Apple (AAPL) is deadly serious about its plans for the Mac App Store. The company is about to disrupt the entire retail software sales industry in order to create the world's biggest market for consumer software sales -- only on a Mac.
It has even begun recruiting staff for its App Store approvals team to help deal with dispensing approval (or disapproval) to the expected flood of Mac applications. But what will they be doing in the Santa Clara valley?
A new job position for 'Mac Application Reviewer' appeared this morning, this full-time post is based in Santa Clara and seeks someone with Mac OS X experience.
"Apple Worldwide Developer Relations is seeking a software application specialist; someone who is meticulous, analytical, able to exercise objective analysis, and able to thrive in a fast-paced environment and has strong customer service skills.
"Candidate needs to be able to organize and prioritize a heavy workload. The candidate must be hardworking, detail-oriented, and able to work quickly & efficiently. We?re looking for a self-starter, a quick learner with excellent communication skills, who is able to work independently and as part of a team."
Clearly the candidate will be working pretty hard. It seems to be an international role, as proficiency in written French, German or Japanese is seen as "a plus" according to the ad.
We know developers have already been asked to begin to make submissions to the Mac App Store.
Developers have told me they intend taking advantage of this, and let me know that they will have to re-build their apps for distribution via Apple's store. That's because Apple will require both app and installer packages be signed with Apple-issued Mac Distribution Certificates.
The big fear among some I've been speaking with has been that Apple will reject apps in a similar way to that in which it has sometimes arbitrarily rejected iPhone apps.
"All apps submitted to the Mac App Store will be reviewed based on the criteria outlined in the Mac App Review Guidelines and the Mac Developer Program License Agreement. Apps that do not adhere to the Guidelines will need to be modified before they can be approved for distribution on the Mac App Store," Apple's guidelines state.
As the App Store becomes the de facto standard for app discovery and deployment, I'm concerned that my choices as a Mac user will be made for me, not by me.
In future I hope not to read headlines saying political satire apps are unavailable to me, or find that deskop or user interface enhancements I may enjoy to use aren't available via the most easy-to-reach store simply because they do not pass Apple's self-made guidelines.
On my Mac, the only thing I want Apple to reject software for is because it is buggy, insecure or contains malware.
Apple's move to launch the App Store was predicted by Rixstep earlier this year. While the Mac press quickly moved to pour scorn on the company's claims, they were proved correct.
Rixstep are worried: "We believe the long-term goal is to bind all third party software to the platform," a spokesman said, saying an automatic censorship system will become something "dangerously political".
However, Apple's App Store move isn't going to be unique. This is part of the trend toward the cloud-based offerings we can look forward to next year.
Macsimum News notes think tank Toffler Associates, who say, "Companies will increasingly follow the Apple/iPhone model of creating value, not by creating products (in Apple's case, apps), but by hosting the marketplace and charging to connect consumers to producers."
That's that 30 percent distribution cut Apple's taking defined, by the way.
The sales opportunity is huge -- gigantic, in fact.
Taking Apple VP Phil Schiller's recent estimate that the current Mac user base consists of 50 million people, Apple's move to open the Mac App Store may instantaneously create the world's biggest market for consumer-focused casual software purchase on a PC. Think Steam on steroids.
Some developers I've spoken with think this may even generate a consumer software market that is far, far bigger than that of any other existing PC platform.
Think about the impact of this, "The Mac App Store will be the best place to discover apps," Jobs said, announcing the store. "It won't be the only place, but we think it will be the best."
"This will be disruptive to the traditional software distribution model," Scott Schwarzhoff of Appcelerator told Computerworld.
This might be true.
We know there will be other ways to get apps for your Macs, but the app store will inevitably take a chunk out of Mac software sales at retail.
(Though given that Mac software has never been particularly well-represented on the high street, this may not impact anyone too much.)
With retail out of the equation, we'll be buying software from other online retailers, such as Amazon, or directly from developer through their own websites.
No one will be able to match Apple's position in terms of hosting a Mac software store for its users. And as Mac marketshare continues to climb, inclusion within the store will be good, good business for developers.
And those apps we are able to purchase will be checked, vetted, permitted or rejected by a group of hard-working, possibly multi-lingual Apple employees based in the Santa Clara Valley.