As an independent developer, the iOS App Store is a great solution. The developer pays their yearly fee, submits their apps, and sells them through the App Store. With this arrangement, Apple takes care of the back end credit card processing and the rest of the hassle, which makes the whole process quite convenient for developers.
As many will say, including our own Josh Schnell, syncing within applications is a key feature. I have two iOS applications in the App store, wwrite and wwrite – iPhone Edition. Lets say I was going to add syncing between the two versions. All I would have to do is code the apps, submit the updates, continue selling the application, and do some marketing. This is a good plan, but what if I want to add a desktop version of my application to the mix with syncing and the whole shebang? Through the App Store, iOS device users do not have to do any additional work to get my applications onto their devices. There are no additional usernames and passwords and websites to enter in their credit cards. But, if those same users want to purchase the desktop version, it would not be so simple since there is no App Store equivalent for desktop applications. It is for this reason that I am a proponent of Apple extending their iOS App store to include Mac OS X applications.
If I wanted to sell a desktop version of my application, I would need to do quite a bit of setup. First, I’d have to find a store front of some sort, whether that be my own website or another venue. Second, I’d have to setup a merchant account or use another system in order to be able to process credit cards. Third, I would have to sit and work with the vendor every time there was an issue, whether it be handling refunds, the vendor’s processing site being down or any other myriad of issues. This setup would just create a major headache for both myself and the customers. All of this additional work would also take away from development time.
If Apple were to host a Mac OS X application store, the developer would not have to worry about any of those issues. That portion of the headache would be dealt with by Apple.
The only issue would be the terms under which Apple would sell the desktop apps. One term that I think is crucial is the ability to have NO DRM attached to the application. If this was an option then the application’s author could determine how to secure their software or even whether or not to secure it at all.
Maybe it’s just a pipe dream, but maybe it will happen one day. We can always hope. If some pioneering soul wanted to create a good platform, that would be it. Of course only time will tell.