February 9, 2011 at 11:40 am

Mac App Developers Discuss Future of Mac App Store

Bubble Harp, the top-ranked paid music app in the Mac App Store

Bubble Harp, the top-ranked paid music app in the Mac App Store

We asked the developers of the top ten paid music apps in the Mac App Store what they think about the Mac App Store, which is Apple’s attempt to port the integrated software store that proved so effective on the iPhone to the venerable desktop and laptop.

Here’s what respondents had to say. (See also our related article, Mac App Store Produces Thousandaires by Selling Software Like Music.)

Scott Snibbe, Bubble Harp, top paid music Mac App and number 16 overall ($2)

“The Mac App Store is one of those interesting ideas that could have happened years earlier if someone had thought of it. I remember my friend Paul DeMarinis telling me that the phonograph could have been invented 2,000 years ago – all the technology existed then. That’s where this persistent rumor comes from that Jesus’ voice was somehow recorded onto a clay pot through the potter’s vibrating finger. So if someone had thought of it, we could have been downloading apps a dozen years ago rather than buying a thin disk wrapped in a fat cardboard box.

“Certainly there is no better way to distribute desktop apps than with the Mac App Store. For an individual developer/artist like myself, the app store creates an opportunity that never existed before, an opportunity to directly distribute these experiences to the general public. I actually pitched these types of programs to a variety of executives and funders in the late nineties and got no takers: they all thought these ideas were ‘useless.’ Some ideas you need to bring to the public directly yourself to prove their viability. I often tell people my apps are useless programs: as useless as a song, a short story, or a painting.”

“For desktop software I agree with most of what you’re reading out there — the app store is vastly more convenient, but an enormous disruption to profitable companies like Adobe and Microsoft who have established distribution channels. I hope those big companies can come to terms with Apple to distribute in the app store — with the increased volume, the price of software comes down, which benefits consumers, but is scary for these big companies. Maybe Apple will be willing to negotiate royalty rates with the bigger companies as a compromise.

“More importantly, though, over the course of my life I always dreamt of a new interactive medium that could be distributed broadly and inexpensively in the same way as music or movies. I flipped out when the iPad came out and there was finally a ‘canvas’ for these creations. The Mac App store extends the reach of the iPhone and iPad, creating a high quality platform to distribute anything and everything, including my apps which don’t quite fit any categories. I read in the New York Times that apps are going to outsell music by the end of this year, so we are seeing the birth of a new interactive form of mass art to list among music, movies, and video games.”

Jon Steinmetz, Ringer, number two music Mac App ($2)

“From the perspective of Ringer sales, the MAS [Mac App Store] has become the way people buy the product. In terms of numbers people buy Ringer from the Mac App Store vs. our website at around a ratio of 50 to 1. This makes sense for Ringer since it is such a mass market product. The more expensive the product, the harsher the 30 percent Apple cut is.

“In my opinion this will become the primary way that consumers will by software, it is just too easy compared with the alternatives. Some specialty products will probably stick with selling via existing channels because they do not benefit as much from wide visibility of the MAS. I worked for Adobe for 13.5 years before leaving to run my own company on such products as ImageReady and Lightroom, I would be surprised if they put their more expensive products like the suites on the Mac App Store. (Note that I have no inside knowledge of Adobe’s plans and that the MAS was announced after I left the company).”

Nicholas Penree, Tracks, number four paid music Mac App ($1)

“We think the Mac App Store will play a huge role in the future of the Mac software ecosystem. It has already become our most successful channel for distributing our applications, generating three to four times more revenue than sales directly from our website. It makes it easy for users to find and install software, which was one of the biggest pains in the whole process before, especially the ever-growing new Mac user base. We are really happy with the Mac App Store’s performance and number of new customers, even in the short time it has been available and look forward to future enhancements that will come in Mac OS X Lion (10.7).”

Alex Winston, Pyrcast ($5, number six paid music Mac App)
“I believe the Mac App Store will slowly become the most popular way to distribute software on the Mac over the next year. It has already done surprisingly well and even better than most expected. Without the Mac App Store I doubt that we would have a fraction of the downloads that we do. The Mac App Store gives you access to millions of users that know your software works and can be easily installed on the Mac.”

Chris Liscio, Capo, number seven paid music Mac App ($50)

“I feel like the Mac App Store represents the future of boxed software. By having a trusted source for purchases, customers feel more comfortable making a purchase. And they don’t have to monkey around with license keys, which are a source of confusion for less savvy computer users. Furthermore, every company has different licensing policies, and it’s not always clear what you’re getting for your money. For instance, Adobe Photoshop can only be activated on a maximum of 2 machines (desktop and laptop), and the user must take care to deactivate their software before buying a newer machine down the road. In contrast, if Adobe Photoshop were purchased on the Mac App Store, then new computer purchases would simply require the user to re-enter their Apple ID credentials, and all their previous purchase history would be available to them.”

Andrew Heard, Tunesify, number eight paid music Mac App ($2)
“I think the Mac App Store is going to become increasingly important as time goes on and people become more comfortable with it. I think the average Mac user seldom seeks out new software on sites such as MacUpdate or Download.com and for the most part, only uses the software that comes pre-installed with their Macs. Maybe with this new Mac App Store icon sitting in their dock they will be more likely to explore the many pieces of software that are available to them on the Mac in an environment that is easy to use and that they can trust.

“I’m not sure if traditional desktop software will catch on as quickly on the App Store due to Apple taking 70 percent of the proceeds but I think it is an enormous opportunity for app developers. If I asked customers to hand over their credit card number to me personally in order to purchase Tunesify then I would end up with very few sales for two reasons. 1. No one wants to hand over their credit card # to a small, lesser known developer. 2. It’s just too much hassle to type in all your purchase information for a $2 app. The Mac App Store solves both of these problems since people trust Apple and they save your payment information making it easy to download a bunch of low cost apps. As a student that is just making an app for a hobby I think that the App Store is an amazing new feature of Mac OS X and I won’t be porting Tunesify to Windows until Microsoft comes up with a store of their own.”