Survey Suggests Mac Developers Continue to Be Dissatisfied With Mac App Store

Setapp, a company that offers a Mac app subscription service, recently polled 742 developers to get their thoughts on the Mac App Store and the state of Mac app development. The survey is a follow-up to a survey that was conducted last year, which concluded many Mac developers are unhappy with Apple's platform.

That same anti-Mac App Store sentiment can be seen in the results of this year's survey. Of Mac developers polled, just 23 percent use the Mac App Store as their sole distribution platform, while 47 percent use the Mac App Store alongside another distribution method. 30 percent don't bother with the Mac App Store at all. The number of developers using both the Mac App Store and another distribution method is up slightly from last year, but the Mac App Store only category is stagnant.


Developers who don't use the Mac App Store cite reasons like the long app review process, the 30 percent revenue split with Apple, and the inability to offer trials.

The majority of money made from Mac apps is made outside of the Mac App Store among developers polled. Revenue from the Mac App Store accounted for 44 percent of app earnings, while revenue from outside of the Mac App Store accounted for 56 percent.

Developers were asked how likely they were to recommend the Mac App Store as a primary distribution channel to a friend or colleague, and the results were tallied using a Net Promoter Score that can range from 100 (everyone recommends) to -100 (no one recommends). A higher negative score means a more negative opinion.

Mac App Store developers had Net Promoter Score (NPS) of -34, non-Mac App Store developers had a score of -97, and developers who sell their apps both in and outside of the Mac App Store had a score of -48.


69 percent of developers polled said that sharing 30 percent of their revenue with Apple was not worth it based on what the Mac App Store provides, while 31 percent said it was worth it. In 2016, 62 percent said not worth it and 38 percent said worth it.

Sandboxing, a lack of analytics tools, no app bundles, no upgrades, and no ability to respond to reviews were seen as major factors limiting developers' businesses. As of iOS 10.3 and macOS Sierra 10.12.4, developers have been able to respond to customer reviews, eliminating at least one factor keeping developers from using the Mac App Store.


On the plus side, developers were happy with improvements to the Mac App Store review process and the speed with which apps go through the review process, while opinions on Mac App Store communications, review guidelines, and the appeal process saw smaller positive changes.

Going forward, developers would like to see faster app approval times, more flexibility when it comes to Apple's sandboxing policies, better communication with the Mac App Store approval team, and clearer explanations when an app is rejected.

Additional topics, like the new subscription options, are covered in the survey and can be viewed over on the main survey page. There are also comparisons between the 2016 survey for a clearer look at the state of the Mac App Store.

Top Rated Comments

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32 months ago
Mac App Store could really use some work. I can't believe you still can't even see video previews for games. Also, Apple does nothing to market or promote it other than forcing app updates through it.
Rating: 13 Votes
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32 months ago

Mac App Store could really use some work. I can't believe you still can't even see video previews for games. Also, Apple does nothing to market or promote it other than forcing app updates through it.


Speaking of updates in the app store. I really miss the update app they had before updates were shoehorned into the app store. It was so much more responsive and useful.

1. It was waaaay faster and scanning your system at providing update results.
2. The updates list was clear and concise, with no ambiguity about what could be updated, without having to expand sub-installer lists.
3. The information it provided was far more useful and accessible, like whether or not the update required restart (was much easier to identify), and most importantly, download SIZE, BEFORE starting the download. That small piece of info was extremely useful for determining whether I was going to run an update now, overnight, or even at all.
4. It wasn't so buggy. The app store updater is often unresponsive, doesn't update status, and sometimes just hangs.
Rating: 7 Votes
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32 months ago
The Mac App Store needs to be eliminated completely. Everything worked just fine for software distribution before its advent. All it is (and ever was) is another way for Apple to control all aspects of its business model to generate even more revenue for the company. Because, you know, they don't already have enough money without it.

