Apple to drop app downloads from site next month

When Mac App Store launches Jan. 6, company will stop serving Web downloads

Apple will pull all applications from its own Mac OS X download site on the same day that it launches the new Mac App Store early next month, according to reports.

In an e-mail sent to registered Mac developers on Monday, Ron Okamoto, Apple's head of developer relations, said that software town wasn't big enough for both the Mac App Store and the long-running Downloads .

Several sites, including Macworld , a sister publication of Computerworld, published the contents of Okamato's message.

"Because we believe the Mac App Store will be the best destination for users to discover, purchase, and download apps, we will no longer offer apps on the Mac OS X Downloads site," said Okamoto. "Instead, beginning January 6, we will be directing users to explore the range of apps available on the Mac App Store."

Mac OS X Downloads is a prominent part of Apple's Web site, and has long been accessible to users through the "Mac OS X Software" item in the OS X Apple menu.

Last week, Apple set the debut of the Mac App Store for Jan. 6.

On Monday, Okamoto urged Mac developers to turn their attention to the new mart.

"We appreciate your support of the Mac platform and hope you'll take advantage of this new opportunity to showcase your apps to even more users," he wrote.

The shuttering of Mac OS X Downloads may leave some developers, including several whose programs are in the site's top 10, out in the cold because of the restrictions Apple has put on App Store submissions.

The system utility CleanMyMac, No. 4 on the list as of late Monday, may be one. The maintenance tool, published by Ukrainian developer MacPaw, could run afoul of the guidelines that some have interpreted as banning many system utilities.

Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner, now No. 9, could be another, as the Northern Softworks program lets users customize several elements of Mac OS X's user interface, including disabling the Dashboard and the built-in Spotlight search. Apple's guidelines, however, forbid any software from the Mac App Store that "change[s] the native user interface elements or behaviors of Mac OS X."

And Autodesk Sketchbook Pro 2011, the program Apple cited as the "Featured Download" on Monday, would be barred from the Mac App Store because the download is a demo version of the $80 package. Apple has told developers that they cannot place beta, test or demo versions of their work in the Mac App Store, only "fully functional, retail versions" of applications.

A side effect of Downloads' demise will make it more difficult for users of older versions of Mac OS X to find software to download. "Apps that do not run on the currently shipping OS will be rejected," Apple's guidelines state.

When the Mac App Store launches next month, it will support only Snow Leopard, or Mac OS X 10.6, not the older Leopard (10.5) or Tiger (10.4). Several programs that appeared Monday in the top 10 on Downloads run on Tiger and/or Leopard as well as Snow Leopard.

Developers who want their software in the Mac App Store when it opens have until 5 p.m. Pacific time on Dec. 31 to submit their programs to Apple.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)

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