How the Mac App Store Has Affected Developers

Although many people have differing opinions on the recently launched Mac App Store, there’s one thing that’s almost unanimously agreed upon – it’s great news for developers.

Many critics cite the restrictions and limitations as being a terrible thing for developers everywhere, but I’ve heard very few complaints from current Mac developers. Everyone seems thrilled with how things have gone so far.

In today’s post, I want to spend a few minutes showcasing how being featured in the Mac App Store has positively impacted developers and their software. We’ve also asked a few developers what the associated increase in support requests has been, and whether they’d consider going Mac App Store exclusive. Some of the statistics shared are truly remarkable, and I’m incredibly pleased to see how much exposure desktop Mac software is receiving.

Little Fin

Little Fin are the developers behind two popular Mac apps – Chronicle and Compartments. Before the launch of the App Store, Little Fin noted that they received an average of 6-10 sales per day of each application.

During the launch period, Compartments was selected as a “featured” application on the Mac App Store. This lead to an enormous jump in sales; 1,500 on the first day, and over 1,000 on each subsequent day since.

Their second application, Chronicle, was not a featured piece of software on the new store, but has still been selling around 100 copies per day. In addition to this, a presence in the Mac App Store is also leading to an increase in the number of downloads from their own website.

Little Fin feel really strongly about the importance of the App Store:

The Mac App Store has provided us with an audience large enough that we have been able to lower our prices substantially and still bring in dramatically increased revenue. We are reaching a lot more people than we ever did before, which means we are getting wonderfully motivating positive feedback and well thought-out suggestions. The effect has been so dramatic it almost feels like our business didn’t even really start until now.

Evernote

A few days after the App Store launched, Evernote announced a fascinating set of statistics about the number of signups they’d received over the launch period.

For me, this hit home how many Mac users out there don’t really know about the amazing range of third party software available. If you’re a regular AppStorm reader, it’s easy to assume that everyone has heard about widespread software such as Evernote. Their statistics would seem to suggest that this really isn’t the case, and it’s great to see the additional exposure and promotion that the Mac App Store is able to bring for developers.

DaisyDisk

Although DaisyDisk wasn’t one of Apple’s “featured” applications, Taras Brizitsky explained that they have still seen a big surge in interest. In the last three days, the company has seen a ten fold increase in sales from the Mac App Store than from their own site.

They received a large spike in support requests during the first day of the launch, but this has since returned to normal (most requests were concerned with customers migrating from the old version to the Mac App Store release).

iBank

iBank is a popular financial management application, available on the App Store from day one. We spoke to the Scott Marc Becker, the managing director of IGG Software, who shared the following:

We’re really pleased with the Mac App Store, much as we expected to be. Our prior experience selling iBank Mobile through the original App Store has been fantastic, and the new App Store seems to have brought iBank an entirely new universe of customers. After just these first few days, I can’t say whether sales at our site are up as a result of our visibility in the Mac App Store – they’ve been running really high, as they typically do this time of year. But they definitely are not down – we’ve seen no cannibalization so far.

So at this stage we’ve got no reason to sell through the Mac App Store exclusively. It seems to be just another great channel, much as our retail package appeals to a person who’d rather have a disc than a download. Right now we feel that’s the three-legged stool for serving the greatest number of customers however they prefer: site downloads, the Mac App Store and a retail product.

Regarding support, we generally see an uptick in requests in this season tied to year-end: getting last year’s financial house in order, resolutions to save more in the new year, tax preparation and so on. More customers come on board and that means more questions. The Mac App Store happened to land in the midst of all that, so we’re a bit backlogged after some time off for the holidays. Fortunately we’ve built up a library of video tutorials for iBank 4, and that’s done a great job of helping new users with the basics. And some folks still read manuals – the iBank User Manual is now available as well, and many Mac users are happy to figure things out on their own.

Marketcircle

Without disclosing particular financial data, Marketcircle told us that they’d seen a three fold increase in regular daily sales of Billings from the Mac App Store alone, along with no noticeable decline in sales processed in-house.

They also saw an increase in support requests due to unforeseen complications that they weren’t aware of prior to the launch of the store, such as apps showing up installed (when in fact they aren’t the Mac App Store version), and people inquiring about migrating previously purchased versions. The company hasn’t seen an increase in sales through their own web store, however internal sales have remained strong with the launch of the Mac App Store.

When asked about the possibility of going exclusive, Marketcircle noted:

The Mac App Store has been great so far, however with Apple’s current model in place it would be impossible to sell all of the products we develop exclusively through the Mac App Store. For example, Daylite and Billings Pro both have background processes and headless servers, both of these are currently forbidden by the rules. We believe that rules will be relaxed in the future and we’ll re-examine our options at that time.

Kiwi App

Interestingly, the trend doesn’t seem to be the same for all applications. The developers of Kiwi told us that they were disappointed with sales on the first day, so subsequently dropped the price down to 99¢. Sales the next day were in the hundreds of units – much better than average – but total revenue was similar to non-Mac App Store daily revenue. Since then, unit sales have decreased slightly but remain high.

