The Mac App Store is broken, and developers are sick of it

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You now have to pay more to become an App Store developer. Photo: Apple
The Mac App Store is broken. Photo: Apple

First launched in January 2011, the Mac App Store promised to give developers the same sort of centralized marketplace to sell their apps that had made the iOS App Store such a success. Instead of making developers rich or giving them a better place to market their apps, though, an increasing number of developers are actually leaving the Mac App Store in what Milen Dzhumerov, one of the devopers behind Monodraw, has called a “subtle exodus.”

Why? It all has to do with Apple’s Mac App Store policies.

In a post on his site, Milen argues that the Mac App Store has had a number of negative effects on developers. It has pushed developers into unsustainable pricing by design. It makes it impossible for developers to rely upon things like demos to promote their apps. It doesn’t support paid upgrades. Customer reviews have a negative bias, and developers have no ability to respond to unfair reviews. And Apple’s app sandboxing rules are hopelessly opaque:

Developers found themselves having to make a hard choice – severely degrade the functionality of their software or leave the MAS. Consequently, entire categories of apps cannot be distributed via the MAS because they cannot be sandboxed without crippling their feature set. There is growing number of abandoned apps which are severely lagging behind their direct download counterparts. We are talking about some very popular apps, not obscure hacks that require kernel extensions.

(And as John Gruber notes, Apple’s own apps are exempt from sandboxing rules.)

Milen argues for a number of effective ways that Apple could make the Mac App Store better for developers, including introducing a trivial-to-implement demo function. But the effect of all these policies together is that the best Mac developers are increasingly deciding to leave the Mac App Store.

My ultimate fear is that the complacent state of the Mac App Store would lead to the slow erosion of the Mac indie community. The MAS is the best place to get your software, it comes bundled with your OS, it’s very convenient but when all the issues compound, developers will vote with their feet and continue the slow exodus. I feel that Apple needs to encourage the availability of high quality software rather than quantity over quality – the first step would addressing the core issues that have been known for years.

I agree with Milen. The Mac App Store (and honestly, the iOS App Store as well) hase been mismanaged for years. Look at a marketplace like Steam to see how much better Apple could be handling this. Do you agree? Sound off in the comments.

Source: The Subtle Exodus