back to article Mac App Store: Developer godsend or Evil Empire?

Ken Case, the CEO of longtime Mac app developer The Omni Group, loves the new Mac App Store. But not everyone agrees with him. "I think the Mac App Store is a huge improvement for the platform as a whole," Case says. "It solves a need that a lot of consumers have had, which is 'How do I find software for the Mac? Where do I go …

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What tripe

"The stuff that's on the shelves in boxes, that's software that has been vetted. Somebody had to pay enough money to get it shipped, and somebody had to approve it to put it on the shelf, and so that's probably reputable and probably quality."

I wonder what Wolfire Studios make of this. - http://blog.wolfire.com/2011/02/Counterfeit-Lugaru-on-Apple-s-App-Store-developing

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Anonymous Coward

Nothing new...

Happens on the Android market place with frightening frequency.

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Except

that Apple manually vet every App that gets submitted to the App Store. There is no such checking for the Android market place.

The implication of Apple manually approving all Apps is that they are legal at the very least.

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Troll

Let me be the first to ask the obvious question:

How long until Apple does away with the ability to install software by other means?

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Gold badge

That was EXACTLY my concern too.

After all, "other" installation routes do not provide the 30% cut of the developer's bread.

If Apple does that, I can practically guarantee the product will die overnight. They may have gotten away with that in the iThingy market (Pad,Pod, Phone), but doing this on a platform that has the chance to nuke MS off the market if they get the corporate management right is daft, so I hope not.

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What's easier than...

...slagging off Apple for something they haven't even done yet.

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Linux

Been there. Seen that.

> What's easier than...

>

> ...slagging off Apple for something

> they haven't even done yet.

Except they have done this already. They did this for their flagship platform. That's why everyone is so paranoid that it will end up the same way on Macs.

This developer is already spouting Apple propaganda about how Apple users are somehow incapable of using a search engine to find product and how this sort of thing is somehow needed either because Apple users are too stupid or there's "too many choices" to sift through.

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never.

Supreme court backed us on this a long time ago.

They can not prevent you from loading your own code. PCs are different from mobile phones. Carriers have a lot of say in phones, and "ownership" of a phone in the USA is technically only partial (they can order you to hand over the SIM and/or cell chip inside the phone at any time and you must comply). With a PC whoever, the hardware and the OS are inherently separate (even if bundled) and you have rights to use either. You're bound by EULAs on the OS itself, but it can not restrict legally the purchase and use of compatible 3rd party code, not can they legally prevent you from taking their OS off and loading another one.

Apple really has no interest in "closing" any of their ecosystems. Much of the restrictions are either carrier level, IP related, legally based (no porn is a state/local law compliance issue, not a moral one), or simply "good code" practices like don't improperly escalate permissions and don't use depreciated or closed APIs. Apple's interest is simply in centralizing access to apps, making them easier to find, and in keeping the riff-raff out of the store. The 30% barely turns profit (directly), it simply promotes the platform in general. (free advertising so to say).

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Anonymous Coward

@never.

'PCs are different from mobile phones. Carriers have a lot of say in phones'

'Apple really has no interest in "closing" any of their ecosystems'

How exactly is an iPod Touch a mobile phone, and who is the carrier? Surely it's just a handheld device that should not have restrictions placed on its ecosystem based on 'carrier level, IP related, ... porn ... "good code"' issues?

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as long as it takes until

...the next release of Mac OS.

still the iSheep will keep on coming.

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Headmaster

"Numerically...

...you'd actually need 142.8% of your previous income to absorb a 30% slice going to someone else, not 130%. (70% of 142.8 being 100, which is what you used to have before you had to give 30% away).

Now that I've engaged in some pointless nitpicking at the expense of BareBones, here's the plug to make up for it: BBEdit is verily the canine reproductive organs - if you have a Mac, and not BBedit, and you're any way a techie, shame on you - go buy it now! (but get it from barebones.com - more money goes to them that way)

Oh, and while I'm at it, I used the ever-cool PCalc to work out that percentage, so you should buy that too!

Crap, I really need to write some retail software myself, so I could plug it on here... :(

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Grenade

Editor wars 2!

TextMate kicks BBEdit's arse!

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invalid

I've build, and supported numerous online purchase portals. Even excluding rancid costs like boxing, advertising, unsold product, and logistical concerns, just the operation of your own systems to support sales can alone eat 30%. The smaller you are, the bigger the chunk.

