How to fix the Mac App Store’s licensing issues.

A lot of people, myself included, are excited about the arrival of the Mac App Store, but there’s a few issues still outstanding, some of which I spoke about yesterday. After a little bit of thinking, I came to some conclusions on how Apple might be able to deal with one of the bigger ones, namely helping users who have already paid for software transition into the App Store without having to repurchase it.

I see two possible solutions. The first is that Apple allow developers to issue “transfer” codes, similar to promo codes in the iOS App Store. Currently, as I understand it, there are limits to how this works in iOS, but in that case, we’re talking about a software ecosystem that didn’t exist prior to the device allowing it. In the case of the Mac, there are years of investment on the part of users, and loyalty built upon certain developers and their work.

The second might even be easier. Developers have lists of registered users and their associated email addresses and licenses. Just like there’s a “Redeem” section of the iTunes store, create a “Transfer License” area. Allow developers to upload a database of all their registered users to Apple. Customers who wish to transfer their licenses to the App Store can then fill out two fields: their email address on file with the dev and the license code they’ve already been issued. We’re probably mostly talking about power users here, so this two-step process shouldn’t be too difficult. Once the license is transferred, no one else can repeat this process (just as with the current iOS redeem codes). Furthermore, once the database was uploaded to Apple, the dev would in fact be implicitly agreeing to move all future purchases to the App Store, alleviating the need for two purchase channels. The existing user list goes in, and that’s it. After a while, this could even be phased out entirely.

I don’t think either of these would be too difficult to implement, especially in an effort to ease the transition from the web to the App Store for Mac purchases. It would be an extremely favorable position for Apple to take, and engender a lot of goodwill among users and devs, and would probably avoid polarizing the massive potential user base for the new store. I know I’d be more inclined to move toward it, knowing everything I’ve purchased thus far wasn’t completely negated by the new retail channel’s expectations.

The Mac App Store is live, but not perfect.

The Mac App Store was unveiled earlier today with the 10.6.6 update, and while for a great many Mac users, it heralds a new, easy way to grab interesting software you might ordinarily have missed, it’s not without its foibles too.

For a regular user who just wants a way to browse for things like they do on their iPhone or iPad, it’s a great thing. Get all your apps in one place, get notified when they’re updated automatically as in iOS. But for power users, who are accustomed to the modicum of effort it takes to seek out and find apps, there are a few downsides. Already there are rumblings that certain popular apps had to remove pieces of functionality just to be included in the store. That could be a deal-breaker for someone who’s been using a piece of software and wants the unified benefits the App Store offers, but can’t give up a function he/she relies on.

Apps already installed on your Mac show up as installed, but as of now, won’t be updated through the App Store either, which can cause confusion for users. It’s probably because they don’t want people to purchase apps they already own again, but it’s a confusing UI choice. Could be a bug, could be a real pain further down the line when version numbers don’t quite match up, functions are different between two seemingly identical versions of the same app, and users have questions about what they have and why it isn’t like the other things they have.

Furthermore, before the iOS App Store, there really wasn’t a super easy way to get apps on and off your device. The ease of instant downloads and instant deletions made it perfect for not having to think too much about those impulse buys. But the Mac is very different. As of right now, I can’t find a simple “tap-and-hold” delete function for Mac apps like on iOS, and people are going to want that. Soon. Within the App Store app, I don’t see any mention of uninstallation. Just a purchase history. And considering that the Mac is not sandboxed the way iOS is, it could lead to problems and confusion in the future.

Considering Apple’s aiming this squarely at the standard user and not so much at the power user who understands where .plist files are stored and why they might be crashing your app every time you open it, they have a lot of work left to do to make it exactly the same kind of experience the iOS App Store has become. It’s a great first effort, but be prepared for some quizzical expressions here and there as we go along. Perhaps 10.7 will address some of these issues. I hope so, because as it stands, it’s just not the same fluid consumer experience people are used to. And that may be a bigger problem for Apple than they realize.

If you say “because it’s open”, I *will* strike you.

See, here’s the thing.

“With a proper overclocked and undervolted kernel, this thing is going to scream.”

That’s from a great post about the Nexus S on Android Central.

Real, actual consumers (and not hackers) who say “I like Android because it’s open” will never, EVER follow it with something like you see above.

If they’d stop saying things like that, which are basically invalid marketing arguments they’ve accepted as religious fact, made moot by carrier restrictions on their phones, effectively crippling them way past the point of the iPhone’s perceived “lack of control”, I would be 87% less stabby on a daily basis.