Interestingly, sales on their own store immediately dropped to zero, even before the reduction in price on the Mac App Store. This conflicts slightly with the experience of other developers, and shows that the same trend isn’t apparent across the board.

Alfred

This fantastic application launcher publicly stated that their downloads made up around 3% of the 1 million downloads on day one of the App Store, implying downloads of around 30,000 in the first day alone.

One of the Most Popular “App Store Exclusive” Apps

Another developer, who we’ve agreed to keep anonymous, is one of the highest profile “App Store Exclusive” developers, who immediately took the plunge of selling solely through this medium. They found sales to increase in the “ten folds ballpark”, with support requests also increasing by around the same 10x amount.

Going exclusive immediately seems to have worked for several apps, but it’s by no means a widespread trend across the board. Most companies are offering this as an additional sales outlet – at least in the short term.

Realmac Software

And finally, Realmac software shared a set of statistics on their own blog this week, highlighting how the launch has gone for them. Their approach was to dramatically drop the price of the – now Mac App Store exclusive – Courier, and continue to sell RapidWeaver and LittleSnapper in both locations.

Although LittleSnapper didn’t fare as well as their other two pieces of software initially, Realmac have today announced a huge discount on this app for the next few days. LittleSnapper is currently available for $4.99 until the 17th Jan (previously costing $39). It’ll be interesting to see whether this pushes LittleSnapper into the top downloads list. I hope so, as it’s a fantastic piece of software.

Will they be going App Store exclusive in the future? It seems so:

When we release LittleSnapper 2 (sometime this year) and RapidWeaver 6 (which, whilst on our roadmap, is still a long way off) we’ll almost certainly go App Store exclusive with these apps. The ease of use of the App Store, compared to any store a developer can ‘roll themselves’, will soon become a competitive advantage for developers – the App Store almost entirely eliminates the barriers associated buying software. Sticking with our own store would not only make the purchase and registration of our apps a hassle, but each sale outside the Mac App Store obviously doesn’t count towards Apple’s chart positions.

It’s a Big Deal

For a company to receive a ten fold increase in customers and sales in a single day is fantastic, and it’s hard to overstate just how important this new sales channel is – particularly for high profile developers with a great product. All this considering that the Mac App Store launch wasn’t hugely publicised, and came in the form of a relatively simple Software Update (that many users won’t yet have even been prompted to download).

Mac developers have never had a more ubiquitous way to promote and distribute their software, and I’m excited for two reasons. First, because developers will see a huge, well deserved pay-off for the time and hard work dedicated to their software. And second, that thousands more Mac users will discover what a phenomenal range of software we have available for the platform.

Ultimately, I think it’s great news for everyone.


  • Radd

    Kiwi getting low sales on day one is absolutely no surprise at all, and they should know it. The official Twitter client came out that same day, as a featured app, on the app store. That everyone was grabbing the official, free app for at least giving it a go for the day should have been a given.

    Thing about the app store offering boosts in visibility and sales is that it does it for competition too. If that competition gets favored status, is from a more official source, gets press about how it is launching day and date as the app store, and is also free… you should expect and account for that impact, at least for a short time.

    Their sales were zero on their own site because of this too.

    • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

      Definitely true, Radd. Having so many apps in one central place makes it very easy to compare software far quicker than before. And this is definitely a positive outcome in the long run – we’ll be treated to better software than ever.

      • http://www.macmacken.com/ MacMacken

        How can you compare apps without a respective feature, i.e. tabs?

        And how can you compare apps without actually using them for some time, i.e. trial versions?

  • Random

    I’m worried about one thing. Let’s say some users bought some software, and they just don’t know about the Mac App Store yet, and/or don’t know that the price of the software they bought is much cheaper on the Mac App Store, won’t they feel ripped off? What can developers do about such cases?

    Some developer don’t seem to mention anywhere on their website that they also sell their app for cheaper on the MAS. Couldn’t this lead to some disgruntlement on part of their users?

    • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

      I think that most developers are either offering the same price on both channels, or only selling on the App Store. I would completely agree that offering two different prices is a recipe for disaster!

      • http://www.daisydiskapp.com Taras Brizitsky

        Apple doesn’t think so: take a look at their own apps ;)

      • Christopher Anderton

        To Taras -> Apple sells different licenses on Mac App Store (than the boxed versions). They are only personal licenses for personal use and not comercial.

    • Joey

      I have found some apps are actually more expensive on the MAS. Black Inc for example sells on the authors site for $19.95 and on the MAS for $24.99. Both too steep IMHO especially since these types of apps are .99c or free for the iOS devices and the crosswords from the popular papers are free to download to them.

  • http://www.dailyjotter.com Rob Allen

    My new little application called Daily Jotter is selling a few units a day. I’m certainly not seeing the sort of numbers in the article yet.

    I have to agree that the App Store certainly makes it much easier to distribute and sell an App on the Mac.

