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charlesarthur : appstore   23

How Apple’s apps topped rivals in the App Store it controls • The New York Times
Jack Nicas and Keith Collins:
<p>Top spots in App Store search results are some of the most fought over real estate in the online economy. The store generated more than $50bn in sales last year, and the company said two-thirds of app downloads started with a search.

But as Apple has become one of the largest competitors on a platform that it controls, suspicions that the company has been tipping the scales in its own favor are at the heart of antitrust complaints in the United States, Europe and Russia.

Apple’s apps have ranked first recently for at least 700 search terms in the store, according to a New York Times analysis of six years of search results compiled by Sensor Tower, an app analytics firm. Some searches produced as many as 14 Apple apps before showing results from rivals, the analysis showed. (Though competitors could pay Apple to place ads above the Apple results.)

Presented with the results of the analysis, two senior Apple executives acknowledged in a recent interview that, for more than a year, the top results of many common searches in the iPhone App Store were packed with the company’s own apps. That was the case even when the Apple apps were less relevant and less popular than ones from its competitors. The executives said the company had since adjusted the algorithm so that fewer of its own apps appeared at the top of search results…

…Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president who oversees the App Store, and Eddy Cue, the senior vice president who oversees many of the Apple apps that benefited from the results, said there was nothing underhanded about the algorithm the company had built to display search results in the store.

The executives said the company did not manually alter search results to benefit itself. Instead, they said, Apple apps generally rank higher than competitors because of their popularity and because their generic names are often a close match to broad search terms.</p>

The scrolling presentation at the top of this piece is terrific. And Google? Rand Fishkin, an SEO expert, <a href="">says</a> that "Apple ranked first for an estimated 1.2% of all App Store searches. I can virtually guarantee Google ranks Alphabet-owned properties No.1 for more than that (in a clickstream analysis I did w/ @jumpshotinc in June, they got ~6% of all search clicks)."
apple  ios  algorithm  apps  appstore 
8 days ago by charlesarthur
Tinder bypasses Google Play, joining revolt against App Store fee • Bloomberg
Olivia Carville:
<p>Tinder joined a growing backlash against app store taxes by bypassing Google Play in a move that could shake up the billion-dollar industry dominated by Google and Apple Inc.

The online dating site launched a new default payment process that skips Google Play and forces users to enter their credit card details straight into Tinder’s app, according to new research by Macquarie analyst Ben Schachter. Once a user has entered their payment information, the app not only remembers it, but also removes the choice to swap back to Google Play for future purchases, he wrote.

“This is a huge difference," Schachter said in an interview. “It’s an incredibly high-margin business for Google bringing in billions of dollars," he said.

The shares of Tinder’s parent company, Match Group Inc., spiked 5% when Schachter’s note was published on Thursday. Shares of Google parent Alphabet Inc. were little changed…

…Match declined to answer questions about whether the company was also investigating bypassing Apple’s App Store. Match is expected to discuss the payment flow change with analysts and investors during its next earnings call on Aug. 6.</p>

Haven't people always been able to bypass Google's app store fees? It's just that getting them to pay in the app is more convenient for them, as it's all entered there. Bypassing Apple is much harder, and a hassle for the customer.
google  tinder  appstore  payment 
8 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Developers sue Apple over App Store practices • Reuters
Stephen Nellis:
<p>Two app developers on Tuesday sued Apple Inc over its App Store practices, making claims similar to those in a lawsuit brought by consumers that the U.S. Supreme Court recently allowed to proceed.

California-based app developer Donald R. Cameron and Illinois Pure Sweat Basketball alleged in federal court in San Jose, California that Apple engaged in anticompetitive conduct by only allowing the downloading of iPhone apps through Apple’s official App Store. Apple also requires developers to price their apps in tiers ending in 99 cents and takes up to a 30% commission from developers on the sale of apps.

“This practice is analogous to a monopsonist retailer paying artificially low wholesale prices to its suppliers,” the developers said in their suit. “In both paradigms a competitive market would yield better post-commission or wholesale prices, and fairer profit, for developers’ digital products.”

The claims center on the same Apple practices highlighted in a lawsuit brought by consumers, arguing that Apple’s practices have artificially inflated the price of software in the App Store.</p>

So Apple is being sued by both consumers (which is what the recent Supreme Court decision allowed) and developers? As Ben Thompson notes in his Stratechery newsletter, this doesn't really make sense, legally speaking, because it creates a sort of double jeopardy - as though a store were being sued both by its customers and its suppliers. If the monopsonist retailer is paying artificially low wholesale prices, then customers must be benefiting from lower prices. If the developers' argument is that Apple kept prices high, then developers are getting more money, so what's the beef?
apple  appstore  apps  antitrust  lawsuit 
june 2019 by charlesarthur
iPhone 'Heart Rate' app on App Store attempts to scam customers out of $90 using Touch ID [since removed] • 9to5Mac
Zac Hall:
<p>Despite Apple’s strict review process for software distributed through the App Store, it’s still possible for malicious actors to take advantage of loop holes in the system to scam customers.

