Important Mac App Store Business model

tl:dr; If you are considering a FREE/Paid product split, multiple products at multiple price points or even a line of products that could be deemed as similar; don’t. You should adopt Apple’s In-App-Purchase instead.

I am writing this because I want to share this experience in the hopes that it will save someone else from the frustration, anguish, and crushing sadness; which we’ve been through over the last few weeks.

We just launched our latest MWX app; and the paid version is absent from the Mac App Store. This was not intentional; but we found ourselves marked as a Spam company. After a couple of weeks and multiple phone calls, this is the conclusion.

The problem: This was explained to us as three issues.

  1. Having a separate FREE products and then separate paid products is not too their liking.
  2. Having multiple similar products is also not too their liking; they considered all our Photography applications to be similar.
  3. There were some older products that I had pulled from sale; but not removed from the App Store.

I want to add that in the end Apple did agree to allowing our brand new paid product on the store; however by this time Joy and I had pretty much decided that making this change to IAP was going to cause less friction in the future, and therefore this is what I’m going to do before we can sell our product on the Mac App Store.

As I am planning to update all our other photography apps as soon as possible; I agreed to pull them now and then combine them into a single IAP product.

While I wouldn’t describe whats just happened as inspirational, I want to add that finally talking a real human being, who was polite, understanding and actually explained things, did help to make the final part of the process less painful. Now if only the reviewers could treat us developers as human beings.

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Its a soul-crushing process trying to deal with mindless jobsworths, especially when they have a policy of not getting into detail but just pushing things back.
Im having the same kind of issues just trying to get a codesign certificate out of Sectigo. Its enough to make you just give up.

[quote=445128:@Jeff Tullin]Its enough to make you just give up.[/quote] As a non Mac developer watching the anguish you have to go through to give them 30% of your product along with @Sam Rowlands 7 day trials tweets I’m certainly wondering why bother?

It is almost like Apple are looking to lock out developers and their policies on protecting users seem just a bit dubious.

I don’t think this would have happened on Steve’s watch.

How lucky Windows and Android developers are that Microsoft, Google, and Amazon do it for free …
[end sarcasm]

Really, Wayne?

Whether it should still be 30% today is certainly worth bringing up, but I don’t see Microsoft, Amazon, or Google asking any less. On the contrary, Amazon and Microsoft used to ask 40% and only reduced it because Apple started with ‘only’ 30%. And they do a lot less for their customers (Goggles curation is laughable).

So why this Apple bashing when you certainly know better?

All large companies seem to be mind-crushingly stupid nowadays. It doesn’t matter if it’s Apple, Microsoft, Google or Amazon.

Beatrix, are you intentionally missing the point? Not cool.

The point is the constant singling out of and complaining about Apple by Windows and Android users when “their” companies are no better and often worse.

I have some experience dealing both Google Play and App Store. Have to say that the Google experience when it’s about putting your stuff on the store is way loooonger less painful/stressful in comparison with Apple.

Just my 2 cents.


I have yet to venture IAP but now I only add the payed version of an app on the App Store and provide a free/test version on my website.

Because at the moment; I don’t have a viable alternative. I don’t know how long it would take me to be able to replicate what I use of Apple’s toolbox over to other platforms. The kicker is that I need an income while I do so…

It certainly does feel that way. We can’t afford to completely abandon the Mac App Store, nor can we afford to go all in with the Mac App Store. Although I do suspect that in the not so distant future; the Mac App Store will once again be the #1 place to buy Mac software; but not for the same reason as before.

I can’t say for sure; I certainly have a lot more complaints about how Apple does things at the moment.

I think it pretty much boils down to one thing and one thing alone; money. I’m pretty certain that if these companies make enough more from you; they’ll care a lot more about keeping you happy.

I can answer this one; I am the reason. I have shared my frustration on the forums and @Wayne Golding has seen that.

However this post wasn’t meant to be a rant; it was meant to be a warning as I know in the past I’ve discussed the potential business models of the App Store; and my own experience has taught me that the model I chose this time around has been the most successful model for us in the past. That model is not banned; but it’s also not something they like and was one of the reasons as to why my latest product is not currently available for sale in the Mac App Store.

[quote=445133:@Wayne Golding]As a non Mac developer watching the anguish you have to go through to give them 30% of your product along with @Sam Rowlands 7 day trials tweets I’m certainly wondering why bother?

It is almost like Apple are looking to lock out developers and their policies on protecting users seem just a bit dubious.

I don’t think this would have happened on Steve’s watch.[/quote]

Still, macOS users are willing to pay for software. Windows users first look for cracked version before even considering paying for software.
Sales are mostly 90% macOS and 10% Windows.
I gladly pay 30% to Apple

In March Microsoft cut its charge to either 5% or 15% for many apps:

We are especially frustrated at Apple because the quality of their software gets worse and worse with each version of macOS. The security is getting ridiculous.

Why can’t Apple document how they want the apps to work? They want a, b, c and we do what they want. But instead we have to guess and are frustrated. Take the rank thing for the plist. Is this important? Not all all. So why not tell the developers “we are going to need this in the future”. Instead apps are rejected on the most silly reasons.

After the Zoom fiasco I read that it’s good that the macOS is “being locked down”. Huh? We as developers NEED being able to run a web server. Isn’t the silent update a backdoor?

The MAS has no equivalent in other platforms. As imperfect as it is, and even with the 30% cut, it is a very nice income. The Windows Store represents but 20% of that for the same apps.

I already talked about it, but as surprising as it sounds, distribution on CD is far from over, and I do have a good business at Amazon today.

[quote=445143:@Steve Wilson]In March Microsoft cut its charge to either 5% or 15% for many apps:[/quote]

The Windows Store is a dismal failure in comparison with the MAS. They are probably desperate to retain developers.

I had that issue with MAS earlier and I had to remove the other apps which they claimed to be spam versions of the photo apps. I removed the smaller apps and overall sales dropped drastically. As those Apple claims as spam sells better.fro

Personally I am not sure of the IAP works for non-games and non-books. I may be wrong as I do not actually buy any IAP for apps. Do let us know the sales results of the IAP implementation.

Yes, the Windows Store is a failure and my apps didn’t really sell well there so much so that Microsoft just decided to remove my apps from sale at their store as it wasn’t generating the numbers they wanted. No real lost there.

So, all apps that do Photo are spam, except the one provided by the computer manufacturer?

No, but if you have “My BMP” and “My JPEG” and “My PNG” that’s a problem. Apple would encourage “My Photo” with in app purchases for each format. I would argue this is reasonable as having separate apps for each format is a bit spammy.

The issue with any “curated” app store is the question of balance regarding marketing reach. On all three platforms, you have a chance of reaching consumers with no up front marketing expense. You jump through the development hoops, upload your app and wait for the app store to deliver users - I don’t call them customers, but cause they aren’t OUR customers, they are the curators’ customers.

For small businesses, this is a good model and can translate to easy revenue. On the other hand, for a larger business, the marketing expenses are already factored into the cost of business - You look at a market, guesstimate sales volume, weigh the potential gross revenue, and then create a marketing budget that covers print ads, press releases, web ads, demo product costs, support staff costs, sales staff costs, and other operational cost considerations:

Business Finance Class

Of course, the product manager should have done all of that before the decision to green-light the project is made, but you get my point. Does the total cost that you estimate cross the 30% of gross revenue threshold that you would otherwise pay to the curators? Does your reach match the curators’ reach for specific consumer types?

Sometimes, it’s not so simple.

Good point. Thanks. :slight_smile: