Apple Unveils New Mac App Store

So Apple’s not at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas—AGAIN.

Mac OSX Snow Leopard
Getty Images
Mac OSX Snow Leopard

The company hasn’t shown up for years, but, as always, is looking to steal the show, this time, by rolling out its new Mac App Store. It officially went online on Thursday morning with Apple releasing a software update for the Snow Leopard OS.

Don’t expect a lot of Apps right off the bat though. The Mac App Store only has around 1,000 available, a far cry from the 300,000 that are currently up for the iPhone or the 40,000 for iPad.

Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, hopes the store revolutionizes the way consumers shop for software for their desktops—by making major programs of its own, and from other developers, available for a simple download.

CES 2011 - Your Digital Life - A CNBC Special Report
CES 2011 - Your Digital Life - A CNBC Special Report

Analysts think it will be a good way for Apple to increase its so-called ecosystem and further connect with Apple users everywhere.

And while the new Mac App Store may start small, the upside is big—really big. Gartner thinks the global app market, at $4 billion now, will hit $27 billion over the next two years.

One thing is certain. Apple-heads love their apps. To date, they’ve downloaded seven million of them. Citibank estimates the main app store will bring in $2 billion in revenue this year. Those numbers could go even higher given that Apple continues to add new customers.

Mac sales in the 4th Quarter of 2010 rose 27 percnet over the prior year, momentum that has helped the stock rise to all-time highs.

Watch CNBC TV reports from CES all day Thursday and Friday, December 6 and 7. Maria Bartiromo will anchor "Closing Bell" from the show and will be speaking with numerous tech company CEOs, including Microsoft's Steve Ballmer and Sony's Howard Stringer.