One challenge to adopting that approach for something like an App Store is that it would require a good deal of information about the computers to which software is being distributed. In a consumer App Store environment, that could open the door for privacy concerns. There would also likely be a concern about bandwidth. Smart-phone, or even netbook applications, must be relatively small, but some computer applications can be hefty, something that could be an issue when it comes to downloading them over the Internet. And it would be particularly challenging if Internet service providers limit customer bandwidth.
The real hurdle: retailers?
Ultimately, the real hurdle to an App Store for computer software distribution and installation isn't likely to be a technical one. It's more likely to be the conflict such a store would create with software developers and retail channels. While developers would probably come around to the idea of selling software this way -- most likely as an adjunct to existing channels -- retailers would be a different story. They might be cut out of the application food chain entirely. If an App Store were even moderately successful and well implemented, it could prove to be a disaster for software vendors. That issue didn't arise with the iPhone because it was a new device without any existing software retail channels, and other mobile systems have typically relied on small online shops.
Exactly where the App Store model will lead software distribution isn't clear. But the model has been a radical success, and I doubt it'll remain limited to smart phone apps for long.
Ryan Faasis a frequent Computerworld contributor specializing in Mac and multiplatform network issues. You can find more information about him at RyanFaas.com.