Visa and the other card processors take a big swipe, as much as 5% off each transaction, and there's substantial investment in getting those systems up and running, especialyl if you also take alternate payment methods and a large variety of cards. The servers (and the internet pipe) have substantial costs as well, unless you business is VERY tiny. Handling post-sale purchase support, returns, and more is a burden as well for a lot of firms, though most smaller companies do handle that by simply not having a phone to call and saying "no" to emailed refund requests. Add in just a smidge of advertising, and throw some money at Google, and you could need to move thousandas of units just to recoup that cost.

Apple is providing the hosting, bandwidth, purchase overhead, even sales tax processing for you.

Granted, if you already invested this money, and have the infrastructure in place, 30% may easily exceed you current operating costs, but this hosing system means a lot of start up developers will be moving into this space, and as you read a lot of companies are simply discontinuing boxed products, and even cutting prices in half after giving apple 30% still looks to be netting them overall more money.

Not all companies will benefit from this, but MANY (even most) will. Others will have to adjust their business models, and likely spend more money to get noticed standing outside the store. Software prices are also expected to adjust accordingly, coming down, as boxed costs go away there's more room for margin, and thus heavier competition. If this adjusts enough (and apple shoudl give it incentive to), it could mean Mac software costs less than the same title on PC, and yet still makes more money for the devs, and unless Microsoft releases a similar marketplace, Windows could take a huge hit (if macs cost $200 more than an equivalent machine, but software is a $400 savings, suddenly the value proposition is easier to accept!)

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Linux

Invalid indeed?

What kind of cut does Cydia or Bodega take?

The thing about genuine liberty and a free market free of corruption and tyranny is the fact that you can go somewhere else and see what their prices are like. It's all self regulating and self correcting. If Carnegie is charging too much then you can go buy from Edison. (or sell as the case may be)

Overhead is not just some random number that you pull out of your posterior.

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FAIL

"What kind of cut does Cydia or Bodega take?"

Bodega take 7%, though it must be noted that they offer no support, advertising or hosting and distribution of the apps. It's worth noting that so far software sold through Bodega is sold at a higher premium too.

"Overhead is not just some random number that you pull out of your posterior." What is interesting here is that you assume Bodega are distributing the software (ie hosting it as well as advertising it) when they clearly aren't. Unlike Apple, they offer no other tangible services. They are essentially charging the user 7% for doing what Apple already did (and seem to be continuing to do) on their own site. This is approximately a quarter of Apples fee's. The trouble with ideologues such as you is that you only offer half the truth to fit your own warped agenda.

I can't speak for Cydia as they are quite cagey about their practices, for obvious reasons, but I'm sure it's not and entirely altruistic as you naively suggest.

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VMWare and Parallels

VMWare and Parallels aren't in the App Store because they require kernel extensions, which the App Store rules don't allow.

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Happy

Here's another happy dev

Pixelmator seems pretty happy to have grossed $1 million in 20 days on the Mac App Store. They've also taken the risk of going 'all-in' and offering their software exclusively through that channel:

http://www.pixelmator.com/weblog/2011/01/25/pixelmator-grosses-1-million-on-the-mac-app-store/

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+1 for BBEdit

it is teh awesomes

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Joke

Seriously?

"It solves a need that a lot of consumers have had, which is 'How do I find software for the Mac? Where do I go to buy it?"

Are they seriously too retarded to search google? Just sayin'.

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@Just Sayin

Just, the problem isn't in googling the software but actually seeing some relevant reviews and ratings, also the sometimes very unclear info on the licensing, trial period, hidden tricks and watermarks, not to mention any information on developer's credibility. I've installed at least 15 different video splitters and similar only to find out after few hours with each that they suck. Frankly I lost more than 30 hours searching, evaluating, even buying, and in the end had nothing. With Mac App Store this would be much easier.

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Really ?

>> I've installed at least 15 different video splitters and similar only to find out after few hours with each that they suck. Frankly I lost more than 30 hours searching, evaluating, even buying, and in the end had nothing. With Mac App Store this would be much easier.

And the App Store comes with a guarantee that an App will do something well (as in, does exactly what you want and is usable for you) ? You could still find yourself trying 15 different Apps from the store and not find one that works - I can't see Apple's reviewers actually playing with each program submitted to see what's it's like, how well it (in this case) edit's video or whatever.

