With the announcement that a Mac App Store would be coming to Apple computers in the coming months, I believe Apple could be up to something bigger. While Apple computers are still selling very well the company is in a pickle. Apple’s operating systems run on less than 5% of consumers PC’s and the only way they could increase this number would be by significantly dropping prices. Dropping hardware prices would be a big mistake and Apple realizes this, so what can they do? The answer may seem unrealistic at first, but what if Apple launches a Mac Store for Windows? By doing this they could immediately gain significant profits from the sale of applications on every Windows PC without reducing their premium hardware price point.
Apple’s brilliance does not come from their hardware, operating system, or software products. Don’t get me wrong, Apple does all of these things exceptionally well — But Apple’s standout feature is their ability to create a common framework. The Apple turn-around has come from their ability to distribute content. Apple has proven that they can develop efficient distribution for anything digital whether the content be music, movies, or applications. Early on in the music distribution process Apple realized that they would be missing a large part of the market if they restricted their distribution efforts only to their own hardware, and so iTunes for Windows was born. Why wouldn’t Apple want to take a similar approach to applications?
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things that could go awry if Apple chooses to do this. Apple would be subject to the immense variability of Windows PCs that do not have a known hardware subset. All of the problems this hardware variability has caused for Microsoft engineers and fundamental security flaws of Windows would be new territory for Apple. But, if Apple could build a reliable Windows framework to run applications it could be the biggest development in computing ever. Think about the possibilities… You purchase a application on your Mac PC at home in the Mac App Store and it installs automatically. You go into the office and download the same application on your Windows PC through the Mac App Store. The same application in both places, with seamless download through a unified framework.
But wouldn’t this destroy the Mac hardware business? No, it would do just the opposite. If Apple could demonstrate first-hand to Windows users the promise of simplicity and ease-of-us that is the foundation of Mac operating systems I think it would go along way in convincing people to spend more on a Mac. And even if a Mac App Store on Windows did not convince people to buy Apple hardware they would be making 30% on every application sold. How much does Apple make on Windows application sales now? Not a penny! Apple has millions of happy iPhone, iPod, and iPad customers that are avid Windows users. Many people in this group would not think of buying a Mac, so what can Apple do? Creating a way to capitalize on the current behavior of these users seems like the only immediate way. Maybe someday they can convert the users to buying a Mac, but in the mean-time profiting from their Windows activities seems to make sense.
What do you think? Will the Mac Store ever make a Windows appearance?