By Jared Newman | Monday, December 13, 2010 at 12:08 pm
The devil will be in the details if Cydia wants to rival Apple’s upcoming Mac App Store.
Mac Cydia will be available “within weeks,” according to Jay Freeman, who developed the Cydia Store for jailbroken iOS devices. Details are light at the moment, but Mac Cydia will likely lack the restrictions Apple will impose on its own store. (The Mac App Store won’t allow in-app purchases, demos, “lite” software or content that Apple deems inappropriate.)
It’s tempting to dismiss Mac Cydia as a solution in search of a problem. The main purpose of Cydia’s iOS store is to give iPhone owners a marketplace with virtually no rules. Mac users are already unrestricted in what they can download and install, so the purpose of a free-wheeling storefront is less obvious. But that doesn’t mean it’s unnecessary.
Mac Cydia could still be useful by providing similar benefits to Apple’s Mac App Store — specifically, a unified payment system, simple app updates and the ability to re-download previous purchase. Mac Cydia will also have to be a good curator by promoting the best programs in its store. It needs a good window-shopping experience similar to what Apple is certainly trying to accomplish.
If Mac Cydia does these things, one issue lingers: We still have no idea what kind of programs Apple intends to sell in its own store. Will the Mac App Store create a new market for little $1 apps, or will it mostly be a central repository for the big-ticket software you can already find around the web? Apple’s undesirables ultimately define Cydia, so don’t expect the underground of Mac apps to take shape until Apple’s store launches.