From what I understand it's also a pain in the ass for Mac developers. That sounds to me like it's a lose/lose proposition for everyone BUT Apple.
Rating: 5 Votes
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32 months ago
I only use the App Store to get updates, rarely to search for and install new apps. I find the App Store's design (at least the Updates panel) to be an embarrassment to Apple's legendary design skills. I'm surprised they've let it go this long without some improvements. It really is their worst piece of software to date.
Rating: 5 Votes
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32 months ago
As a user I will always try to buy from the App Store first. Much easier to manage with multiple devices. I.E. iMac and MacBook. Also, I am not giving out my credit card to unknown developers. It feels safer to me. Feels a lot like the iOS App Store.
Rating: 3 Votes
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32 months ago
Apple have ignored the MacApp Store, while claiming "the mac is important".

If Apple can't put effort into improving the MacAppStore, they should just get rid of it.

I prefer buying outside the MacApp Store. I can't remember the last app / or when I did buy something from there.
Rating: 3 Votes
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32 months ago

Speak for yourself; I very much appreciate the MAS as a safe source of new software. No need to check whether downloads from developers' websites are legit, no payment hassle, paid once, always downloadable (yes, I know, this is not really an advantage to developers at this point...), etc.



Except there is plenty of scams apps or more and less shady apps in MAS. Few examples:

https://twitter.com/thomasareed/status/873492578817241088

https://twitter.com/djross95/status/819016169197830144

https://twitter.com/deluxive/status/822282939060854787

https://twitter.com/deluxive/status/783712367758761984

https://twitter.com/deluxive/status/873459603022983169

https://twitter.com/deluxive/status/867381624584982528

https://twitter.com/jhpot/status/806998268685103104

https://twitter.com/thomasareed/status/781174814434324480
Rating: 3 Votes
Avatar
32 months ago

As a user I will always try to buy from the App Store first. Much easier to manage with multiple devices. I.E. iMac and MacBook. Also, I am not giving out my credit card to unknown developers. It feels safer to me. Feels a lot like the iOS App Store.

What is an "unknown developer"? If a company is out there selling a piece of software, 9 times out of 10 the card goes through some payment processor like PayPal anyway, right? Do you also guard your precious credit card number when you go out to "unknown restaurants"?

If an app is available off the App Store, I'd rather the people who design and build my software get 100% of the proceeds instead of 70%.
Rating: 3 Votes
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32 months ago

I like the App Store in that it's one central place to get a bunch of apps. However, I can appreciate some of the developer's concerns. Sandboxing prevents apps that legitimately access other apps/resources. There are some apps where I'd like to have a trial before spending a bunch of money on them. Plus, upgrade pricing would help.

I'm curious how Apple's 30% cut compares to developers hosting their app themselves?



I would have to say that the best current option for Mac developers is to have their app available both on the App Store and via their own website. Mac App store, given all the downsides, still is a valid distribution channel because it offers Mac users a sense of security and convenience. A lot of users prefer to search for a solution to their problem directly in the Mac App Store and they should not be ignored.

Though from a developer’s standpoint - distributing your app from your website still gives you way more leverage - you are able to see how your users interact with the website, how many of them are coming your way, thus giving you much more control over user acquisition. It really is a pity, that Mac App Store still does not provide any analytical data like the number of app page views and at least the sources, from which the user has come to your page, like the iOS App Store does.

My bottom line is that, though Mac App Store is far from perfect - it still is a place that gives millions of users an opportunity to find an app they need directly on their Mac. I wouldn’t focus on Mac App Store as the only distribution channel, but I would also not neglect it as well. The more distribution channels you have - the better chances of delivering your product value to your customers.
Rating: 2 Votes
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32 months ago
It has to be said clearly.

There are some serious issues without any reasoning.

Why there is no:
- video previews,
- more flexibility over screenshots/media,
- app bundles.

When those things are available for iOS or even tvOS.

Which OS is used more? tvOS or macOS? Damn video previews for Mac apps should be introduced at the same time.
Rating: 2 Votes
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