back to article Apple unwraps app store for proper computers

Apple has launched an online applications store for its Mac computers. Cupertino hopes that its latest cloudy marketplace will replicate the success of its iPhone apps store and bring on board plenty of software coders for developing progs on the company's latest operating system, Mac OS X. The latest store went live in the …

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Paris Hilton

Developers, developers...

Hmmm... I am not quite sure why developers would peddle their wares there, considering they will have to pay a quite fat percentage to Apple.

I know it works for the iPhones, but that is really because there is no other way, isn't it?

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Gold badge

Maybe because?

You aren't sure why because you've probably never run a software business?

Apple is handling:

Hosting and Storage

Promotion

Updates

Copy Protection (although it's not that watertight)

Push Notification Services

Basic testing (not a full quality assurance process, but better than nothing)

I'd like to see you host all that 24/7 with masses of capacity and not lose 30% of your income.

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Large percentage?

Hardly. Of the price you pay in the shops, it's extremely unlikely that the creator of the product will see half, much less 70% of the sale price.

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Self promotion

The only thing I take issue with is Promotion. It is a large source of complaints from the iPod app store, Apple not promoting applications enough.

I do believe it is the developers responsibility to promote their application. Why rely on a disinterested third party to advertise your application? Yes, Apple gets 30% but they get 30% of whichever app is sold it does not have to be your app.

One thing I hope that gets fixed is search. Searching the ipod app store is painful. I tend to use a google search to read about apps then go to the store.

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Promising start, but..

Just tried it out. It's just like the iOS store: really easy to find good software, and really easy to buy it. There is no installation, you tell it you want it, the icon jumps over to the dock with a progress bar, when that gets to the end it's ready to use.

I can see that being massively popular for users, and as a dev (I do mac + iphone software) I'll certainly be trying it out pretty soon. Selling software this way is easy, reliable, and pretty good economics too.

Then there's the BUT. They've brought all the restrictions over from the mobile to the desktop. Where some of them don't make a lot of sense. I can't move my main mac app to the app store, because it uses private APIs, despite it being very popular. It's impossible to implement without private APIs. There are many great, and very popular apps, in the same boat.

Most of my traffic previously came from the mac software catalogue on apple's site - which is now closed, replaced with the app store. This, in my opinion, is EXTREMELY bad for the mac platform. The app store is likely to become the main place to get software, meaning people don't search much outside, meaning few people will find all the great apps that are banned, and those apps will fade away.

I've thought this for a while: soon we'll have locked down, sanitized computers everywhere. Desktop, phone, tablet. They'll be extremely usable and secure perhaps, and much more stable than what we have now. Then, we'll have a new generation of hobbyist computers, that are totally unlocked. I'm looking forwards to it :)

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Hmm

Whilst I appreciate the point you're making, I kind of lost interest at the point you mentioned private APIs.

Considering all the criticism that operating systems get for being bloated out with legacy code required for backwards compatibility, I'd argue that any methods likely to encourage programmers to code correctly would be a good one.

You can't remove a supporting wall from a building to make that nice big lounge you wanted and then expect the house to sell on the market.

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Jobs Horns

No

"I've thought this for a while: soon we'll have locked down, sanitized computers everywhere. Desktop, phone, tablet. They'll be extremely usable and secure perhaps, and much more stable than what we have now. Then, we'll have a new generation of hobbyist computers, that are totally unlocked. I'm looking forwards to it :)"

That isn't what people want or what people will accept, it's why Android is going great as an open platform. OSX is also a minority OS so it's inconsequential in the large scale of things so can be ignored by basically everyone, Microsoft would *not* be allowed to build such an App Store for Windows so those of us with real OS's can still, you know, download what we want without having to give fellatio to Steve (blow) Jobs to have our app uploaded to a minority system. Also Linux, can't get less locked down than that.

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RE: It's impossible to implement without private APIs.

Just work around them, no big deal.

Sent from my iPhone in my mansion you paid for.

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Grenade

US$99 to post free apps

"Most of my traffic previously came from the mac software catalogue on apple's site - which is now closed, replaced with the app store. This, in my opinion, is EXTREMELY bad for the mac platform."

Agreed. My avenue for traffic from Apple is now closed. Since my app is open source, and free, there's no way I'm paying US$99 (annually) for the privilege of posting in the app store. Not to mention it's GPL, and Java, and... oh, never mind.

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Why bother with the app store at any price?

Just throw it up on github or google code or sourceforge.

I don't see the point behind this flounce of yours.

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Contact with users

" This, in my opinion, is EXTREMELY bad for the mac platform. The app store is likely to become the main place to get software, meaning people don't search much outside, meaning few people will find all the great apps that are banned, and those apps will fade away."

