Developers’ Opinion of Mac App Store Improving, but Many Still Unhappy With Lack of Upgrade Options and Free Trials

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Setapp, a company that offers a subscription service for Mac apps, today published the results of an annual survey querying Mac app developers on the state of the Mac App Store.

Many Mac developers continue to be unhappy with the Mac App Store and fewer are choosing it for app distribution, but Apple's efforts to improve the Mac App Store in Mojave have improved opinions in some cases. To get the data for this survey, Setapp queried a total of 814 developers.

Just 22 percent of Mac app developers choose to distribute their apps exclusively through the Mac App Store. 32 percent, up from 30 percent last year, distribute their apps outside of the Mac App Store entirely, while 46 percent sell their apps both in the Mac App Store and outside of the Mac App Store.


Developers continue to make more money outside of the Mac App Store for the most part, with 59 percent earning more revenue without the Mac App Store and 41 percent earning more money through the Mac App Store.

Despite the fact that fewer Mac developers are using the Mac App Store, among those who do exclusively sell through the Mac App Store, overall opinion has improved. Those who sell outside of the Mac App Store and both through the Mac App Store and outside of it also had a higher overall opinion, though it still trends toward the negative.

Mac App Store developers happy with the Mac App Store​

51 percent of developers surveyed said that providing Apple with a 30 percent cut of revenue is worth it, an impressive jump from the 31 percent that said the same thing in 2017.

Compared to 2017, when developers were upset with Apple's sandboxing practices and named it as a key reason for avoiding the Mac App Store, opinions have improved. Sandboxing is no longer seen as a critical issue.


Developers are, however, concerned with a lack of pricing upgrade options, no analytics, and an inability to offer trials.

Developers who do not choose the Mac App Store said they avoided it because of the unclear app review process, 30 percent revenue share, and lack of trials.

This year, 20 percent of developers decided to switch to a subscription model for their apps, and 52 percent of those said that it had an overall positive impact on their business. Of those using subscription models, increased revenue and an active growing user base were cited as positives.

Full details and comparisons between data collected in 2016 and 2017 can be viewed on Setapp's survey website, which also includes details on how developers view the Setapp service.

Article Link: Developers' Opinion of Mac App Store Improving, but Many Still Unhappy With Lack of Upgrade Options and Free Trials
 

nt5672

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Jun 30, 2007
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Apple places so many restrictions on their App Stores that its no wonder developers don't want to use them unless forced to (as is the case with iPhone).

Of course, this was not asked?
 
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ipponrg

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The Mac store is a friction point that is not good for anything other than 1st party Mac apps.
 

KazKam

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Oct 25, 2011
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Indeed. As a developer myself (iOS only) I do understand the pros and cons of both distribution models, but really have to side with the devs on most of the negative aspects of the Mac App Store vs. direct downloads.

Whenever I purchase Mac software, if the developer sells in both ways, I always choose the non-App Store purchase method. Any minor conveniences to the casual users who the App Store was designed for is passed on in spades to the developers and experienced/advanced users in the form inconveniences, compromises, and constraints.
 
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redheeler

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Oct 17, 2014
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iStat Menus is an example of when some of the App Store restrictions are a good thing, at least from a consumer perspective. The version sold outside the App Store doesn't have unlimited installations, which is a dealbreaker for someone like me with multiple Macs.

And though I understand a one-time $10 purchase, offering paid upgrades for a simple utility like iStat Menus also seems extreme.
 

ArtOfWarfare

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Nov 26, 2007
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I don't mind the Mac App Store. It's competing rather fairly with other ways of distributing apps.

It's the iOS App Store I have a problem with. You can distribute your app through the iOS App Store, or you basically can't distribute your app at all.

Why can't Apple just make iOS App distribution the same as Mac App distribution? Have a GateKeeper setting somewhere where users can check off that they understand the risks of downloading apps from the open internet, and they're willing to accept those risks. Let them either only allow downloading signed apps, or maybe allow them to download even unsigned apps (perhaps that's too much to ask for. At least allow the download of signed apps.)
 

ignatius345

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Aug 20, 2015
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I always check to see if an app I want is available OFF the App Store so the developer gets 100% of the purchase price. OmniFocus always gets bought directly from Omni, same with many others.

A lot of times, one can even find a demo on the developer's site, which is a HUGE plus.
 
