Mac App Store: More Developer Reaction | Cult of Mac

Mac App Store: More Developer Reaction

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Yesterday we posted some first impressions of the Mac App Store by a list of some of the finest software developers around. Overnight we’ve had more responses from more superb developers, so here for your reading pleasure are their initial thoughts about the Store and what it means for their business.

Overall the mood is positive, but uncertain. There are still many questions to be answered. Almost all the devs we’ve spoken to are keen to get started, but not quite sure yet how they’re going to make it all come together.

(And to all the developers who took part, providing comment for this post and yesterday’s, Cult of Mac would like to say a big, big thank you. You people rock.)

Rich Siegel, founder of Bare Bones Software:

The App Store is a fantastic opportunity for us. While we’re still evaluating the implications, we intend to participate to the greatest extent that makes sense for us and our customers; and we look forward to working with Apple to reach as many new customers as possible.

James Thomson, creator of DragThing and PCalc:

I’m not at all surprised – I’d been expecting an announcement of a Mac App Store at WWDC for the last couple of years running. It makes perfect sense from Apple’s perspective.

For developers, it brings almost exactly the same pros and cons as the iOS store. Tighter control over our apps by Apple, but with the possibility of wider exposure. This will likely become the de facto way for Mac users to buy their software and I’m sure the average consumer will never look outside the store. As with all things Apple, I don’t think there’s any question of not participating.

The real question is whether Apple will actually approve our apps. DragThing has been around for 16 years, but I don’t think that gives it a free pass. Looking at the app review guidelines, there are at least four clauses that could result in a rejection, including similarities to built-in apps like the Finder and Dock. The fact that DragThing pre-dates the Dock by six years (or that I actually worked on the Finder and Dock when I was at Apple) doesn’t really matter. I think PCalc is a lot safer, but even then I would still need to modify it to comply with all the clauses. I know a lot of developers in the same boat.

I’m happy enough with the 70/30 split – Apple handles a lot of the hassle involved with selling software. Of course, more would be nice, but we’re used to that split from the iOS store. Not getting any customer information would be a lot more annoying – Apple basically inserts itself in middle between the developer and customer, and we don’t know who’s actually bought our apps.

I’m also sure we’ll see a race to 99c on the Mac App Store too, which I don’t think is a particularly good thing.

Certainly, this will completely change the Mac software market. Just ignoring it and hoping it goes away isn’t going to work…

Rory Prior, of Thinkmac Software:

Generally I’m very pleased, I’ve had a very positive experience with the iPhone App Store and it now forms the largest part of my business. I hope going forward it will help reinvigorate the Mac software marketplace, which has felt rather overshadowed by the massive success of the iPhone and iPad. However I do have some concerns with the new Mac App Store review guidelines. I do hope some of the points will be further clarified. For example they state “Apps that change the native user interface elements or behaviors of Mac OS X will be rejected” – if that means you can’t write software to theme the OS then fine, but if it means I can’t include customised buttons and controls in my apps then it’s a huge problem. Still it’s early days, it’s an exciting time to be a Mac developer and Mac user.

Manton Reece, developer of Tweet Library:

Like many developers I expected there would be a Mac App Store eventually, but not so soon. Apple hasn’t even come close to ironing out all the issues in the iOS version of the App Store — no demo copies, no refunds or discounts, no way to respond to customer reviews. I’m excited for a new way to reach users, but I’m also a little leery of rushing to update my Mac apps for the launch until I see how everything comes together.

For the iOS App Store I waited 2 years to finally ship my first app, Tweet Library for iPad. I won’t wait that long for the Mac App Store, but now that we have the review guidelines we know there will be some guaranteed frustrations about what kind of apps will be accepted and not. Apple’s rules are strict and maybe out of touch with how many Mac apps are build. I don’t know how long it will take to get my apps into a condition that Apple will accept them.

The 70/30 split is no surprise. It’s annoying when you’re used to the small single-digit percentage that PayPal and other payment processors take, but it makes sense to be consistent with the fees on iOS. I’m willing to accept the 30% if it means reaching a wider audience, as long as developers always have the option of selling Mac software directly, without the App Store.

Keith Blount, creator of Scrivener:

My initial reaction to the Mac App Store was one of despair – I would hate to see the Mac eventually become a “closed” platform, with no other way of selling your products other than through Apple, and this seemed like the first step on that rocky road to me. But on further reflection (and I admit my reaction may have been tempered slightly by my joy at seeing the Scrivener icon in the Launchpad demo), I find it all rather exciting. The one biggest problem we have as a small shareware company, producing only one piece of software and with only a handful of team members, is how to make people aware of us. As you know, our program is aimed at writers of long-form texts, but many computer users aren’t aware there are alternatives to regular word processors out there for long-form writing. When writers discover our software, we generally get a positive reaction, but it’s very difficult for a small company such as us to make people aware that we exist in the first place. Only a fraction of our potential users are likely to check out VersionTracker or MacUpdate, read the reviews in Mac magazines, or spend time trawling the internet and downloading and trialling new software. And we don’t have a boxed product in stores yet, so we have no way of catching the interest of casual browsers in an Apple Store.

In the best-case scenario, the Mac App Store could solve these problems for us in one fell swoop. It will be on everyone’s desktop and so – provided our application gets accepted of course! – even casual users who don’t read the Mac magazines or generally try new software from sites they don’t know are more likely to come across us. So, for all my qualms about whether this is a portent that the Mac will eventually become a closed platform (I hope not), I’ll certainly be working my hardest over the next couple of months to try to get Scrivener into the Mac App Store.

For us, though, and for me personally, it’s definitely an exciting development that is potentially great for smaller software houses, even if we’re not entirely without concerns. In the short term I’m mostly concerned about the details of getting my app accepted in the App Store – because let’s face it, even though it may not be obligatory to sell via the App Store, shareware applications are probably going to need to in order to survive among their competitors. And then in the longer term, I’ll be interested to see whether a centralised market place on the Mac will, as I hope, make a wider user base aware of some of the fantastic Mac indie software that is out there.

And in the shorter shorter term, I want me one of those 11″ MacBook Airs. :)