January 6, 2011

Apple Kills Physical Media with Launch of App Store

Many of us watch movies via Netflix, Hulu, and other services instead of ever waiting for a disc to spin up. And when's the last time anyone went to a Blockbuster? With DVD winding down, Apple has famously sat out Blu-ray, with Steve Jobs calling the format a "bag of hurt." With iTunes and Apple TV, Apple has worked towards eliminating the CD and DVD, respectively. Will the launch of today's Mac App Store do the same for software on disc?

I finally replaced my five year-old MacBook Pro (which I bought with grant money, and which is currently available on eBay) with a new MacBook Air this holiday season. Because the Air lacks a DVD drive, it comes with a USB key containing the OS, eliminating disc-based media. With the App Store, Apple is one step closer to getting rid of physical media all together. But will it be how we buy all Mac software, or will it be limited to smaller apps? TechCrunch's take:

It’s also not yet known just how many of the bigger software makers will follow Apple’s lead and put their software in the Mac App Store. While it may seem to make sense for Adobe to put Photoshop in the store, and Microsoft to put Office in there, they’d have to pay 30 percent of all the revenue made off of those sales back to Apple, something which they don’t have to do distributing the software via disc.

That's true, assuming you buy the disc directly from Adobe or Microsoft -- if you buy it from Amazon or B&H, for example, the software developer is still coughing up a percentage to the store. Because the App Store allows Mac users to find and update apps more easily, I'd expect most developers to jump on board -- the 30% cut will be a small price to pay if they're able to "ship" more units. This does beg the question of software suites like Office and Adobe's Creative Suite, however -- note that in the App Store you can buy the iLife '11 apps individually instead of as a bundle. For example, you can purchase iMovie '11 for $14.99 instead of the whole iLife package for $50 (iMovie '11 includes some interesting new features that might be worth checking out if you're doing low-end video editing). While smaller developers will almost certainly sign up for the store, It will be interesting to see if developers like Adobe and Microsoft will feel comfortable giving Apple 30% -- or would they prefer to sell through their own web sites, shunning the App Store? Stay tuned.

The full Press Release:

Apple's Mac App Store Opens for Business

CUPERTINO, Calif.—(BUSINESS WIRE)— Apple® today announced that the Mac® App Store℠ is now open for business with more than 1,000 free and paid apps. The Mac App Store brings the revolutionary App Store experience to the Mac, so you can find great new apps, buy them using your iTunes® account, download and install them in just one step. The Mac App Store is available for Snow Leopard® users through Software Update as part of Mac OS® X v10.6.6.

"With more than 1,000 apps, the Mac App Store is off to a great start," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "We think users are going to love this innovative new way to discover and buy their favorite apps."

The Mac App Store offers apps in Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity, Utilities and other categories. Users can browse new and noteworthy apps, find out what's hot, see staff favorites, search categories and look up top charts for paid and free apps, as well as user ratings and reviews.

Entirely new apps, as well as current Mac favorites, are available from developers such as Autodesk, Ancestry.com and Boinx. iPhoto®, iMovie® and GarageBand® apps from Apple's popular iLife® ‘11 suite are available individually in the Mac App Store for $14.99 each, and Pages®, Keynote® and Numbers® apps from iWork® are available for $19.99 each. Aperture® 3, Apple's powerful photo editing and management software, is available for $79.99.

"We're delighted to bring our professional-grade paint and drawing app, Autodesk SketchBook Pro, to the Mac App Store on its first day of launch," said Carl Bass, Autodesk's CEO. "We've seen tremendous success on the Mac, iPhone and iPad with multiple apps. We're excited to offer SketchBook Pro on the Mac App Store so artists can easily create everything from quick sketches to high-quality artwork right on their Macs."

"By offering the Ancestry.com Family Tree Maker app on the Mac App Store, we're making it even easier for people to discover and access their family history," said Tim Sullivan, Ancestry.com's CEO. "The Mac App Store will drive a new generation of innovation on the Mac platform."

"We're thrilled to have our award-winning animation, video production and photography software available on the new Mac App Store," said Oliver Breidenbach, Boinx Software's CEO. "The Mac App Store makes it easier than ever for consumers to access all the innovative software designed for the Mac."

To get the Mac App Store, download the Mac OS X v10.6.6 Software Update or visit www.apple.com/mac/app-store. To find out more about developing for the Mac App Store visit developer.apple.com/programs/mac.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork, and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple is reinventing the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

Mac App Store
First Look at the Mac App Store

[via TechCrunch]

Your Comment


I don;t think that this will kill off disc-based media. I mean, with the mac app store, comes apple's control freak issues, and with those comes third party stores (A cydia for Mac is already in the works). With third party apps come pirating apps (I.E.: Installous)

Selling something through an app store makes it easier to pirat e(In my opinion). With something like an App store it makes it one congregate place for app buyers to get thier apps, but it will inevitably create a single congregate place for app piraters to pirate apps.

January 6, 2011 at 2:19PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

David Fulde

How does putting the operating system on a usb key eliminate disc based media? I agree that the app store is a huge step towards eliminating physical media but a usb key is not always better than a disc. They're a hell of a lot more expensive and wasteful.

January 6, 2011 at 3:25PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Von Bilka

I'm not saying USB keys are going to replace CDs as the way we buy our software; I'm saying downloads are. Yes, discs will be around for a while, in the same way that MySpace is still around. But they're dead to the extent that they will eventually constitute a small minority of software/movie/music purchases.

Look at an online platform like Steam and you'll see that once you let people download software over periods of days -- even seeding it before it's released -- there are plenty of ways to overcome the "it ships on 6 DVDs" problem. Of those 6 DVDs, you could fit the programs from the entire FCS on one DVD -- the media component could download as a second step in the background, for example.