The latest example is a rather sophisticated and devious trick used by an app that claims to read your heart rate through your fingertip using Touch ID. In reality, the app (which is currently on the App Store) uses your fingerprint to authorize a transaction for $89.99 while dramatically dimming the screen to fool you.

The con is less effective on iPhones and iPads with Face ID (iPhone X and later and iPad Pro 2018), but iOS devices with Touch ID are still likely the majority of devices in use today.

Using a third-party app from the App Store to read your heart rate from the iPhone or iPad isn’t uncommon either. Apps like Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor have long used the camera and flash to attempt to take heart rate measurements through the finger.

In the case of the ‘Heart Rate Measurement’ app currently on the App Store, the scam relies on a user not reading the dialog box that appears when a heart rate reading is attempted. The screen brightness drops to its lowest point and the black and white in-app purchase user interface is almost illegible compared to the bright red fingerprint icon that appears on-screen with Touch ID devices.

While the app clearly violates App Store policy for misleading customers with ridiculous in-app purchases unrelated to the app’s function, it’s possible that the trick used by the app was added after Apple’s app review process.</p>

Now removed. But that's super-sneaky.
apple  subscription  scam  appstore 
december 2018 by charlesarthur
Apple pulling high-grossing subscription apps with scammy offers off the App Store • Forbes
John Koetsier:
<p>Apple is systematically combing through the App Store's subscription apps looking for potentially confusing terms of service and pulling apps that look problematic, according to multiple mobile app developers.

The problem?

Scammy subscription apps charging users hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

I broke the story earlier this month and TechCrunch added more fuel to the fire this week.  Many subscription apps had a large "Free Trial" button with tiny print beneath it detailing the subscription terms, which often totaled hundreds of dollars a year in credit-card charges. Consumers who didn't read the fine print got caught with sometimes-significant fees.

A developer contact who had a similar app received the following notification from Apple, indicating that his app was being pulled due to its subscription process.

"It seems they are automatically pulling any and every non-big-name app that has a high IAS [in-app subscription revenue]," Albert Renshaw posted on Facebook.

The trial button is the key.

"They’ve been pulling apps and rejecting apps that have a massive button that says 'X days free” without the price inside that button," another developer said. "People don’t read the fine print and that's who they’re after. Before they were lenient but with the negative publicity they’re strict as hell now."</p>

Good. Scams deserve to get squashed.
scam  subscription  appstore 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
Portugal courts rule Google can't remove Aptoide from users' Android phones • Pocketnow
Jules Wang:
<p>Portugese third-party Android app store Aptoide has claimed a major legal victory against the maker of said OS — this coming on top of Google’s recent compliance measures to the European Commission’s ruling against the bundling of its search and web clients with popular apps.

The verdict is said to ban Google’s Play Protect software, the security suite associated with the Play Store, from identifyting Aptoide as malware and removing it, occasionally without users’ consent. Aptoide must be downloaded from its site. Play Protect would show prompts urging the user to uninstall the app because it is unsafe and would prevent users from downloading any apps from the store.

Aptoide says the ruling is applicable to 82 countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and India. It hopes to recover some of the more than 2.2 million daily active users it has lost in the past 60 days. For reference, it boasts 250 million users with 6 billion total downloads.</p>

OK, so Google can't ban it, even if it thinks it's malware. Got that? Now read on...
google  android  appstore 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
Sneaky subscriptions are plaguing the App Store • TechCrunch
Sarah Perez:
<p>Subscriptions have turned into a booming business for app developers, accounting for $10.6bn in consumer spend on the App Store in 2017, and poised to grow to $75.7bn by 2022. But alongside this healthy growth, a number of scammers are now taking advantage of subscriptions in order to trick users into signing up for expensive and recurring plans. They do this by intentionally confusing users with their app’s design and flow, by making promises of “free trials” that convert after only a matter of days, and other misleading tactics.

Apple will soon have an influx of consumer complaints on its hands if it doesn’t reign in these scammers more quickly…

…How are apps like QR code readers, document scanners, translators and weather apps raking in so much money? Especially when some of their utilitarian functions can be found elsewhere for much less, or even for free?

