Apple set Mac App store launch date for January

Image caption,
The mobile store has more than 300,000 apps

Apple is hoping to replicate the success of its mobile App store with a new version for laptops and desktops that will launch in January 2011.

The Mac App store will allow people to download free and paid-for software straight to their machine.

Forrester research analyst Ian Fogg said the store was a reflection of the success of applications on smartphones.

It will initially be available on PCs running the most recent version of the Mac OSX Operating system, Snow Leopard.

It will also be integrated in the firm's Lion operating system, due in the middle of 2011.

Mr Fogg said the early release of the store, first announced in October this year, showed the importance of apps to Apple's strategy.

"It's striking that Apple feels that it needs to launch the store before Lion," he told BBC News.

He said it would be a platform for developers to "find an easy route to market," something that Apple had not had for desktop and PC software in the past.

Apple are not the first to distribute software in this way. For example, Steam from Valve, allows gamers to download titles to PC and Mac.

"Most app stores before have focused on a niche, rather than general purpose," said Mr Fogg.

Google offers a similar store, that currently allows people to download apps for its Chrome browser. It will be a key part of the firm's push for its Chrome operating system, due to launch next year.

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