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For Mac Developers, Armageddon Comes Tomorrow 429

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 eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @10:30AM (#34764632) Journal
    One of the key pieces to this argument is fallacious:

    The news for the traditional developers is not good:

    • Chopper 2 — iOS price: $4.99. Mac price: $4.99.
    • Air Hockey — iOS price: $0.99. Mac price: $0.99.
    • ReMovem — iOS price: $2.99. Mac price: $2.99.
    • Compression — iOS price: $2.99. Mac price: $3.99.

    These are all games and one did have a price difference between iOS and Mac, but it was a buck.

    Compare that with Mac games listed on Amazon today. $38.99 $19.99 $27.54 $29.35 $54.99 $24.38. These are traditional PC prices.

    As of tomorrow, games priced at $20-60 will be competing against games priced at 99 cents to $4.99. The most expensive iOS games are around ten bucks. In effect, game pricing will drop by 90-95% -- on average -- overnight.

    Question: Why didn't you list out those titles that you found at $20-$55 like you did with the iPhone titles? Oh, I know, it's because they're so far from similar it would be embarrassing to reveal that the heart of your argument is on shaky ground at best.

    I don't own a Mac. I don't own an iPhone. But I've seen people play games on both. From your suggestion of Amazon's bestselling Mac game titles [] let's look at the top page without duplicates: The Sims 3, Bejeweled 3, World of Warcraft, Civilization V, Nancy Drew, and Spore. With the exception of Bejeweled (and the other Pop Cap titles), I think you are comparing apples to oranges when you say that World of Warcraft [] is now going to have to compete with Air Hockey [] and that Blizzard should tuck its tail between its legs and run because the $40 price point versus $1 price point means they're going to die. And in the only applicable case (Pop Cap Games), they will be the ones moving their apps to the Mac Store. So they should be afraid of themselves?

    Here's how I see it: gaming on Mac has always been sort of unsupported. It's gotten a lot better recently but not all publishers see a value to it. Now, with this Mac Store, you're going to see the same publishers sell at their price point but gaming could explode on the Mac given this opportunity to transcend iOS and target OSX as well. I don't think that the applications and games that exist in the iPhone sphere are going to do much to the revenues of desktop counterparts because they're simply beefier applications. Furthermore, if they do modify those price points to compete, I'm of the opinion that the Steam Effect will take place and instead of selling 10k copies at $20 they're going to sell 100k copies at $4. The bottom line is that this software store will do little to traditional Mac sales and instead expand the subscriptions of the mobile games a bit.

    Your friends are also going to have to figure out how the input on a mac with a single mouse is going to handle those times when they were sensing two or more touch points on the device screen. So even if you're right, Armageddon is not tomorrow.

    Apple wins. Many of their very loyal developers will lose.

    The Rapture is upon us, repent now before it is too late. Steve Jobs is a ruthless and uncaring god! Seriously man, you're blowing this up into something it's not.

  • Awful (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @10:41AM (#34764742)

    What a terrible article. Does he interview any actual developers? Does he talk to software resellers? Does he talk to iPhone developers considering the move to the app store? Does he have any statistics at all? No, he did his research by looking at Amazon and MacConnection. He came up with a whole bunch of scary sounding analogies, though - I guess that should drive traffic to his site.

    I think that, in the short term, the App store is going to compete with the traditional shareware market, which has always been pretty active in the Macintosh community. The solution for those developers is simple: make their products available on the app store. It will probably help them in the long run.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @10:43AM (#34764768)

    The author must have worked very hard to avoid examining the history of steam and impulse on the PC, where a wide range of prices happily coexist.
    Either that or hes one of those "I've never used a PC" people.

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @10:45AM (#34764780) Homepage Journal

    But wait, I can play dumb flash games over the web for free.

    Not on your MacBook on the bus/train/carpool unless you pay $60/mo for mobile broadband. Locally installed applications are more often designed to work offline. Does Adobe Flash Player even support anything like HTML5's CACHE MANIFEST []?

  • Total FUD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by X_Bones ( 93097 ) <> on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @10:56AM (#34764890) Homepage Journal
    For decades the Mac has had a viable shareware scene where you download apps and, if desired, pay a modest fee to upgrade to a full or non-crippled version. I don't see how anyone could possibly argue that a Mac App Store will be the end of the world unless they're a clueless analyst who thinks the only programs people run on Macs are Photoshop and Office.
  • Price vs volume (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Bert64 ( 520050 ) < ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @11:03AM (#34764974) Homepage

    Software is simply overpriced, vendors have been getting away with charging ridiculous amounts for years because they're greedy. Software sales are 99% profit, which is why developers on iOS can sell their apps for $5 (with a big cut going to apple) and still make a profit.

    With lower prices comes higher volume and reduced piracy.

    Software really is a penny bazaar product, sold dirt cheap or given away despite proprietary vendors trying to artificially inflate prices so they can get away with 99% profit margins.

    It's the natural end result, for years hardware has been getting cheaper and cheaper and its now down to a point where the profit margins are extremely small but there is a limit with hardware and other physical products, software on the other hand has a much lower price limit as proven by the huge amounts of free software available.

  • by robthebloke ( 1308483 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @11:04AM (#34764984)
    Photoshop is targeted quite squarely at the professional, and therefore it really isn't an 'apt' example as you say. I imagine there are many of people out there who use a pirated version at home. I also imagine adobe doesn't lose too much sleep over them. If photoshop was uncrackable, how many of those users would buy a legit license? None of them! They'd all resort to buying adobe elements, using the software bundled with their digital cameras, or resort to free alternatives such as paint.NET or gimp.

    Photoshop with it's £550 price tag is a professional product, aimed at 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. The app-store will do nothing to change that, and certainly will not harm photoshop sales in the slightest....
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @11:30AM (#34765246)

    The thing with both the Mac and the iPhone app store is, you are paid what you charge.

    That is to say, a lot of developers have chosen to charge very little. But some software developers built impressive applications that really were worth more, and charged for it.

    This was reflected in top GROSSING apps usually being on the expensive side.

    Also, another aspect of Mac store pricing is this - most "good" iPad apps are $10. So I'd expect serious mac apps to be at least $15-$20.

    Also the whole story is way to games focused, Games have a whole different ecosystem than just about any other kind of application.

  • Re:Total FUD (Score:4, Interesting)

    by greed ( 112493 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @12:03PM (#34765586)

    I could see it being the end of the world for Kagi....

    Ahhh, the numerous Kagi e-mail receipts for Mac shareware I've got archived. Dating back to System 7.5.3 on a Performa 6300CDAV. It's amazing I still use Macs after that one.

  • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @02:12PM (#34767204)
    I also think that pros know on an almost instinctual level that if they don't buy the software that they rely on, it won't be there for them in the future, at least in terms of support and critical improvements. And even if the app that I bought is bug-free and needs no training or support to operate, perhaps I want to know that they are there to add features later on, or at the very least, they will continue to target my profession with tools that make my life easier.

    I think that's a component of the feeling of "rightness" that you get when you see the box on your shelf or have the serial number for the legit copy stored away somewhere.

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford