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The Subtle Developer Exodus From the Mac App Store 229

An anonymous reader writes: Milen Dzhumerov, a software developer for OS X and iOS, has posted a concise breakdown of the problems with the Mac App Store. He says the lack of support for trial software and upgrades drives developers away by preventing them from making a living. Forced sandboxing kills many applications before they get started, and the review system isn't helpful to anyone. Dzhumerov says all of these factors, and Apple's unwillingness to address them, are leading to the slow but steady erosion of quality software in the Mac App Store.

"The relationship between consumers and developers is symbiotic, one cannot exist without the other. If the Mac App Store is a hostile environment for developers, we are going to end up in a situation where, either software will not be supported anymore or even worse, won't be made at all. And the result is the same the other way around – if there are no consumers, businesses would go bankrupt and no software will be made. The Mac App Store can be work in ways that's beneficial to both developers and consumers alike, it doesn't have to be one or the other. If the MAS is harmful to either developers or consumers, in the long term, it will be inevitably harmful to both."
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The Subtle Developer Exodus From the Mac App Store

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  • Ob (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @03:45PM (#48143489) Homepage Journal

    You're coding it wrong.

    • Re:Ob (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:01PM (#48143685)

      You're coding it wrong.

      But there are no clear guidelines for coding it "right". Apps are often rejected for unclear reasons, with just a vague and terse comment from the rejecter. I have had apps rejected, then resubmitted them a few days later, with no changes, and had them accepted.

      The Apple app store is flooded with lots of similar apps, and they no longer highlight new apps. So it is very hard for a new developer to get started. I know a team of developers that worked for nearly a year to create their app. They put it on the app store for a price point of $4.99. A week later they had sold five copies. The following week, three more. After a month, they had less than $100 in revenue for a year of work. Back in 2010 and 2011, it was easy to make money selling apps. Unless you already have a customer base, those days are gone.

      • Re:Ob (Score:4, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:10PM (#48143761)

        you're whooshing it wrong.

        though, now that I understand the guidelines, it appears you are whooshing it just right.

      • Re:Ob (Score:5, Funny)

        by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:13PM (#48143787)

        Apple behaves in mysterious ways. Perhaps you need to look into your heart and ask yourself if you have truly invited Steve into your heart and are truly following his teachings in your software development. If you do this, and then come back and make true penitence to Apple for this blasphemous post, then Steve will welcome you back into the Kingdom.

        • Apple behaves in [the mistaken view that it needs to by your mother].

          FTFY.

          In my view, the Apple store was so hostile that I never even bothered.

          In addition to all the issues pointed out in TFS, there's:

          o The rejection of adult content;
          o The constant breaking of both OSX and IoS WRT earlier (but very recent) hardware
          o The failure to bugfix both OSX and IoS except for a few bugs in the first few years
          o The arbitrary dropping of useful capabilities (PPC emulation is the poster child for this)

          Plus, they seem t

          • by tibit ( 1762298 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @05:24PM (#48144367)

            To address some of your concerns:

            You really need to get a hackintosh. Go to tonymacx86 and read up the most recent recommended hardware. When installing, make sure you start with the latest Mavericks, and the early versions required bootloader trickery with integrated Intel graphics. The most recent release doesn't need anything special besides the usual multibeast treatment. I have one and I'm not looking back.

            There's simply no hardware I could buy from Apple to give me the same functionality at any realistic price point - especially that I really like to reap benefits of all-in-one testing done during hardware and software development at Apple. The new Mac Pro is fine and dandy if you have all of your storage and PCIe cards in a single external enclosure, but that makes it just too expensive, and you're shelling lots of money to someone else but Apple, the warranty doesn't cover the enclosure, it's not tested and validated during the OS X development, etc. Even then, if you bump the tiny thunderbolt cable, you crash. It's not that hard to put it all in one case, as the "old" Mac Pro demonstrates. They could have slimmed it down and modernized it. With some clever engineering, a modern Mac Pro with drive caddies and card slots could have still been very, very compact.

            You probably have a Lion-compatible MBP, with something like AMD X1xxx graphics, right? If there's a 64 bit graphics driver kext for it in Lion, then you can run Mountain Lion via tiamo's boot.efi - simply copy the driver over from Lion. It'll work fine (BTDT). For original Mac Pro, it's even easier, all you need is the new boot.efi, a compatible graphics card, and you can boot Mavericks. Read here for details. [lowendmac.com] In all cases, though, don't use Mavericks or Yosemite without an SSD for the OS itself. Even a 100GB SSD will be sufficient. I have nothing but stellar performance on "old" machines that were the first ones that still support Mavericks, but without an SSD it's essentially unusable.

            • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @08:02PM (#48145739)

              To address some of your concerns:

              You really need to get a hackintosh. Go to tonymacx86 and read up the most recent recommended hardware. When installing, make sure you start with the latest Mavericks, and the early versions required bootloader trickery with integrated Intel graphics. The most recent release doesn't need anything special besides the usual multibeast treatment. I have one and I'm not looking back.

