Survey Suggests Mac Developers Continue to Be Dissatisfied With Mac App Store

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Setapp, a company that offers a Mac app subscription service, recently polled 742 developers to get their thoughts on the Mac App Store and the state of Mac app development. The survey is a follow-up to a survey that was conducted last year, which concluded many Mac developers are unhappy with Apple's platform.

That same anti-Mac App Store sentiment can be seen in the results of this year's survey. Of Mac developers polled, just 23 percent use the Mac App Store as their sole distribution platform, while 47 percent use the Mac App Store alongside another distribution method. 30 percent don't bother with the Mac App Store at all. The number of developers using both the Mac App Store and another distribution method is up slightly from last year, but the Mac App Store only category is stagnant.


Developers who don't use the Mac App Store cite reasons like the long app review process, the 30 percent revenue split with Apple, and the inability to offer trials.

The majority of money made from Mac apps is made outside of the Mac App Store among developers polled. Revenue from the Mac App Store accounted for 44 percent of app earnings, while revenue from outside of the Mac App Store accounted for 56 percent.

Developers were asked how likely they were to recommend the Mac App Store as a primary distribution channel to a friend or colleague, and the results were tallied using a Net Promoter Score that can range from 100 (everyone recommends) to -100 (no one recommends). A higher negative score means a more negative opinion.

Mac App Store developers had Net Promoter Score (NPS) of -34, non-Mac App Store developers had a score of -97, and developers who sell their apps both in and outside of the Mac App Store had a score of -48.


69 percent of developers polled said that sharing 30 percent of their revenue with Apple was not worth it based on what the Mac App Store provides, while 31 percent said it was worth it. In 2016, 62 percent said not worth it and 38 percent said worth it.

Sandboxing, a lack of analytics tools, no app bundles, no upgrades, and no ability to respond to reviews were seen as major factors limiting developers' businesses. As of iOS 10.3 and macOS Sierra 10.12.4, developers have been able to respond to customer reviews, eliminating at least one factor keeping developers from using the Mac App Store.


On the plus side, developers were happy with improvements to the Mac App Store review process and the speed with which apps go through the review process, while opinions on Mac App Store communications, review guidelines, and the appeal process saw smaller positive changes.

Going forward, developers would like to see faster app approval times, more flexibility when it comes to Apple's sandboxing policies, better communication with the Mac App Store approval team, and clearer explanations when an app is rejected.

Additional topics, like the new subscription options, are covered in the survey and can be viewed over on the main survey page. There are also comparisons between the 2016 survey for a clearer look at the state of the Mac App Store.

Article Link: Survey Suggests Mac Developers Continue to Be Dissatisfied With Mac App Store
 

rockarollr

Suspended
Apr 3, 2010
153
213
USA
The Mac App Store needs to be eliminated completely. Everything worked just fine for software distribution before its advent. All it is (and ever was) is another way for Apple to control all aspects of its business model to generate even more revenue for the company. Because, you know, they don't already have enough money without it.

From what I understand it's also a pain in the ass for Mac developers. That sounds to me like it's a lose/lose proposition for everyone BUT Apple.
 

guzhogi

macrumors 68030
Aug 31, 2003
2,936
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Wherever my feet take me…
I like the App Store in that it's one central place to get a bunch of apps. However, I can appreciate some of the developer's concerns. Sandboxing prevents apps that legitimately access other apps/resources. There are some apps where I'd like to have a trial before spending a bunch of money on them. Plus, upgrade pricing would help.

I'm curious how Apple's 30% cut compares to developers hosting their app themselves?
 
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IGI2

macrumors 6502a
May 6, 2015
505
464
It has to be said clearly.

There are some serious issues without any reasoning.

Why there is no:
- video previews,
- more flexibility over screenshots/media,
- app bundles.

When those things are available for iOS or even tvOS.

Which OS is used more? tvOS or macOS? Damn video previews for Mac apps should be introduced at the same time.
 

Stella

macrumors G3
Apr 21, 2003
8,273
4,636
Canada
Apple have ignored the MacApp Store, while claiming "the mac is important".

If Apple can't put effort into improving the MacAppStore, they should just get rid of it.

I prefer buying outside the MacApp Store. I can't remember the last app / or when I did buy something from there.
 

KazKam

macrumors 6502
Oct 25, 2011
475
1,582
Mac App Store could really use some work. I can't believe you still can't even see video previews for games. Also, Apple does nothing to market or promote it other than forcing app updates through it.
Speaking of updates in the app store. I really miss the update app they had before updates were shoehorned into the app store. It was so much more responsive and useful.

1. It was waaaay faster and scanning your system at providing update results.
2. The updates list was clear and concise, with no ambiguity about what could be updated, without having to expand sub-installer lists.
3. The information it provided was far more useful and accessible, like whether or not the update required restart (was much easier to identify), and most importantly, download SIZE, BEFORE starting the download. That small piece of info was extremely useful for determining whether I was going to run an update now, overnight, or even at all.
4. It wasn't so buggy. The app store updater is often unresponsive, doesn't update status, and sometimes just hangs.
 

