Apple turned some heads when they announced that OS X 10.7 Lion was going to be sold through the Mac App Store. To assuage fears of the Internet-wary, Apple also sold the operating system at their retail outlets on USB sticks. Pocket-lint, an Apple blog in the UK, is claiming that they have a source at Apple that says Mountain Lion won’t be sold via USB stick. Instead, it will be App Store only.[quote]Apple has confirmed to Pocket-lint though that its concerns weren’t justified with customers not remotely interested in the USB drive offering: “It was an interesting test, but it turns out the App Store was just fine for getting the new OS.”[/quote]
It’s tough to judge how true this is. We’re not particularly trusting of the wording that Pocket-lint has used around Apple supposedly confirming this. That said, that complaint is more of a nitpick on style and sensationalism than it is a tick against the rumor itself. Apple is clearly on the vanguard of digital distribution with their incredibly popular App Stores, and this could be their move to further cement their dominance. Apple Geniuses will almost certainly have a way of side-loading Mountain Lion onto Macs that customers bring in, but making USB sticks with 10.8 on them available for purchase seems pretty convoluted at this point. Everyone not living under a rock is well aware that Apple prefers streamlined implementations if at all possible.
Getting rid of physical packaging and shipping of software not only makes for a better, faster experience for users, but it also means a better profit margin for Apple. This is where the industry is going, and Apple sees that clearly.