A friend of mine just got his first Mac, and one particular part of the experience has caused it to be an unexpectedly negative one. And that thing is the Mac App Store.
Longtime Mac owners are probably aware that the Mac App Store is a bit of a forgotten wasteland these days. Many developers have either removed their software from it (BBEdit for example) or have never entered it at all (MS Office, Adobe CS). Part of this simply is that developers would rather not be there in the first place, but in many cases they do want to participate, but the rules of the store prevent this. Simply put, Apple’s attempts to limit what Mac App Store apps can do has essentially gutted the store. Rather than developers coming around to Apple’s way of thinking, they simply packed up and left.
The problem here, for new users, is that most of them are coming from iOS and have been trained for years that the App Store is the place to get all the software they want. So when they open the Mac App Store, they are confused by the fact that all the things they actually want appear to be missing.
The conversation I had with my friend went something like this, “No you have to go to the Google site for that. Nope, that is from their site too. And yep that too. Oh not that though, that you can ONLY get in the Mac App Store.” This is not a smooth introduction to the platform.
I think most of us take this for granted, but imagine how infuriating this is to someone who is only just experiencing the Mac now for the first time. Apple prides themselves on having a stellar out of the box experience. How many of us have had “It Just Works” burned into the deepest levels of our subconsciousness?
But the Mac App Store is an almost immediate roadblock. This halfway position Apple is taking is the worst of all possible worlds. The Mac App Store needs to either be opened up to all Mac apps, and encourage as many developers to list there as possible, or it needs to be closed. As it stands today it is a bad experience for everyone, and a bit of a stain on the Mac’s reputation. We can argue all we want about the theory behind the store and how Apple runs it, but I seriously doubt my friend is the only person in this position. It’s just that most people give up silently.