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Developer Survey Shows the Hidden Downside of Using Mac App Store 

Posted by FastSpring staff on Oct 3, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Earlier this year, DevMate, an app development and distribution platform for MAC, decided to conduct an anonymous survey of Mac developers to uncover some of the advantages and disadvantages of creating applications primarily to sell on the Mac App store.

The results were a bit surprising and provide some interesting insights as to what motivates app developers.

First of all, profit is NOT the main factor in deciding whether to sell solely through MAS (Mac App Store) channels, through independent marketing or some combination of both. 

With nearly 700 Mac app developers weighing in on the subject, Yaroslav Stepanenko, Product Marketing Manager for MacPaw, creators of DevMate, discussed the survey results with FastSpring.

“It was interesting to see that most of the developers who participated in the survey employ multiple marketing channels for their apps. Just over 42% sell both through MAS and outside MAS. The next largest group chooses to sell outside the Mac App Store and the smallest group of respondents sells exclusively through MAS,” he noted.




Understanding where the developers are selling is key to the first unexpected finding:

  • Revenue from inside and outside MAS is practically identical so there is not the “expected revenue advantage” in selling through MAS.

While the Mac App Store offers a built-in customer base of Mac users, that alone does not automatically translate into higher sales or profits for developers.  In fact, most of the developers in the survey hold a somewhat negative view of the Mac App store, even if they sell through it.

We asked Stepanenko what the survey identified as being some of core issues developers have with MAS and he noted, “Of course, one is revenue share since MAS requires a 30% cut and most developers who responded did not feel that they receive enough benefits from MAS to justify that large of a revenue share.”




He continued by saying that revenue is not the number one issue most developers have with MAS.  It is the App Review process and the fact that Apple is not flexible in allowing developers to interact with the Apple team or customers.

“Many survey respondents noted that the App Review process to sell through MAS is not only slow but it also limits access to the MAS customer base. If a developer invests the time to submit an app to MAS for the App Review process, at the end, they could very well receive a rejection and not have any idea of what they would need to change to have their app receive acceptance.  Most developers find that very frustrating.  It is worth mentioning though that Apple has recently made improvements in the speed of the review process,” Stepanenko said.

Another issue for developers that was discovered through the survey results is the inability to offer pricing upgrades and trials on apps through MAS.  When selling independently of the Mac App Store, developers have the freedom to continually improve their app(s) and interact with the users by offering introductory trials, feature upgrades or special add-ons.

While some apps are clearly not suitable to be offered through MAS because they cannot comply with all the rules, many developers whose apps comply with most of the rules felt that MAS is not always consistent when it comes to enforcing rules and reaching decisions about products sold through MAS. 

Stepanenko noted that DevMate plans to do a follow up survey in about a year because it will be interesting to see what has changed for developers over that time.  Specifically, the rise of subscription models should be worth investigating in terms of how they affect both the revenue and development side of creating new apps.

“It is good for developers to have an opportunity to discuss these issues and to see what other developers are thinking in terms of selling their apps,” Stepanenko said.  “We feel that doing another survey will help the development community overall and we look forward to the results.”

The complete DevMate survey can be viewed at http://devmate.com/mac-dev-survey.

Learn how FastSpring can help you sell outside the MacApp Store. Watch our video!

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Topics: Increasing Revenue, E-Commerce Insights, Apps, MAC App Store

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