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Amazon Introduces Mac Download Store, a Mac App Store Competitor

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Amazon (s amzn) unveiled its Mac Download Store on Thursday: a web-based competitor for the Mac App Store (s aapl). The store provides direct downloads of Mac software directly from your browser, and ships with some marquee titles that aren’t yet available in Apple’s own marketplace.

The real coup here is that Amazon has top-tier offerings from Microsoft (s msft) and Adobe (s adbe), including Office for Mac 2011 and Photoshop Elements 9. Amazon’s web store also has more current game offerings from major publishers, like Dragon Age 2, Civilization V and Sims Medieval. Game offerings on the Mac App Store tend to be older, and therefore compatible with a wider range of Mac computer hardware.

As with the Mac App Store, much of the user input required for installation is taken out of the process, making it remarkably easy for even beginner users to buy and use titles. Unlike the Mac App Store, though, Amazon’s offering is part of its existing website, and requires no software beyond a web browser to operate.

Titles you buy from the Mac Download Store remain available for unlimited re-download and installation through Amazon’s Games and Software Library, but the number of computers you can use the software on will vary depending on the software publisher’s preference. Downloads all include sizes, and download time estimates based on your connection.

Amazon is clearly interested in the idea of becoming a one-stop app shop for multiple platforms. It introduced its Amazon Appstore for Android (s goog) devices earlier this year, and it already offers direct downloads for PC software and games. It’s a good time to be in the direct download business, since boxed software sales have been slipping for quite some time.

Apple seems to want to promote the Mac App Store as the preferred distribution method for some of its own software at least, so I wonder whether it will welcome a strong competitive model from Amazon. With its existing customer base and, I imagine, less particular restrictions about the software it offers for sale, Amazon will be an attractive choice for software publishers and developers, and it seems to have the backing of some big fish already.

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