Since its inception in 2006, MacHeist has been variously reviled, applauded and seen soaring success. The annual event, which mixes entertainment, charity, free software, and software bundling, has become a phenom in the Mac world. Given the success of Apple's iPhone App Store, could MacHeist prompt Apple to create an App Store for Macs too?
MacHeist began as a novel way to sell multiple pieces of Mac software in a discount bundle. It was attractive for developers, who get free ads and guaranteed income for a short period of time, and equally interesting for the buyers, who get full-price software at knock-down prices. And they can feel good about it too: 25% of the revenue earned also goes directly to charity. MacHeist2 donated around $500,000, and MH3—currently in progress—could reach a million dollars.
Phill Ryu, the enthusiastic co-creator of MacHeist, says the main spur for creating the event was seeing how hard it was for developers to promote good software through the available channels: "even if you're doing well, you're probably only reaching 1% of Mac users," he says.
Ryu is also the co-creator of one of the most-successful apps on sale for the iPhone: Classics, an e-book reader for "classic" literature. It's sold over 200,000 copies—in part because of the "game changing" iTunes App Store, which demonstrates the power of selling software through an optimized distribution network. So why not move this successful model onto the desktop?
MacHeist could be viewed as a "practice for an App Store for Mac software sitting in the OS X dock," says Ryu. And it's easy to see his point: The event is a showcase for a group of companies who develop quality software for Apple machines. It's stylish, fun, and aggregated under a common banner and sales system... which makes it sound a lot like the iTunes App Store for the iPhone.
Could MacHeist's success prompt Apple to expanding the App store to supply Mac software? Or would Apple simply buy up MacHeist, since it does have a history of purchasing innovative start-ups and incorporating them into its business, with CoverFlow being an obvious example. The iPhone App Store is touted as one of the reasons the phone is so successful, and compared to Microsoft's competing Windows platform—which relies on conventional software markets—a new Apple-controlled distribution channel for third-party software could really draw people to buying a Mac.