Apple recently reported that the Mac App Store has seen over 100 million downloads in 340 days. This makes Apple the biggest Mac software retailer. That may be bad, on one hand, for Apple Specialists, but let’s face it: Specialists are needed more than ever.

When the Mac App Store opened for business, it offered 1,000 applications; now it hosts 10,000 apps. The Mac App Store is included with Mac OS X 10.7 and is available as a software update for any Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.

Basically, I like the Mac App Store; it’s convenient to be able to load purchased software on a new Mac without digging out CDs and registration codes. However, some developers cringe at Apple’s rigid control over the online store and the inchessandboxinginches of software titles. (A sandbox is a security mechanism for separating running programs. In Apple’s case, it provides a tightly controlled set of resources for guest programs to run in. Network access, the ability to inspect the host system or read from input devices aren’t allowed.)

For these developers, Apple Specialists remain vital because they’ll still carry boxed software. Even more importantly, as clever as Apple is, you can’t download hardware from the Mac App Store.

To see Macs, iPads, iPods, accessories, peripherals, etc., there’s still no better place to go than your local Specialist. And despite all Apple’s success, that’s not going to change.

— Dennis Sellers