The Mac App Store is a great idea. Following the runaway success of the iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPad, early last year Apple introduced the Mac App Store. Today there are over 10,000 Mac apps ready for one-click downloads.
The problem is this: the Mac App Store is going to hell in a hand basket as Mac developers leave the neighborhood in droves. Why? What happened to Apple’s great idea for selling and distributing Mac apps?
Rules. And more rules. Too many rules.
Just like a condo association that creates rules that drive owners away, or a housing development with so many bylaws that keep affluent owners out, the Mac App Store has become rules heavy.
Among other problems, there’s no way for a Mac app developer to charge for an app upgrade, there’s no trial app capability. Even worse, newly implemented sandboxing rules cause many developers to remove valuable app features that customer would like to use.
For example, BBEdit on the Mac App Store is a dumbed down version of the popular Mac editor (thankfully, still available in a full version from the developer).
Some developers are just leaving the neighborhood entirely, which means those of us who bought their Mac App Store apps in the past now own orphaned apps. When I run a Mac Update scan of apps on my Macs there’s an even dozen apps which have updates available– but not from the Mac App Store. These are apps which are no longer available on the Mac App Store.
Those developers have orphaned their Mac App Store apps in favor of creating additional features that Apple doesn’t want Mac users to have.
In some cases, I upgraded to a newer version of an app I already owned, and bought it in the Mac App Store, only to have that app discontinued and no longer available for sale in MAS.
This is a mess that Apple needs to fix, otherwise the company runs the risk of creating user animosity towards the Mac App Store (whose apps usually have less functionality than buying apps on the open market).
As a good example, I use Dropbox extensively and looked forward to Mac apps that used iCloud to store files online. Oops. My bad. Only Mac App Store apps can use iCloud, despite the fact that those apps have less functionality.
Look around the Mac App Store. It’s loaded up with cheap eye candy apps with glittery icons and limited functions. Instead of a mall with the best app wares for OS X users, it’s become more of a Saturday morning garage sale stacked with apps of dubious value, and frequented only by the bargain hunters.
My list of app purchases from the Mac App Store is long, but updates of those apps are coming at a snail’s pace, if at all, as developers stay away, fail to update their last MAS version, or leave entirely.
This is a crisis of confidence. Apple’s Mac App Store customers deserve better. So do the developers.