Making a sustainable living on the App Store

I’ve decide to spin this off form the thread https://forum.xojo.com/18227-stupid-app-store-rejection-reasons/ to make it easy to find for others.

It seems that I’ve encountered an issue with the App Store, where Apple don’t like “Paid Updates”. We tried to released a version 2 of a paid product, but were rejected 5 days ago and the reviewer is either unable to respond or simply choosing not to respond to my messages.

Doing some research on the inter webs I find several people complaining about this since 2012, yet a clear resolution doesn’t appear for me just yet.

Some great suggestions have been posted in the previous topic, but I’d like to bring them here.

[quote=152432:@Rick Araujo]Updates should be free (better the same). Upgrades should be paid (new features).
Your sale is IAP -> Sell functionality -> Non-Consumable.
At start up you could just check the current features the owner owns and activate those features for him.
You must provide some way in your app to people “activate” features. And to enable some of those features they must pay.
They are all there, in your current new version of your app, just needing to be unlocked.[/quote]
The questions that spring to mind regarding this are as follows:
#1 This update was completely re-written from scratch so it works very differently.
#2 App don’t re-list updates, so how do you go about making your new version ‘visible’ on the App Store?

Interesting enough is the tactic that MacPhun (one of our competitors) uses, they have cheap-inexpensive versions of their apps on the App Store. There is a help button on the toolbar, that takes you to a web page with a upgrade button on it, selling you the version outside of the App Store. Once they’ve got you to purchase outside of the App Store, they’ve established a mechanism for paid updates and also promotion.

Their tactic is expressively not allowed by Apple (selling items outside the app store), so I can only assume that when the app is reviewed the Help page doesn’t display the upgrade button!

One of my MAS apps has a window which shows at exit the first time inviting the user to click a link to my web site where they can purchase the “full” version of this app. Version one of this app was submitted to the MAS over a year ago and was approved. I submitted an update to version 2 , which contained the same “feature” and it is the one currently on the MAS. When I submitted version 3 with this feature, it was rejected citing the selling outside the App Store reason. I don’t think the rules changed. I just think they are enforced very willy-nilly.

…looking at the current state of the MAS, that seems to be the primary way of monetizing apps: offer very cheap or free and then offer IAP’s. We need an easy way to do that with Xojo.

My biggest concern with IAP, is that when a ‘new version’ is released it doesn’t go down the list, so new users will not see it. Only existing users will get the update, if they still have the application installed.

You could add a mechanism to your apps to display a notification when an update is available, or tell the users to update when they start the app. But that will only work for the update after next of course.

Heres a good read : http://mac.appstorm.net/general/opinion/upgrade-pricing-is-dead-hello-ingenious-new-upgrades/

Fairly easy to do if the page is on a server. Have an inept marketing page during review, then put the page with the upgrade offer afterward.

That said, it feels kind of dirty, and a bit dangerous if Apple was to find out (maybe with the help of a friendly neighbor denunciation).

The advantage of a new product “My app 2” over an update maybe the exposure seemingly offered to new products. Plus the fact that you still sell the older one.

I have currently two products in the MAS : Check Printer and Check Writer. Both allow to write checks and print them out with the proper MICR stripe for bank processing. But Writer also incorporates a small text editor so one can write a letter with the check at the bottom or on the top.

My plan was to retire Printer, until I noticed it still sold nicely. They have been side by side for over 6 month and go their merry way, sometimes one before the other, both selling nicely.

In app purchase seems to be the universal model for upgrades, though.

A larger consideration is why has no one in the Xojo community come up with an alternative marketing company for apps that’s better than existing products offered? The need exists, yet no one has offered any solution. Existing so called solutions are way too restrictive, complicated, and are often a hodgepodge of services cobbled together from several companies.

  1. Plugin and Play Integration into the app in regards to licensing and interaction with the reseller’s web site.
  2. Handle payments.
  3. Pay as you go - no monthly fees.

If an easy solution was provided at a reasonable price (i.e. a % of the app’s price) then more copies of Xojo could be sold.

Exposure of such a store.
Yet another small app store without the reach & exposure of MAS, Windows Store, etc thats on everything means you struggle to gain exposure just like you used to have to try & do with boxed versions or other digital distribution mechanisms.