              You probably have a Lion-compatible MBP, with something like AMD X1xxx graphics, right? If there's a 64 bit graphics driver kext for it in Lion, then you can run Mountain Lion via tiamo's boot.efi - simply copy the driver over from Lion. It'll work fine (BTDT). For original Mac Pro, it's even easier, all you need is the new boot.efi, a compatible graphics card, and you can boot Mavericks. Read here for details. [lowendmac.com] In all cases, though, don't use Mavericks or Yosemite without an SSD for the OS itself. Even a 100GB SSD will be sufficient. I have nothing but stellar performance on "old" machines that were the first ones that still support Mavericks, but without an SSD it's essentially unusable.

              Now THAT'S what Just Works(tm) means!

            • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

              You probably have a Lion-compatible MBP

              No. Lion refuses to install, says the hardware is unsupported.

              In all cases, though, don't use Mavericks or Yosemite without an SSD for the OS itself.

              This is terrible advice. Mavericks works fine from a traditional hard drive on all the machines I have that Mavericks will actually install on.

            • > You really need to get a hackintosh

              No I don't. I either need Apple to get its head out of its ass, or to vote with my dollars and buy something I'd actually use. Going out of my way to support Apple's OS, which they barely support on their own hardware, and to circumvent their random SMC half-assed secure boot nonsense is doing extra work that I don't need to be doing.

              But even still, Apple's never going to learn that lesson because Apple doesn't sell PCs anymore. They sell shitty appliances that
          • I'd hardly call the dropping of PPC emulation arbitrary. It took up a large amount of engineering resources, presumably, and encouraged developers to procrastinate before dusting off the source code and releasing a new Intel binary.
            • Dropping PPC on OS X meant when I installed snow leopard I gained like a gig of disk back.

              I'm sad I can't Starcraft 1 anymore but whatever

              • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

                I'm not talking about games, though even then, any money you invest in the system that the company decides to throw in the trash is something I'm sensitive to.

                And as for that GIG... you *are* aware there are multi-terabyte drives now, right? Right?

          • by maccodemonkey ( 1438585 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @08:09PM (#48145769)

            The sad thing is I really like the OS, and I'd be happy to develop for it if they made development accessible and quit leaving trails of unfixed bugs behind them.

            How exactly is developed not accessible?

            - Apps do not have to be distributed through the Mac App Store.
            - Xcode is provided for free along with all documentation. There are tons of other IDEs and languages as well.
            - Yes, there are bugs, but all platforms have bugs. Surely as an OS X user you can see bugs as well.

            I'm not sure what you're looking for to make development more accessible.

            • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

              How exactly is developed[sic] not accessible?

              I was referring to the IoS app store when I was talking about roadblocks to development. They also make it too difficult to sideload; so I can't make an app for me and others without things expiring and limited distribution and etc. Sorry I was unclear. Both OSX and IoS have some similar problems, but the IoS app store is far worse than the OSX appstore (not that I think very highly of the OSX appstore... I sure wouldn't use it unless forced [as in, Mavericks up

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jbolden ( 176878 )

            The failure to bugfix both OSX and IoS except for a few bugs in the first few years

            Come on. There have been bugfix for both regularly.

            The arbitrary dropping of useful capabilities (PPC emulation is the poster child for this)

            There is nothing arbitrary about it. IBM acquired Transitive in 2009 and wanted them focused on software. Transitive stopped making the Rosetta application.

            My macbook pro... suffering from serious bugs at its current OS... can't be upgraded to the next (not even latest) because t

            • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

              Come on. There have been bugfix for both regularly.

              Many non-trivial things have been left unfixed. UDP doesn't work right in 10.5 and and 10.6, you can only open one listener to a UDP stream (a pretty grievous error for a BROADCAST network protocol!) 10.5 constantly spews invalid error messages to the console when cron is used (although you can visit my website for a hack-fix... I got *really* tired of that one and patched the OS for those lazy Apple bastards.) The color graphics pipeline in 10.6 leaks mem

              • That's kinda odd. How old is your pro and which bugfix did you desperate need?

                My macbook pro is a 17", core-duo. Wherever that puts it.

                That model was discontinued in Oct 2006. Congratulations, your 8-year-old laptop is out of date. If it was a dog it'd be middle-aged; if it was a hamster its replacement's replacement would be probably be dead.

                And not to put too fine a point on it, the Core Duo Macbook Pros were known from the start to be a dead-end - everyone was waiting for the Core 2 Duo models (that re

                • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

                  That model was discontinued in Oct 2006. Congratulations, your 8-year-old laptop is out of date. If it was a dog it'd be middle-aged; if it was a hamster its replacement's replacement would be probably be dead.

                  10.6 came out in the summer of 2009. About two and half years after my brand-new and bloody expensive laptop purchase. 10.6 was busted. It's not been fixed. It's still busted. That's not an "8 year" problem, that's a 3 year problem, at best. So let's not get too carried away with your math. The only

      • Re:Ob (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:31PM (#48143925)

        I know a team of developers that worked for nearly a year to create their app. They put it on the app store for a price point of $4.99. A week later they had sold five copies. The following week, three more. After a month, they had less than $100 in revenue for a year of work.

