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Mac App Store and Analyzr

In a few months we'll be shipping an application called "Analyzr" in two versions: Home for about $49 and Pro for about $495. The website (has just a simple signup form for now) is at http://analyzrgolf.com.

It's a niche product of sorts (golf swing video analysis software), so I'm looking at the Mac App store Apple's recently announced from this perspective. My ideas will apply to varying degrees less when you consider "mass market" type software.

The problems as I see with the Mac App Store are not insurmountable, but they are real.

In no particular order:

  • There's no evidence that you'll get more customers. The store will likely be one of many places people will look, including Google. This is particularly true of niche software and most likely incredibly wrong for the mass market apps.
  • Apple's current terms are incredibly restrictive. Past Apple Design Award winning software is ineligible. I don't even know if Analyzr would qualify - but there are enough other problems that I'm not even going to look right now.
  • There's a lot of added work to build and submit congruent "demo-only" versions of apps alongside real ones. They're not actual demos, as people prefer on the desktop - they're actually "Lite" versions. Desktop consumers (and, I could argue, iPhone/iPod Touch users) like demo software. And Apple says "no thanks" to that. This problem is solvable, but how sweet would it be if Apple allowed developers to offer time-limited demos of 7-, 15-, or 30-days?
  • You get no customer data. None. We can't verify that someone purchased a copy, follow up with them, or get their information should we ever leave the App Store. This makes support a real pain and severely inhibits customer interaction.
  • You can't sell bulk licenses, educational discounts, create your own coupon codes, etc. We like to do these kinds of things for our customers.
  • In-App purchases are a lot more work and don't really run parallel to the idea of "2.0" type functionality at all. In other words, it's really much more difficult to sell "upgrades" to people.
  • 30% of $49 and $495 is $14.70 and $148.50. No way I'm willing to give up $150 per sale, and $14.70 is a big stretch too. What works at $2.99 or $4.99 or even $9.99 may not work very well at prices as low as $19.99.
  • The App Store licensing process doesn't prevent cracking, hacking, and pirating. It'd be one thing if it did, but unfortunately, it doesn't.
  • Offering your app for sale on your site AND through the App Store may not work very well either. There's no code to read Apple's licensing schemes and so if someone bought Analyzr from the App Store and ever tried to update it with a download from our site, they'd fall into a messy spot, and we'd get a support email or an unhappy customer at least.
  • Apple can't issue refunds. In some cases, a refund is the best thing you can do for a customer.

Again, some of the problems are solvable, but unlike the iPhone, there's already a well established way to get apps for the Mac.

P.S. App Store Economics isn't painting a positive picture.

5 Responses to "Mac App Store and Analyzr"

  1. On your licensing point, the mac app store might actually increase piracy if it works the same way as the iOS apps. They're not difficult to crack and pretty easy to get your hands on. The iOS apps have an additional level of protection though that the mac doesn't, the need to have a jail-broken device in order to install the cracked copy.

    All of your other points are right on with what I've been thinking. Most of them are fairly easy to address on Apple's part. Hopefully they'll listen to the feedback.

  2. Apple issues refunds in the App Store if customers complain.

  3. Rafael said on October 26, 2010:

    Apple issues refunds in the App Store if customers complain.

    Yes, if the customer complains to Apple… not if they complain to the company. And they keep their 30%, too.

  4. Yes… and like you already mentioned: changing the policy so they won’t take the cut and putting together a simple form for companies to request refunds would solve this problem. Not that much of a hassle for Apple.

  5. Rafael said on October 26, 2010:

    Yes… and like you already mentioned: changing the policy so they won’t take the cut and putting together a simple form for companies to request refunds would solve this problem. Not that much of a hassle for Apple.

    Unfortunately, Apple hasn't done it (despite having the App Store for iOS for years now) and so it doesn't seem to matter how much of a hassle it might be… all that will really matter is when and if it's done. Apple doesn't seem to care.

    And - as we both know - it's just one of a list of many issues, and is a relatively minor one at that.

    Nobody should get into something hoping things will change in the future (particularly given the evidence that they may not).


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