January 6, 2011 at 5:15PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Ryan Koo

Given that Final Cut Studio comes on something like 6 DVDs, I reckon current internet speeds mean that a diskless future's a long way off yet. Perhaps in the future if internet access becomes widespread enough, the Mac App Store might offer some sort of 'applications on demand service' where software could be loaded remotely and paid for as you use it?

By the way, Koo, the eBay listing blurb for your Macbook Pro says it has an i5 processor in it. I know you've done a nice job building the Hackintosh, but I'm guessing that's a typo and you haven't worked some magic on the logic board. And if you did, can you do mine?!

January 6, 2011 at 4:01PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Hah. Yeah, eBay has a spec sheet they automatically include, and a couple of the specs are wrong. It also says it gets 8-9 hours of battery life which is about 2-3 times what one should expect, even brand new...

January 6, 2011 at 5:11PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Ryan Koo

Hey note to all hackintosh followers, update to 10.6.6 via OSX, you may get a failed install if you install via the combo installer. No kexts or rollbacks were needed!

January 6, 2011 at 7:17PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Can't say that I am a fan of the App store. Their marketing/price structure is not current, what I mean is that other parts of the world are paying more, for example here in Australia the dollar is stronger is equal to the USA dollar and has been for the last couple of months, yet apple has not changed its pricing accordingly.
A great example is ilife, when it was first released late 2010 I believe it was around the neighbor of $49US and the Australian price was $69AUS.
I point is that the App store is showing a similar sales margin - so much for a easy, fair, and level playing field. ; imovie is $14.99US and $17.99AUS and today the Australian dollar buys $1.00US. Nice little profile margin for Apple since the end user only has to downloading software, there is no pretty box/packaging and no shipping and handling charges.

January 7, 2011 at 12:04AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


I has been possible to buy adobe's creative suite on download for years now which come on 6 DVDs so it really itsn't ground breaking technology. but the idea of of having them all in one place it somewhat interesting. Physical media is fading out but I don't think it should be allowed to disappear. going to be tough to restore when you computer crashes. Pros will still be using discs for years. consumers will quickly adopt the new way to download programs.

January 7, 2011 at 12:55AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

nic justice

as it relates to filmmakers however, how does one ship content as the file sizes go higher and higher... everyone buying an external blu ray burner? how do you distribute your films? online too? like adrian said, cutting out discs means forgetting about people who dont have the internet. that might sound like a retarded idea. but some people yeah i mean they have shitty internet deals. and cutting out physical media also means another thing - not sharing in face to face. sure i could give you a link, but youd have to wait for hours for a 20 minute 10gigabyte at h.246. or hours more for a 30 or so gig at Pro Res. Even a 16GB Usb key is around 30 - 50 bucks a pop. at least here in AU it is. and yeah i mean for clients, sure you can buy a hard drive, like an external thing with a power supply. but im talking about what it means to just give someone a cd. its nice, easy and cheap. tho i think people hate getting cds now. usb is much more sexier. its like giving sumone a coin. and thats important in this business. to shmooze and share in real life. plus im a sucker for quality, sharing in physical means you an give full high def, in the change of a hand. if your gonna chuck your stuff online or on youtube or vimeo or whatever your compromsing on setting and quality. not everyone is going online all the time and anyone that is using a myriad of different channels. but usb is still pricey, and bluray aint gonna disapear, not with hd where its at. and since every camera coming out is going 2k and up, you can bet your bucks that if the internet is getting faster, the dimensions are also getting bigger and the file sizes will be huge. disc media will have its place until usb comes down. interesting to see that point where usb eclipses blu ray economically. because right now blu ray is cheaper. But still not cheaper than cd drives. i bet apple will eventual crumble. but by the time blu ray discs are out at 200gb, yep. thats when apple will give you the 25 gb model ;)

January 8, 2011 at 9:50AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Physical Media will never die as yet. Wait for the next 10 or 20 years. Blu-ray is still selling very well, believe me go to the blu-ray dot com website. Older folks don't even bother with digital software or movies, they are likely to go to the store and buy a disc, younger folks buys digital but I'm 25 years old, I only buy the best movies on blu-ray because I prefer special features, digital copy and subtitles for the most important thing because my wife is deaf. So no, Apple can't kill Physical Media if they can't include subtitles or CC in VuDu, Nextflix and Hulu. Hulu do have CC but it is limited, not all films have CC. Unlike Blu-ray, it includes subtitles in all movies period. Movie companies must care for disabled customers as well.

January 11, 2011 at 2:14AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Rapper Don

Excellent job. I've bookmarked you!

March 19, 2011 at 9:44AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Great article. I can see you put your passion into this. As for Apple, Inc taking away the need for usage of disc media - I would have to say why can't we be specific about the percentage B&H takes vs the percentage Apple, Inc takes ? To even consider this an alternative many "ifs" have to be proven as results. However, if a company can do both disc and app store with their software then why not... ? It's because there is more money in not having a middle man and giving the software directly to your customer. I don't think having Apps as the only form of media is a good idea. CDs are good backups in case of OS issues.

September 26, 2011 at 8:30PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


There is no question that Apple kills physical media. Now, most of the user's use apple mobile apps, I'm a ios app developer & i have been develop many apps that is live in app store.

December 13, 2016 at 7:27AM

Eric Moose
Web Designer & Developer

Nothing can kill off disc-based media in Apple. I agree that they are produce the best machines on the market. You can to see yalantis and make sure yourself.

August 14, 2017 at 6:26AM


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September 10, 2018 at 3:22AM


That was such an awesome move from Apple and of course, there are plenty good apps on alternative app store known as aptoide https://aptoideios.info/

October 29, 2018 at 5:47AM, Edited October 29, 5:47AM