Where to Purchase Apps...App Store vs Direct from the Developer

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by JoelBC, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 16, 2012
    I am new to mac and have discovered that many apps are available from both the App Store as well as directly from the developer's website...

    I am interested in feedback as to whether I am better off purchasing from the app store or the developer as well as why...

    Thanks in advance,

  2. macrumors demi-god


    Jul 8, 2011
    I purchase from both the app store & developers. I sometimes find I can get a better deal by buying directly from the developer. There are many discounts to be found with a simple Google search. The other reason is, if I have a problem I can then deal directly with a developer which is sometimes easier to do. Smaller priced apps are hard to find deals on so it is just easier to deal with app store. Most smaller apps will generally have less problems and solutions are easy to find with a quick search. It also can depends on whether you can buy directly from the developer. Some can only be purchased through the app store. This is how I deal with my purchases but I am sure others will certainly take a different approach.
  3. macrumors 604

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    I've done it both ways..sometimes it's not available in the app store, so I go to the developer.'

    As more developers go to the app store, I'll probably go that way.
  4. macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2012
    New England
    I buy both ways. If there is no difference between the web version and the App Store version I'll buy from the App Store. However, I have run into cases where, due to Apple's restrictions, the App Store version has less functionality. In these cases, I buy from the developer directly.
  5. macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I've used both... and there are +/- to each. Generally, I prepare the Mac App Store (MAS).

    The biggest cons are:
    - Sometimes the application is slightly de-featured due to MAS policies. So far it has not been a problem for me.
    - You do not have a direct business relationship with the developer... which *MIGHT* mean a decrease in service or support. So far it has not been a problem for me.
    - No MAS provision for "upgrade pricing" or other similar discounts that are offered to select customers. All MAS pricing is the same for everyone.

    The biggest pros:
    - All MAS purchases are good for all computers you own. For my family that is eight Macs (MBA + iMac per person).
    - Easier updates. You get notified on a regular basis for all MAS apps... so you can update when convenient. By contrast, In-app upgrades often do not update until you open the app... which is usually when you need to use it... and do not want the interruption.
    - Often... much lower prices. For example: Aperture was $200 on DVD, and was reduced to $80 once Apple offered it on the MAS.

  6. macrumors regular

    Feb 13, 2011
    The rules I usually go buy are:

    If a mac games available on Steam, I buy it on Steam since you get a PC copy (and now in some cases linux) for free 99% of the time.

    If an app's available on the App store, I buy it on the App store since updates are streamlined and developers have strong incentive to keep there apps compatible with the latest versions of OS X.

    Otherwise I like to buy a physical retail copy of software (like Microsoft office) cause I'm old school but I've found amazon's digital download service is great too. We are quickly heading into download as the only option.


    Do you have a specific app in question?
  7. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 16, 2012
    No, I do not...

    As noted in the OP I am new to the Mac world and am just starting to collect / purchase applications and I find it somewhat confusing because of situations where...

    1. Sandbox restrictions mean an app is different between the one offered by the developer and the one offered in the MAS...

    2. Trial versions are available from the developer site but not from MAS....this seems foolish to me and makes me want to buy from the developer direct...

    3. Upgrade availability / upgrade pricing, etc. is different between the developer's site and the MAS...

    and so much more....

    I am simply trying to determine what the best policy is when an application is available both direct from the developer and the MAS...

  8. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2010
    I buy direct from developers whenever I can. I see no reason why Apple should skim 30% off the top. I would rather the developer get that money, which I’m spending on their software.
  9. macrumors demi-god

    Oct 14, 2005
    Virginia Beach
    I thought only apps sold thru the App Store have access to iCloud.

    If I'm buying anything that syncs, that's a major factor for me.
  10. macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    IMO, one should always try to buy it direct from the developer, if possible, so greedy Apple doesn't take 1/3 of the revenue from the developer who deserves 100% of the revenue for doing 100% of the work. Choosing the App store is like saying I'd rather give Apple 1/3 of the developers money for doing absolutely NOTHING but hosting the file on their store.
  11. macrumors 6502

    Aug 31, 2003
    Campbell, CA
    You know, I'm always going to try and do things that favor the little guy and the unitary creative professionals that work extremely hard making something work on their own, but you're being a bit dramatic here. You act like there is zero cost behind building, branding, marketing, maintenance, and managing an online marketplace that took many years and steps to produce in its current day form.

    I do believe that the 30% fee is a bit steep, but depending on the situation, it may not be such a bad trade-off. If your company that is totally unknown and you have zero visibility, you'll probably fare better throwing your wares up in the App Store instead of languishing on an obscure website. Software is one of those things that has almost no production cost once the product is finished so you're still making money even if you're losing a chunk of it in fees.

