Weekly Poll: Do You Prefer Purchasing Apps From the App Store?

It's been over 2 years — and two OS X releases — since the Mac App Store was launched on OS X Snow Leopard. In that time, it's become ubiquitous in the world of Mac Apps, and most new apps we try out and review are exclusively on the Mac App Store. In fact, a good number of the apps I use daily are exclusively on the Mac App Store.

For the most part, the App Store is a great addition to the Mac, making it easier for developers to sell apps and giving us a centralized place for users to find apps and get updates. But, it's not all perfect: there's restrictions to what App Store apps can do, and some developers have backtracked from switching to the App Store, moving new versions of their apps back to exclusive sale on their own site.

As app users, it's not too often that we get the choice of where to buy apps. If developers sell on the App Store, usually the app is only on the App Store, and otherwise, it's only on their own site. There are apps that are an exception, such as the Omni Group's apps, which are sold on both the App Store and on their own site.

That's why we're wondering: When you can choose, would you rather buy an app from the App Store or from developers' own sites? Fill out the poll, and let us know why you choose what you do in the comments below.


  • J

    No. I really dislike the sandbox requirement.

    • Olivier V.

      An app that can’t work with sandbox won’t be in the app store.

      I think you should look at it this way: if an app is IDENTICAL whether you buy it from the App Store or if you buy it off the web, what would you prefer?

      • David

        I’ve run across an application that had an app store version that had a slightly different feature set than the website version as a result of the sandboxing requirements. There have also been some that were in the app store and then were no longer updated and/or removed due to the restrictions.

        Assuming both versions are the same, I generally prefer the app store version. I like having the centralized updating mechanism.

        However, I occasionally buy the website version. If it seems likely that the MAS version of a program might be handicapped by the MAS sandboxing requirements and that the website version will be more fully-featured, I’ll go with the website. The MAS also hasn’t worked out a mechanism for upgrade pricing between program versions. This forces the developer to either offer a Mac App Store-wide discount on new versions, make the new version available for free to people who have already purchased it, or force everyone to pay full price. For one example of how this was handled, there’s iBank: MAS buyers had to pay full price no matter what, but existing customers could switch over to the website version and pay the upgrade pricing. Technically those people didn’t lose anything (they still received the upgrade discount), but now they’re no longer using the MAS version of the software.

        • http://www.albertkinng.com Albert Kinng

          True. It’s good to have apps that do more (system wide) and those wont be approved by Apple but we need it running because our needs.

          But then again is nice to have a nice way to re-install everything without the hassle of SNs and all that crap.

  • Cealumify

    I like buying things in the app store, i just don’t trust apple. if they ban my account, i would lose all my purchases with it… not nice.

  • Ashley Clarke

    I prefer direct download as you can often get a free trail which isn’t available through the App Store.

    • http://stefgonzaga.com/ Stef Gonzaga

      I second this, plus the fact that it’s possible to apply special discounts (e.g. student) when working with a direct download. Some apps bought/downloaded directly also receive updates first than the App Store version.

  • DrKoob

    We have 7 running Macs in the house. When I buy an app from the App Store it just appears on all of them. I love that.

  • http://2dforever.com Tom

    There are obvious downsides to the app store, but I always prefer to get them from there when I can.

    It’s just less hassle. No dodgy looking online store, no serial numbers, updates all come form one place, install it on many macs… etc.

    Downsides being it’s a bit slow for updates and the obvious limitations on certain apps appearing in the store.

    • http://www.christophergrant.net Christopher Grant

      +1 all around.

  • Rob

    I think it’s interesting to note that the internet permitted to cut out the “middle man” a lot and gave the possibility to regular folks to buy directly from the developer/producer/creator of content with some advantage. Apple was able to turn the way around adding its markup and making it a successful business model. Good for them. As far as the apps go I get mine both from the app store and directly from the dev. Sometimes the app are cheaper from the dev store compared to App Store (e.g. Circus Ponies’ Notebook).

  • http://www.affonso.org Alexandre Affonso

    Direct download, I have lost some apps bought from MAS like Sketchbook 4 (that was removed from MAS when SB5 came up, need to buy it again) and Quickpick (removed after Apple stole its idea for the Launchpad).

  • JR Holmes

    I tend to prefer purchasing from the Mac App Store for the reasons noted by the several others above, but I also recognize the restrictions that go along with those benefits.