Is it not amazing that someone who has zero products on sale, has set up zero web site with zero download sales, is willing to do zero effort to create his own delivery system, tries to gives lessons to people who make their daily living in the App Store ?

It is indeed!

Some weeks ago I was contacted by MU - they are working on a sort of AppStore (if I didn’t misunderstood it)
Maybe that could be interesting. MU has a bucketload of exposure.

[quote=152644:@Christoph De Vocht]Some weeks ago I was contacted by MU - they are working on a sort of AppStore (if I didn’t misunderstood it)
Maybe that could be interesting. MU has a bucketload of exposure.[/quote]
I like MU, and the staff is very nice. I’ll be on the lookout for this store.

[quote=152644:@Christoph De Vocht]Some weeks ago I was contacted by MU - they are working on a sort of AppStore (if I didn’t misunderstood it)
Maybe that could be interesting. MU has a bucketload of exposure.[/quote]

Already all commercial software is linked to a purchase site. Some link to the App Store, some others to their own purchase page.

If they come up with a formula like the MAS, it should be interesting to watch.

I just re-read the mail and it seems MU is indeed starting up a MU-Store in collaboration with Paragon and Neatberry (don’t know about those two companies though).

However, it seems they are only targeting popular apps to see who is interested to join the MU-Store.
Will ask for some more info and also ask if I can put some more info here.

[quote=152664:@Christoph De Vocht]I just re-read the mail and it seems MU is indeed starting up a MU-Store in collaboration with Paragon and Neatberry (don’t know about those two companies though).

However, it seems they are only targeting popular apps to see who is interested to join the MU-Store.
Will ask for some more info and also ask if I can put some more info here.[/quote]

If it is anything like the Amazon Store, that will be of extremely limited interest for most if not all Xojo developers, as Amazon is just interested in the top 50 best sellers. I maybe mistaken, but I do not recall anybody in the forum being part of that blessed group. Unfortunately.

[quote=152644:@Christoph De Vocht]Some weeks ago I was contacted by MU - they are working on a sort of AppStore (if I didn’t misunderstood it)
Maybe that could be interesting. MU has a bucketload of exposure.[/quote]
You understood it correctly.

Nothing could be as bad as Amazon, it took us 6 months to get our apps on Amazon, what a waste of time. People only purchase there when it’s dirt cheap, most are computer illiterate, taxing support time too much. Not to mention that the contract insists you sell your application to Amazon at the cheapest price you earn from elsewhere, yet Amazon are free to price it however they feel. Earning anywhere from 40~70% profit from each sale.
It’s been so bad, that we’ll not be renewing our contacts when they expire.

Thanks for the link Mike, it was an interesting read. Again my main issue with this, is how do you reach new customers with a major upgrade? I am assuming that most of the App Store customers probably don’t read magazines or read Mac centric web sites. So getting your shiny new version in front of millions of potentially new customers is then impossible?

Ouch: This really hurts! Looking on the App Store right now in the Photoghraphy category, I see “iResizer 3”, “Greeting Card Shop 2”, “Smart Shooter 3”, “MagicBlackWhite 2”! It’s been 6 days since my rejection and the reviewer hasn’t responded to me or re-reviewed the application yet. I’m appealing the rejection and lodging a formal complaint. I think in the future I’m going to stop writing nice messages to reviewers, this is the second time I’ve had this happen. I always write pleasant and polite messages and get dumped into the reviewers bin.

[quote=152730:@Sam Rowlands]You understood it correctly.

Nothing could be as bad as Amazon, it took us 6 months to get our apps on Amazon, what a waste of time. People only purchase there when it’s dirt cheap, most are computer illiterate, taxing support time too much. Not to mention that the contract insists you sell your application to Amazon at the cheapest price you earn from elsewhere, yet Amazon are free to price it however they feel. Earning anywhere from 40~70% profit from each sale.
It’s been so bad, that we’ll not be renewing our contacts when they expire.[/quote]

The recent goings on with Hachette are illustrative of the kind of “power” Amazon tries to wield
I dont buy from them mostly because Amazon.ca is really sucky compared to Amazon.com.
I can get deals at least as good and sometimes better on other stores that I prefer to deal with.