    On the other hand, if you're a company like Adobe and you have a well-established market for your products, selling in the app store probably just cannibalizes your profits because you're still selling to the same people, but collecting less money.

    It's not a black or white situation. The App Store has value, but every developer has to decide just how much value it holds for them.
  12. macrumors regular

    Mar 30, 2012
    From developer or outside MAS:
    -If not available at apple store (duh)
    -If the price outside is significantly cheaper (Lightroom, Microsoft Office etc)

    From app store:
    -For ease of syncing across all devices.
    -Generally have thinking (perhaps naive) that MAS apps are checked and verified to do what they are supposed to.
    -MAS reviews are helpful.

    btw OP thanks for bringing the topic up. thought about this question the other day as well.
  13. macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    When the app store was brand new... there was a similar controversy here on MR. People were up in arms about "greedy Apple". Then a developer came in and stated how this was the best thing for his business. How he could never advertise, web host, pay credit card fees, etc, etc for only 30%.

    As the previous post indicates... I am sure that it varies by developer. Personally... I think as a consumer of apps... I get value from using the MAS. There are also some downsides... but for the most part, it is good for me.

    I will generally buy from the MAS when possible.

  14. macrumors regular

    Feb 13, 2011
    I'd say you honestly have to take it by a case by case basis. Sandboxing, while a headache to some devs, is really a good thing for users since it prevents a rouge app from deleting anything off your hard drive without asking, but I suppose it has prevented some app from debuting on the the app store.
  15. macrumors 68030

    Jul 13, 2008
    The upside of the MAS is that upgrades are pretty easy, and the licensing can be beneficial if you're sharing your Apple ID with a bunch of computers, say in a family. And some prices are pretty good.

    But the Apple ID thing can be a hassle. Transferring a license is virtually impossible (not an issue with a $5 game but maybe with Lightroom, e.g.). And upgrade paths can be opaque; usually upgrades are free until you have to purchase what is, to the MAS, a whole new application. But the cost evens out (maybe; still waiting to see how this goes with Aperture. But the iLife suite, even before the MAS, offered no upgrade path, just a new version at the same price. Not necessarily more expensive, but something you might wanna account for).

    Buying from a developer generally gives you more control over the application, not just because it doesn't have to conform to limiting Apple rules. It's difficult to run old versions of MAS apps, while many developers keep downloads of older software around and continue to support it. They might also make upgrades, beta versions and other stuff available and they dont' have to wait for Apple approval before sending it out. Upgrading is usually done through the application, and isn't much different from the MAS.

    It comes down to the individual application and developer. Go to their support site and check it out. And beware: the MAS store is filled with crap, tons of applications that are just repackaged open source stuff with 10 FAQs on an obscure web site as "support." And stuff is hard to find; MacUpdate.com does a better job.

    And finally, a lot of the best stuff is not gonna be the MAS. It would seem that an Apple-sponsored site would have the best stuff, but some applications will never make it through Apple's vetting, especially utilities. And no discounts (there are several quality bundle offers going right now, for example). So shop around.
  16. macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    The question was if given a choice, whether to buy straight from the developer or from the App store. That would mean it's available on BOTH. Given THAT choice, I'm saying it's BETTER to buy from the developer since he'll get 100% of that revenue (minus any costs he's already paying to have a web site, etc.) whereas if you choose the App Store, he's STILL paying those costs AND he only gets 70% of the revenue on top of that.

    It's ultimately up to the developer whether he wants to even offer his software on the App store. At least with regular Mac apps he currently has that choice to make. With iOS you get NO choice what-so-ever and that sucks.
  17. macrumors regular

    Mar 8, 2012
    Paris (France)
    My way to go is:

    - First, look if the app I'm looking for is available through the MAS
    - If it is, then I download it directly from there for convenience (one click purchase, updates are 'easier', I know the app will work with any Mac I own, etc.)
    - If it is not, then I'll download it directly from the developer website
  18. macrumors 68000


    Nov 24, 2009
    Sometimes buying from the dev is smarter in terms of updates. Alfred, is behind in the app store version. Still on 1.2 while the latest is like 1.3.1.

    The same is also true for Hyperdock which will get dev updates and maybe tab views in the future unlike the mac app store version.

    FAQ for Hyperdock:

  19. macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Sep 13, 2002
    Bristol, UK
    If you have more than one Mac in your household then the MAS is generally the best option, provided all your Macs have the same MAS ID then you purchase once and download to all your Macs.

