The Mac App Store from the view of a developer

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Dock Status, May 12, 2012.

  1. Dock Status, May 12, 2012
    Last edited: May 12, 2012

    Dock Status macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2011
    I hope this little list gives everyone who buys Mac Apps a little insight from a developers stand point. The Mac App Store is very (very) different from the IOS platform.

    IOS vs OSX (Business Model) A years worth of experience. has really focused on digging deeper into the Mac App store. We have 60 apps on the Mac App Store after a year of actively working the store here are our summarized experiences of the last 13 months.

    0. The coding for the OSX platform is a lot tougher and very different from the IOS platform.

    1. Sales are a lot lower than IOS. HD Videowall was 50th on the top List ( Number 1 Entertainment) in the US = 34 sales US + 8 worldwide yesterday.

    2. The same apps sell over and over again in small numbers. Bread and butter is earned from the same apps. The dev knows within a few days if the app is a dud or a winner. (always)

    3. Experimentation with app ideas is tough. We published an app called "Now" which is a to do list. Sold next to zero apps. If we would have called it with To Do xyz it would have sold a lot better. Familiarity sells.

    4. Strength in numbers. Having 5 apps on the Mac App store is a tough ride. The only way we can support our effort is by having a minimum of 2 new apps a week to stay in plain view on the store. Visibility is king on the Mac App Store as well. The 60 apps we have on the store help keep ourselves making a small profit. Most apps sell a few copies a day and that adds up supporting our payroll, allowing us to keep on building new apps.

    5. Updates are crucial. OSX users are very tough to please. Anything wrong with your app you will hear about it. We try our best to update continuously but most of our apps are based on live feeds that always change or screw up.

    6. Hitting a homerun is going to be 100 + apps a day. We have had a few apps in the top twenty of the US store and that equates to 100 + sales. The IOS dream is not the same on the Mac App Store.

    7. Being featured by Apple on the Mac App Store is twice as odd as on the IOS platform. Big companies get featured immediately and the few leftover spots are handed out to the weirdest apps possible. Trying to build something to have it featured is an absolute waste of time. Even if your app is a hot seller Apple will feature something strange with very little justification. The odds of getting featured should be in your favour considering the low number of submits every week. Not the case.

    Some apps have been featured up to five times, as if the store has no new apps going live? Every week a few apps get re-featured.

    8. Reviews are a lot more important on the Mac App Store. If you start off with a bad review it is really next to impossible to recover. The only thing you can do is submit a new version (that really helps) Most one star reviews are from other developers and it is hurting everyone. The devs are definitely working against each other that is for sure.

    Strange store with lots of quirky scenarios. The Mac App Store is definitely a learning experience. It will be a great platform once all the bugs are worked out.
  2. thewitt macrumors 68020


    Sep 13, 2011
    I hope you are advertising outside of the App Store as well.

    Most of our sales come from direct advertising to our customers through magazines and websites they frequent.

    Moving distribution to the App Store increased our sales by about 22%. Customers cite ease of purchase and confidence in their purchase as a result, compared with the third party distribution we used to use.

    If we were only selling 50 copies a day we would close up shop...

    You still need to advertise. The App Store is just a distribution center, not a marketing plan...
  3. Dock Status, May 13, 2012
    Last edited: May 13, 2012

    Dock Status thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2011
    HD Videowall sells 50 copies a day

    We still have 59 other apps selling various numbers. But your point is very well taken with the rest of your comments, we need to do more work outside the app store.

  4. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    From a user:

    It stinks.

    It's very hard to find an application you might be interested in by simply browsing. The categories are too broad, and it seems everything gets lumped in with everything else. I only discover applications I want that are in the MAS if the developer's web site points me there. MacUpDate, for example, is a much better source.

    I like the ease of updating from the MAS, although it's marginally better than autoupdates within the app. The licensing is great, however. Developers selling outside the MAS store should match it, especially if they're selling family oriented software.

    I'd love to be able to review software I own. But I can't unless I've purchased it from the MAS. Pity for the developers moving from shareware to the MAS; they lose tons of favorable reviews to get them started.