        Where was their market research? Where was their marketing? Any traditional non-technology startup that forgets do do these things will fail. If you build it they won't necessarily come. One has to sell the right thing, execute well, price it right, and let people know about it. Why expect to be able to not do these things just because one is on the internet? If they didn't already know of 8 people that would buy it, why did they create that software?

        We could watch Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares and come to the conclusion that it's impossible to make money running restaurants. And indeed it's not easy. Yet there are many successful restaurants as well as many failures. The failure is always in the specifics of a particular restaurant, not the concept of restaurants.

        • Re:Ob (Score:5, Insightful)

          by kick6 ( 1081615 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:57PM (#48144165) Homepage

          We could watch Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares and come to the conclusion that it's impossible to make money running restaurants. And indeed it's not easy. Yet there are many successful restaurants as well as many failures. The failure is always in the specifics of a particular restaurant, not the concept of restaurants.

          This analogy would ALMOST work except for there aren't 42 italian restaurants lined up, side by side, doing the same thing, all for $.99 with the only visible difference being olive garden vs olive g4rden. There is so much garbage in the app store, the market research is almost impossible...and if you even DO the research, someone is going to essentially cold-spike your app, and charge less for it 10 seconds after it's released. Try that with a burger king...

          • Re:Ob (Score:5, Interesting)

            by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @05:27PM (#48144389)

            This analogy would ALMOST work except for there aren't 42 italian restaurants lined up, side by side, doing the same thing, all for $.99 with the only visible difference being olive garden vs olive g4rden.

            In London and various other cities there is "China Town" with Many Chinese restaurants. Amongst them is Mr Wu's which is an all you can eat buffet for 5UKP (about US$8).

            In Manchester there is curry mile with many Indian restaurants. Again many are very cheap.

            It is a completely valid analogy.

            Try that with a burger king...

            They opened a Burger King near me, behind a petrol (gas) station, where it was't easily seen from the nearby busy road. It was a bad location, so it got virtually no customers. It was open a couple of years then closed - presumably the minimum time before they could get out of the franchise agreement and/or property let. ALL businesses suffer if the owners don't do the market research.

            • It is a completely valid analogy.

              It is, if you can instantly teleport to any restaurant in the world and additionally, each restaurant can host infinite customers at once.

              OK, laying it on a bit thick there, but restaurants are very finite in size, so come Friday evening, the street lined with curry restaurants fills up almost all restaurants, despite the quantity of more or less identical places.

              There's no natural pressure with apps like that so it turns into winner takes all.

              But yes, on the other hand no m

            • by mjwx ( 966435 )

              This analogy would ALMOST work except for there aren't 42 italian restaurants lined up, side by side, doing the same thing, all for $.99 with the only visible difference being olive garden vs olive g4rden.

              In London and various other cities there is "China Town" with Many Chinese restaurants. Amongst them is Mr Wu's which is an all you can eat buffet for 5UKP (about US$8).

              In Manchester there is curry mile with many Indian restaurants. Again many are very cheap.

              It is a completely valid analogy.

              Not really, I've been to many places like this "Curry mile" you speak of. There's a crap-load of them in Asia and I love them (in fact this Curry Mile sounds like a wonderful place). The thing is, they're all selling something different. You dont have 32 stalls selling the same variety of noodles, there's a lot of variety even to someone who has no idea about the culture they're eating in. Everything is cheap and you end up getting 4 or 5 different things but still comes down to less than you'd spend at Bur

        • by N1AK ( 864906 )

          Where was their market research? Where was their marketing? Any traditional non-technology startup that forgets do do these things will fail.

          Bullshit. You think Facebook did market research before starting up? It's ludicrous to think that most companies do extensive market research and marketing at launch. It's also equally naive to think that doing market research and marketing automatically means you'll be a success.

          But then this is the internet where you can respond to a post that in no way mentions m

      • Re:Ob (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:35PM (#48143951)

        Most... and I mean 99.99% of apps in both the Apple and Android stores are utter crap. Completely worthless. Surprise surprise, after a few years your customer base has become jaded. I never pay for anything through any app store anymore. It's almost guaranteed to be garbage. Even the Free games are nothing more than gambling scams anymore. You want my money? I need to read about your app in forums, from real people.

        Developers burned themselves.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I submitted an app to Apple for approval, which normally took 2 weeks at the time. After 2 weeks the app still was not approved. I reached out to Apple for the reason of the delay, and they wouldn't give any feed back besides the application is in review. After 3 or 4 months they came back and said the application was denied because they did not like one of the sentences in the description of the application. Re-submitted without that sentence then was approved a week or two later.

        In the meantime a competit

      • Re:Ob (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Splab ( 574204 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:51PM (#48144107)

        1. Just because you work on something for a year, doesn't mean it's good (in fact, most successful startups will tell you to ship early and see if you are on the right track).
        2. 4.99 is a lot of money for an app, it might be the second coming of Jesus - but most people will look for a 99 cent alternative.