This raises the question as to whether some app developers are trying to scam App Store users by way of subscriptions.

We’ve found that does appear to be true, in many cases.

After reading through the critical reviews across the top money-making utilities, you’ll find customers complaining that the apps are too aggressive in pushing subscriptions (e.g. via constant prompts), offer little functionality without upgrading, provide no transparency around how free trials work and make it difficult to stop subscription payments, among other things.</p>

There's a scanner app which is raking in $14.3m annually by charging $4 per week, and uses a total scam to get you to sign up. Aren't people noticing this stuff on their bills?
apple  subscriptions  scam  appstore 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
The 30% Tax • AVC
Venture capitalist Fred Wilson on the row around the app stores' 30% cut of sales and (some) subscriptions:
<p>I was interested to see that Netflix is currently testing a bypass strategy [of making people pay for subscriptions outside Apple's App Store]. Certainly the biggest brands like Netflix and Spotify have the market power to at least consider this approach.

If the biggest brands can condition users to bypass the app stores maybe we are seeing the beginning of a crack in the armor. It may also be possible for these big brands to bundle subscription offerings and take a piece of the action themselves.

Imagine if Netflix let you subscribe to a bunch of other services via your Netflix account which you pay for directly on the web outside of the app stores. Or imagine if Amazon offered something similar.

The economics of that relationship for a smaller company could be more attractive than the economics of the current Apple and Google channels. And most companies would likely participate in multiple channels, including the app stores, as well as sell direct.

It seems inevitable that subscription bundling is going to happen. It already does via the Apple and Google app stores but that’s a crude version of what I’m thinking is on the horizon.

Consumers have demonstrated a willingness to pay for the apps and the content they value most. The subscription business model is a terrific one that aligns the interests of a company and it’s customers. But managing dozens of subscriptions via multiple payment systems is annoying. And there should be attractive economics for both bundlers and bundled apps.

So while I’m not predicting the end of the 30% tax anytime soon, I do think we will see Apple and Google’s largest competitors build significant bypass user bases and potentially start competing with Apple and Google in the subscription bundling business.</p>

So you'd go to Netflix, where you'd also sign up for... Spotify? Deezer? Hulu? Disney? Or would you buy an app directly? How's that going to load on your phone or tablet? Ben Thompson linked to this article from his Stratechery article on Thursday, and he thinks it points to some potential for a crack in how Apple and Google manage their app stores. But for the app vendor, it shifts the problem: now they have to go through Amazon or Netflix, who have to vet their app, and yet they still want to be on Apple's phones, or on a Google or other app store. How do they get there?

More likely to be a challenge for Google: the EC decision means it has to open up to alternate app stores. Amazon might like that opportunity.
subscriptions  appstore 
august 2018 by charlesarthur
Ersatz free trials •
Daniel Jalkut of Red Sweater software (maker of MarsEdit, which I use) points out the advantages and problems of how Apple allows "free" trials on the iOS and Mac App Stores:
<p>let’s talk a little bit about what real support in the App Store might look like, and how it would alleviate the problems I’ve described.

For starters, real free trials would allow developers who currently list their apps as “free” in the App Store to list them by their actual price. The App Store could convey that information both more honestly and more informatively to users. Instead of “Free with in-app purchases,” MarsEdit could be identified succinctly as “$49.95 with 14-day free trial.” These apps would no longer be erroneously featured among free apps, but would rank alongside other paid apps, where they belong.

Having a bona fide price associated with the main App Store SKU would re-open access to the bulk purchase programs and family sharing. You know you want 500 copies of MarsEdit for your company? Go ahead and purchase 500 copies. The fact that the App Store happens to support free trials would be irrelevant to your conducting this transaction with Apple.

Real free trials would open the functionality up to any developer who chooses to participate, regardless of their app’s functionality. Instead of forcing developers to come up with arbitrary lock-downs on functionality in the app, they would simply flip a switch in App Store Connect, ideally specifying a trial duration. When free trials are downloaded from the store, the receipt would have the trial information baked right in.

Putting the logic in the store itself would also empower developers to start or stop offering free trials whenever they like, and to reset free trials across the board with major updates, in the same way they can choose to reset star ratings today. And all the tedious mechanics of offering, transacting, and enforcing free trial limitations would obviously be back in Apple’s court, where they can efficiently support such functionality in one place instead of requiring every developer to re-implement the same kind of support in every app.</p>
appstore  apple 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
Apple’s removal of the App Store from iTunes screws over users, publishers, and developers • BirchTree
Matt Birchler:
<p>Take a website like MacStories. This is a great website for discovering new iOS apps, and this week will especially be big since iOS 11 is coming out and tons of your favorite apps will be updated to take advantage of new features.

