Apple Mac App Store Opens With More Than 1,000 Products

After several months of speculation and anticipation, Apple opened the Mac App Store giving users access to more than 1,000 free and paid applications, including games, productivity tools, and time-sinks.

The Mac App Store launched with over 1,000 free and paid applications, on Jan. 6, Apple said. The inexplicably popular game Angry Birds is listed, among other games and productivity tools.

The long-anticipated Mac App Store hopes to do what the App Store did for the iPhone, making it easier and faster to find, buy and install new applications for the Mac. Instead of going to several sites to buy software, users can find them in a single store and buy apps using their existing iTunes accounts. Installation becomes a single-step process, Apple said.

Just like the App Store for the iPhone and iPad, Apple will have full control over what software is listed on the Mac App Store through its closed review process. However, unlike the App Store, which is essentially the only legitimate way to install apps on the mobile devices, developers can continue to distribute Mac software independently of the store.

The Mac App Store, available in 90 countries, requires Snow Leopard users to first install Mac OS X v10.6.6 with a software update in order to get the menu option to access the store, according to the company. It will be an integral part of the company's upcoming Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, expected summer 2011. Apple pre-announced the store at the Back to the Mac event in October.

Apps are available in a variety of categories, including education, games, graphics and design, Lifestyle, productivity, and utilities. As with the App Store, users can see lists of popular apps and staff favorites.

Once installed, the Mac App Store will keep track of application updates on an "Updates" page and prompt users to either update individually or all at once.

While a bulk of the applications would come from third-party software houses and independent developers, Apple has added a number of its popular applications to the store. This includes iPhoto '11, iMovie '11 and Garageband, which are now available individually through the Mac App Store for $14.99 each. Previously, these applications could only be purchased as part of the $49 iLife '11 software suite.

Similarly, the iWork '09 office productivity suite has been split to sell Pages, Keynote, and Numbers individually for $19.99 each. Aperture 3, Apple's pro-level photo editing and management program is listed for $79, down from the normal $199.

Along with applications from Autodesk, and Boinx, the wide selection included programs like Things, a task manager; rubiTrack, a workout journal; and Compartments, an inventory tool.

Developers taking part in the Mac Developer Program (for $99 a year) can distribute their products on the Mac App Store. Apple is promising 70 percent of sales revenue and no charge to list free apps on the store.

Users buying an app from the Mac App Store can download it to any of their Macs, as long as they're associated with the AppleID/iTunes account used to buy the app. At the moment, there appears to be no restrictions as to how many computers a single app can be installed on.

"We think users are going to love this innovative new way to discover and buy their favorite apps," Steve Jobs said.