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 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.