Apple announced some leadership changes today, including that Phil Schiller will now lead the App Store on Apple’s various platforms:
“With added responsibility for the App Store, Phil Schiller will focus on strategies to extend the ecosystem Apple customers have come to love when using their iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Phil now leads nearly all developer-related functions at Apple, in addition to his other marketing responsibilities including Worldwide Product Marketing, international marketing, education and business marketing.”
You may remember that Phil Schiller has gotten involved in controversial App Store rejections in the past, going back to 2009. See this post from Daring Fireball about Ninjawords, and another article at Techcrunch by MG Siegler.
On recent episodes of Core Intuition, and in a blog post, I’ve argued that Apple can’t just make small improvements to the Mac App Store anymore. The time for slow iteration is over; now they have to make big changes to get developers back. I’d like to believe that putting Phil in charge is exactly that kind of first big step.
Update: Less optimistically, though, there was this post in 2012 from Rogue Amoeba.
Taylor Swift writes on her blog (via iMore) that she’s hopeful Apple will be the first company to get streaming right, but that she can’t agree to 3 months of artists not getting paid:
“I realize that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress. We know how astronomically successful Apple has been and we know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period… even if it is free for the fans trying it out.”
I agree with Taylor. Apple still has a mountain of cash. Seems reasonable for them to use it to launch Apple Music properly and get musicians excited about the service. Usage will be higher during the free trial, so it would be a nice gesture to the music community, even with some kind of reduced royalties.
Imagine if Apple had launched the Mac App Store with this same model, where users could try apps for free and developers wouldn’t get paid for the first 3 months. Pretty unacceptable.
Despite everything I said about how easy it would be for customers to upgrade from the Mac App Store version of Clipstart to the direct download version, in the real world this doesn’t appear to be working well for some customers. Might be a little buggy, and it’s too late to fix anything in the Mac App Store. So I’m doing upgrades the old-fashioned way, giving everyone new serial numbers.
After the first few emails came in, I automated this with a simple form that customers can fill out. It’ll give them a new serial number right away and email the registration information. I’ve added a link in the FAQ on the Clipstart home page too.
Gabe at Macdrifter comments on the shift back to direct download for 1Password:
“I recall the massive forum discussion about the decision to take 1Password MAS only. I converted to the MAS version in March to get on-board with their product roadmap. Now I see that it is available again as a direct download purchase and @roustem confirms it will receive the next update soon.”
I’ve never liked the idea of being exclusive to the Mac App Store. I don’t think any of those transitions — from 1Password to Pixelmator — were good for users, especially when customers had to re-purchase a product they already owned. I hope sandboxing will at least make more developers think twice about pinning their business to the Mac App Store.
The blog post continues with this point, and all the good and bad that comes with it:
“This is the MAS as I see it: It is not for utility apps or power users. Apps like 1Password, TextExpander and Keyboard Maestro should all be purchased directly from the developers site. The MAS is for people afraid of using a computer.”
In other words: it’s good for some users and some apps, and not others. And that’s okay. I have no regrets about pulling Clipstart from the Mac App Store. I think of my app as pretty easy to use, but it’s for people who get file systems and tagging and uploads. Most definitely not for people afraid of using a computer.
TextExpander 4 shipped this week, and with the update it breaks from the Mac App Store and instead requires customers to buy directly. TextExpander is the first popular app I’ve seen to do it.
Moom is another one that actively encourages users to move away from the store. Recently on launch Moom displayed a news window that included this:
“Apple has activated sandboxing on the Mac App Store; under the sandboxing rules, we can no longer add new features to the App Store version of Moom (we can only fix bugs). However, we have a method by which you can migrate (at no cost) to our direct sales version of Moom, which has no such limitations. For details on how sandboxing affects our apps, and how to migrate to the direct sales version, please read this article on our blog.”
Even Panic – frustrated with the long approval times for Coda 2.0.1 – is experimenting with how best to let Mac App Store customers migrate to the direct version. See this tweet and screenshot from Cabel Sasser.
This has been a theme on the last couple episodes of Core Intuition. Daniel Jalkut and I talked about how we feel about sandboxing after WWDC, and more on my decision to migrate Clipstart out of the store. Things are getting better in Mountain Lion, and I’ll revisit my decision next year, but for now I think I made the right call to focus on work outside the Mac App Store.
(And if you haven’t listened to the podcast recently, check out the new episodes and subscribe. We’re now a weekly podcast!)
The day after I “wrote about removing Clipstart from the Mac App Store”:http://www.manton.org/2012/02/sandboxing_and_clipstart.html, Apple announced that the sandboxing requirement would be delayed again. In that announcement was also a new twist: sandboxing would not be required for bug fix updates to existing apps.
This is welcome news, but I stand by my post. I still plan to transition Clipstart away from the MAS. The difference now is that I can do it at my own pace, providing a new version or two to MAS customers that will make the move easier.
I’ve already gotten started. Clipstart 1.4 just shipped with a few new features and better support for recognizing MAS receipt files. I’ve also submitted it to the Mac App Store, where it is waiting for review.
It’s not clear where we are going to end up with sandboxing. “Quoted in Macworld’s coverage”:http://www.macworld.com/article/165502/2012/02/sandbox_deadline_delayed_yet_again_to_june_1.html, Paul Kafasis suggests that sandboxing is so flawed that Apple should just scrap the whole thing.
“Michael Tsai talks about”:http://mjtsai.com/blog/2012/02/20/sandboxing-and-clipstart/ all the work that is required to stay in the store. He closes with something that I’ve been thinking about:
“At each step of the way, it looks like just a little more work to get into the Mac App Store, or to stay there. Until the next issue pops up. And then, if you’re successful, you’re sort of locked into it due to the reasonable expectations of your many customers.”
This lock-in creates two immediate problems with leaving the Mac App Store:
- What about customers who may have originally bought the app directly from me, but decided to “upgrade” to the Mac App Store version? I’m sure I only have a few of these, but it’s still unfortunate if someone bought the app twice. I’m just glad I didn’t follow the lead of MAS-exclusive developers, such as “Pixelmator’s effort to encourage customers”:http://www.pixelmator.com/blog/2011/01/06/transition-to-the-mac-app-store/ to switch to the MAS.
How do current Mac App Store customers get notified that there is a new version available outside the store? Sparkle is not allowed in the MAS, but I think the right thing to do here is provide a similar notification in the app. It would link to a web page with instructions for downloading the app directly.
I’ll admit I have some regret leaving the Mac App Store. It’s just so convenient for purchasing and installation. If I’m going to make this work, I’ll have to redesign my own rather clunky purchase and activation experience. And I’ll have to do a much better job of marketing, something that has not been easy with Clipstart.