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Posted by Peter Sheldon on January 28, 2011
For eBusiness leaders, software app stores represent a new and disruptive distribution channel for PC and Mac software.
Three weeks ago, Apple launched its App Store for Macs, following in the footsteps of the hugely successful app store for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. With the new Mac app store, Apple is hoping to change the way Mac users discover, download and purchase software. At launch the store contained more than 1,000 apps, and Apple was keen to report an impressive 1 million downloads on the first day. For Mac users it’s a compelling story:
Like in many other product categories, Apple is actually following a strategy of early follower rather than first mover. Software app stores for personal computers are not new, and the model has not always resonated with consumers. Some notable forerunners include Microsoft’s Vista Marketplace, Ubuntu’s Software Center and Steam Powered.
For eBusiness leaders, software app stores represent yet another evolution in multichannel commerce. B2C and B2B software and application publishers that have traditionally sold directly online, in retail stores and through wholesale distributors must now consider the opportunity and risks associated with distributing their products through app stores. As software app stores like Steam Powered and Apple’s Mac app store gain popularity with the user community, software publishers will face increasing consumer pressures to offer their products through this vertical.
For small software publishers and platforms that offer free desktop apps (think Evernote or Skype), the software app store is a great way to gain exposure to the user community and increase distribution and usage of their products. Larger software publishers selling costly or professional software (think Microsoft Office in the Mac App Store) may be more wary of stepping onto the app store bandwagon. Those publishers must consider:
Software app stores may not be right for everyone, but publishers of Mac software should carefully consider the Mac app store as an extension of their eCommerce channel.
Allow me to introduce myself: I'm Peter Sheldon, the new eCommerce Technology Analyst for Forrester's eBusiness and Channel Strategy Team. I'm thrilled to have joined Forrester, and I look forward to your comments and questions on this blog post. Forrester clients with questions on how app stores impact your eCommerce strategy, please schedule an inquiry so we can discuss this emerging channel further.