Rumor Has It: Mac App Store Arriving Before Christmas?

The Mac App Store might be an early Christmas present for Mac users this holiday. A new report from blog Appletell suggests it could arrive as soon as next Monday, Dec. 13. Steve Jobs originally gave the Mac App Store a release window of within 90 days of the Back to Mac special event, which took place Oct. 20, so the date from the new report falls pretty early within that time frame.

Generally speaking, when someone in the tech world says a product is launching “within” a certain period, it’ll come at the end of that range, at the earliest. Apple is pretty good about hitting its own deadlines, but I still wouldn’t have expected to see a Mac App Store arrive before January. However, an “inside source” speaking to Appletell claims it could arrive as early as next week, and, in fact, Steve Jobs was pushing for it to launch today or even earlier.

The Mac App Store is a software marketplace and distribution platform designed to centralize the sale of OS X apps, in the same way that the original App Store manages iOS applications. Unlike the iOS App Store, however, the Mac version won’t be the sole source for Mac software.

Jobs wants an early release badly, according to the source. Cupertino had reportedly told developers to have their apps ready to go for a launch as early as Monday, Dec. 6. Though his original preference of today likely won’t be met according to Appletell’s source, Apple is still said to be on schedule for a pre-Christmas release.

It makes sense Apple would want to have the Mac App Store up and running before Christmas. We’ve seen in recent years that the iOS App Store posts its highest sales volume by far on and around Christmas, as new iOS device owners break in their devices and iTunes gift cards find their way into stockings everywhere. Apps experience a 1,000 percent increase in sales on Christmas Day, and generally enjoy higher sales volumes around November and December.

Bottom line? If it’s at all possible for Apple to launch the App Store in December, it will. OS X 10.6.6 beta seeds are already making the rounds, with a second version released last week. That build includes support for the Mac App Store, and should see release either shortly before or coincidental with the Mac App Store’s launch, so watching its progress will be a good indicator of how close Apple is.

The second factor that could affect Apple’s launch plans is content. It needs a healthy library for consumers to choose from if it wants to capitalize on the holiday app rush. I think Apple will be happy with relatively few third-party offerings so long as it can get its iWork ’11 suite prepped in time for day one sales. If the marquee products on the App Store at launch are Apple’s own, it stands to gain even more. But since developers will also want to reap the benefits of a pre-Christmas release, I don’t think Apple should have much trouble filling the shelves.

Of course, if Steve Jobs isn’t happy with the product, we won’t see it released. He gave himself and the company 90 days to get everything right, and he’ll take all of that time and more to make sure the Mac App Store is up to his exacting standards. I hope it does arrive early, though, since it’ll make shopping for stocking stuffers that much easier.

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