Friday, June 19, 2020

App Store for the Past

Matthew Guay (tweet, Hacker News):

Of all the things the App Store offers, SaaS finds perhaps two things helpful: Discovery and downloads. And they could live without either.

Subscription software businesses have to build a customer relationship, with unique accounts per-user. Might as well build out payments while you’re at it. Accounts negate the need for license keys, and make piracy a thing of the past. And, odds are, your SaaS is a web app—so a browser’s all you need, no access to device and operating system-specific APIs needed. A mobile app would be nice to have, with offline support and notifications and share menu integration. Discovery in the App Store search would be nice, too. But all the other things that make the App Store valuable to, say, developers building games don’t matter to business SaaS vendors.


Apple seems to see the App Store as a digital retail store, where 30% and guaranteed shelf space would be a bargain for consumer packaged goods.

Nathan Anderson:

They don’t want to “leverage the App Store”. They want to provide their customers who happen to use iPhones with a good way to use their service, which is an APP. The only reason they want to list in the App Store in the first place is because THEY HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE.

Ben Bajarin:

If Apple allowed you alternate payment methods and took no fee, but your app would never be featured or promoted in the App Store would you take that trade-off?

Tim Ritchey:

What I find frustrating about the App Store situation is not the rules, or 30% cut, but that from the start Apple has contorted software business models into their media-distribution infrastructure. We are clearly limited to decades-old ideas about how songs and movies are sold.

M.G. Siegler:

We’re getting too far into the weeds with all this. It seems pretty simple at a higher level: App Store rules and policies were created for the world as it was a decade ago. The world is not as it was a decade ago. Apple should create new guidelines for the world as it is now.

This isn’t the Constitution. Apple holds the unilateral ability to change what it wants. They’ve been doing it in piecemeal fashion -- Amendments? And worse, seemingly for preferred partners/deals, which has just pissed people off more over time. Rewrite the whole thing for 2020.

Chuq Von Rospach:

Also, I think Apple is wrong defining “hey!” as a consumer not business app. It’s primary market is single-owner and <10 employee small business. Apple seems to define “business” as “has an IT team” and that’s horribly outdated.


Update (2020-06-22): Brent Simmons (tweet):

This means that, for many developers, the very best thing about the App Store — the thing that actually helped their business — is gone.

And it’s not just gone — it’s probably actually more difficult doing this stuff via the App Store than doing the same things (trial, IAP, subscription) using non-Apple systems such as Stripe.

(And, as a bonus, Stripe isn’t going to review your app’s business model and tell you no.)

Matt Birchler:

Good points here. I think one thing people assume is that taking payments anywhere besides the App Store is a nightmare for security and ease for the user/developer. I happen to work for a payments company and viamently disagree with that.

Aaron Vegh:

This is an important point that seems to be missing: I’ve ready many say “it’s easy” to use In-App Purchase. It absolutely isn’t. It’s complex, the developer side of things is buggy af, and Apple could make it way easier, but hasn’t.

Brian Webster:

I’ve sold Mac software direct for 15 years and it’s not that hard to set up. Many payment systems to choose from, and took me like a couple days to create a basic registration code and in-app purchase system. One that I have full control over, and can do upgrade pricing with.

The main downside is folks who lost their registration (time spent for both me and them). But on the other hand, you can actually talk to your customers! And give refunds! Or discounts! Or whatever you want!

Brent Simmons (tweet):

So while it’s true to say that all of an iOS app’s users come via the App Store, it’s only true because there’s no other option.

If I could distribute my iOS app outside of the App Store, I would. I’d switch in a heartbeat. Even though it’s free and money isn’t my issue. It would make my work as an app maker easier.

Marco Arment:

Today’s crowded App Store is merely a (bad) search engine you send people to from your own marketing.

For Overcast, I’d still opt into the App Store and IAP. The tradeoffs are worthwhile to me. But that’s far from universal.

It’s a great system for many apps, but it should compete on its merits.

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