Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

A Different Take on the Liveliness of the Mac App Store

Gabriel Hauber:

Sam Soffes said that he only sent out a couple of tweets about Redacted to announce its launch, although the app fortuitously did end up on Product Hunt and apparently got quite some attention there. The result – halfway decent first day sales. The app itself is rather simple and other apps with quite similar functionality already exist on the store.

This tells me that with a bit of effort and a good product, it shouldn’t be that difficult to generate a half-way decent revenue on the Mac App Store alone. And when you add direct sales into the mix, it looks even more attractive.

Maybe there’s a fair amount of confirmation bias here, but I don’t think the Mac App Store works as a more-or-less upscaled version of the iOS App Store. I buy little one- or two-dollar apps on my iPhone all the time, but I rarely buy new software on my Mac. It’s not as lively an ecosystem, probably because a Mac app is expected to be orders of magnitude more capable and complex than an iOS app.1 It’s also probably true that OS X and Mac apps aren’t evolving nearly as fast as their iOS counterparts.

Mac app developers do have one major advantage over iOS developers: they can offer their apps for sale in both the Mac App Store — with some exceptions — and as a standalone download. The App Store potentially offers a much greater promotional value, but at the price of the infamous 30% cut of all sales.

But that still doesn’t answer the question of how valuable the Mac App Store is to third-party developers. My guess is that it’s a good opportunity for scaled-up iPhone apps and little utilities, but has more of a neutral effect for apps with a power user audience.


  1. And probably also because, as Hauber points out, tens of millions of iPhones and iPads get sold every quarter, compared to “only” a few million Macs. ↩︎