JRobinsonJr

macrumors 6502a
Aug 20, 2015
615
1,082
Arlington, Texas
I like the App Store in that it's one central place to get a bunch of apps. However, I can appreciate some of the developer's concerns. Sandboxing prevents apps that legitimately access other apps/resources. There are some apps where I'd like to have a trial before spending a bunch of money on them. Plus, upgrade pricing would help.

I'm curious how Apple's 30% cut compares to developers hosting their app themselves?
Add to that the need for better organization, filtering, sub-categories, etc., and you've got a foundation with great potential but is currently not particularly useful.
 
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jgdeschamps

macrumors regular
Dec 18, 2012
201
208
The Mac App Store needs to be eliminated completely. Everything worked just fine for software distribution before its advent. All it is (and ever was) is another way for Apple to control all aspects of its business model to generate even more revenue for the company. Because, you know, they don't already have enough money without it.

From what I understand it's also a pain in the ass for Mac developers. That sounds to me like it's a lose/lose proposition for everyone BUT Apple.
There are millions of independent developers registered that have the dream to publish their apps to Macs and iDevices. Before that, indies didn't have that chance, and now they can make money from applications that literally fart, to really cheap Photoshop alternatives, maps, etc. You can even make some cents out of your first "practice application."

Sounds like you have no idea on how it actually works.

Problem right now is that there is a lot of competition in there. If you don't make quality apps, you won't get noticed.

And regarding the sample for the article's poll, I think it's too low to make those generalizations they list.
 
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bilkun

macrumors newbie
Jun 15, 2017
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Kiev
I like the App Store in that it's one central place to get a bunch of apps. However, I can appreciate some of the developer's concerns. Sandboxing prevents apps that legitimately access other apps/resources. There are some apps where I'd like to have a trial before spending a bunch of money on them. Plus, upgrade pricing would help.

I'm curious how Apple's 30% cut compares to developers hosting their app themselves?

I would have to say that the best current option for Mac developers is to have their app available both on the App Store and via their own website. Mac App store, given all the downsides, still is a valid distribution channel because it offers Mac users a sense of security and convenience. A lot of users prefer to search for a solution to their problem directly in the Mac App Store and they should not be ignored.

Though from a developer’s standpoint - distributing your app from your website still gives you way more leverage - you are able to see how your users interact with the website, how many of them are coming your way, thus giving you much more control over user acquisition. It really is a pity, that Mac App Store still does not provide any analytical data like the number of app page views and at least the sources, from which the user has come to your page, like the iOS App Store does.

My bottom line is that, though Mac App Store is far from perfect - it still is a place that gives millions of users an opportunity to find an app they need directly on their Mac. I wouldn’t focus on Mac App Store as the only distribution channel, but I would also not neglect it as well. The more distribution channels you have - the better chances of delivering your product value to your customers.
 
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epca12

macrumors regular
Jun 11, 2017
244
67
UK
I really hope Apple do more with the Mac App store, maybe if they redesign it with the new aesthetic along with other macos apps
 

coolfactor

macrumors 601
Jul 29, 2002
4,293
3,836
Vancouver, BC
I only use the App Store to get updates, rarely to search for and install new apps. I find the App Store's design (at least the Updates panel) to be an embarrassment to Apple's legendary design skills. I'm surprised they've let it go this long without some improvements. It really is their worst piece of software to date.
 

epca12

macrumors regular
Jun 11, 2017
244
67
UK
I only use the App Store to get updates, rarely to search for and install new apps. I find the App Store's design (at least the Updates panel) to be an embarrassment to Apple's legendary design skills. I'm surprised they've let it go this long without some improvements. It really is their worst piece of software to date.
I wouldn't say it's their worst piece of software but it definitely needs a lot of work done to bring it up to scratch for users and especially developers.
 

Pakaku

macrumors 68020
Aug 29, 2009
2,158
2,129
The Mac App Store needs to be eliminated completely. Everything worked just fine for software distribution before its advent. All it is (and ever was) is another way for Apple to control all aspects of its business model to generate even more revenue for the company. Because, you know, they don't already have enough money without it.

From what I understand it's also a pain in the ass for Mac developers. That sounds to me like it's a lose/lose proposition for everyone BUT Apple.
If they wanted to control all aspects, OSX would turn into iOS in terms of where you can even get and install apps. It's not very easy to get iOS apps from places other than the iOS App Store.
 

DaveP

macrumors 6502
Mar 18, 2005
415
228
Self hosting is about 3% for payment fees. Pretty much any legit software developer/company will already be hosting a website.

As it stands now, the only way I see developers embracing the Mac App Store is if a large percentage of users will refuse to purchase or install software from other sources. The limitations and negatives are just too large for what is at the moment, marginal benefits.
 

mithion

macrumors regular
Mar 1, 2016
164
404
Reno, NV
Seems to me like the problems with the app store can be easily fixed.