        • Re:Ob (Score:5, Insightful)

          by tibit ( 1762298 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @05:30PM (#48144415)

          Lolwut? Most "apps" I use daily at work start at tens of dollars and go up to $50k or so per seat. Some of the lower prices ones are actually quite popular - for example SmartGit/Hg and CadSoft Eagle. A $4.99 application can't be very good unless it's hugely popular, otherwise it won't support the development work needed to make it good. I'd argue that the cheap apps should be in fact in a separate "slum" section of the store where you have to explicitly navigate. It's rather sad, actually, that the Mac App Store doesn't have anything serious in the $50-$500 range. Never mind that the search is so broken that unless I knew the name of the app I looked for, I wouldn't find it anyway.

          • by jbolden ( 176878 )

            It's rather sad, actually, that the Mac App Store doesn't have anything serious in the $50-$500 range.

            They do have applications in those ranges but they sell on the commercial applications stores. Microstrategy (http://www.microstrategy.com) is probably the biggest mobile applications development house in the world and they sell many of their applications for more than $500 / user.

          • by Splab ( 574204 )

            Love the way you laugh at the 4.99 statement, and then proceed to claim that software priced at 4.99 can't be good.

            You are like the wine connoisseurs, if the price tag isn't above $100, it can't be good. Silly person.

      • Re:Ob (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @05:03PM (#48144209)

        One issue I recall was around 2011, when IAP came along, the fundamental change of apps. Before that, one would buy an app for 99 cents, and it would be playable, people would tell their friends, friends would buy it, and so on.

        IAP came along and fundamentally changed the landscape from having a good game that was well engineered from start to finish to games whose sole goal is to get the player stuck so they would throw money at IAP in order to buy extra currency/lives/etc. so they could move on. Games also put deliberate bottlenecks in place where it might take 2-3 weeks to earn enough currency to get some levels, or one could pay $20 and skip that. The fact that the most popular (as in app clones) games changed from tower defense to casino slots also echos this.

        People are tired of games that are "free"... but in reality may take $30 to complete. So, user apathy is causing sales to sag in app stores. Candy Crush was the first big game along these lines, but consumers are bored with stuff like that and there won't be another game in that genre which will gross even near that.

        Maybe it is time for developers to actually not go for the low and easy road with IAP, but go for something playable that can get a lot of people buying it.

        Same problem in the console industry and the PC game industry. DLC used to be for expansions and added levels, not must have content to play the game, or items which make the game not a grueling grind. It is no wonder why game sales are sagging across the board, regardless of platform.

        • Man, I hear you, but if they will pay to play, developers will continue to put their crack on the store with IAP. I hate them. Utterly hate them, but that's where the market is right now.

      • "Back in 2011" (Score:4, Insightful)

        by garote ( 682822 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @05:07PM (#48144237) Homepage

        ... like that was the "good old days" of software development?

        The exclusivity of the walled garden, the novelty of the device and platform, the deep pockets and enthusiasm of the userbase, this all created a gold rush environment for a number of years. (Remember that "I am rich" app that sold for $1000 a pop and did nothing but display a picture?)

        Back In My Day, you only joined a small studio or became an independent developer if you had a REALLY INSANELY GOOD idea, were willing to work like hell for it (perhaps because you were tired of working for The Man), and were willing to evangelize it like hell, and even then, you were not guaranteed success, you were almost guaranteed to fail, but you did it anyway because you were deeply compelled. If you had to go slouching back to The Man in a few years, so be it.

        The gold rush is over - and it's not a tragedy.

        Programmers are as in-demand as they've ever been, and are paid fantastic money for labor that doesn't even involve, say, standing around in the hot sun, carrying a firearm, or constant exposure to hazardous waste. (Unless you count the exhaust from all those commute buses.)

      • by jbolden ( 176878 )

        Total sales are way up. In 2011 there was a lack of good quality general purpose applications. Today those exist. So unless you can do something really spectacular your app doesn't serve the common interest and shouldn't be funded. However in 2014 there is still a huge lack of applications targeting verticals. That's what developers should be focusing on.

    • Re:Ob (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:21PM (#48143851)

      You're coding it wrong.

      I know you're making a joke (which worked pretty well) - but if he's complaining about forced sandboxing, I think Apple is (sorta) in the right. I can see the argument for allowing some kinds of apps to escape the sandbox, but it should require some hoops be jumped through and it should require specific notification to the user.

      • Re:Ob (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:39PM (#48143989)

        Apps that can't be sandboxed shouldn't be allowed in the store: installation from software not signed and not from the Mac app store triggers a bunch of security hoops, which is exactly what the user should have to see to install software that doesn't exist in a sandbox. Apple's doing the right thing.

        There was development before the App Store. People still sell software outside it, and in fact most of my useful software is not in the app store; I only buy little productivity utilities from the store. Office and Photoshop are killer apps that will probably never be in the store, and you don't see them suffering much.

        • by putaro ( 235078 )

          The sandbox is a stupid idea.

