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The Mac App Store – Doomed to Failure

Mac app store doomed

Earlier this year, I wrote about the pros and cons of buying your Mac apps from the Mac App Store. Since then, I’ve come to a firm decision – when possible I will buy my Mac apps directly from the developer, instead of from the Mac App Store. I can thank Apple and the far-reaching effects of its sandboxing policies for leading me to this decision.

Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper, has expressed his belief that the Mac App Store will become irrelevant. He’s given a few reasons to support his position, but for me, it boils down to just one of them: confidence.

Apple’s new sandboxing rules might be great for security, but they limit what a developer can do with an app. For that reason and others, my confidence in the App Store is gone. I lack confidence in the following:

  1. I no longer have confidence that any app that I buy there won’t be a crippled version of what is available directly from the developer. The App Store version of OmniFocus, for example, can’t run certain scripts that the non-App Store version can run. The previous App Store version of popular mail app Postbox was missing several features (the developers don’t even sell the new version of Postbox in the App Store). Instead of hunting around to find out if the App Store version is fully functional, I’ll just buy it from the developer;
  2. I have no confidence that if I purchase an app with great functionality, that it will keep that functionality going forward, due to App Store rules;
  3. I have no confidence that apps purchased in the App Store will continue to be there. We’ve all heard the stories of apps pulled from the iOS app store. Will the Mac App Store follow suit? Make sure you have reliable backups of your apps, just to be safe;
  4. I have no confidence that I’ll get the benefit of upgrade pricing when a developer releases a new paid version of an app, since the App Store can’t handle paid upgrades for new versions of an app.

Given the choice, where would you purchase your Mac apps? Will anyone but tech geeks think of these issues? Marco Arment thinks that this isn’t just an issue for geeks. I agree with him. If enough customers get burned by the App Store, they’ll stop using it. And if enough developers get burnt or fed up with it, the App Store will become the home of trivial apps.

What do you think? Will you buy your apps from the Mac App Store?

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