“There’s no doubt that Apple Inc.’s iPhone has changed the landscape of the smart-phone industry, and indeed the mobile phone business as a whole. But one of the most revolutionary advances that Apple offered up isn’t in the iPhone itself: It’s the mechanism the company developed to distribute non-Apple applications to iPhone and iPod Touch users,” Ryan Faas writes for Computerworld.

Before Apple, “the result was often chaos. Users didn’t know where to go to find applications, and in some cases, they didn’t know how to properly install or remove the applications they had bought,” Faas writes. “Apple’s decision to develop a new model — its App Store — marked a radical shift for developers and users in mobile software distribution.”

“Apple may have created the App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but the concept isn’t limited to them. In relatively short order, the concept is being copied by virtually every company the develops a smart-phone operating system,” Faas writes.

“It seems very clear that the idea of the App Store is a hit with mobile device owners and developers. But is it a concept that is necessarily limited to just mobile devices? A broader App Store could grow in two directions: as a source for other slimmed-down devices, most notably netbooks, and as a place for software distribution for full-featured computers running operating systems such as Mac OS X,” Faas writes.

There’s much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: According to our source*, the answer to our headline is “yes.”

*Said source still claims the device (“MacBook touch“) is coming, that prototypes exist today, and they no longer show any sign of optical drives. This information remains firmly in the RUMOR category as we currently have no independent corroboration.