          The reason given for it is to prevent exploitable code. This makes sense on a system that is running in multi-user mode where a non-admin user is trying to escalate to admin and will try any exploits available to do so. This doesn't make sense on a single-user system where the user is running the apps and any exploit that is being targeted would be automated. It doesn't make sense to automate exploits for apps that have a small user base so sandboxing is silly for the majorit

      • by tibit ( 1762298 )

        I think that mobile app stores got it half right: the store simply asks for requisite permissions when installing an app. I've declined to try numerous "free" apps that apparently needed access to all of my private data for no good reason at all. It shouldn't be any different when installing Mac App Store apps. The only additional feature that I'd like to see is for the apps to define what subset(s) of permissions they can live with, so that the users would have an option of running apps with less permissio

        • I think that mobile app stores got it half right: the store simply asks for requisite permissions when installing an app. I've declined to try numerous "free" apps that apparently needed access to all of my private data for no good reason at all. It shouldn't be any different when installing Mac App Store apps. The only additional feature that I'd like to see is for the apps to define what subset(s) of permissions they can live with, so that the users would have an option of running apps with less permissions, with some loss in functionality.

          For devices like smartphones and tablets that can't be administered in the way a full PC can be, I want *all* apps sandboxed - especially the vendor's apps.

          As for minimum "subset(s) of permissions they can live with", why ask? If the app is asking for access to sensitive data without a compelling reason, why it would it also admit it doesn't need that access. If the app says "If you let me access X, then I can do Y for you", then I can consider. But even then, why bother?

          The access permissions can be part o

      • by jbolden ( 176878 )

        I can see the argument for allowing some kinds of apps to escape the sandbox, but it should require some hoops be jumped through and it should require specific notification to the user.

        That is precisely what they do. You can get applications through that break Apple's rules on the consumer store but they require much more serious auditing and evaluation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @03:48PM (#48143523)

    The author forgot the biggest one: money. I did a lot of iOS development in the early days and earned enough to buy a nice car (not super nice, just a mere mortal nice car). I'm now experiencing the long tail of the cycle. I get about $200-300 a month of sales. I wrote straight sale apps, not in app purchase type apps.

    The biggest reason I don't do iOS development anymore (other than here and there) is because it's too damn crowded. I now have to invest in marketing and advertisement. I'd spend 3 months developing a really nice piece of solid software just to get a few downloads. It's not worth it for me. I've moved on.

    The author has some gripes, and I have some more, but they are just gripes.When people were making good money on it, those gripes were farts in the wind. Now that most people are making no money, those gripes are still farts in the wind.

    • by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudson.gmail@com> on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @03:56PM (#48143627) Journal
      This is the same thing that happens at the end of any "Gold Rush" cycle.

      Remember the days when you had tons of stores from which you could purchase a computer, almost all owned by mom-and-pop operators? Each sold a few boxes and made a living. Standardization and hugely lower margins killed them. Same thing with the App Store. Everyone cashed in at first since there wasn't much competition. Now? Not just competition from other iThingee devs, but also from Android. Both the App Store and the Android ecosystem are experiencing the bust that follows the boom.

      Heck, you know App development is in trouble when Florian Mueller says he's switching from paid shill to developing "an Android and iPhone" project. The bottom feeders have arrived. Or as at the end of Spaceballs, "Oh sh*t, there goes the neighborhood."

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Or as at the end of Spaceballs, "Oh sh*t, there goes the neighborhood."

        Actually, it's "Oh sh*t, there goes the planet."

    • by irrational_design ( 1895848 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:00PM (#48143677)
      You do realize that iOS app store and the Mac app store are two different things, right? This article is about the latter.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
      Money is part of it, but it's important to look at it from the other side too. Just getting started in iOS development costs quite a bit of money. The minimum you must spend is $600 on a Mac Mini. You could spend a little less and get a used Mac Mini, but you'd still be out close to $400. That let's you write code and run it on the simulator. The simulator is good, but doesn't really give you the experience of what it's like to run on an actual iOS device you hold in your hand. For that, the minimum you
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BasilBrush ( 643681 )

        So, you've spent $800 just to start developing the app.

        Which is an extraordinarily low investment in a new business. If you think this is a significant sum, then you don't have a business idea, you have a hobby.

        If it's a hobby it doesn't matter whether you make money. And come to that, $800 is fairly modest for a hobby.

        Maybe it's not fair for me to count the price of buying the initial computer for Mac and not count it for Android.

        The difference is obviously significant to you. But then you aren't seriously considering it anyway. It's irrelevant to people that would actually be considering writing Mac software because they are already Mac users. And even for iOS they are p

        • by sribe ( 304414 )

          Which is an extraordinarily low investment in a new business. If you think this is a significant sum, then you don't have a business idea, you have a hobby.

          Nope. Anyone who won't spend $800 does not even have a hobby...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by gnasher719 ( 869701 )

        The minimum you must spend is $600 on a Mac Mini.

        What sales goals do you have if you are worried about a $600 instment? Your goal cannot be to write software and use the money to feed a family. For that goal, $50,000 profit a year is low (it won't make your family happy). If you worry about $600, then you are trying to make some beer money at best.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          What sales goals do you have if you are worried about a $600 instment?

          Well, if you're just "looking into" app development, then that's a barrier. With android, you can "look into" it more or less for free. Then maybe get interested, then hey presto you have an app.

          sure if you already have a business plan and money, the nputting $800 of that into kit is a drop in the ocean.

          As for me, I'm never even going to bother looking at iOS app development because I don't want to burn $800 on a computer I won't enjoy us

          • by jbolden ( 176878 )

            Casual developers are what serious deelopers come from.