    The upgrade path is gonna be an issue. We're used to favorable discounts for long term use of an application. Switching to "full price" even so often, even if adds up to the same amount over time, is going to be an issue.

  5. LaWally macrumors 6502a

    Feb 24, 2012
    And one more viewpoint from a user:

    I see quite a few developers that warn on their web sites that the "MAS version may not be as fully featured" as the version bought directly from their website.

    This I do not understand, but I apparently run the risk of getting an inferior product (relatively speaking) from the same developer depending on where I buy it.

    Not good from a consumer perspective.
  6. OLDCODGER macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2011
    Lucky Country
    I have never used MAS (hate the whole concept), but I must second your MACUPDATE recommendation. A daily visit is all it takes to keep me up to date with the more useful apps.
  7. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I *THINK* this is due to Apple policies more often than the developer. There seem to be more restrictions on how the app can operate. An example that I seem to remember is 1Password, which needed to reduce functionality a bit to use the MAS. I could be mis-remembering.

  8. Dock Status, May 13, 2012
    Last edited: May 14, 2012

    Dock Status thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2011
    Sandboxing is going to make it even tougher to get apps approved.

    We built five apps we just couldn't get through the review process. Most developers are very worried about the sandboxing issues that are about to be mandatory shortly. We will have to see how that plays out. But yes to get apps approved some apps need to be amputated to make it on to the store.
  9. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    I really appreciate your thoughts and thanks for sharing. This is a subject I always enjoy reading, the hard work that Mac Developers put in, and all the insight that can be gained from their experience.

    I looked at your website and I'm wondering what your business strategy is?

    I'm on my iPad so I can't check out your pricing at the MAS and I didn't see app pricing on your website.

    I see that you have many innovative and interesting GUIs. I like that from a creative standpoint but I wonder if you might be better off having one or two GUIs across your products. I also think that having so many products may cause a strain on your developmental resources, but only you know that.

    The advent of the iTunes and MAS app stores have created a new type of developer, what I refer to as hit n run. (sidenote at the end) They make many apps and sell them cheap, hoping to gain revenue in volume. I believe that their effort would be better spent developing fewer apps with more features, and charging more. Many of my most used apps are developed by a small team that only write 5 or less apps. Some are Panic, Omnigroup, iFlicks, iDentify, Textexpander, Liitle Snitch, Moneywell, Little App Factory, and CulturedCode (they only have one product really but on three platforms).

    I noticed that on your website, you have several apps that do similar things, albeit via a different GUI. Local weather and travel weather could be combined into one app and charge the amount of both apps combined. Same with many of the clocks and timers, combine them into one app and charge more.

    As a user, not developer, I want to use less apps, but I want each app to do more. I understand that the App stores bring out the cheapskates but many of us are willing to pay for something we feel is useful to us. I'm annoyed by so many menu bar apps, and now someone has created an app to consolidate and hide many menu bar apps.

    I haven't used your apps but as an example, a combined weather app would be useful rather than two seperate ones. Of course I can get the weather for free on the net, but if want want to see my local weather for the current day, plus the weekend in another city where I'm traveling for a wedding or business trip, your combined app may get prime real estate, being active all day on my second screen.

    I say this all as constructive criticism, not intending any insult.

    Side note:
    The hit n run idea was what I thought of when I read an article by one of the Macworld editors, maybe it was Chris Breen?

    It was an editorial about some software companies that actually, maybe it is only one company, I don't know if he ever figured it out, that kept pestering him for a Macworld review. The companies were making 10+ versions of the same video conversion software with different GUIs, selling for profit, based on open source software. The abuse of open source software was not an issue. The issue that the editor took was the spamming of Macworld and other Mac-centric forums with fake user reviews of their software. Almost all of the software reviews and recommendations were posted the same month the the poster joined the forums.
  10. TonyK macrumors 6502a


    May 24, 2009
    I use MAS only for free products. Not going to re-purchase stuff I already own, that is for the birds IMHO.

    If I buy something I don't already own and the functionality is the same between the 2, I *might* purchase from MAS but using AppFresh, I can keep my applications updated easily as it is.

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