Mac App Store Is Live

Early this morning, well before the anticipated launch time of 12PM EST, Apple opened its new Mac App Store to the masses. Check after the break to find out what you can expect.

The App Store is not part of iTunes but rather a standalone piece of software. Because of the way it is integrated into the OS, you’ll first need to download the latest version of Mac OS X (10.6.6), in which the Mac App Store is bundled. All sales are tied to your iTunes account, though, so assuming you’ve provided a credit card number to Apple, you’re good to go.

The store, as expected, is a mix of free and pay software. The pricing structure is clearly still in its infancy, but right now the trend seems to be that apps formerly on iOS cost a bit more on the Mac, whereas Mac software previously available elsewhere (via online downloads or in retail packaging) is coming at a discount, sometimes a steep one.

Apple’s own software, such as iLife (iPhoto, iMovie, and Garage Band) are available as separate purchases, meaning if you don’t write or play music for instance, you can purchase only the software that pertains to you and save a bundle in the process. Furthermore, as with other software bought via your iTunes account, each of these apps can be used on up to five Macs. Essentially, for something like iLife, you’re getting a family pack–even furthering your savings.

The store has opened with around 1,000 apps, which is not a bad start at all. The top apps seem to be games (no surprise there), with Angry Birds taking the lead for now.

Early adopters have encountered a few hiccups here and there, but the roll-out seems to be mostly a successful one for Apple. The new store is building off the solid reputation set forth by the iOS App Store. Although that store is notorious for extremely low prices all around, the ease of use and one-click purchases have always spurned more impulse buys. We won’t be surprised if the Mac Store enjoys the same brisk sales and rise in popularity.

For iOS users, just be comforted to know that the Mac App Store will likely attract even more developers to the Mac side of things, support more cross-platform development (for both Mac OS X and iOS), and help keep both stores filled with new apps to download and enjoy.

Even though the Mac App Store won’t be part of our regular coverage, we do encourage any Mac owners out there to take a look and see what you think.

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