Weekly Poll: Is Mac App Store Exclusivity a Good Thing?

Developers have taken one of three approaches with the Mac App Store. It’s either being completely passed over by a developer, used as an additional way to sell their app (as well as through their own website), or adopted as the sole, exclusive way to buy their software.

The initial anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that both of the latter approaches are working extremely well, with many developers seeing sales increase by over ten times the usual number.

But what do you think of the Mac App Store becoming an exclusive sales channel for Mac software? Many developers (such as Pixelmator) have chosen to now sell their software only through the App Store. The advantages are obvious – Apple handles payment, processing, distribution, and gives a serious promotional boost.

Personally, I’m fairly happy with this arrangement. Buying software through the Mac App Store is easy, fast, and a huge improvement over the previous disjointed and inconsistent process that varied significantly between developer websites. Many of the problems that plagued the App Store at the outset are gradually fading away, and we’re starting to see a much improved system with fewer high-profile rejections and judgement errors.

But what do you think? Is selling exclusively through the Mac App Store a great way to simplify your life as a developer, or should software creators be thinking twice before putting all their eggs in Apple’s basket? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


  • Simon Slangen

    I think it baffling how much money Apple claims from these developers (30%), disgusting even. It’s nice to have this aggregation of sorts, to see all these apps collected through an accessible interface. But if I’m left a choice, I’ll never actually buy anything via the App Store from a developer I respect.

    • http://www.atomicdroplet.com/ David Preece

      As a developer I’m very happy with Apple taking their 30%. In terms of efficiency as a promotional channel it blows those little 125×125′s (to the right of this post) into the weeds.

    • lfthnd

      Since Apple handles payment, processing, distribution, and gives a serious promotional boost, 30% seems to me to offset the savings the developer realizes with all those critical elements covered. I have had a couple of businesses and making just 30% was a good year. Developers would clear 70%. From my experience, that is a great windfall.

  • http://www.brianbatesd.com Brian

    As a user it’s easier to update everything centrally. As a developer it 1) sucks to have a middle man but 2) could bring highlight to an otherwise non very well advertised app. For well known apps like Transmit, they may take an overall loss. Hard to say without analytics to back it up.

  • http://www.atomicdroplet.com/ David Preece

    You’re missing the point. The question is: are we prepared to move to a “no trials” independent software industry? How about if we halve the price of software into the deal?

    • to

      No way.

      • http://www.atomicdroplet.com/ David Preece

        So what gives with all these big name developers going app store only, then?

    • Whitebuck

      No Trials – No automatic updates at present – No upgrades, have to re-purchase App to upgrade – No recognizing current software you have installed – Eventually higher prices to compensate for Apples 30% – No personal control – etc.. etc.. The App Store is only good for newbies to the Computer world who know no better! Don’t be fooled this is the beginning of a closed system like their iOS. Apples Dictatorial Control and Greed are no different than Steve Jobs early description of IBM or “Big Blue” the” Evil Corporation”! This is blatant hypocrisy. They used to be the lesser of the evils, but not anymore. I refuse to conform and contribute to Apples rapacious Autocratic agenda! So should you.

  • http://iaian7.com Iaian7

    I’m of mixed feelings, the strongest one being frustration with a disjointed move. Each developer that embraces the app store does so in a unique way. Some have moved exclusively to the app store. Some are offering discounts so as to move existing customers over. Some are testing the waters, but not really committing.

    With information sometimes impossible to find on a developer-by-developer basis, it’s just been a headache…I really hate not knowing where, when, or how to upgrade my licenses.

    I love the Mac community. Some truly terrific developers. But the muddy communication and strict nature of Apple’s store means upgrading my very-much-already-paid-for apps is, in most cases, entirely uncertain.

    Not at all happy about that. :(

    • to

      Same here.

  • BG

    Mac App Store exclusive is fine EXCEPT there’s no upgrade path for pre App store customers. Add this and no problems.