            That's never been Apple's belief. They have always wanted a professional development community. Moreover I'm not sure that's true. Obviously in school people do casual development but then most people join companies and learn to code professionally.

      • by vlad30 ( 44644 )

        Money is part of it, but it's important to look at it from the other side too. Just getting started in iOS development costs quite a bit of money. The minimum you must spend is $600 on a Mac Mini. You could spend a little less and get a used Mac Mini, but you'd still be out close to $400.

        Find another business where startup capital is less than $1000 and running costs near zero this is not the problem your paper route or burger flipping job could have got you the startup money

        The problem is as others have said its crowded with crap competitors who spoiled the neighbourhood and it doesn't suit in particular, high end software that costs $1000's requires support agreements and has only a small number of potential clients . in essence the app stores have become a race to the bottom where angry

    • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:20PM (#48143843) Homepage

      The biggest reason I don't do iOS development anymore (other than here and there) is because it's too damn crowded.

      This brings up an issue that I have with the App Store from a customer/user perspective: it's not easy to find quality apps. Unless your application hits the front page by being on charted as one of their top apps, or by hitting one of their "editor's choice" lists, I'm probably not going to see it. Every once in a while, I actually go browsing through the different categories to see if there are any other nice apps out there, and even then I feel like there must be some hidden gems out there that I'm just not seeing.

      I don't know how to fix that, but I think it is a problem. It's hard to browse/discover apps unless you already know which app you're looking for, or if it's one of the small number that Apple chooses to highlight.

      • by rjstanford ( 69735 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:49PM (#48144091) Homepage Journal

        You don't have to. Build a website. Do marketing. Sell your product however you want to, and when someone's ready to buy you can provide them with a link that opens the App Store and gives them a "Purchase" button - no need for you to mess with handling payments or fulfillment.

        The App Store replaces your shopping cart and shipping desk, not your sales and marketing department.

        • I was talking as a customer, and not as a developer. And keep in mind, I'm not saying, "The app store sucks!" I'm just pointing out that there is room for improvement in app discovery and app browsing.

          They've already improved it a lot by providing a large selection of editor recommendations. They'll have different promotional groups for apps (right now, I'm seeing one for "Get Stuff Done" and "Quick-Fix Games" for example). Not too long ago, they made it so you get recommendations and charts for each c

        • by Sebby ( 238625 )

          The App Store replaces your shopping cart and shipping desk, not your sales and marketing department.

          It also replaces 30% with nothingness, since, as you said, you still need your sales and marketing departments.

          I've yet to read any developers say that the MAS replaced their departments, thereby making the "Apple MAS Tax" of any real value.

      • I feel like there must be some hidden gems out there that I'm just not seeing.

        I have that same feeling with Amazon. After buying 800+ books, DVDs and media for 15+ years, Amazon recommendations should show me something new under the sun. It doesn't. I'll have better luck browsing for something new at a brick-and-mortar store.

      • You just need to start with a need and a purpose, rather than blindly scanning the horizon for some reason to justify the cost of your phone.

        I need an for X reason... I google "best app for X of 2014", pick a reasonable site, and usually I do just fine.

        Seriously? You just browse categories at random?

    • Hey, $200-$300 a month is damned good money if you're some developer in India throwing out dozens of cheap knockoffs a month, like "Upset Birds" and "Planks vs. Zombies."

  • Oxymoronic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by exploder ( 196936 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @03:49PM (#48143549) Homepage

    Subtle...exodus?

    • Would the Pharaoh have noticed that the Hebrews were leaving Egypt without the Biblical plagues on his people? Anyway, those pyramids built themselves.
  • As long as it stays optional, I'm fine with it. I still love MacOS and have a Mac in my house, but 90% of what I do, I do on my Arch laptop. If Acrobat Pro, or something just as good was available for Windows, I'd leave the Mac for the kids to play with.
  • So why not use a different app store then?

    • Re:Other app store (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot AT worf DOT net> on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:14PM (#48143799)

      So why not use a different app store then?

      Exactly, there are plenty of ways to get software on a Mac.

      Mac App Store is one, and it's required if you want to use iCloud (for security reasons - detailed below).

      But there's also Valve's Steam (a good way for games), and you can always roll your own web store - it doesn't take much to accept Paypal or if you are a business, to get Amazon Payments or Google Wallet.

      A lot of developers that started with iOS migrated to the MAS when they port their IOS apps to OS X - you find a lot iOS games "enhanced" for the Mac. Cross-platform games usually are on Steam, and there are few on both. Steam is nice, though it limits you to one user at a time, while MAS lets you have 5 copies on 5 different PCs at once. Useful if you want a quick multiplayer without having to have 5 copies (especially in a family setting).

      Regarding MAS and iCloud, well, you have to hark back to the bad old days of Microsoft office viruses - they'd infect Microsoft office's default template files and then subsequently infect every document since then. Well, you can imagine one using a variety of exploits that infect an entire computer. Use something like iCloud and now the attack's persistent - you reformat the computer, reinstall the app, and boom, you're infected again (thanks cloud!). So Apple made sandboxing a requirement for the MAS, and use that with iCloud mean well, if that happens, damage is limited to within the sandbox. So you're isolating the rest of the computer from the infection target (since the sandbox keeps the infection to a small area) in case a persistent piece of malware tries to remain in that way.

