Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Replacing Apple Downloads with the Mac App Store

Apple is correct to recognize that the Mac App Store offers a way to create more value. But their letter to developers asserts:

"Because we believe the Mac App Store will be the best destination for users to discover, purchase, and download your apps, we will no longer offer apps on the Mac OS X Downloads site."

This statement is subjective and depends on who "your apps" is referring to and what the user is looking for. The Mac App Store is open to self contained productivity and entertainment apps that may access the Internet. Based on Apple's published guidelines, the Mac App Store IS NOT open to system utilities, disk utilities, network utilities, software that attempts to enhance the user interface of existing system facilities, or most plug-ins including browser, Email, and Address Book plug-ins.

Why? Placing code or resources in any shared area or requesting privilege escalation is prohibited.

In order for Apple's assertion above to be broadly true, Apple would need to offer a "Mac Utility Store" or other venue for applications that cannot meet the Mac App Store restrictions. This would include many award winning tools like Disk Warrior, Super Duper!, Default Folder X, 1Password, and other system maintenance utilities and plug-ins. Ironically, many Macworld Editor's Choice Award winning products are not eligible to appear in the Mac App Store. To say the Mac App Store is the "best destination for users to discover, purchase, and download your apps" is understandable marketing speak, but it's not the whole story.

I understand the hype machine can only focus on one thing at a time, but I hope Apple will consider expanding the scope of their Mac App Store(s) to truly become the "best destination" to discover great software.

Respectfully Submitted,

- Peter Sichel
Sustainable Softworks

Network Neutrality Made Simple

Much of the debate around Network Neutrality has tended to obfuscate what is essential to regulate with what is controversial, so I'd like to spell it out simply.

(1) Wireless airwaves and landline right of ways belong to the public.

(2) Government has granted a small number of business organizations a license or charter to provide voice and data communication services to the public based on these public resources.

(3) Building and operating the nations communication networks gives these organizations certain powers which the public has an interest in regulating. The charter granted to these business organizations to provide voice and data communication services to the public prohibits any attempt to give themselves or anyone else an unfair competitive advantage over any other lawful communication service that runs on top of these network facilities. The public's interest in an open Internet that supports efficient innovation requires this.

Point 3 is the crux of Network Neutrality. Certain carriers have tried to obfuscate the issue by saying they need the ability to offer premium services and manage the network which Network Neutrality would somehow prohibit. I respectfully disagree. The issue is whether Internet data carriers can grant themselves an unfair competitive advantage by virtue of controlling the pipes. The answer that best serves the public interest is "no".

For example, Network Neutrality says that Comcast may not restrict access to Netflix or charge a premium for such access so as to make their own video on demand services more competitive. They can manage the bandwidth available for streaming, but they must not discriminate based on the content itself or who provides it. The user decides what services they choose to access.