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For Mac Developers, Armageddon Comes Tomorrow 429

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the race-to-the-bottom dept.
kdawson writes "David Gewirtz's blog post over at ZDNet warns of an imminent price collapse for traditional Mac applications, starting tomorrow when the Mac App Store opens. The larger questions: what will Mac price plunges of 90%-95% mean for the PC software market? For the Mac's market share? Quoting: 'The Mac software market is about as old-school as you get. Developers have been creating, shipping, and selling products through traditional channels and at traditional price points for decades. ... Mac software has historically been priced on a parity with other desktop software. That means small products are about $20. Utilities run in the $50-60 range. Games in the $50 range. Productivity packages and creative tools in the hundreds, and specialty software — well, the sky's the limit. Tomorrow, the sky will fall. Tomorrow, the iOS developers move in and the traditional Mac developers better stick their heads between their legs and kiss those price points goodbye.'"
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For Mac Developers, Armageddon Comes Tomorrow

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @10:31AM (#34764638)

    Comparing some $2 iPhone/iPad game and a full-blown Mac game like The Sims 3 or World or Warcraft, as if there is parity just because they're both "games," is fucking retarded. These are "apps" not "applications."

    Some young hotshit programmer designing a great little mini-game isn't going to drive down the price of Call of Duty 4, for Christ's sake.

    Some start-up's simple photo editor isn't going to drive down the price of Photoshop (anymore than GIMP or any of a hundred other free photo editors did on the PC).

    Serious development still costs money. And the more complex your application, the more you generally have to charge for it. What sells on the iPhone/iPad for a few bucks will probably sell for a few bucks on the Mac too. But no one is going to look at these little apps as replacements for more serious software (the kind that costs $20+). Apple isn't going to look at some iVideoEdit app and say "Well, we'd better lower the price of Final Cut Pro down to $5."

  • Optional (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gilesjuk (604902) <.giles.jones. .at. .zen.co.uk.> on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @10:32AM (#34764644)

    You don't have to use the App Store to sell software.

    I don't imagine for one minute that large professional applications will ever be sold this way for the time being.

  • by wjousts (1529427) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @10:40AM (#34764738)

    But wait, I can play dumb flash games over the web for free. Clearly Call Of Duty 4 should now be free too!

    The real question is how do people manage to charge $0.99 for an iPhone game when they are much closer to the free flash games available on the web or even the free games available on the iPhone.

  • Photoshop Elements (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @10:41AM (#34764748) Homepage Journal

    Some start-up's simple photo editor isn't going to drive down the price of Photoshop (anymore than GIMP or any of a hundred other free photo editors did on the PC).

    Without NeoPaint, Paint Shop Pro, GIMP, and other second-string image editors, Adobe likely wouldn't have made Photoshop Elements. Likewise, startups trying to compete with Final Cut Pro (to take your example) may encourage Apple to add features to iMovie.

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @10:42AM (#34764756)

    I've noticed something wonderful about the whole "app" phenomenon, something I haven't seen in a decade of working in IT.

    Lightweight apps. Apps that get right to the point, and don't require lots of time to install and configure. After spending an hour installing Adobe's Master Collection and another half hour patching it, I say the desktop app revolution can't come soon enough.

    Yes, I realize that "fat apps" will not be replaced anytime soon by "thin apps", but it could force people to really decide if the fat app is worth the headache and expense.

    Finally, I understand the financial needs of developers - but the app store should allow devs to get more eyeballs on their product, and make distribution of their product easier. Sure the margins may be smaller, but the volume will probably make up for it.

    -ted

  • by NevarMore (248971) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @10:53AM (#34764860) Homepage Journal

    But wait, I can play dumb flash games over the web for free. Clearly Call Of Duty 4 should now be free too!

    The real question is how do people manage to charge $0.99 for an iPhone game when they are much closer to the free flash games available on the web or even the free games available on the iPhone.

    Because theres no Flash on the iPhone?

  • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @11:03AM (#34764982) Journal

    Thing is, you have seen those apps - but they were called Shareware. Everyone was saying there was real trouble selling them. But now they're called Free and Premium Apps and suddenly they're hotcakes.

    I am starting to think it's the Mall sales experience of the App Stores (plural) making a difference.

  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @11:11AM (#34765070)

    the professional user - a user whom it's assumed will be audited at the end of the year, and therefore can't avoid paying for the product

    I've known a few freelancers who didn't buy the full product for fear of an audit - they bought the full product because they didn't want to feel like a smalltime crook every time they turned on their workstation to do some design work for a client. It's a state of mind thing: if my skills and professionalism are solid enough to land me a 5-figure design gig, I'm going to do that work using professional equipment, none of which is stolen.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @11:15AM (#34765102)

    Apple doesn't have a good track record of providing open systems.