      Without sandboxing, a cloud storage account could prove very interesting. I'm actually surprised we're not seeing viruses try to persist using Windows Explorer vulnerabilities and say, DropBox. (Remember the ones involving specially constructed image files? Imaging putting one of those in DropBox, and now when you browse to it, your PC gets infected. And the virus makes sure to keep a compromised image there so even if you wipe and reinstall, you install dropbox and boom, infected again.)

  • Having a trial is nice. WP supports this. However the key with most apps now is to make them free and then add in-app purchases as "Free" gets more downloads than the "trial".
    • Re:Trial vs in-app (Score:4, Informative)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:48PM (#48144079) Homepage
      I have a Surface 2, and I really like the trial option that MS worked into their store. Apps can be time limited, feature limited, or have many other limitations. With Android apps, it's usually possible to trick the trial version of the app into giving you a longer trial by uninstalling and then reinstalling the trial app. The way MS has designed it, once you've tried an app, you're no longer eligible for the trial. You can either purchase it or uninstall it, but there's no way to revert the trial back and get the functionality back. It allows apps to give you a full trial with all functionality, without having to worry about people cheating the system and getting the entire app for free.
  • Enough already (Score:5, Insightful)

    by It doesn't come easy ( 695416 ) * on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:02PM (#48143689) Journal
    How many apps are in the Mac app store? Over a million? Who needs a million apps? They can't all be doing something different.

    And who needs yet another free app to mine your personal data and sell it to someone? We already have Google for that.

    Seems to me that the market is a bit saturated...
    • I suspect the saturation with low value apps and the restrictions are not unrelated. It sounds like the store is structured in such a way as to limit the number of possible business models that can be pursued profitably. Low value apps are easier to develop so there is less inherent risk with putting them into the Mac App Store than more complex apps that may run up against things like the sandboxing requirement. Success comes not from creating a single, polished and powerful application, but from developin
  • by irrational_design ( 1895848 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:03PM (#48143699)
    I'm seeing a lot of comments about iOS, smartphones, Android, etc. This article is about the Mac app store (for OSX, NOT iOS).
  • But for small developers it can be a huge blessing (or just buried in the pile) :-)
  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:08PM (#48143739) Homepage

    I think he has some good points here, but as an IT (support) guy, I see other problems with the App Store that are completely unrelated. One of the biggest is the issue of "volume licensing". I don't know if Apple has sorted it all out recently, but last I looked into it, it was a confusing mess of a program with little administrative control. IIRC, at one point Apple was advising businesses to gift employees with applications that would then be bound to the employee AppleID, which is completely stupid, without the ability to withdraw the license and reuse it.

    It's also pretty frustrating that you need to put in an Apple ID to install or update any application, even if it's free. For example, if the iWork/iLife apps are pre-installed on the system and there's a new update available, even though Apple detects that the apps are already installed, and Apple knows that the upgrades are free, it still won't install the updates until you sign in with an Apple ID. That might not seem like such a big deal, but when you're administering a few hundred Macs, it means that you either need to make every user create their own AppleID, or you need to provide them access to a company Apple ID which you then lose control over. Failing to come up with a solution means that your users are going to be bugged to update applications that they can't update.

    And speaking of updates, AFAIK there's no command-line utility for the App Store application. This means that I can't control the thing with a script at all. Making it more confusing, there *is* a command-line utility to download and install system updates, which are normally installed through the App Store GUI. This means that if you look at a list of updates available for your system presented in the App Store application, you can write a script to install some of them automatically, but other updates need to be updated through the GUI. What I wouldn't give to be able to update everything with apt-get.

    Getting back to the article, I'm not sure I completely agree with him. I understand his frustration with sandboxing, but on the other hand, left to their own devices, developers seem to do some really dumb and annoying things. For example, instead of using an installer or developing their app to be drag-and-drop, they develop a custom application that installs their software, making it difficult and frustrating to push out in an automated fashion. Or they code their application to require an installer, dumping their files all over the system, when it really shouldn't be necessary. I wouldn't be opposed to Apple supporting applications that require installers, so long as they (a) allowed customers to get access to the unaltered installer; and (b) kept tabs on what the installer did and rejected developers who used them unnecessarily. Otherwise, I think you'd see too much dumb crap on the App Store.

    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @05:40PM (#48144485)

      It is amazing, given they are a big enterprise, but they really don't get what enterprises need, and just don't care. They want enterprises to use their iToys but don't want to spend any time on it. They just want to treat them like consumer devices and what you to spend your money and fuck off. It is really annoying.

      They aren't much better to their people internally, either. Last time the campus Apple engineer came by, several years ago (our college doesn't use many Macs) it was shortly after Apple had suddenly discontinued their Xserve like. I asked him what they were going to do for their own web hosting, since they'd been using those. He said "I don't know, they didn't warn us about this or give us any guidance. We'll probably go back to using IBM systems like before."

      The sad thing is Mac fanboys decide they want to use them for enterprise work, even though they are manifestly unsuited to it.

      • they are manifestly unsuited to it.