An app in the App Store can have menu items that open the developer's website in a browser. Once there, the user can be exposed to other apps you have that aren't in the App Store, asked to subscribe to email updates, etc.

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Stop

Meh

@Webb

Bollocks, It's exactly what people want. You honestly think the average punter buys an android device because It's an 'open platform'? Do me a favour, they buy them because it looks like an iPhone but is cheap.

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Not quite

"I've thought this for a while: soon we'll have locked down, sanitized computers everywhere. Desktop, phone, tablet."

If you buy into Mac, maybe. MS will attempt a half-arsed version eventually in Win8 or something, and it'll suck, then fail, and they'll go back to buying software the old way. Linux...is Linux. We've been doing repositories for years, but anyone can have one, anyone can use one, and there aren't many restrictions - none if you're using 3rd-party repos.

Just the way it should be. :-)

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Coat

It's the way forward

@Chris19 - you're right, we'll have extremely usable and secure machines, and a new type of machine - a hobbyist computer that is totally unlocked.

That's exactly what we should be aiming for. Devices that actually work as intended, where they work as described in the manual, where you know it's not going to kill the machine just because you download something without reading the small print - in short, tools that do the job.

It's a balance between flexibility and reliability and I think that with the iphone/ipad, Apple have got it just right. It's not as flexible as an Android phone, but it's probably less likely to suffer from rogue code.

And for people who want the extra flexibility, they'll go for the hobbyist systems, like Android, Windows and so on.

The Mac App Store is just a clever way of selling that reliability factor to people. I wish they had one for Windows.

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Silver badge

Market size?

In the context of the smart-phone/tab market Apple is a VERY big player. However, in the "pc" market? How is this move significant in the larger scheme of things?

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Bigger than you think

I think latest figures are something of the order of 5% of all computers worldwide, 10% in the US across all sectors but something like 25% at retail. Previous statistics from people like 2d Boy have suggested that Mac owners are responsible for around 40% of revenue of indie software in a straight Windows vs OS X comparison.

That all being said, OS X users account for only around 8% of usage of Steam according to Valve. It's unclear what they contribute as a share of revenue, but a very large portion of Steam content is unavailable to Mac users so the comparison is probably hard to calculate in a fair manner.

In any case, a new consumer oriented means to purchase software for Macs only is of real interest to the community. The Mac share of potential customers definitely isn't negligible, even though it may be small.

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@ThomH re. Bigger than you think

Oh I would not say negligible either although it is in the context of that market small. No, with regard to significance I was thinking more along the lines of whether the concept was likely to be a game-changer in the "pc"-market. That in the context is unlikely - in contrast to, obviously, Apple's influence in the smart-mob/tab market.

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Gates Halo

40% of revenue of indie software?

You have quoted 2dboy (an indie games developer) as your source. What you need to take into account the the effectively non existent supply of games for OSX.

2dboy launched World of Goo (which is a great game BTW) to the market. At a guess there is at least 100 times the competition in the Windows games market compared to the OSX market. I stands to reason that OSX gamers when presented with limited choice are going to spend their money in a more focused way.

As an aside I run Windows 7 on my home PC. Macs are great for boring stuff like designing websites and creating business logos but I use my Windows PC for fun stuff like Bad Company 2 and Dragon Age.

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jai
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why so?

You state: "take-up of the Mac apps store might prove more difficult" than it was for the iOS store, but what's your reasoning behind this?

From what i've seen, most developers are pricing their products very close to their iPad prices, which are low enough that everyone will try them out. In most cases, they're asking for less than a cheap shareware fee.

While it's questionable if you'd ever purchase the likes of Photoshop via the iOS store, for many of the smaller utilities and particularly short-term games, I can see the store doing quite well, in much the same way as it has on the iPhone.

And if it does, we know Microsoft will follow suit in about 5 years time once they've realised.

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Hah ha

Yea, I thought the same thing when I read that. Why might it be more difficult? Seems like a huge missed opportunity for a critique of the pros and cons of the new store.

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LDS
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WTF?

30%? Really a huge tax...

I wonder who would so mad to accept a 30% fee to sell software, especially when you have to pay income taxes on the rest. Does Apple at least send you an invoice so you can detract it as expenses?

IMHO these stores are an advantage for the store owner only, as long as it can attract a lot of naive developers. When the store reach enough developers, even if each of them earns just a little money on average, multiply that for the total number of developers and that's what the store owner earns. It's surely a smart technique to earn a lot with a relatively small investment (setting up even a large online store today is not that expensive), but it's funny to see Americans fighting if the government talks about income taxes, and the accepting blindly a 30% tax on each sale by Apple...

