Wednesday, December 29, 2021


The Mac App Store in 2022

It is hard to believe that the Mac App Store has been open for over 10 years.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021 - Sam Rowlands

When the Mac App Store first opened it was full of excitement. It helped developers of all shapes and sizes offer their electronic wares to a majority of the Mac using population, which meant more unique and novel apps could now easily reach the computers of millions, helping to create an explosion in Mac software and push the entire computing industry forwards. Back in 2012 ~ 2014, the Mac App Store accounted for nearly 80% of our gross income. As the years rolled by, the Mac App Store accounted for less and less of our income, unilt in 2021 it was as low as 10%.

Also in 2021 Apple appeared to show that they're finally listening and open to correecting their mistakes. This year saw the launch of the 2021 MacBook Pro's, which appear to undo some really bad hardware choices introduced in 2016. My hope is this attitude can be used for the Mac App Store aswell.

1. Better Discovery

Build a customer focused "Discovery" page, whereby customers can filter apps by which categories they're interested in, and sort them via "Recently Released" (including updates), "Currently Discounted", "Popularity" and "Authoritative Reviews". The Recently Released category should help to ensure there's nearly always fresh content when customers revisit the store.

2. No-obligation time limited FREE trials

Allow a standard No-obligation time limited FREE trial for apps. Customers can download apps without having to worry about being signed up to a horrendous subscription. Once the customer likes the app, or the time limit expires, they pay up or move on. This creates trust and a sense of security, which makes customers more open to trying new apps, while increasing the chances of them purchasing more apps.

3. Better Product Pages

Overhaul product pages, making it clear when an app has a "No-obligation FREE trial", what purchase options are available (including details). Reviews should only come from authoritative Mac related sites and figures, such as MacWorld, MacFormat, Stuff, The Verge, ars technica, Tech Radar, Wired, Jason Snell, Howard Oakley, MKBHD, Snazzy Labs, Zone of Tech, Mr. WhosTheBoss. This will create trust over the App Store ratings, because these sites can't be so easily manipulated.

4. Bring back Revenue sharing

Pay a percent of the application sales to external referring sites. This will encourage developers to link to their Mac App Store apps (as they'll earn more per sale) as well as existing authoritative review sites to do more reviews, it will even breed a new generation of curation sites that will help to drive more traffic into the Mac App Store, which will result in more sales of Mac Apps.

5. Improved App Sandbox security

Apple needs invest time into improving the App Sandbox security model, it needs to enable existing apps to be present on the Mac App Store, while still providing security and importantly encouraging new apps to be designed, taking advantage of previously blacklisted Apple functionality. Our #1 selling application App Wrapper can't be distributed vai the Mac App Store, because the App Sandbox Security prohibits access to Apple API that App Wrapper needs to do its job.

Apple's Notarization service checks for malware and viruses, and provides a kill switch for nefarious apps. Potentially, Apple could utilize this service to replace the crippling App Sandbox, which would then allow more apps to be distributed via the App Store.

6. Overhaul the App Store Rules

Seriously address many of the rules, while reducing how often they fluctuate. Minimize Risk is now a common term amongst indie Mac developers, as it's become clear that trying to build a well rounded, polished application, has the potential to fall fowl of in-flux rules. Our #1 searched for application Permissions Reset breaches the rules when it tries to reset stubborn permissions, and therefore can not be in the Mac App Store.

7. Improve communication

Overhaul how the company communicates errors to developers when they're testing their apps, especially when "security" functions fail as they often report a single generic error message, which leaves the developer unaware if the issue is something they did or a failure at Apple's end.

Improve how Apple communicates with developers over the App Store Submission process. Several times now, our application has taken weeks to "Review", each and every time, Apple provides no information, no apologizes, nothing what so ever, except "Be patient".

8. Improved payment options

Apple needs to stop pressuring developers to adopt Subscriptions and In-App-Purchases, instead offer more customer friendly payment options, such as Update Plans, where the customer gets updates for a period of time, should they choose not to renew, they can still use the last version they downloaded.

Upgrade Prices, so a developer can post version 2x or 3x to the store, the customer is notified, and can choose to update for a discounted rate.

Finally allow Discount Coupons, so we can offer customers discounts for whatever reason we wish.

What did I miss?

What do you think Apple needs to change with the Mac App Store to not only help customers find exciting new apps, but also to help indie developers grow and develop more new exciting apps for the Mac?