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jecowa

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Mar 15, 2006
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The Mac App store has made me less likely to purchase software. It simultaneously seems like either the Mac App store is doing terribly and may be shut down soon or that Apple plans to force all apps to be obtained from their app store. So I'm not sure which version of the app is the better investment. I hope the Mac App store dies in a fire, though. I'm not looking forward to another closed ecosystem. And Gatekeeper is being very policestate with non-Appstore apps. Apps shouldn't have to provide their users with workaround instructions for Apple's Gatekeeper.
 

ethanwa79

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Sep 13, 2014
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I’m a developer and the 30% cut is a killer (for both iOS and Mac apps). It cuts into our tight margins SO much. We can sell the Mac app directly to our iOS users and completely avoid that cost (paying at most 3% to a payment merchant). We only put the Mac app in the store for discovery and browsing by random consumers. We won’t ever send our existing customers there though for the upsell.

If there were built-in upgrade paths (NOT subscription models) then I would take a second look at the Mac App Store.

I hate how Apple thinks the subscription model should just work for all devs. It does not work for our product, and it sucks because we can’t take advantage of the 15% cut that devs who use subscriptions get.
 
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JosephAW

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May 14, 2012
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When Apple moves to the A12 processor for desktops and laptops then 3rd party installs will be gone and only Apple Store applications can be installed for "Security Protection".
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I think I've bought one app from the app store since I got my Mac 4 years ago
I can't think of one app I've purchased from the desktop App Store, only tried a few free apps. The last 3rd party app was Quark 2017.
 
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ignatius345

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Aug 20, 2015
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I’m a developer and the 30% cut is a killer (for both iOS and Mac apps). It cuts into our tight margins SO much. We can sell the Mac app directly to our iOS users and completely avoid that cost (paying at most 3% to a payment merchant). We only put the Mac app in the store for discovery and browsing by random consumers. We won’t ever send our existing customers there though for the upsell.

If there were built-in upgrade paths (NOT subscription models) then I would take a second look at the Mac App Store.

I hate how Apple thinks the subscription model should just work for all devs. It does not work for our product, and it sucks because we can’t take advantage of the 15% cut that devs who use subscriptions get.
Have you looked at OmniFocus? Their App Store version is a free download which offers full features for some period of time, and then if you go to buy it permanantly the full feature set is available as an in-app purchase. It's NOT a subscription software rental model either -- once you buy it, it's yours until some future OS upgrade kills it (and they're very good about supporting legacy versions for a fair amount of time).

They also are able to offer lower prices if you had a previous version of OmniFocus installed. I still buy the Mac version straight from Omni Group, but for iOS I of course have to go through the App Store, and it seems like a pretty decent setup (aside from them getting docked 30% for that IAP).
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I don't mind the Mac App Store. It's competing rather fairly with other ways of distributing apps.
For now, unless they just decide to do this:

iMac 2018-10-11 at 2.41.43 PM.png
 
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Seoras

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Oct 25, 2007
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I'm an independant app developer.
I feel Apple created an app store full of customers who demand everything for free, and that includes free from Ads.
The developers are in part responsible for driving the price down and everyone going freemium to compete.

Recently I've been wondering if Apple has considered a 3rd option. 1.Free, 2.Paid, 3.App Store Subscription
I don't mean a subscription to an App, I mean a subscription (like NetFlix) to the App store.
An app can be subscription only, you get to download and use it for an hour/day and then you can only use it if you subscribe to the App store.
Developers get paid for usage of their apps.
The more screen time an app enjoys from users the more of the monthly subscription the developer gets.

Something needs to be done as the great gold rush of the App store is well and truly dead and developers are getting fed up with app store consumer's freeloading mentality.
 

Marc Evans

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Oct 11, 2018
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The new App Store in Mojave is ridiculous. It's childish and WAY to difficult to use. The previous design was far superior and Apple should revert to it immediately.
 

KoolAid-Drink

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Sep 18, 2013
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I thought Apple was going to offer free trials to applications on both the iOS and Mac stores? At least, that's what I thought they were planning to do.
 

BornAgainMac

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As a consumer I would rather only purchase from the App Store except when a developer pulls out or I don't see my app listed anymore. That is the frustrating part of it.
 

chrono1081

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Apple places so many restrictions on their App Stores that its no wonder developers don't want to use them unless forced to (as is the case with iPhone).

Of course, this was not asked?
Except there really isn't that many restrictions. This myth propagated because some devs who were doing shady **** cried about it on social media or devs who had just a crap app.
 

jecowa

macrumors regular
Mar 15, 2006
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The new App Store in Mojave is ridiculous. It's childish and WAY to difficult to use. The previous design was far superior and Apple should revert to it immediately.
I'm not very familiar with the Mac App Store. How is the new one different besides moving the category tabs from the top to the left side?
 

nt5672

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Jun 30, 2007
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Except there really isn't that many restrictions. This myth propagated because some devs who were doing shady **** cried about it on social media or devs who had just a crap app.
That has not been my experience.
 

mrex

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Jul 16, 2014
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I know devs who dont even think about putting their software to mac appstore because they should restrict the functionality of the software then to fullfil apples standard making the software less powerful.
 
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