Saturday, May 1, 2021


no-one downloads, no-one sees

If no-one sees your application, no-one downloads your application and if no-one downloads your application, no-one sees your application.

Saturday, May 1, 2021 - Sam Rowlands

In 2021 the App Store is a target of much criticism and government investigations. Much of what I've read in the past year from other developers, I have also experienced as an indie developer, trying to make a living in the age of App Stores.

My biggest problem is exposure, or rather the lack of exposure. Some call this Zero Discoverability. What makes it worse, is the App Store strangling other means of gaining exposure, suffocating indie developers. I've seen far too many developers quit, this past year.

It wasn't always like this...

The land before the App Store

I sold my first Mac application, in the mid 90s. I had submitted my application to a Mac Magazine, it was included on their cover CD, and someone mailed me a cheque.

A couple of years later, I had a website and through Kagi was selling apps on a regular basis.

By the early 00s, I had successfully transitioned from employment into becoming a full time independent developer.

To gain exposure you simply submitted your application to the dozens of download sites (including Apple's own Downloads site), wrote to the Mac news sites, wrote to the Mac Magazines, send a mail-out to your mailing list. Then spend the next week answering e-mails from curious customers or the media.

The ascent

By 2011, it was a truly an exciting time, Apple's laptops were getting fantastic reviews ( The Mac OS was in it's stride, pixel perfect UI, stability and jam packed frameworks, not only driving Apple's apps to the next level, but we developers could utilize them too, making our apps even better.

Anyone running a Mac with Mac OS X 10.6.6 had a central location to download or buy apps created by indie developers.

Apple was running an affiliates program, which created a new category of promotions available to developers, as web site owners could make money just by listing our apps.

Mac Media utilized the App Store, resulting in more outlets finding new apps and generating more exposure for indie developers.

Customers responded to the Mac App Store in a fantastic way. The future looked real shiny going forwards.

Alas, that year, Steve Jobs passed away.

The fall

While a great many things changed over the next decade, negatively affecting Apple's indie developer industry, the massive reduction in exposure is a major problem.

Exposure is not the only reason as to why there are now less passionate, creative and unique indie developers, but it is a significant reason.


Will Apple restore the "Recently Released" list or reactivate affiliate app sales, probably not. After all they removed these functions, not to hurt indie developers, but because it obviously works better for them. CNBC estimates the Apple's App Store grossed over $ 64 Billion dollars in 2020.

Read the next article to find some suggestions and tips and improving the visibility of your Mac Applications. Improving Mac App exposure