    What precisely do you mean by open systems in this context? If you mean ability to install/run any executable you want, they have a track record of more than 25 years of that on Mac systems. That's certainly a good track record.

    They don't allow it on phones because malware is a far bigger threat on phones than on PCs.

    Now think! If Apple created a version of OSX where you could no longer install software that wasn't available from the App Store, then most of their customers would not upgrade to it, because their existing off the shelf apps would no longer be installable. It'd have an adoption rate even lower than Vista. So why the fuck would Apple do it?

    Apple think things through better than you do.

  • by John Betonschaar (178617) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @11:38AM (#34765340)

    The real question is how do people manage to charge $0.99 for an iPhone game when they are much closer to the free flash games available on the web or even the free games available on the iPhone.

    1. Because not every iOS game is also available as a Flash game, not even remotely so
    2. Because Flash games are usually made for kb + mouse control, which you don't have on an iPhone
    3. Because the iPhone doesn't support Flash anyway
    4. Because even if the iPhone did support Flash, the gaming experience and battery life playing Flash games on it would be terrible. Android has Flash but I don't think many people use it for gaming.
    5. Because $0.99 is actually dirt cheap???

    You could say the same about buying a hotdog, a carton of milk, or going to a movie theatre. Why pay for that if you can also find someones leftovers in the trash can, you can also drink water from the tap, or you can also watch regular TV at home?

    As a spare-time iOS developer I always get a little sad reading stuff like this. We've come to the point where you can pick up nice games for the ridiculously low price of $0.99, games that took hundreds of hours of development, games that are often a lot better in every way and contain a lot more content than games you used to pay $20 or more (remember NeoGeo? $250 for a some games!) for 10 years ago, and yet, people all still complaining. Now it should all be free... People really have become cheap-ass bastards... :-S

  • by smash (1351) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @11:56AM (#34765528) Homepage Journal

    People buying sub $5 games on the iOS app store are NOT going to suddenly buy $5 games on the app store instead of proper computer-oriented titles at a higher price. Games/apps are cheap on the app store for 3 reasons: 1 - they're simple (and thus less complex to develop); 2 - the market is HUGE, there are over 100 million iOS devices out there; and 3 - the distribution and promotion is all handled through the app store.

    When full computer-based titles come to the app store, prices will drop due to the ease of distribution, but the complexity/development costs will not.

    You'll see a vast range of little utility apps be publicly available for cheap (probably at the expense of FREEWARE/SHAREWARE, but full price titles will not drop more than say 20%, is my bet.

    The market for full OS X software simply isn't big enough to make a killing selling full featured titles are $5 a pop.

  • by John Betonschaar (178617) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @12:00PM (#34765570)

    Keep in mind that Apple is a company that dictated what programming languages developers could use to develop software for one of its platforms. Do you realize how absurd that is? Do you realize how absolutely wrong it is?

    No, in fact I don't realize that, maybe you can elaborate? How is this different from about *every freaking other* integrated consumer electronics product on the market? Can I program Java on WP7? Can I program C# on Android? Can I program Java on the Nintendo DS? Can I program Visual Basic on Blackberry?

    Here's the thing: Apple created an operating system, a buttload of frameworks, devices that run them, and a set of development tools, the latter of which you can even get for free. All of this was designed and implemented with a number of technologies in mind that fit the hardware and the platform. In terms of programming languages that's Objective-C, C, C++, Fortran. In terms of application and UI frameworks that's Cocoa, UIKit, etc. In terms of development tools (including packaging, provisioning, code signing, and submission to the application store) that's XCode. It's actually all pretty complex, and probably took a lot of time and millions of investment to get everything together. Because Apple provides both the hardware and the retail channel for applications running on the hardware, it is very important for them that applications use the features the platform offers as much as possible, because a crap user experience will hurt the perception of their own products. Which is why they spent a lot of time on the SDK and the development toolchain. Ask any iOS developer and they will tell you that they did in fact do a pretty good job.

    Now how absurd and wrong is it that they don't allow every idiot who knows some random programming language to distribute their stuff via the iOS app store? If you want to program Haskell on your iPhone, go ahead, nobody is stopping you, but don't expect Apple to put your work in the app store, just like Microsoft will not allow you to publish a GW-BASIC program on the Xbox 360, or Sony will allow you to distribute a Java application through PSN. Other companies also provide SDKs that you have to use to publish on their platforms, there's nothing absurd or wrong about that. Stop seeing a phone platform as some kind of hobbyist playground that should allow you to do everything with it you desire.

    When was the last time you complained you can't reprogram the scaler in your HDTV, or write a Java program for your car ECU?

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