its very nature, boasting complex features built to take advantage of what is still the predominant human-computer interface, with pricing models to match. One-click purchases in a centralized storefront did not seem to befit this paradigm.

I was wrong.

Although I haven’t spent nearly the same amount of money at the Mac App Store as I have at the (other) App Store, I have come away more impressed with the product than I could have predicted. Having installed a few apps (mostly freebies) on my Mac, I can now more fully sympathize with the argument made by the Mac App Store’s boosters that PC-to-Mac switchers with prior iOS experience will find themselves in a more familiar and therefore appealing environment. One-click installs and updates that are both so unobtrusive as to be practically invisible just work on the Mac. Centralized updates, too, are an enormous convenience. It also certainly doesn’t hurt for iOS fans making “the Switch” that the Mac App Store has desktop-sized versions of popular iOS games like Flight Control and, yes, Angry Birds, along with Mac ports of AAA titles from the other side of the OS pond (which are admittedly of varying quality).

Bottom line? If the ever-growing popularity of iOS devices does in fact lead to increased OS X market share, then the new switchers will find themselves more or less at home in their new computing environment. And if they in turn recommend OS X to fellow iOS users — well, that’s the basis for a winning strategy.