Mac Apple Store

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2011-12-29 Print this article Print

Mac App Store

Apple's focus on mobility began to influence its desktops and laptops, with the company launching a Mac App Store Jan. 6. The storefront started off with more than 1,000 free and paid applications, including the always-popular Angry Birds and more productivity-centric programming, such as Autodesk. It required Snow Leopard, specifically Mac OS X v.10.6.6 with a software update, with Apple promising it would be fully integrated into the then-in-development Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. 

By porting its mobile-app model to the PC realm, Apple hoped to attract users interested in downloading smaller programs with just one click, as well as third-party developers looking for a new platform for their products. Apple retailed full control over software listed in the store via its usual review process, although developers also had the option of distributing Mac-supported software independently of the store.

Apple's arch-rival Google already had a similar effort underway with Chrome Web Store, which offered a variety of apps. Moreover, rumors suggested that Microsoft would include an apps storefront of some sort with Windows 8, scheduled to release on both tablets and traditional PCs sometime in 2012-rumors later validated, once Microsoft began unveiling details about their next-generation operating system. 

Mac OS X "Lion"

By the end of February, Apple had released a developer preview of Mac OS X Lion. In June, Jobs and other executives took the stage at San Francisco's Moscone Center to profile the operating system's new features: full-screen applications, the ability to restore applications to the same condition prior to logging out or restarting, disappearing scroll bars, an increased range of gesture controls, and an AirDrop feature that wirelessly shoots files to other users.

Apple released Lion in mid-July. Combined with the termination of the company's iconic white MacBook, which made its lowest-priced MacBook Air the company's default entry-level laptop, it seemed clearer than ever that Apple was rushing to embrace Jobs' philosophy of a "post-PC" era, one in which handheld devices like smartphones and tablets crowd out traditional PCs as peoples' primary computing device.

With that strategy, though, came questions about what sort of effect the mobile philosophy would ultimately have on Apple's bottom line. During the company's July 19 earnings call, Cook suggested that the iPad was eating into the customer base for traditional PCs. "Some customers chose to purchase an iPad instead of a new Mac during the quarter," he told media and analysts on the call. "But even more customers chose to buy an iPad over a Windows PC ... There's a lot more of the PC Windows business to cannibalize than the Mac."

Location Controversy

Within a year of largely good news, Apple did have to weather some controversies. In April, tech researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden posted to O'Reilly Radar that they'd discovered Apple recording the positions of devices running iOS 4 in a "hidden file" on iPhones and iPads. Still worse, the pair added, was that the "file is unencrypted and unprotected, and it's on any machine you've synched with your iOS device. It can also be easily accessed on the device itself if it falls into the wrong hands."

The fallout included lawmakers sending written demands to Jobs for greater clarification on Apple's practices. It also spread to Google and Microsoft, which noted that their mobile operating systems record location data from mobile devices.

Apple responded April 27 in a statement on its Website, largely blaming a software bug in its iOS operating system for storing the incredible amount of data and insisting that Apple isn't tracking its users. The company also said it would issue a software fix to ensure the data wasn't kept for long periods of time.

"Users are confused," read Apple's statement, adding that it was "maintaining a database of WiFi hotspots and cell towers around your current location" in order to reduce the time it takes an iPhone to "accurately calculate its location when requested."

Despite the controversy, Apple continued to maintain its smartphone market share. By the end of the third quarter, research firm Nielsen estimated iOS as nabbing 28 percent of the U.S. market, behind Android at 43 percent but ahead of Research In Motion and Microsoft.

Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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