Why is Apple making the Mac harder? (Update)

Interesting thoughts from Michael Schechter:

“While there will always be things that need to exist outside of the Mac App Store for the geeky amongst us, the exclusion of something as useful and harmless as TextExpander shows the flaws in the current execution of App Sandboxing. The idea of protecting users from harm makes sense; the execution of protecting users from conveniently installing and maintaining useful software makes none.”

I don’t know enough about development to comment on sandboxing in the Mac App Store. But as a consumer, I’m disappointed to see three of the store’s strengths — easy updating, multi-machine installs and the ease of setting up a new machine — go away.

Update: As one reader suggested, I misspoke in this post. I’m not suggesting that conveniences like easy updates and re-downloads are being removed from the Mac App Store. They’re very much intact. Instead, apps that are forced out of the store, like Textexpander, will no longer benefit from those niceties. An important distinction.

Selling via the Mac App Store

Surat Lozowick followed up on my post about how the Mac App Store is affecting sales of software not in the store. He searched the Mac App Store and Bodega for the apps on his list of essentials. His findings:

  • Apps in the Mac App Store: 0
  • Apps not in the Mac App Store: 20
  • Apps in Bodega: 4
  • Apps not in Bodega: 16

He then searched for David Appleyard’s picks for the best apps of 2010, as published on AppStorm.net. The results were:

  • Apps in the Mac App Store: 8
  • Apps not in the Mac App Store: 17
  • Apps in Bodega: 8
  • Apps not in Bodega: 17

Totals from these two lists:

  • Total Apps in the Mac App Store: 8
  • Total Apps not in the Mac App Store: 37
  • Total Apps in Bodega: 12
  • Total Apps not in Bodega: 33

Surat goes on to conclude:

“Obviously, it will take time for the Mac App Store to fill up with apps, but I would have expected more already-available apps to be submitted to the app store. After all, the developers lose nothing, and it’s an excellent way to gain exposure. There will always be apps that are not available through the Mac App Store, but it’s worrying when that includes every single app I rely on, and the majority of others’ recommended essentials.”

I agree that many developers would benefit from having their apps in the Mac App Store, but it isn’t always that easy, and they hardly “lose nothing.” For example, I recently conducted an interview with Marketcircle CEO AJ (it will be up on TUAW next week). He noted that two of his marquee apps, Daylite and Billings Pro, rely heavily on background sync that occurs without interference from the user, which violates Apple’s rules for the store. Additionally, there are licensing issues that further complicate things for AJ and other developers. I’m sure he’s not the only one who’d happily sell software that can’t be distributed through the Mac App Store just yet.

Why would a developer want to distribute his/her software via Apple’s store? One reason is that it eliminates two long-standing issues: download and installation. For years, developers have distributed software as DMG files, ZIP files, etc. Some use a drag-and-drop installation process, while others click to install. Some offer licensing within the app while others force users to open a browser. For geeks like you and me, that’s not a problem. However, many “home users” can find the differences confounding enough to just walk away.

The Mac App Store eliminates both issues by making the installation and pay procedure identical for all software.

Surat then considers the cost of available apps:

“From my quick perusal, it seems to be dominated by expensive or new software.”

That’s an understandable observation, and empirical evidence by TUAW’s Richard Gaywood supports it, somewhat:

“Almost half of the apps in the Mac App Store are in the cheap-and-free sub-$5 bracket; an informal survey reveals a lot of ports of iOS games falling into this area. There’s then a bit of a no-mans-land between $5-10; then huge numbers of apps in the $10-50 brackets. Again, informally surveying the store, these appear to be mostly traditional Mac software packages that have been ported over to the store and broadly maintained their price points. Finally, we have a small — but significant — number of apps above the $50 mark — price points almost unheard of in the iOS App Store.”

Here’s Richard’s chart.

The store is young, and will grow. You’ll remember that the App Store’s [1. For the record, I’m going to use “App Store” to refer to the iOS App Store, and “Mac App Store” to refer to the Mac App Store throughout 52 Tiger.] vetting process became more relaxed over time. Expect the Mac App Store to follow suit.

Is the Mac App Store affecting sales of non-MAS titles? [Updated]

I’ve been wondering if customers waiting for their favorite apps to hit the Mac App Store are affecting sales of non-MAS titles in a significant way. Earlier today I asked, “Have you failed to purchase Mac software that is not in the Mac App Store specifically because you want to see if it appears there?” and “Is there a specific title you’re waiting for?”

Of the 43 of you who responded, only 18 of you said you’ve held off buying a certain piece of Mac software specifically because you’re waiting to see if it shows up in the Mac App Store.

As for apps you hope to see in the store:

Pixelmator now exclusive to the Mac App Store

In a huge act of faith, Pixelmator has gone exclusive to the app store, with a fantastic deal to boot:

“…we are fully committed to supporting the Mac App Store by completely moving Pixelmator sales and distribution to the Mac App Store in the upcoming months. To ease the transition to the Mac App Store for our users, we’ve come up with an exciting solution that we think everyone will love taking advantage of. We call it the Pixelmator transition to the Mac App Store….”

That deal includes a huge discount on the app (down to $29 from $59), version 2.0 for free when it’s released and the opportunity for all non-registered customers to participate. And with that, Pixelmator just became my first Mac App Store purchase.

The Mac App Store

Here are a few quick thoughts on the Mac App Store.

I think this is the first I’ve seen software from Apple without preferences. What’s really odd is that if you go to your account info, you’ll find an empty settings area.

![Screen Shot 2011 01 06 at 8.40.44 pm](http://52tiger.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/screen_shot_2011_01_06_at_84044_pm.png)

The animation of an app “jumping” into the dock to download is cute, and I like the progress bar, but I don’t necessarily want every app to live in the Dock. Yes, it only takes a second to correct, but still.

I’d like to take advantage of the store’s update mechanism for apps I purchased prior to the store’s release, but suspect I won’t be able to “hook” them in somehow.

The Aqua scroll bar is dated. Compare it below to iPhoto (middle) and iTunes (background). True, other Mac apps like iChat, iCal and even the Finder use Aqua scroll bars, but I figured the Mac App Store would resemble other recent Apple software, like iPhoto ’11 and iTunes 10.

![Screen Shot 2011 01 06 at 8.47.11 pm](http://52tiger.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/screen_shot_2011_01_06_at_84711_pm.png)

Perhaps my eyes are failing as I age, but the prices are hard to read. White text on a field of light grey doesn’t offer much contrast.

![Screen Shot 2011 01 06 at 8.51.52 pm](http://52tiger.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/screen_shot_2011_01_06_at_85152_pm.png)

Enough complaining. I love the purchase history screen; it’s much nicer than the pile of apps the iOS App Store crams into iTunes. Also, apps are very easy to find, as the store is only doing one thing, like a quaint boutique. Meanwhile, its sibling iTunes has morphed into The Mall of America on Black Friday.

Finally, I purchase Mac software much less frequently than I buy iOS software, and I don’t expect that to change with the Mac App Store’s release. For now I’m glad to have a convenient, attractive, curated place to shop. Congratulations to Apple and all the developers who launched apps today.