        I wouldn't necessarily go that far. I support both professionally, and there are certainly things about Windows that are easier. For example, Windows domains provide a lot of great tools. Microsoft Office is much better on Windows than on Macs.

        But then there are some ways in which I've generally found easier on Macs than on PCs. They're all unixy, really. They come from the factory supporting php, perl, ruby, and bash. Imaging Macs isn't much harder than copying the contents of a bootable disk, and then running a command to make the disk bootable. There's no activation to for Apple's OS or apps. Many of the application install/uninstall consists of drag-and-drop (or just using a script to copy a directory in place). A lot of the configuration is stored in text files. The support is generally pretty damned good. And there *are* actually administrative tools that work pretty well, once you dig into it.

      • by jbolden ( 176878 )

        That's why Apple has brought in IBM. IBM is supporting Apple in the enterprise.

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      Apple has two models:

      Consumer owns the device, the account, the software
      Company owns the device, the account, the software

      To some extent they allow you to mix on mobile. You are trying to have a BYOD situation without business licensing. If you want business licensing then you build your own app store and distribute from there signing licenses with the software companies directly. Apple doesn't get involved at all.

    • Managed distribution has made this much better than the original VPP model. Yes, it was initially a mess. Second iteration was a little better. Things work well now but there is dome deep diving to be done. You'll likely want a 3rd party for MDM (Casper, etc.)
  • Is there an exodus? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @04:17PM (#48143823) Journal
    In none of the articles could I find evidence of the 'exodus from the app store.'

    Maybe the title would be better, "Things that Could Be Improved in the App Store"
    • by rgbscan ( 321794 )

      Agreed, of the linked articles... one is a blog entry from 2012 predicting the end of the app store without really anything concrete to say - just opinions, and one is from a developer who acknowledges that Apple gave them personalized help above and beyond the call of duty, and admitted that their app was a "worst case scenario" for sandboxing, and they are shipping outside of the MAS due to time constraints rather than solve the remaining sandboxing issues. Both are hardly damning of the app store.

    • In none of the articles could I find evidence of the 'exodus from the app store.'

      Or, for that matter, significant entry into the app store. I haven't actually gone looking by my impression from looking at Mac software I was thinking about acquiring is that most developers still just download a .dmg to you from their own site.

  • by cornicefire ( 610241 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @05:14PM (#48144291)
    After a few attempts that made it through the gauntlet, it quickly became a fool's errand. Why should anyone risk months of work only to watch some nameless, faceless drone at Apple issue a thumbs down rejection? At least in Roman times, the Emperor was brave enough to show his face when issuing the thumbsdown. What a wretched market. It's impossible to do anything except sell stupid games. (And I say that as someone who likes stupid games.) Then they have the gall to take 30% for doing next to nothing. Seriously. It's just a db insert and some FTP.
  • by ndykman ( 659315 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @05:49PM (#48144589)

    What's the incentive for Apple not to control every aspect of their user's experience, including the software they install?

    They have a captive user base that insist that Apple can do no wrong, so why not get a cut for every paid piece of software installed on OS X? It works for iOS. I half expect to see a developer unlock for OS X, so that by default, you can't install anything on OSX that isn't from the App Store.

    Adobe, Microsoft and the other big players will get on board. Because, being able to install your own software on your own machine is a security risk, and we can't have that. Instead, trust Apple to verify everything for you. That's the world we live in.

    • I half expect to see a developer unlock for OS X, so that by default, you can't install anything on OSX that isn't from the App Store.

      They already have this, it's called Gatekeeper. You can simply turn it off in the Security settings. The moment you can't I won't be using OSX ...

  • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2014 @06:02PM (#48144691)

    I've got a MacBook Air. It serves as my secondary PC (as a Windows user on the desktop and a Linux user on the server). Of all the apps that are installed on my Mac that aren't from Apple, I think only a single one of them (MPlayerX) is from the app store. From Dropbox to VLC to Chrome to Creative Suite to DiskInventoryX to SmoothMouse to Steam, almost nothing is available in the app store.

    In fact, some things that I run on my mac (like Civ 5) through other "app stores" (like Steam) are available in the Mac app store... but are essentially crippled because they don't support multiplayer with the regular version of the game. And even though I bought the game, I would have to pay for it again to get the App Store version. Which, I wouldn't do, because I like actually being able to play multiplayer games with my friends who bought it like everybody else (through Steam).

  • I sell an app through the Mac app store. It's been fairly successful - certainly in terms of volume we would have struggled to match it if we'd only stuck with our own website as the sole means for a new customer to acquire the app. When Apple have helped us with promotion, we've seen sales skyrocket, at least for as long as they deign to put us on the front page or whatever.

    But now we have an almost completely new version 2.0 ready to go, and the App Store has no provision for paid-for updates (all of ou
  • On Mac, Apple's Mac Store is just one of the choices. As such, requiring sandboxing is a defensible position. They are basically saying that they guarantee maximum amount of damage that can be done by certain category of apps. If yours requires full root access and installs device drivers, this doesn't make it a bad app. It just can not be effectively reviewed and determined safe in a realistic amount of time.

    What most developers are missing is general shift to mobile, freemium model and need for creative a

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