    Overall, I like the discoverability (poor though it is) of having a central marketplace where comparison is much easier and the payment system is trusted and reliable. But for those desirable programs that don’t fit the App Store model, I have little hesitation in purchasing them directly.

  • Josh

    With multiple Mac’s I for the most part prefer getting my apps from the MAS.

  • http://craigreville.com Craig Reville

    For the sake of ensuring that third party dev’s can maintain their product … I prefer to buy direct from them o their website. The money goes to them and not to Apple. Apple take a fair amount of money from dev’s and while some people argue it’s not enough … when making app’s is your business the money matters.

  • Jeremy

    No preference. I just get the app from wherever I find it first.

  • http://johnputerhead.com John Puterhead

    At first I hated the Mac App Store.
    Then I started using it more.
    …and more.
    Now I have a trust issue with the Mac App Store,
    because many of the Apps, and they do claim to have a lot, are junk.
    So even though they may cost a buck or two, they’re still junk.
    That’s where appstorm comes in, to help curate.

    btw, Firefox 20.0 displays your poll but Safari 6.0.3 doesn’t seem to.

  • http://www.pobox.com/~meta/ mathew

    Directly. The iOSification of OS X is the cancer that’s killing it.

  • Giovark

    Both options have their pros and cons, but I prefer App Store since it’s more organized and allows you to have a history of all apps you’ve downloaded which does come in handy

  • MattS

    I prefer direct purchases from the developer because updates tend to take quite a while to get through the appstore, and in some cases don’t pass through at all.

  • http://www.albertkinng.com Albert Kinng

    I love the App Store. It’s a great alternative when your Mac is getting slow and you need to reset everything again, format your HD and then just install your Mac OS X and with your Apple ID everything will be installed without the hassle of getting your SNs and all that crap! So yep, I think all my apps will be from the store from now on!

  • Chris

    I hate the App Store with a passion. One incredibly annoying feature is that the update flags are NEVER correct on my machine. Equally annoying is that many apps are at least partly crippled owing to the sandbox requirements.

  • m33t

    There is too much garbage on sale in MAS. If they would try to keep the quality higher, getting presented on MAS would be a feat.

    The frontpage hardly gets updated. Just like the mobile AppStore. The decision board on what’s a “hot app” must be insane because they tend to always put apps as “featured” that the majority of the community disliked. It’s probably a money-thing to get there.

    The categories are too general – and once you find an app that looks promising but lacks 1 feature, you don’t get a list of “related” apps or anything else helpful on that product page. You can only visit the vendor or see his other (unrelated) apps. Solution by apple: use our crappy search and hope for the best.

    Due to the demise of serial numbers or other means of unlocking, the already crowed app listing (grid-view only, very creative..) is swamped with “lite”-versions, or apps with hidden costs, or tiered with subscriptions and claim to be free.

    You can also not import licenses. The vendors have to ask you to re-buy their products. Some keep updating their non-MAS versions.. some dont. Some just disappear over night. Overall.. consumer suffers. And don’t wonder if you have to wait 2-3 weeks extra to get a highly demanded and known, and fixed, patch released. Apple is very busy and .. patient.

    And the toplist.. i am not sure if they are legit. I doubt that Apple software is bought this much, every week, without lots of updates and often just 2 or 3-star ratings. *cough*

    Oh.. and another thing that is really bugging me: If you happen to overcharge your itunes balance, your account is temporarly locked until you buy the next giftcard or add a new credit-card. While your account is flagged you can not update or re-download your apps. This means, you never really own the products you paid for.

    And often the price remained the same after they moved into MAS, so you actually pay more now because they don’t send you a fancy box, a physical copy or any manuals no more.

    Well.. the only good thing is.. i guess sandbox? A technology that could have been employed in other ways.

    My 2 cents.

    PS: While typing this the MAS was, and still is, down. Won’t load… In IT we call this a “SPOF” – a single point of failure. Vote for another entry on the con-list.

  • Adam Brenecki

    I prefer direct download. As well as the other issues many have pointed out on here already – trust issues with Apple, service availability, the sandbox, apps disappearing – I have a Python script that I run that downloads and installs the essential apps when I get a new Mac, and it doesn’t work with MAS apps.

    When it comes to updating, most of the apps I use have Sparkle (and those that don’t should). In terms of purchasing, I don’t use a lot of paid apps, but when I do I’m always disappointed that things like Bodega – alternative Mac app stores that compete with the MAS – haven’t got more love.

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