1) Is it that hard to embed video as an option for previewing the look and feel of an app? I think not.
2) Trials should be fairly easy to implement as well. They could use some kind of token that is either timed base (for productivity style apps) or progress based (for games for example). When the allotted time is expired or a predetermined amount of progress has been reached, the token is revoked and you can no longer launch the app until you pay.
3) Finally, the last pain point is the cost. Apple's 30% cut seems really high if you ask me. They really need to cut that down to 10% or even 5%. They would loose money, but they would gain tremendously in developer happiness. Seems like a well worth trade off if they want to keep the app store healthy and vibrant.
 
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d21mike

macrumors 68040
Jul 11, 2007
3,296
353
Torrance, CA
As a user I will always try to buy from the App Store first. Much easier to manage with multiple devices. I.E. iMac and MacBook. Also, I am not giving out my credit card to unknown developers. It feels safer to me. Feels a lot like the iOS App Store.
 

Stevez67

macrumors member
Dec 24, 2016
70
340
Iowa
The Mac App Store needs to better serve the needs of both developers and the users. From a user perspective, giving my payment information to an unknown developer for a minimal cost app combined with the added risk of not having the app reviewed by Apple, and you have entered the unacceptable risk category. The Mac app store needs improvement, a face lift, and some tweaking, but it's a vital resource to the average Mac user.
 
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ignatius345

macrumors 68020
Aug 20, 2015
2,327
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As a user I will always try to buy from the App Store first. Much easier to manage with multiple devices. I.E. iMac and MacBook. Also, I am not giving out my credit card to unknown developers. It feels safer to me. Feels a lot like the iOS App Store.
What is an "unknown developer"? If a company is out there selling a piece of software, 9 times out of 10 the card goes through some payment processor like PayPal anyway, right? Do you also guard your precious credit card number when you go out to "unknown restaurants"?

If an app is available off the App Store, I'd rather the people who design and build my software get 100% of the proceeds instead of 70%.
 

CarlJ

macrumors 68040
Feb 23, 2004
3,030
4,606
San Diego, CA, USA
In other breaking news, water is wet.

Seriously though, the Mac App Store is one of those situations where Apple had a good idea, they implemented a good first pass, and then... presumably got distracted by something shiny / threw all the engineers onto "more important" projects, while the original implementation was cast adrift. It certainly hasn't gotten anything like the continuous maintenance/upgrade attention that it clearly needs. Apple chose to disregard it, so many users and developers do the same (and then presumably Apple doesn't invest further effort because "it's not getting lots of attention from users/developers").

There are obvious long-standing glitches in the store, which do not inspire confidence. Two that quickly come to mind:
1) Occasionally I'll go to the "Purchased" tab to find an otherwise blank screen with a message saying I have no purchases / I should log into my account (I am logged in, and have been for months - I think you meant "please wait while we finish looking up your account"); if you have spent a sizeable amount on apps from the store, this behavior/wording is inexcusable.

(I wonder sometimes if Apple has some sort of institutional taboo on "please wait" messages, because I've seen other places in the system that default to "nothing found" / "you don't have any!" type messages, until they update with results, rather than saying "one moment please, here's what we've found so far" - who decided that giving a wrong answer, even briefly, was better than acknowledging that things were still underway? The tactic of presuming the user is in error used to be a Microsoft exclusive.)

2) On the "Updates" tab, if you click the "More" prompts to read the release notes on apps before / while updating them, each time the MAS App has any sort of update for the page (e.g. more results of updateable apps arrive, or an app changes state from updating to done), it just redraws the page from scratch, slamming all those expanded "More" prompts closed. It looks a lot like someone took the cheap way out rather than implementing screen updates properly, because they didn't think anyone would use the feature (if you don't care about the feature, why implement it in the first place?). Try reading the lengthy release notes for one app while five others are updating - each time 1 of the 5 finishes, the MAS app redraws, closing the thing you were reading and scrolling the screen arbitrarily - clearly no one at Apple has ever actually used this feature.
 
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appleman1988

Suspended
May 22, 2017
32
31
I understand why devs want to work outside of the MAS, they don't share their profits. That's a no brainer.

I, personally feel that they should be required to share revenue with Apple. Apple is providing them a platform to put their apps on, they should get a good percentage of each app sold. I stand with Apple on that one, 110 percent. Just my 2c.

Me personally, I love the MAS and wish more devs took part in it. But without their support it will likely go away, and I feel that would be unfair to Apple. The way the iOS App Store works is great, developers are forced to give a portion of their sales to Apple, in turn for offering a platform to sell on. But allowing apps outside of the MAS, devs will choose to go with not sharing revenue and not doing app reviews. I think Apple will either close down the MAS or only allow MAS apps.
[doublepost=1497567511][/doublepost]
All it is (and ever was) is another way for Apple to control all aspects of its business model to generate even more revenue for the company. Because, you know, they don't already have enough money without it.
Just because you have a lot of money doesn't mean you shouldn't not keep making it whenever possible. Like those goons who says about a classic artist "they should hang it up, they have enough money". Doesn't matter. They should still make more and more and more money. There is no such thing as too much money. I support Apple making revenue whenever possible, 110 percent. They have a (great) business to run and again, more money isn't bad thing if you are the richest man on earth or the poorest. I say, go Apple. Force devs to give a percentage of apps sold, cuz they offer the platform.
 
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