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Apple announces Mac App Store will open on Jan 6

Download paid-for and free apps

If you've been eagerly anticipating plonking down your hard-earned cash for Mac apps, then you'll want to mark your calendar. Apple has announced it will open the doors to its new Mac App Store in 90 countries on January 6, 2011.

First unveiled in October at Apple's Back to the Mac event, the Mac App Store aims to offer a parallel experience to the one Apple pioneered in 2008 with its App Store for iOS devices. Users will be able to download paid-for and free apps in categories such as Education, Games, Productivity, Utilities, and more. Any downloaded can be installed on all a user's personal Macs, and updates are handled by the store. The revenue-sharing deal is the same as with the App Store: developers take 70 percent of income, with Apple taking the other 30 percent to cover hosting costs and credit card fees.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: "The App Store revolutionised mobile apps. We hope to do the same for PC apps with the Mac App Store by making finding and buying PC apps easy and fun. We can't wait to get started on January 6."

But even prior to its launch, the Mac App Store has already raised some controversy, with many developers pointing to restrictive rules that would block several popular existing apps from sale and others worrying that it may signal the beginning of a slippery slope towards a locked-down ecosystem similar to iOS devices. On the flipside, some have argued that the Mac App Store may be a good thing for consumers and developers alike, with the former gaining an easy central location to find software for their computer, and the latter getting massive exposure among Mac users.

The Mac App Store will be available to users of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard as a free download via Software Update.

See also: Apple clarifies Mac App Store rules


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