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WTF?

re: 30%? Really a huge tax...

"but it's funny to see Americans fighting if the government talks about income taxes, and the accepting blindly a 30% tax on each sale by Apple..."

Income taxes are a way of punishing citizens for earning a living. A fee in an app store that I most likely will never use, or at least have a choice to use or not, is not the same. If you think the gov should tax more, then check the box on your taxes that says how much extra you would like to send. It's there, but all those Socialists that want to tax more never seem to notice it.

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Is 30% really that high?

What is the cost of the other ways of selling my software? At least this way i don't have to worry about setting up a payment / refund / delivery mechanism or any associated bandwidth issues if my software becomes really popular.

Anyone know what cut steam takes to sell games?

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Anonymous Coward

30% is a good deal

Complaints about the 30% margin are a bit naive. I have to pay most resellers 40% to handle my software, and some online stores take 50%. And they don't do as much as Apple (or do it very well either).

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Re: 30%? Really a huge tax...

I suppose it all depends on how much it normally costs a developer to develop, host and maintain their own website as well as handling all the purchasing, registration and (possible) DRM server. Not to mention any costs associated with promotions and advertising to drive the sort of volumes that you'd get to the Apple store to their own website.

My gut feel is that for the latter point, the Apple store will drive volumes significantly over what they'd normally see with their own website, a link to Paypal and a couple of AdSense words.

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Apple are the mad ones

Try getting 70% of the retail price from any other reseller... They'll look at you like you're the mad one!

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"Income taxes are a way of punishing citizens for earning a living."

No. No, they aren't.

Can I assume that you keep a gun about your person at all times, just in case the Commies invade?

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LDS
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Taxes

I live in an European country where income and sale taxes are far higher than in the US. That's why I found American so ridicolous. I would not accept a 30% fee on internet sales because I would also have to pay almost 50% on the remaining, and unlike Apple I could not use complex Ireland -> Denmark -> Carribean money schemes to avoid to pay taxes. Face it, Apple doesn't set up stores to help you sell better, it sets up store to harvest money from every sale related to Apple. Wait for this model to work, and you will find other sectors will imitate it. And that would not be nor a funny nor a secure world. It will be a nightmare of locks-in from every product.

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LDS
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WTF?

In which world do you live?

C'mon, how expensive is really today to setup an Intenet store? Yes, if you have to handle one million contacts daily maybe is, but for smaller volumes you can setup one without much hassle. And while traditional reseller of shrinkwrapped software buys in advance and take a risk, Apple doesn't pay you anything in advance, it just gets a fee on any transaction you make.

However, it's very funny (or maybe not) that consumers are ready to accept ways of selling that have been regarded very dangerous to consumer freedoms in the past one hundred years and more. One day when you will be forced to buy new tyres for your car from your car maker, spend your salary only in your company approved stores, and so on, maybe you will start to damn those software store that started that all.

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Well the upshot if this...

Is that developers will inevitably hike the price of their product to cover the 30% Apple slice. So it will be the consumer who loses out. Apple software tends to be more expensive to start with, so any extra percentage is going to hurt even more.

Let's hope the consumer wises up and shops around (assuming Jobs doesn't end up adding more concrete to his walled orchard)

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Anonymous Coward

Hasn't happend...

Everything is pretty much cheaper.

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Re. SimB

Well it would be suicide not to have lower prices on launch day when everyone is looking no? Plus we are talking about established apps here. Only time will tell how this pans out in 6 months time.

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Anonymous Coward

30% is nothing

Try being a photographer and see if you can get 70% from an agent. Their fees are typically 50% or more - more often they are more!

I don't mean the piddling little sales of $5 and $10, I'm talking about big bucks sales with one of the biggest agencies in the world. Even a $10 sale nets me less than $5 and I still have to pay income tax on it.

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Unhappy

But

Op, you've made a massive assumption that we know isn't true - the developer never gets 100% of the retail price. A few episodes of stacks den will suggest about half at least is going to the retailer. In these cases, prices could be lower.

Even for those boutique houses that sell direct only there are still costs - credit card processing fees, fees for running the shop, distribution bandwith, etc. All of these instead are billed to our good friends in cuppertino.

Add to that also economies of scale - there's going to be more browsing customers on the app store than are likely on an Indy developers website (except the very well known indies) so more potential sales could again see lower prices.

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Joke

A Title is Required

Read the title and feel misled, thought they'd released the store for Proper Computers and not shiny overpriced toys?

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FAIL

I take it that ...

