Archive for December 1, 2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sketch Leaving the Mac App Store

Bohemian Coding (comments):

There are a number of reasons for Sketch leaving the Mac App Store—many of which in isolation wouldn’t cause us huge concern. However as with all gripes, when compounded they make it hard to justify staying: App Review continues to take at least a week, there are technical limitations imposed by the Mac App Store guidelines (sandboxing and so on) that limit some of the features we want to bring to Sketch, and upgrade pricing remains unavailable.

Federico Viticci:

Sketch is, quite possibly, one of the most popular image editing apps for professionals who use Macs nowadays, and it’s yet another high-profile departure from the Mac App Store.


At this stage, we are far beyond the point of acknowledging there is a problem on the Mac App Store. We are not talking a bunch of isolated cases anymore – leaving the Mac App Store has become an accepted trend among developers, which is compounded by the sad state of abandon in which Apple has left it and other issues developers illustrated in the past.

Milen Dzhumerov:

Apple has completely lost the goodwill of Mac developers. The one and only reason the ones that haven’t gone bankrupt are still staying is because they have no other choice due to platform lock-in. Every single conversation that I’ve had with indies recently have gone along the same lines: Apple is killing the indie scene.


And now you have another flagship OS X app ditching the MAS due to the multitude problems it creates. The message is loud and clear - if you’re a real software business, not a hobbyist at home, don’t waste your time with the MAS - it simply does not allow you to run your business properly.

When the companies building the flagship apps for the platform publicly state they cannot do business due to the restrictions of the Mac App Store and then abandon the dysfunctional virtual marketplace, then you know Apple have pushed them beyond the edge. No company would just decide to leave the MAS unless the situation is hurting them significantly and holding them back.

One of my bug fix updates for El Capitan is still in review after 59 days.

Update (2015-12-02): John Gruber:

Deeply troubling indictment of the Mac App Store. Sketch isn’t the first big name professional app to be pulled from the Mac App Store (Bare Bones Software’s BBEdit, Panic’s Coda, Quicken, just to name a few). But Sketch is the poster child for Mac App Store era professional Mac software. It’s the sort of app Apple might demo in a keynote — and the winner of an Apple Design Award. Apple thinks so highly of it that they provide Sketch templates for Apple Watch UI designers. It’s incredibly popular (and was among the top-grossers on the Mac App Store), Mac-only, and they want no part of the Mac App Store.

Seth Lilly:

As a consumer, I like the Mac App Store. It’s a one-stop shop. That convenience is what has made the iOS App Store indispensable. But as a software publisher I’m not willing to make the trade-off in customer experience for discoverability.

As with Bohemian Coding, he’s saying that the customer experience is better outside of the store. That once would have been a very controversial opinion, because the store makes buying and updating so easy, but those pluses are offset by features that are missing or harder to use (because of sandboxing), bug fixes that are delayed (because of App Review), upgrades that are separate apps, and not being able to help customers directly.

Greg Maletic:

Few apps leave the iOS Store. But it’s the pro apps that weren’t ever created for iOS, due to the Store’s limitations, that are the problem.

Rene Ritchie:

Much of the debate has focused on the reasons stated in the Sketch post, on the perennials—trial periods/refunds, upgrade pricing, direct customer relationships, freedom from sandboxing, disintermediation of review, etc. All mechanisms and realities from a time before mobile shattered the expectations associated with traditional software businesses.

They’re easy to point to, and have nostalgia on their side, but it’s tough to say what if any substantive difference they’d make in the post-”pop app” world. It’s one of the many reasons why presenting perceived solutions to a problem is never as productive as stating problems and leaving them open to potentially novel solutions. It’s the “faster horses” trap.

I see this point made from time to time and couldn’t disagree more. I would love it if Apple were working on something better than a faster horse for the Mac App Store. But all the evidence points to Apple’s Model T being an actual car. There are not even rumors about improvements to the store. And, like the iPad filesystem, no one else seems to have a better idea, either. At this point, the problems have been common knowledge for years, countless Radars have been filed, yet people doubt that Apple even cares about them. The perceived solutions worked well for decades and continue to work outside of the Mac App Store. That doesn’t mean that they would solve all the problems. But it’s heartbreaking that, absent a better idea, Apple would let the market crash rather than try them.

See also: the prescience of Wolf Rentzsch and Rich Siegel.

Craig Hockenberry:

Worse, I don’t think Apple really understands the problems developers are facing just to stay in business.

The effects on the ecosystem are long-term: the fallout from an unhealthy indie scene won’t be felt until it’s too late.

Manton Reece:

All this time, Apple could have been iterating on the Mac App Store, improving sandboxing entitlements, improving review times, customer interaction, and more. Yet they have not.

Update (2015-12-08): Jason Snell:

The continued rotting of the Mac App Store seems to be the most likely scenario here.

See also: Release Notes.

Update (2015-12-14): Rory Prior:

I was initially very enthusiastic about the Mac App Store (MAS), but as the years have ticked by with literally no improvements, that enthusiasm has waned to be replaced firstly by concern and now increasingly by anger and frustration.


In some cases like with Microsoft and Adobe or Barebones and Panic, they have enough clout to survive outside the MAS. But for smaller developers, including ThinkMac, the MAS has sucked so much oxygen out of the rest of the world, that it would be suicide to pull out. So we stick around, accruing cuts and counting down the days until we finally succumb to them.