Here’s the thing though, you really shouldn’t read MacStories on a desktop anymore. Why? Well, because if you are on your MacBook Pro and read an article about an app you think looks great and want to buy, you have no course of action to actually get that app. Your 3 options are:

• Remember the app name and search the App Store on your iOS device for that app (and hope the App Store search brings up the right one)<br />• Remember the URL for the MacStories page, load that on your iOS device, and tap the link from the article on that device<br />• Save the App Store link to a read later service like Pocket and open the link on your iPhone or iPad

None of those options are great for the users or MacStories. Each option is worse than it was before, where you could tap/click an App Store link from any device and install the app from there. In this new reality, users have to do more work to get new apps if they don’t discover them on their iOS device, and the most likely solution (searching the App Store manually) cuts out the affiliate link MacStories used in their article.</p>

Um.. AirDrop the link to yourself? (Drag the URL to the AirDrop page on Finder. On the phone you get the option to save it to iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Slack, and any other URL-capable app) Message it to yourself? But yes, things are broken at present.
apple  itunes  appstore 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
Financial Times returns to Apple’s App Store after six-year hiatus • WSJ
Jack Marshall:
<p>The company hopes its new app, available for iPhone and iPad, will help boost subscriber engagement with its content and in turn increase the revenue it is able to extract from its customers over the long term.

“We know that an engaged reader results in a larger lifetime value,” said Cait O’Riordan, the FT’s chief product and information officer. “We want to know if a native app can help drive that engagement number.”

Since 2011, Apple device users have only been able to access the FT’s full range of content via its mobile website. The FT decided to invest in its web offering rather than a “native” iOS app partly because of Apple’s requirement to be paid a 30% cut of any subscription revenue generated from apps in its App Store, according to people familiar with the matter.

The new iOS app will therefore only be accessible to existing FT subscribers. New readers won’t be able to purchase subscriptions from within the app itself, but must instead do so from the FT’s website before logging in.

This model means the FT can avoid giving Apple a cut of subscription revenue and will allow it to collect payment information and other valuable data directly from its subscribers. Spotify and other subscription-based services have taken a similar approach in recent years.</p>

The end-run around the subscription problem (Amazon does the same thing on Kindle books) seems like a suitable solution to the problem. One wonder why it took the FT six years to figure this out.

Also - minor point - shouldn't the final word in the headline be "absence" rather than "hiatus"? The app was <em>withdrawn</em>. It didn't pause.
ft  app  apple  appstore 
august 2017 by charlesarthur
How to make $80,000 per month on the Apple App Store • Medium
Johnny Lin noticed a top-grossing app which had decidedly dodgy behaviour:
<p>Touch ID? Okay! Wait… let’s read the fine print:

“Full Virus, Malware scanner”: What? I’m pretty sure it’s impossible for any app to scan my iPhone for viruses or malware, since third party apps are sandboxed to their own data, but let’s keep reading…

“You will pay $99.99 for a 7-day subscription”

Uhh… come again?

Buried on the third line in a paragraph of text in small font, iOS casually tells me that laying my finger on the home button means I agree to start a $100 subscription. And not only that, but it’s $100 PER WEEK? I was one Touch ID away from a $400 A MONTH subscription to reroute all my internet traffic to a scammer?

I guess I was lucky I actually read the entire fine print. But what about other people?

Step 3: It’s All Starting to “Ad” Up… to Profit

It suddenly made a lot of sense how this app generates $80,000 a month. At $400/month per subscriber, it only needs to scam 200 people to make $80,000/month, or $960,000 a year. Of that amount, Apple takes 30%, or $288,000 — from just this one app.

At this point, you might still be in disbelief. Maybe you’re thinking: “Sure, just 200 people, but still, it seems highly unlikely that even one person would download this scammy looking app, much less pay for it.”

Maybe you wouldn’t download it. I certainly wouldn’t. But I’ve also never clicked on a Google Ad, yet Google somehow rode Adwords to $700bn today.</p>

By the time you read this I expect this app will have been removed from the App Store, because this article was on Daring Fireball, and Apple people read that. But it should prompt a review of subscription apps - especially those racing up the App Store from unknown developers.
apple  scam  appstore 
june 2017 by charlesarthur
A tip for Apple in China: your hunger for revenue may cost you • WSJ
Li Yuan:
<p>Last month, Apple told several Chinese social-networking apps, including the wildly popular messaging platform WeChat , to disable their “tip” functions to comply with App Store rules, according to executives at WeChat and other companies. That function allows users to send authors and other content creators tips, from a few yuan to hundreds, via transfers from mobile-wallet accounts.…

…Some social-networking apps likened Apple’s tactics over the tipping function to arm-twisting. Chief executives at two companies say that Apple told them if they refused to make the change, updated versions of their apps wouldn’t be made available and they could be kicked out of the App Store.

