AppleInsider reports that it has learned that Apple is planning to utilize the Mac App Store as the "preferred" mechanism for distribution of Mac OS X Lion when it is released to the public later this year.
The Mac App Store, available to all users running the most recent version of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, will become the de facto method for obtaining the Lion upgrade, people familiar with the matter have revealed. Users will be able to upgrade instantly without the need for physical media by purchasing Lion through the Mac App Store.
Apple is said to presumably be planning to also release Mac OS X Lion on physical media to support users who are running older Mac OS X versions incompatible with the Mac App Store or who have slow Internet connections that would make downloading the large update unwieldy.
Distribution of Mac OS X Lion through the Mac App Store would of course not be a surprise, as Apple has been working to position the marketplace as the future of app distribution on the Mac platform and has even been distributing developer builds of Lion through the store.
Options for physical media distribution could include the traditional optical disc or even USB keys such as those that ship with the MacBook Air for providing system software. The lack of an optical drive on the popular new MacBook Air provides an opportunity for Apple to push alternative distribution methods such as direct download or USB keys, although the MacBook Air is also capable of wirelessly using optical drives on nearby Macs and PCs for software installation.