This Is How Apple Will Use Mountain Lion's Gatekeeper to Crush Competitive Apps

Illustration for article titled This Is How Apple Will Use Mountain Lions Gatekeeper to Crush Competitive Apps

OS X Mountain Lion's Gatekeeper is ideally meant to warn users about potentially malicious apps sitting around the web. That's a good thing! But Gatekeeper could also be interpreted as Apple heavily discouraging less savvy users from installing non-Mac App Store apps entirely. It's one step away from turning the current app freedom on the Mac into the app dictatorship of iOS.

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Of course, it's no where near a real problem yet but it's at the very least, a curious move. Apple has made it known that developers can activate Gatekeeper on Mac OS X 10.7.3 to see how their apps would behave under Gatekeeper's security level. If the app doesn't pass Gatekeeper's rules, the warning message above would pop up to users.

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Um. Yeah.

That doesn't do much to calm our fears of an Apple apphoarding future. I mean, OS X is explicitly telling you to move the app to the Trash. Even worse, the app receiving the throngs of Gatekeeper's wrath is Adium. Adium. The instant messaging client that everyone has installed on their Macs. If Gatekeeper is treating Adium like this, no app will be able to escape its harsh shadow (as an aside, Adium is an app Apple is trying to kill with Mountain Lion). How many people will blindly follow these instructions? [MacRumors via @adampash]

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DISCUSSION

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If I were to stake my bets this is a transition version. My prediction is that 10.9 will go full tilt, with apps having to be bought and sold exclusively through the App Store. 10.8 will serve as a springboard for companies and individuals producing Mac applications to get on board and start distributing their applications to the App Store now, so as not to be left behind in 10.9. A gentle nudge in that direction with this error message, if you will.

That being said I don't think OS X will be alone in this. Windows 8 is also a transition OS, allowing the use of desktop apps but very heavily encouraging new Metro-based apps that work exclusively with Windows 8. My guess is Microsoft might do likewise and insist that in Windows 9, applications are distributed through their storefront as well.

Of course all of that is pure speculation. I could be totally wrong (and as a developer I hope to God I am, honestly), but I just wanted to toss it out on the table as something to chew on.