Developers’ Opinion of Mac App Store Improving, but Many Still Unhappy With Lack of Upgrade Options and Free Trials

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Setapp, a company that offers a subscription service for Mac apps, today published the results of an annual survey querying Mac app developers on the state of the Mac App Store.

Many Mac developers continue to be unhappy with the Mac App Store and fewer are choosing it for app distribution, but Apple's efforts to improve the Mac App Store in Mojave have improved opinions in some cases. To get the data for this survey, Setapp queried a total of 814 developers.

Just 22 percent of Mac app developers choose to distribute their apps exclusively through the Mac App Store. 32 percent, up from 30 percent last year, distribute their apps outside of the Mac App Store entirely, while 46 percent sell their apps both in the Mac App Store and outside of the Mac App Store.

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Developers continue to make more money outside of the Mac App Store for the most part, with 59 percent earning more revenue without the Mac App Store and 41 percent earning more money through the Mac App Store.

Despite the fact that fewer Mac developers are using the Mac App Store, among those who do exclusively sell through the Mac App Store, overall opinion has improved. Those who sell outside of the Mac App Store and both through the Mac App Store and outside of it also had a higher overall opinion, though it still trends toward the negative.

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Mac App Store developers happy with the Mac App Store

51 percent of developers surveyed said that providing Apple with a 30 percent cut of revenue is worth it, an impressive jump from the 31 percent that said the same thing in 2017.

Compared to 2017, when developers were upset with Apple's sandboxing practices and named it as a key reason for avoiding the Mac App Store, opinions have improved. Sandboxing is no longer seen as a critical issue.

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Developers are, however, concerned with a lack of pricing upgrade options, no analytics, and an inability to offer trials.

Developers who do not choose the Mac App Store said they avoided it because of the unclear app review process, 30 percent revenue share, and lack of trials.

This year, 20 percent of developers decided to switch to a subscription model for their apps, and 52 percent of those said that it had an overall positive impact on their business. Of those using subscription models, increased revenue and an active growing user base were cited as positives.

Full details and comparisons between data collected in 2016 and 2017 can be viewed on Setapp's survey website, which also includes details on how developers view the Setapp service.

Top Rated Comments

MacFan23 Avatar
28 months ago

I think I've bought one app from the app store since I got my Mac 4 years ago

What was it?

Am I in a minority who seems to have used the MAS quite a bit? A quick count shows I've downloaded 141 apps through it (Since Jan 2011).
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jecowa Avatar
28 months ago
The Mac App store has made me less likely to purchase software. It simultaneously seems like either the Mac App store is doing terribly and may be shut down soon or that Apple plans to force all apps to be obtained from their app store. So I'm not sure which version of the app is the better investment. I hope the Mac App store dies in a fire, though. I'm not looking forward to another closed ecosystem. And Gatekeeper is being very policestate with non-Appstore apps. Apps shouldn't have to provide their users with workaround instructions for Apple's Gatekeeper.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KazKam Avatar
28 months ago
Indeed. As a developer myself (iOS only) I do understand the pros and cons of both distribution models, but really have to side with the devs on most of the negative aspects of the Mac App Store vs. direct downloads.

Whenever I purchase Mac software, if the developer sells in both ways, I always choose the non-App Store purchase method. Any minor conveniences to the casual users who the App Store was designed for is passed on in spades to the developers and experienced/advanced users in the form inconveniences, compromises, and constraints.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ethanwa79 Avatar
28 months ago
I’m a developer and the 30% cut is a killer (for both iOS and Mac apps). It cuts into our tight margins SO much. We can sell the Mac app directly to our iOS users and completely avoid that cost (paying at most 3% to a payment merchant). We only put the Mac app in the store for discovery and browsing by random consumers. We won’t ever send our existing customers there though for the upsell.

If there were built-in upgrade paths (NOT subscription models) then I would take a second look at the Mac App Store.

I hate how Apple thinks the subscription model should just work for all devs. It does not work for our product, and it sucks because we can’t take advantage of the 15% cut that devs who use subscriptions get.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
benshive Avatar
28 months ago

What was it?

Magnet
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nt5672 Avatar
28 months ago
Apple places so many restrictions on their App Stores that its no wonder developers don't want to use them unless forced to (as is the case with iPhone).

Of course, this was not asked?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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