From Information Architects’ blog:
No matter how good your product is, you need to be found. We send all our traffic to the stores. In return, we get higher sales and higher rankings. Recently, some of the numbers left us guessing. The more traffic we get the higher the sales. But, somehow, our ranking suffers.
This insightful post from iA details surprising behaviour from the App Store algorithms. They also mention skipping the Windows Store for their Writer début on Windows 10, which I’m guessing signifies that they’re considering leaving the Mac App Store. While developers have no such choice in terms of iOS apps, I’ve been recently reconsidering my stance that this is a good thing. Perhaps the option to install apps directly from trustworthy developers would be a net win, even at the risk of less security for less tech-savvy users…
Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg:
The Mac App Store is a ghost town of limited selection and rarely updated programs. Now Apple plans to change that by giving people a way to use a single set of apps that work equally well across its family of devices: iPhones, iPads and Macs.
Starting as early as next year, software developers will be able to design a single application that works with a touchscreen or mouse and trackpad depending on whether it’s running on the iPhone and iPad operating system or on Mac hardware, according to people familiar with the matter.
If this is true, I’m guessing the road will be rocky for developers, but the benefit for users could be huge, especially those that use the same apps on both iOS and macOS, relying on iCloud or other services for the syncing of data. I do wonder how this will influence pricing, however.
A lot of indie developers struggle to make sustainable income in the App Store. I’ve experimented with many models over the years, and I’ll be happy to share the results of this change to hopefully be useful to other developers.
I honestly don’t know if this will work long-term, but I think it probably will. If it does, it will solve a lot of problems and let me do quite a bit more, better and faster than before, and truly make the best app for everyone, rather than only 3% of my customers.
It honestly makes me sad that developers are having a harder and harder time supporting themselves from good software. Take Tweetbot as an example — an app I use a few hours every single day — it’s really cheap right now but the value it gives me in return is immense. I would gladly pay much more, but at the same time I realise most wouldn’t.
I am living proof that it is still quite possible to make a solid and reliable income from the App Store. The way in which I have been able to do that, however, has been to change with the times and constantly adapt to the changes in the market.
David’s apps aren’t perfect, but what he doesn’t mention is that he’s a nice guy and very respectable online — I unfortunately haven’t met him in real life. I buy his apps because, while not perfect, they’re solid problem solvers and appeal to my needs. I know that the fact that he has an online presence makes a difference for me — he won’t disappear tomorrow and leave me looking for alternatives.
Good luck on another eight, David!
Updated App submission guidelines:
- If your app looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, or you’re trying to get your first practice app into the store to impress your friends, please brace yourself for rejection. We have lots of serious developers who don’t want their quality apps to be surrounded by amateur hour.
- We will reject apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, “I’ll know it when I see it”. And we think that you will also know it when you cross it.
Surprising, strong wording.
This is completely unacceptable. And in conflict…
Amirali Rajan’s TL;DR summary:
Made a little over $700k selling a premium mobile game with no IAP or Ads as a one man shop. It is possible to create sustainable income from apps (albeit very difficult). Made a little over $700k selling a premium mobile game with no IAP or Ads as a one man shop. It is possible to create sustainable income from apps (albeit very difficult).
A few things from his story surprised me, including the fact that Amirali doesn’t know why his game went viral.
This year, over fifty thousand developers shared where they work, what they build, and who they are. You are about to read the results of the most comprehensive developer survey ever conducted.
Some answers were expected, others weren’t. Worth perusing.
Apple has made their TV Tech Talks videos available on their developer portal.
Hekmati, who was born and raised in the US, was first imprisoned in August 2011 after he purportedly confessed to high-level espionage for the US government. According to the confession, Hekmati’s company, Kuma Reality Games, was working with the CIA to release “games with the aim of manipulating public opinion in the Middle East. The goal of the company in question was to convince the people of Iran and the people of the entire world that whatever the US does in other countries is a good measure.”
This isn’t a movie plot. Sounds like one though. There’s so much we don’t know…
I didn’t release Almost Impossible! on Android because I’m an Apple kinda guy, and this was a “fun” side-project. While Almost Impossible! hasn’t been a block-buster hit, someone assumed it must have been and ripped it off anyway. They basically re-built the entire thing for android, right down to copying the levels. How crazy is that?
I’m quite surprised Dan isn’t doing anything about this — the least that I would do is let Google know about the copyright infringement.
The Mac App Store is supposed to make things easier, but it’s also a single point of failure. Not only is it neglected, but sometimes even the existing functionality stops working. Mac OS X 10.9 introduced a code signing bug that prevented me from submitting updates for several months. In June 2015, there was a month-long iTunes Connect bug that prevented my uploaded build from entering the review queue. And I currently have a bug fix update that Apple has been reviewing for 33 days (with 8 days of waiting before that). When I inquired about the status, Apple told me that everything was normal and that I should just keep waiting. In short, the system is broken on multiple levels, and there is no evidence to suggest that things will get better.
I’ve always been a big fan of the Mac App Store as a user—it just makes things so easy—but what Michael mentions is completely unacceptable. It has been getting worse and worse over the past two years or so, and today I will actually actively spend time looking if an app is also available straight from the developer. The purchase procedure is usually much more irritating, I have to store the license information in 1Password, but ultimately it’s been worth it thus far.
Make sure to read the comments below Michael’s post too.
Proponents of this model call it “patronage,” but it has little in common with the historical concept of patronage where a well-off patron paid an artist an amount to commission a work of art. This new model, in fact, is the opposite of patronage. Instead of requiring a patron to provide money up front in exchange for an item of value, this new model gives away all the value in advance and requires nothing from those who receive it. It less resembles patronage, or even commerce, than it does begging, or busking if you’re feeling generous.
Interesting point of view, although I personally have a different take on the subject—set a high enough price to make your useful product sustainable and market the hell out of it. There is a tiny flaw with my theory: most people don’t want to pay for software, even when it’s really well done.
The patronage-only model is so new, and very experimental, but has that stopped others from replicating it?
Technically, the patronage model that Marco Arment adopted isn’t especially new. I first saw it many years ago on David Smith’s Pedometer++ [App Store]—he’s a unique developer in terms of experimenting in the App Store, choosing different monetisation options between his many apps, and adapting extremely well to current trends. In fact, I wrote about his tip jar a while ago. To my knowledge, which isn’t especially impressive when it comes to this subject, Marek Moi’s PointOut [App Store] followed suit with a unique system of buying him coffees as a thank you.
The problem with the App Store is that a select few developers with unique ideas are able to price their apps accordingly, while the rest have to compete with many free apps that are good enough. Quite frankly, I want to pay for quality software for the sole reason of supporting the team behind it, and so that they continue to maintain their products and hopefully add new features too.
Sadly, I realise I’m in the minority…