Yes, it's the end of boxed software as we know it, at least for Mac users (Windows users will have to wait). And, I feel fine.
A few months ago, and on short notice, I needed to edit some photos and required more granular editing capabilities than come with iPhoto. I grabbed the dog and kids and chose to walk to the nearest office megachain. After nearly getting squished crossing the road, using the only available bridge for miles, I was asked to leave the shopping plaza because I had a dog on a leash.
Obtaining a new copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements needn't be that difficult. Fortunately, it no longer is. Now you can download Photoshop Elements directly from within the Mac App Store. As I've been writing for awhile, Apple's integration of its app store within its OS is a revolutionary change, which while seemingly subtle at first, is going to change the way users research, select, purchase, download, install, maintain, update and recover software.
Adobe's a milestone
First, Adobe is selling the applications for $79.99 each in the Mac App store. That's $20 less than Adobe sells the software for on its own website. And, when Adobe sells these packages through Apple, Adobe has to pay Apple a hefty commission (reportedly 30 percent).
Second, it's Adobe. Remember that these two companies don't like each other very much. Apple still won't support Flash on its mobile OS. So Adobe's embracing Apple's app store for its own distribution efforts suggests Adobe's seen the future and believes boxed software is about to go the way of the 56K modem.
Third, Adobe is releasing these applications, some of its most popular, via the Mac app store at a time it's reorganizing. The latest restructuring is designed to emphasize a tightened focus on digital media and marketing. Those actions suggest it may prove more profitable for Adobe to concentrate on developing and marketing software, instead of having to build and maintain a large distribution arm.
Windows to follow suit
The last several Mac apps I've purchased -- Mac OS X Lion, WriteRoom and Scrivener among them-didn't even require that I leave my desk. The convenience is significant, especially when seeking a specific version and you don't want to or don't have time to check a few stores or wait a few days for the software to arrive via mail. Windows users will enjoy the same convenience soon, too. When the Windows app store arrives, count on other major software vendors (including Adobe) to adopt the integrated OS distribution model. The time has come. No one should need risk life, limb, and hassle just to track down a simple app.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.