    Regards,

    Rob…

    • http://www.macmacken.com/ MacMacken

      8.80 CHF (9.35 USD) seems pretty expensive for this kind of app. It might be useful nevertheless and actually be worth the price, however, without a trial version, I will never know …

  • http://humachine.us Nik

    some unorganized thoughts:

    - the app store is pushing developers to much lower price points. littlesnapper is going down to five dollars? well don’t i feel like an ass for paying fourty. (and honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that price for the quality of the software)

    - a lot of this feedback is due to the benefit of the app store being shiny and new, and not having that much product in it. yeah it’s great for the early-adopters, but wait until the desktop store gets as full as the iphone store. or even bigger! new developers will be buried in a sea of similar applications.

    - for every developer that makes an awesome 30 dollar application, someone is going to make one for 10. and then someone will make one of equal quality for 5. and then what? a DOLLAR? i am still so insulted that littlesnapper has to drop to 5 dollars to swim with the other competition.

    - ask these developers how their sales are in about five months, once they’re long off the featured and hot lists.

    • http://mac.onedayoneapp.com/ NPR

      this is the same argument when music was not sold at 99cents on itunes…
      i feel that this opens a bigger platform for developers to compete.

      neves
      http://www.onedayoneapp.com

  • to

    “what a phenomenal range of software we have available for the platform…”

    I absolutely agree with that sentence – but this is not true for the Mac App Store.
    First in every category there are a handful of really goods Apps on the MAS, but the rest is just not so great, there is much better software out there.
    This may change in the future.
    Second – ever thought about those countries that dont have access to the MAS?
    Also if a company is going exclusive to the MAS – there will be no way to upgrade for those customers!
    Third what about all that confusion about existing licenses and upgrades – go see the Pixelmator Weblog for an example.
    Fourth – no more demoversions, or what? What about all those saying, that developers will not have to maintain their website so often, will not have such high bandwidths to pay for as they have fewer downloads – doesn’t that mean no more demoversions? Just buy or die? Or what?
    (Oh, and what about bundles? Are those days gone too?)

    For developers the MAS for sure is a great thing, but for customers? Especially for long term mac users with lots of Apps on their Macs the MAS in its current state leaves to many question open…
    I would really love to see some feedback of developers on those topics.
    Thank you!

  • dynames

    I need a post tittled “How the mac app store has affected consumers and users”.
    And other thing, if apple takes 30% of the app’s price and the developers bring down their prices for gain sites on the charts or appears as “featured”, How does it benefits consumers and developers?

  • Rizky Syazuli

    i hate app store.. i hate anything that requires me to enter a credit card.. why? coz i don’t have one.. -___-

    • sage

      Uh, seriously dude. Anyone can buy iTunes gift cards. Or just buy the codes on eBay at discounted prices if you don’t have any around and can’t deal with shipping.

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  • Pedro Infante

    @Rizky: actually I think it’s the opposite. I’ve used a lot of applications (small utilities) without paying in the past, because I didn’t have a credit card. With the AppStore and Mac AppStore I am finally buying mostly all of them, because now I can pay with iTunes cards that I can easily buy in my country.

    Even kids can buy iTunes cards to pay for their games, that’s a good thing.

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  • http://www.macmacken.com/ MacMacken

    How the Mac App Store has affected users?

    - Higher prices outside the US Mac App Store
    - No automatic updates
    - Less features
    - No trials
    - No discounts (education, updates, bundles, …)
    - etc.

    • http://www.joachimdyndale.com/ Joe Dyndale

      Seriously dude….

      Higher prices: Nope. Well, there may be a very negligible difference, but Apple uses prices converted at almost the right exchange rate.

      No automatic updates: As I see it, the *main* benefit of the MAS for consumers is the fact that you DO get automatic updates, and that you get them all in the same place. Just open up the MAS and you immediately see if any of your installed apps have updates available.

      Less features: Where in the world are you pulling this from? As far as I know it’s the exact same version of the apps that are on the MAS as on the developers’ own sites.

      No trials: Sure there are. They’re called “[App Name Here] Light/Free”. And sure, those won’t let you try out the complete feature set, but they sure give you a good idea of what to expect. And anyway, nothing’s stopping the developers from having trials available from their own sites.

      No discounts: Upgrade discounts are available, I assume (I may be wrong, but I can’t see Apple being that stupid). Education licenses, bundles etc. are not available at the moment, so you’re right on this one. However, I assume Apple has plans to add this sort of capability to the app store in the near future. Though I would also assume they would put some limits in place in order to keep the confusion in regards to available versions to a minimum among customers. And the same applies here, the developers are free to offer this kind of thing through their own sites.

      So… Try to know what you’re talking about next time maybe?

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  • http://www.joachimdyndale.com/ Joe Dyndale

    What I really want to know about the MAS though, is this:

    What on earth is it that makes a developer only make his/her/their app available only in one or a select few countries?!?!? To be perfectly blunt: That just seems really, really stupid.

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