Apple has just published a press release that confirms a January 6 opening of the Mac App Store. It will be available in 90 countries, and feature free and paid apps. Mac OS X Snow Leopard (time to upgrade from 10.5!) users will need a free download via Software Update before they can use the App Store.
The Mac App Store, if it isn’t obvious, aims to revolutionize the distribution of PC programs in much the same way as the iOS App Store. The idea is to provide quick and easy access to the latest and greatest in Mac OS X apps, and will feature categories, staff picks, and customer reviews and ratings, just like the other App Store.
The only comparable service to the Mac App Store is Valve’s Steam, and it will be interesting to see whether Apple’s new offering nibbles away at Steam’s market share. More importantly, it’s now only a matter of time until an equivalent marketplace emerges on the Windows platform; and indeed, could the fragmented Windows ecosystem even support an App Store?