    Another advantage comes when you want to spring clean your Mac or your hard Disk dies. It is just much easier to re-download the Apps from the MAS, rather than going to each developer store, re-downloading (if you still can) and then searching for serial keys in Mail.

    All updates are managed automatically for you through the MAS

    The only advantages for the end user to buy direct from the developer are;

    1. Some Apps might have a slightly restricted set of features is the MAS because of the sandboxing rules. Most developers normally have a note on their website if this is the case.

    2. Because all updates have to go through the Apple approval process on the MAS, updates can take longer to reach you if you use the MAS.

    In my case I always buy from the MAS for the ability to download to multiple Macs and I don't have to worry about staying up to date. About the only time I buy from the developer site is if the sandboxing restrictions make a significant difference.
  20. macrumors 68040


    May 10, 2010
    For pure lazyness I prefer MAS; simple I don't want to spread my credit card around the world. Plus the updates are easier as well as the permission to install on multiple Mac.
    If a software is not in MAS of course I go direct; but not often.
  21. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 16, 2012
    Guys, thanks for all the replies...

    For those interested, I have decided that all apps that are available from *BOTH* the developer directly and MAS that I will be purchasing such apps from the developer...the reasoning is as follows:

    1. All funds will go to the developer which *may* result in better support...I recently got fantastic support on a number of apps that were so purchased...this does not mean that I would not have otherwise.

    2. Easier to manage in that all the apps that I have purchased directly automatically check for updates so i) no more difficult than MAS and ii) no need to think of how something was purchased..ALL THE SAME.

    Easier to resolve problems...I mistakenly downloaded the wrong from a developer who offers multiple apps...picked up a phone, called them and had a refund in minutes (yes, I did have to buy the app I wanted)...this is not easy to do through MAS.

    3. MAS is a mess and the things that I hate most about it are:

    a) No ability to delete apps that you no longer want...for example, I downloaded an app called DockView to try which I decided was not to my liking, was not happy to find out that there is no ability to delete the app from showing up in the app store with a big *INSTALL* banner (because I deleted it).

    b) No ability to manage / re-order apps...sorting by purchase date is just plain nuts (IMHO).

    Admittedly, this is my OCD nature kicking in!!!

    4. Though new to Mac I have discovered some apps that have different functionality between "direct' and "MAS"...the direct apps tend to be more feature rich which appeals to me.

    While the above reasoning works for me I do realize that there are those out there with different views so keep them coming...you may get me to change my mind (though unlikely until MAS gets cleaned up).

    Thanks for all the posts,

  22. macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Sep 13, 2002
    Bristol, UK
    Hi Joel, thanks for your reply. I had some additional thoughts on your comments, hope you don't mind the feedback

    I think this is somewhat subjective, I have good support on Apps that I have purchased through the MAS as well. While I am sure Developers would love it if people discovered the Apps though the MAS, and purchased the App directly from the Developer, Apple is providing a good service to enable users to discover an App that they might never otherwise find. Developers are not forced to use the MAS, so I can only conclude that they list their Apps there for a good reason. Now I am sure the Developers would love to pay less to Apple through... Who wouldn't?

    I agree it is easier to get a refund directly from the Developer, although it is possible to get MAS refunds, at Apple's discretion.

    I can't agree that updating apps is easier though as some apps don't have an automatic checking facility, but hey each to their own I guess. I will agree you can get quicker updates to Apps outside the MAS - but then again hopefully the extra time that Apple approval needs will tend to weed out any bugs introduced by the update ( I am not suggesting that Apple's testing will find the bugs - merely that you might not want to install the update the moment the developer has released it).

    You can hide any purchase in the MAS purchases section by clicking the little circled x by the App. You can then unhide the purchase by logging into your account.

    Agreed, although I have found only 1 App that I use where I have needed to switch to the direct developer version.
  23. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 16, 2012
    You are most welcome...

    I agree which is why in my immediately preceding post that I noted that support may be the same regardless of where an app was purchased depending on the developer.

    I was told while speaking to AppleCare just yesterday that Apple is now limiting the number of such refunds to 1 per year...I am not commenting on whether this is or is not true but rather passing along the information...

    Fair enough...

    Agree but this does not work for me because i) I am OCD and ii) I honestly do not want to have to manage my applications in this way...if I delete an app because it is not for me then I want it gone!

    I was speaking with one of the developers at ManyTricks about MOOM which is a fantastic app and basically he told me nothing new will end up in MAS because of their rules....too bad, as they make great apps...

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