  • RayCon

    Hate it. No upgrade path. Install an app, and it immediately gets sent to the top level of your Applications folder (I have mine categorized, such as Graphics, Database, Multimedia, etc.) and, on top of that, it get added to your dock, whether you like it or not. I went to check the preferences in the Mac App Store app in an effort to customize this, and guess what? There are none. I guess trials can be managed with “lite” versions, but I, for one (even as a long-time Mac fanboy, if you will), dislike Apple taking over the show. I love working directly with developers, and those who switch to the MAS exclusively (i.e., Pixelmator, where I would actually have to repurchase the app for the ability to upgrade) may lose my business. Of course, with the maddeningly mindless assault we are now seeing, they won’t need my business anyway.

    • wredniak

      is location of installed app is REALLY a problem?
      You can move app wherever you want.
      It could be more problem with “where my fresh purchased app went to, I can’t find it?’”
      Pay for the upgrade – this is’t new. if you have Pixelmator – you pay for future upgrade to 2.0, if you don’t have it – you pay for this version and soon-to-be upgrade – this situation is also very common.

    • lfthnd

      There is also a new thing called “in app upgrades” that Apple talks about all the time. This may be coming to many of the Mac App Store applications.

  • Rick

    The first three applications that I installed on my new MacBook Pro:

    BusyCal: Better than iCal in more ways than I can count. Adjustable fonts alone make it worth the price on my high-rez screen. Not in the app store (perhaps because it resembles an existing program).

    SuperDuper!: I don’t want all of my backup eggs in one slow to restore Time Machine. Not in the app store (needs root access).

    Moneydance: Cross-platform personal financial management. Not in the app store (uses Java – a deprecated interface).

    Given this, supporting developers directly seems like a total no-brainer.

  • Terence

    I too am mixed on this. On one hand, I really like the ability to look for apps in one spot. I will probably find some apps that I had no idea existed.

    On the other hand, I too like the idea of trial versions of software, and have used that a lot. Some I have gone onto buy, and others I didn’t. I also don’t really like the idea of Apple having any kind of control of what apps are available and what are not. Hopefully developers will be able to keep both options open, buying it through the app store, or from their own sites (at least trial versions).

    For updating, that doesn’t matter much, as most of the software updates itself very nicely as it is.

  • Wayne

    Having all my licenses stored in one place is really nice, but living in South Africa means I have to use iTunes vouchers… so it’s cheaper to buy straight from the developers.

    Biggest issue, not being able to transfer licenses…

  • to

    The Mac App Store – in theory a good idea, is done horribly wrong.
    Some points are already mentioned by some postings here… How the App Store installs the software, upgrades, licenses, NO! demoversions, mindless censorship by Apple, iTunes-like performance of the store itself and still no working back-button function, does not recognize any previous purchased licenses etc. etc.

    The Store works like a true Beta-Software!
    With some of their terms and conditions apple is not being polite to the end-user.
    And i think that any company who turns to the Mac App Store as their only form of distribution might end up in a really bad situation.

    I dont care about iPhones, iPads, iPods and toys like that – i absolutely love my Mac-Computers, best Computers, best OS you can get.
    Turning that platform into some iOS-toyish kind of thing with the Mac App Store as the “maybe only way” to install software – makes me think Win7 and Linux-Workstation all over again.
    And thats something i hoped i will never have to think again.

  • Christian K.

    The Mac App Store has too many too big problems right now. One example (which I didn’*t find anywhere yet): It installs new software as privileged user instead of the the user that is currently logged in. So it is not possible for the user to delete or just rename the application if he is not member of the group ‘wheel’. This is absurd!

    The Mac App Store brings only advantages to the developers in form of convinience and to Apple in form of money. Some “normal” users may find more software at a centralizes place, OK. But where is the real benefit for the user?

  • Matt

    The main problem I have with it is that the app does not recognize any of the apps you’ve already forked out hard earned cash for – this leaves you without an upgrade path and without the ability to keep your existing apps updated through the App Store. If they work out a way to integrate previously purchased apps, I’m all for it.

  • Pieter

    Definitely not. I’ve been struggling to get an itunes account working as a minot outside the US for more than a year. I finally found out how to do it, but so many people who don’t are going to be unable to get these apps.

  • Lars-Henrik Eriksson

    I haven’t looked at the terms and conditions for applications to be sold on the Mac App Store, but if they are anywhere similar to those of the iPhone App Store, I’m seriously worried.

