MAC SOFTWARE DISTRIBUTION
Why Mac software isn't as visible in stores - and where to find it.
There are currently
14,000+ software titles for the Macintosh - which is far far
more than the average person needs or could use, and I don't
think that includes all of the various shareware and
freeware products. So the point is that if you need a Mac to
do something, then odds are there is a package out there
somewhere to do it.
How does software distribution
There are some issues with Mac software distribution that
helps with the myth that Macs don't have enough software.
- Retail caters to top 10%
Retail sales are about selling the hottest selling top
5-10% of titles. Since Mac versions are usually not
considered "the hottest selling", then retail stores tend
to do a very poor job of displaying Mac titles. So Mac
users learned to buy mail-order or direct (in both cases
saving money and giving more options). Stores then
weren't getting as many Mac software sales, so reduced
their Mac sections even further. So Mac users buy even
more software through Mail Order.This cycle means that it
is harder to find stores with good Mac software sections
- but is not the same as Macs not having enough
Now a large number of software titles are for vertical
(specialty) markets. Many of those titles do not need to
be on retail shelves -- however, they do exist and are
available if you need them. Whether Mac or PC, Mail-Order
usually has a better selection and can afford to stock
more obscure titles (due to realities of central
distribution vs. local distribution).
There is also a battle for shelf-space at retail stores.
Stores often charge software manufacturers for good slots
or for just having their products in the store at all --
of course mail-order also has this form of extortion.
Hopefully direct sales and competition will drive the
costs of this payola down! (These costs are passed on to
the consumers one way or another).
- Installation / Reliability
Since it is easier to install software on a Mac, and
there are many many less compatibility issues or
conflicts with Mac software, this lead to more people
buying mail order. In the PC world you never know if your
software will work, so you want to buy local to get
support and have somewhere to take the software back when
it fails. (This is an illusion since mail-order often has
more liberal return policies, and often better support,
but we are talking about perceptions and motivations -
not reality). So PC users are much more mentally trapped
into buying their software locally because of the lack of
reliability or predictability.
PC users have also learned (the hard way) not to take any
chances or experiment too much with software (they'll get
bit), so they buy the safest way (locally), and always
ask someone else for their opinions, and are very
conservative about purchases. Mac Users on the other hand
are sometimes too flamboyant, and too willing to install
too much software, including things that patch the system
or users who put 300 different pieces of shareware gotten
off the "net" on their machines, and often are much more
self-motivated to buy and install software. (This is why
Mac users tend to run twice as many titles per machine as
There are also many hybrid software packages on the store
shelves. These packages will run on either a Mac or a PC
but are often stocked in the PC section. PC users are
often unaware of this and so assume that Macs have fewer
options than they really do. Mac users are often savvy
enough to know of this, and so will wander gleefully into
the PC section and find the Mac (hybrid) packages they
need. The stores ring these sales up as PC sales - which
does a double cheat on the Mac (it credits the PC
software market with a sale that it didn't get, and
cheats the Mac out of a sale that it did get). This makes
many of the marketing numbers biased against Mac.
Software companies themselves know better based on
registration of software - but there is another issue
here. Marketing companies (like the SPA) who track sales,
often do so by polling only the largest companies for
their sales, or by only checking the largest
distributors. Since many Mac software companies are
smaller or do more mail order, or get hybrids
mis-credited, the Mac software market is again made to
seem smaller than it really is.
So the point is that Mac software does exist - but that
PC users (or newbies) are unaware that it exists and where
to find it.
Where to find Mac Software