The Mac App Store is leveling the playing field for developers. It does not matter if you are big or small, anyone can get on the front page of the Mac Store. No longer do developers need to pay big money for distribution partners and sales agents. While the Mac App Store continues to grow, so will those who have their applications in its store.
Applications now will compete on price, quality and feature set instead of back room deals and marketing agreements. Developers will still need to get the word out about their applications, but this will vary depending on how big the developer is.
Small developers will have the biggest marketing task just to get the word out about their new application. It is more difficult, but not impossible, for small developers to build quality applications due to the size of their company. If they can find an open niche or a poor competitor, the reward is big. This will draw many small developers to the App Store.
Medium sized development companies will have the biggest payoff. They already have a good group of users, which will elevate their application to the top of the App Store charts. They have just enough developers to build a high quality application and compete with big names, without needing the overhead of the large corporation. A perfect example of this is Pixelmator, which grossed 1 million dollars in 20 days in the App Store. That 1 million dollars gives them plenty of money to really increase their feature set in the coming year. That will really help them compete with the big developers like Adobe, who are not in the Mac App Store.
Most big developers have chosen not to add their applications to the App Store which will be a mistake as other developers continue to build full feature applications. Their strengths, like distribution channels and marketing muscle, are almost useless in the App Store. By giving up control of the distribution channel to Apple, they lose valuable resources like customer data, which is used to improve their applications. Supporting larger overhead cost typical of a big company will also begin to be a disadvantage. In order to compete though, they are going to have to bring quality applications to the Mac App Store or lose customers and revenue.
Speciality applications like Adobe Photoshop or Luxology Modo can easily compete outside the App Store. Yet most popular software, like Adobe Photoshop Elements or Microsoft Office, will find it difficult to let their competitors have such a big platform to display their software. As long as big developers continue to stay out of the Mac App Store, it gives developers like Pixelmator, Realmac, Evernote, and others the advantage.