The big problem as I see it is, as others have pointed out, that having this one place that's easy to search - software that isn't in the App Store will cease to exist in much the same way that to many people, if it isn't on the first page of a Google search then it doesn't exist. Thus software vendors are stuck between a rock and a hard place - if they aren't in the App Store then they don't exist, but if they are then they are at the mercy of Apple's censo... err reviewers. Lets face it, Apple can't claim teething troubles for the i[Phone|Pod|Pad] App Store and there's no shortage of stories and complaints about their lack of clarity and what appears to be a puritanical attitude to what's allowed - the complaints about the OS X App Store sound more like business as usual than teething troubles.

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Flame

@mraak

So basically, you're saying .... "Yes", then ;-)

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WTF?

Interesting how carefully they express themselves.

So, everything in the garden is generally lovely with just some small niggles. I may of course be over-interpreting but am I the only one here who got the feeling that most of those guys were walking on eggshells? I.e. Very bloody carefully.

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FAIL

"'Oh crap, we didn't think of that, let us work through it'"

Desired quote from Apple on issues: "Oh crap, we didn't think of that, let us work through it'

Actual response from Apple on issues:

"Your business model is wrong.

-Sent from my iPad"

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App Stores

Most I've seen need to up their search/filtering capabilities as it gets right on my tits having to constantly scroll past utter crap that could be filtered out/sorted by "downloads" or "user rating" etc.

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LDS
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WTF?

They rejected all of our apps ... for some use of private API that we weren't actually using

When developers started to use Windows "private API" they cried out loudly about unfair MS advantages in using them until MS was forced to document those API. With Apple they accept to be rejected and change their code. I really can't understand. It looks some kind of masochism.

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FAIL

re: They rejected all of our apps ... for some use of private API that we weren't actually using

The private APIs in Windows are ones that Microsoft kept to themselfs and didn't disclose, to other developers. = unfair advantage.

Apple stops developers from using 3rd party APIs that would provide other developers advantages and complicates testing for Apple, since they don't know what the APIs are doing. No Apple APIs are hidden, look in xcode you can call any function that OS X can.

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LDS
Silver badge

ROTFL

Sure, Apple thinks always about your good, while MS doesn't, it doesn't allow you to call API just because it is evil. Come on, the private API are there for the same reason they are in Windows, to allow them to write applications you can't. You will learn it the hard way, one day, don't worry.

I still wonder how many Apple fans can be so blind.

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not even closwe to the same

There are only a few "forbidden" APIs in OS X. They are not things Apple uses to stay ahead of the competition, they are things related to internal Kernel operation and security, features apps have no business touching, not even Apple's own apps. OS level functions only. Use of most of these forbidden APIs relates to handling of protected data houses inside some of apple's own apps, things that work around permission escalation or sandboxing, etc.

The majority of the "banned" APIs are either depreciated code, beta code, or code they have announced impending changes to. It pretty much means "if you touch this, and then we do, you're app will break, so this is just fair warning." They just replace the warning of "don't do it' with "we reject it, go do it the right way, you know, the NEW way we documented for you to do this..."

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Boffin

A title

"They are not things Apple uses to stay ahead of the competition, they are things related to internal Kernel operation and security, features apps have no business touching, not even Apple's own apps."

Don't forget that, until 10.6.3, if QuickTime used some graphics APIs hardware acceleration got turned on and if anything else used them they get the same without hardware acceleration. It took VLC, XBMC, Adobe, Valve, and a others to complain before 10.6.3 (with hardware acceleration) came out.

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Jobs Horns

Mr Siebel, meet Mr Jobs

look at how long we've been around, look at what we've done," he said. "We can be trusted with the power tools."

you just crack me up

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Jobs Horns

It is a good idea

As long as it is not the only way to sell, buy and install apps on Mac. We all know however this is exactly what control freak Jobs is planning.

We won't wait long before you have to jailbreak your Mac to make it remotely useful.

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thanks troll

NO! the US supreme court guaranteed us the right to install any software within a standard PC OS. They can absolutely NOT wall that in.

Further, Apple could give two flips about locking down the OS. The only reasons iOS is so tight is the CARRIERS. All apple cares about is an app market free of crap, providing some customer comfort in trusting devs, and putting the apps in easy to find places with consistently available and accurate descriptions. It's a customer service. They barely even profit off of it.