...you know no UNIX or any other computing outside clicking on an icon and have never logged in to a Mac OS X system and explored further than the click and point interfaces (and not very far into those).

(MAC OS X is derived from BSD [a rather well known UNIX branch], with full access, including root/sudo... to the UNIX shell interface, a surprising range of GNU software installed by default and a rather good set of advanced developer tools and compilers on the DVD included with the shiny new toy, in the box and downloadable, free, in case you lose the DVD. In fact, it compares rather well with a basic or even fairly full Linux installation, though a lot less pain. You can even get BSD ports for it and endless GNU packages,).

Try using one; you may be horribly surprised as your prejudices and misconceptions crash around your ears.

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Silver badge

Always a good "toy" comment on Mac posts

I love the fact it has rsync rather than the crappy backup/sync toys on my PC that never seem to get the file list right.

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Linux

Calm Down

It were a joke!!!!

Used Mac OS X plenty, and just don't like it. Or, more accurately, don't like the Appley interface.

Given the choice, I'd run AIX over OS X!

You sound like you're an Apple sales rep though, we all know what OS X is for fuck sake!!!

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Licensing

How does the licensing work for the apps? If you have two Macs, both logged-in to the iTunes account, can you install the same application on both Macs or are you restricted to one? If just the one, how DO you install it on more than one Mac?

Computers are not like Phones. A Phone is (almost) always used by one person and so will have a unique iTunes account.

Computers are often used by an entire family, with each person having their own iTunes account. I don't see how tying software to iTunes works in this case.

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Re: Licensing

You can install your downloads on any Mac signed in with your iTunes account. Pay attention though: You have to download to install...no copying across.

Remember that the next time you buy something that's a couple gig in size.

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Silver badge

Not tied to iTunes (the software)

The App Store is a separate program, though it does use your iTunes login. Sadly the linked terms and conditions (http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/uk/terms.html) still make such heavy reference to iOS devices that I strongly suspect some sort of error at Apple's end. Taking them at face value:

"(i) You may download and sync a Product for personal, noncommercial use on any device You own or control.

(ii) If You are a commercial enterprise or educational institution, You may download and sync a Product for use by either (a) a single individual on one or more devices You own or control or (b) multiple individuals, on a single shared device You own or control."

It's a bit weird that they seem to want you to be a commercial enterprise or educational institution before you can share your software on a shared device, but I doubt you can cherry pick the bits you want so I'd expect it to end up being install on one device for as many users as you want or install on as many devices as you want but only for one user. A reference elsewhere limits each device to carrying software linked to up to five iTunes accounts, but that's even deeper within iOS-worded territory.

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WTF?

What's new

Apple have had an online store for OSX apps for as long as I can remember...

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Go

But ...

...

Little Snitch

Pixelator

to name a few (well, okay, two) that are probably worthy of heightened awareness via Mac App Store?

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It's already full of junk

I can see three things that interest me, but I already have them, and now I'm quite annoyed that I may only be able to get future versions through this (and it's happening...ask Pixellator users). I don't want another Calendar app, or a TODO list app, or a Weather app, or or or...

It's like shareware website under a menu. Except when I download shareware I like to keep a folder with the original installers that I can drag to other computers. Can you do that with Mac App Store downloads? Oh no! you can't! not even the free stuff!

Fail...

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I thought Apple was going to nix bad ui apps

A gallery of horrid Mac App Store apps: http://readthefuckinghig.tumblr.com/

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Coffee/keyboard

nix bad ui apps

then they'd need to nix their own applications. Usually Apple apps are pretty good to use, it's just the inconsistencies you have to remember.

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Free Apps

I'll step back on a previous comment, at least regarding free apps anyway - seems that some will allow themselves to be copied to other machines (it's up to the developer to allow this though).

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Anonymous Coward

You need to step back from the keyboard full-stop.

You can copy apps from one App Store capable Mac to another and when the copied app is launched, activate them using the same Apple ID used to originally purchase them, or you can download the app from the App Store again on the new machine and it is not charged for. I don't know how many installs this applies to, but as far as I am aware it is unlimited. However, I suspect it is probably a max of 5 machines at any one time.

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Linux

Is this really that big?

Every Debian-based distro I know has apt, and thus apt repositories. These repositories are secure, and better yet, free - to both developers and consumers. Apt is integrated into the system, and it makes everything from upgrades to new installs super easy. It works with KDE, Gnome, XFCE, even the GUI-less command line.

I guess this is why so few people use Linux - so few people actually know what it does!

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What's big about it

is that developers can make money. So there's a gold rush effect, like with the iPhone app store.

That's what's missing from Linux package managers.

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