Rumor: Boxed software facing extinction at Apple Stores

Apple Store image

Rumor has it that Apple is planning to remove boxed software from its retail stores. How’s that for dematerialization?

Can’t say it’s too surprising, coming on the heels of the Mac App Store’s successful debut. In its first day, it attracted 1 million downloads. And for some developers, it has helped drum up sales nicely.

Digital distribution has already transformed the music industry and robust e-book sales are shaking up the publishing world. Now Apple seems willing to let its online software store do the heavy lifting. (And capture a 30 percent slice of software sales, let’s not be naive.) On the plus side, the move eliminates the environmental impact of manufacturing, packaging and transporting the software. Additionally, the absence of software boxes further emphasizes Apple’s minimalist retail aesthetic.

One of the few downsides is that some big Mac software makers, notably Adobe and Microsoft, have yet to set up shop in Apple’s online marketplace. And while there’s nothing preventing them and other software makers from making their products available by other means, forcing customers to jump through hoops to obtain them is counter to Apple’s one-stop, customer-centric ethos.

Despite the downsides — and if the rumors are true — Apple is clearly betting that customers will prefer this software delivery method. It’s a pretty safe bet.

Already, millions of iPhone and iPod touch owners have vaulted iTunes app downloads past the 10 billion mark. For them, purchasing apps is old hat and chances are good that Apple will meet little resistance as it establishes a similar purchasing experience on Mac desktops and notebooks via the Mac App Store. Plus, when you compare digital downloads to their physical counterparts, downloads have the environmental advantage and a convenience factor that can’t be overstated.

Image credit: Apple

by Pedro Hernandez on February 7, 2011 · 1 comment

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