I - and a lot of Apple developers - just got this email from the gods of the i prefix:
The Mac App Store is the safest place for users to get software for their Mac, but we also want to protect users when they get applications from other places. Gatekeeper is a new feature in OS X Mountain Lion that helps protect users from downloading and installing malicious software. Signing your applications, plug-ins, and installer packages with a Developer ID certificate lets Gatekeeper verify that they are not known malware and have not been tampered with.Gateway, it seems, is a fantastic new money-making scheme from the most highly-valued company in the world. They want software developers to sign up for a scheme to verify their software, so that if you want to distribute anything dodgy outside of the App Store, you just need to pay for a $99 Mac developer account and get an eFax number.
For now at least, you can still download and install any Mac software, and it might be scaremongering to suggest this is step one in a plan to move everything to the App Store (which I honestly don't think is the play), but it is a fantastic way to squeeze a little more money from developers who need their software to appear as legit as possible. After all, if you're rebuilding something for a client, chances are they're going to get scared off by not having a valid certificate when they try to download the app you've just built for them, on their Mac at home.
If this were about protecting Mac users, the Gatekeeper program would be separate from the Mac Developer Program. But it isn't. Instead, it's a shakedown.
Grumble grumble grumble.