Apple announces Mac App Store will open on January 6

If you’ve been eagerly anticipating plonking down your hard-earned cash for Mac apps, then you’ll want to mark your calendar. Apple announced on Thursday that it would 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 purchase paid and download free apps in categories like 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.

In a press release on Apple’s site, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said, “The App Store revolutionized 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.

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