Mobile OS are different. The FCC gives carriers the right to protect THE NETWORK, and on top of that, you never "technically" own the phone (see the FCC notice sections about how a carrier can demand the return of the cell chip and associated SIM at will, and without refund). The carrier can control the ecosystem on the device such to protect the network, because the only usable functions of the device are ON the network. PCs have not such binding association,you outright own the hardware, and license the OS on it. they can not more tell you you can not run 3rd party software as Microsoft could tell you that you can't have both MS office and OO on the same machine. Law protects that explicitly.

You have to jailbreak a phone not because apple doesn't support "openness" but because the carreris won't carry the device at all unless it's locked in specific ways. MS's store is also closed, as is RIM's. The only "open" store is google's, and only because the carriers were literally DESPERATE to have an alternative to iOS, and even that has to be jailbroken to do a lot of things, and many new droids are coming out without that ability, and some even coming down the pipe with remote-wipe capability for non-official ROMs.

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Unhealthy Gushing, Dude

"All apple cares about is an app market free of crap, providing some customer comfort in trusting devs, and putting the apps in easy to find places with consistently available and accurate descriptions. It's a customer service. They barely even profit off of it."

Really? You mean, like they're in it for the good karma? And, as for profit ...

"Pixelmator seems pretty happy to have grossed $1 million in 20 days on the Mac App Store."

Let's do a tiny bit of math ... hmmm ... that's somewhere around $300,000 to Apple in 20 days from a single developer. I wonder if their costs even came close? Actually, I don't. I am quite certain that Apple's expenses for hosting that developer's goods are far, far lower than 30% of the take.

No, Michael C, Apple is not in it to make you feel all warm and fuzzy to be one of their sycophants. Apple is in it to make as much money as they can. One of the methods they have chosen to accomplish that goal is to open the App Store, and other methods include closing their systems, limiting opportunities and squashing dissent. Make no mistake ... Apple is a major United States corporation whose primary goal is to keep the money rolling in.

If it helps, your unhealthy gushing about the company IS doing something ... it's spreading the idea that a human being can have a schoolyard crush on a giant corporation despite abundant evidence that said corporate entity cares less for them than it does for it's shredding machines, thereby potentially infecting others who read your embarrassing flattery with a similar disease. However one hopes that, sooner or later, your brain will re-engage and you will be able to recognize that you are simply acting as a propaganda tool for Apple, who certainly would not do the same, for you.

Apple's a freaking capitalist role model, dude. Get over your puppy love.

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WTF?

troll, meet kettle

'Further, Apple could give two flips about locking down the OS. The only reasons iOS is so tight is the CARRIERS.'

You really believe that? The carriers don't seem to be worried about the huge range of Android devices that allow installation of pretty much anything, and that are selling like hotcakes. Nor does your theory explain why Apple's entire mobile device range is just as locked down as the iPhone itself.

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Gates Halo

microsoft needs to monitor this

If this is as successful as the iPhone store, it will result in higher mac sales due to an massive increase in software availability and easy of finding it. People are tied to windows due to a specific piece of software not being available this may change things.

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The App Store...

...is precisely why, after 26 years of Mac OS in various flavours, I am getting out of Dodge and never buying another Mac for computing again. Entertainment, possibly, but not for computing.

The walls will close in. I don't want to be inside them.

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my god man

What BS is this? There is no wall. US LAW prevents apple from closing the PC down, even if they wanted to, which they do not. the phone is only closed because the FCC gives carriers the right to do it, and because you do not own the phone, and because the OS is essentially inseparable from the device. PC and the OS on it ARE seperable.

The App store is merely a market, ONE market. It's cleaned of crap, will have aggressive prices, will be virus free, will have an amazing selection, and comes with some guarantees indie devs simply do not offer. It will never however be the only way to get apps. Any suggestion otherwise simply shows brute ignorance of law and Apple's intent both.

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Jobs Horns

Steve, is that you?

Of course not; he wouldn't have the patience to spend all day answering/down voting every negative post on a story about Apple...

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As a Mac user

I find this difficult to believe. Of course everyone has their own opinion. Maybe you are switching to Ubuntu which is a great OS. But my own experience is such that I can hardly comprehend why anyone would want to leave Mac OS as compared with any of the alternatives. Ubuntu is great for techies and has a great UI and has all the making of a great user focussed OS. But currently still lacks great consistent non-tech focussed user applications. Maybe you are a programmer and Photoshop, MS Office etc. don't matter to you. Or a user where Open Office is perfectly good enough. Windows: After having suffered using it for so long and having discovered the sheer comparative joy of using a Mac, I now shudder at the thought of having too use it again. Maybe it's for political reasons, in which case, fair enough and your choice, but then you would be making a change for political reasons rather than the quality of the system/software experience. Seriously, why would you want to change?