    Apple applies extensive (and seemingly arbitrary) censorship to the iPhone Apps. If the same is done with the Mac App Store and that store should becomes the defacto sole distribution channel for Mac applications, they we’re in big trouble.

  • http://luke.thunk.it lukens

    I’m all for it, in principle.

    My main two issues, in practice, are:

    - lack of trial periods.
    - no means to transfer existing licences to the store.

  • http://jkespino.tumblr.com John E.

    I know I shouldn’t complain, but jumping on the Mac-App-Store-exclusive bandwagon is a little toooo sooon. I still use Leopard 10.5.8 on an iMac G4 and I can’t get on those new apps.

    I guess it’s just their polite way of saying I have to buy a new Mac. Though they’ll mix it with technical terms and talk about compatibility and new technologies on the new OS.

  • Thomas

    I HATE THE APP STORE in context WITH APPLES ARROGANCE TOWARDS CUSTOMERS? Not to mention Apple Support!

    It’s just gross and i see apple making a very, very wrong decision in the near future. Everyone fails in life, so apple will do.
    Customers are not Morons as Apple might be thinking.

  • http://pe-ter.nl Peter

    I think we forget one thing. Of course, for most advanced users it’s best to buy software directly from the developer. And of course, advanced users like to have control over the ownership. And of course, we all like to try out apps before we buy them.

    But… I think that for non-advanced users, like my mom, the app-store is a great thing. She is abled to install applications in two clicks, and had one central place to do so. She doesn’t have to fill in her PayPal account information all the time, but just has to log in with her Apple account.

    In other words: I think most advanced users (the most appstorm.net readers are?) won’t really like the app-store. But for a novice users, it’s a great piece of software… Well, maybe soon it will be!

  • Whitebuck

    No Trials – No automatic updates at present – No upgrades, have to re-purchase App to upgrade – No recognizing current software you have installed – Eventually higher prices to compensate for Apples 30% – No personal control – etc.. etc.. The App Store is only good for newbies to the Computer world who know no better! Don’t be fooled this is the beginning of a closed system like their iOS. Apples Dictatorial Control and Greed are no different than Steve Jobs early description of IBM or “Big Blue” the” Evil Corporation”! This is blatant hypocrisy. They used to be the lesser of the evils, but not anymore. I refuse to conform and contribute to Apples rapacious Autocratic agenda! So should you.

    • to

      Should the Mac become a closed platform i will throw all my Macs out of the window and never look back – as much as i love them but this road i will not follow.

      • to

        Having said all this – i dont think Apple will make the Mac a closed platform. I see no way that the likes of Adobe, Microsoft, Autodesk, MOTU, Spectrasonics, Abelton, Quark, EastWest and so many other “big” Software Companies will sell their products through the App Store only.
        And think of it, even Apples own Final Cut – that would be a 55 GB download??? Or huge virtual instruments with GBs and GBs of sounds as a download? Logic Studio would be 47 GB as download…
        This would kill the Mac and even SJ knows this.
        We are kind of used to surprises from Apple, so that is where our panic comes from, but i dont think (hope) that this will happen.

  • Frederiko

    One big problem with the app store. It doesnt work in all countries :( I went to buy a game and it wasn’t on my local app store, but the developer only sells through the store. He missed a sale from me.

    Apple doesnt even have a presence in my country although they have an app store with only some of the apps. They have the same stupid policy for the iOS app store.

    Also most of the reviews are on the american app store so I never see them :(

    The idea of different countries having different app stores is plain stupid. Apple controls the licensing so its not like music where they dont.

    And for those who dont know, you cant just change the app store to the american one, because you need an american registered credit card and address to buy.

    Needless to say I wont be buying through the app store until Apple change it.

  • Dynames

    I really hate the pixelmator team who says “I wanna support the mac app store then this will be the ONLY way to buy our app”…and the consumers? the users? Who support us?

  • http://www.chrispeden.com Chris Peden

    I am mixed. I absolutely despise any developer that goes App Store only when this is barely past a beta test. As many have said there are numerous issues with the App Store currently.

    I will do whatever I can to NOT use it at this point in time. Why any developer would put all their eggs into one basket is beyond me.

    I also have issue with Apple having to approve software I install on my desktop. I don’t mind as much on my phone but I very much care on my mac.

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