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Linux

Death of a thousand cuts.

> But my own experience is such that I can hardly

> comprehend why anyone would want to leave

> Mac OS as compared with any of the alternatives.

I don't have to spend money just to see what the SMART values on my hard drives are. A lot of trivial little system things on MacOS require a $20 shareware app. While one of these doesn't seem like a lot, they tend to add up really quickly. The same goes for plenty of other things. The App Store concept does have some merit since it's a platform where users are used to getting nickeled and dimed to death with stuff that Windows users wouldn't expect to pay extra for either.

It's interesting that a Photoshop knockoff could make anyone so much money these days. That is something that should have been commoditized a very long time ago.

Linux infact has a sufficient number of "n00b" applications. Whereas Apple is so busy being different that their "n00b" apps will likely be far too inconsistent when compared to what people are generally used to (which are sadly Windows apps).

Also: an expensive artists tool (Photoshop) doesn't matter to you either. So don't try to pretend it does.

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Apple have more software than Windows!

I've lost count of the number of times in the media, it's been claimed that the Iphone has more apps than Android, Symbian etc, merely by app store counts (which is especially biased towards Apple, as on the Iphone, you can only distribute via the Apple app store; also on Symbian, it was arounds years before Nokia started their app store).

By that logic, there's more Mac software than Windows software, because the official Apple app store has apps, and there's no official Windows app store, right?

Whilst there are some advantages of a single official app store, I'm not sure it's all that great for the developer. There are all sorts of hoops to jump through (cost, signing contracts - it was much better when I could just upload to Aminet...) but if you don't join in, you lose out because customers get to thinking that that's the only place to get software.

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"With Mac App Store this would be much easier."

Would it?

I mean, I share your frustrations, but even on Windows app stores (they do exist - download.com etc), even though they do tag things like "freeware", you still can't be sure that doesn't mean "the download is free, but it still misses crucial features, or stops working after 30 days", because the app store missed the restrictions.

The better solution I find is to look for open source software - you know that free means free there.

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Stop

Yes, it would

Apple expressly forbid demoware, trialware etc. If its free and you get it from the App Store then it's the real deal and has cost you nothing. Likewise for paid-for software.

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Joke

Oh, look!

"It solves a need that a lot of consumers have had, which is 'How do I find software for the Mac? Where do I go to buy it? How do I know if it's any good? Can I trust the vendor that I'm working with?'"

A central software repository, how magic and revolutionary!

(OK, it's not just a software repository, but the fanboi makes it sound like it's the most novel invention ever...)

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Jobs Horns

Do you work for Apple?

I don't know what you are on, Michael C (clearly something strong). For your own good, drugs are bad for you.

1. Yes, you do own your phone, if you bought it out right (or you are already out of the contract). However you don't own the SIM card.

2. In what business carriers can ask you to hand over YOUR phone? They may ask the SIM card, but not your phone.

3. Lock the phone to a network is not the same thing as lock the phone/OS down. Carriers cannot ask you only install apps from one central place. Carriers can only ask THEIR phones to connect to their own network only. How do you or Apple justify the restriction? Blame the carriers doesn't work.

4. How do you know Apple's intention? Judging by Apple's action, the only logical conclusion is Apple is evil (so is Google).

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Nah, a dot in the title won't do.

I would just downvote you, but I would also like to point out your bad speling. No Votes!!

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Bronze badge

Apple's cut

30% may be competitive with traditional retail, but not with downloads. Apple will lose hardware sales unless it opens up its platforms to competitors or lowers its 30% take.

Apple isn't the only company charging 30% for app sales -- it was about the same for downloadable console games, last time I looked. Same business model: sell a closed hardware platform for a low initial price, then milk the software sales for profit. I hope that's not the way of the future.

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Really?

Can you put a figure on how badly Apple sales are going to fall if they don't open up its platforms to competitors or lowers the 30% take? Being a doom predictor for Apple hasn't traditionally been a good position to hold except as a suffix to a haterboi comment. I'd quite like to come back in a year's time or so when you think mac sales have plummeted and ask you why you were so wrong because despite all the doom mongers Apple never seems to fail quite how they predict.

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