“We don’t charge anything as the platform, but Apple gets 30% for doing nothing,” one of the executives fumed.

The Chinese app developers believe that tipping is different from buying a song or making other virtual purchases: tipping is voluntary and happens after users consume the content, so it’s not a sale but a way to show appreciation.

“The biggest value of tipping is ‘fun’ not ‘money,’” writes freelance search programmer Huo Ju on his widely read tech blog.</p>

Tencent (owner of WeChat) really isn't going to like that. If WeChat withdrew from the App Store, Apple would be sunk in China.
apple  china  tipping  appstore 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
Phil Schiller on App Store upgrade pricing, Amazon Echo-like devices, Swift, and more • NDTV
Kunal Dua:
<p>Gadgets 360: With all the recent changes in the App Store, can developers expect to see upgrade pricing next?

Phill Schiller: The reason we haven’t done it is that it's much more complex than people know, and that's okay, it's our job to think about complex problems, but the App Store has reached so many successful milestones without it because the business model makes sense to customers. And the upgrade model, which I know very well from my days of running many large software programmes, is a model from the shrink-wrapped software days that for some developers is still very important, for most, it’s not really a part of the future we are going.

I think for many developers, subscription model is a better way to, go than try to come up with a list of features, and different pricing for upgrade, versus for new customers. I am not saying it doesn't have value for some developers but for most it doesn’t, so that's the challenge. And if you look at the App Store it would take a lot of engineering to do that and so would be at the expense of other features we can deliver.</p>

And on voice-driven assistants (re Google Home and Amazon Echo specifically: "My mother used to have a saying that if you don't have something nice to say, say nothing at all"):
<p>there's many moments where a voice assistant is really beneficial, but that doesn't mean you'd never want a screen. So the idea of not having a screen, I don't think suits many situations. For example if I'm looking for directions and I'm using Maps, Siri can tell me those directions by voice and that's really convenient but it's even better if I can see that map, and I can see what turns are coming up, and I can see where there is congestion, I understand better my route, and what I'm going to do.

Or, for example, with photography, and one of the most popular reasons for our products is photography now, and photography requires a screen. So the idea of a device without a screen, well it’s not really useful for that whole category of photos that we all share.</p>

Given that some are suggesting Amazon's next iteration of the Echo will have a screen, this could get edgy. Except isn't an Echo with a screen just... a tablet?

The point on pricing has lots of developers quietly agreeing.
apple  amazon  appstore 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
Is the iMessage App Store dying or already dead? • Medium
Adam Howell:
<p>I love the idea of the iMessage App Store. I love Apple’s focus on privacy. I love building on top of an app I use all day everyday. But not only is the iMessage App Store dying —I’m afraid it might already be dead.

Five months in, normal people still have no idea where the iMessage App Store is, how to access it, or how to use it.

Stickers, apps, and store are deeply, excruciatingly buried in iMessage’s confusing UI…

…Using the App Store icon to access the iMessage app drawer doesn’t make sense. I’m guessing Apple did it to highlight the fact that the iMessage App Store was new? But tapping it doesn’t take you to the store — it takes you to either the “Recents” list or to the iMessage sticker or app you most recently used. It’s confused everyone I’ve ever shown it to.</p>

iMessage App Store, TV App Store, Watch App Store - the trick doesn't necessarily repeat. The Mac App Store works, but no developer is calling it a raging success.
imessage  appstore 
march 2017 by charlesarthur
December 2016: There must have been a lot of Fitbit trackers under the Christmas tree • Recode
Ina Fried:
Fitbit may have reason for some holiday cheer.

Its app rose to be No. 1 among free apps on Apple’s iOS app store on [Christmas day] Sunday, suggesting a lot of the company’s fitness trackers were unwrapped on Christmas morning.

Amazon’s Echo also appears to have been popular, with its Alexa app coming in at No. 4.

The other top spots were filled by apps not associated with Christmas presents, such as Snapchat, Super Mario Run and YouTube.</p>

Given that Fitbit just warned of a terrible quarter, with soft sales in Asia and the US, one can determine that position on the App Store on Christmas day is not necessarily an indicator of, well, anything useful.
Fitbit  appstore 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
Overcast trying ads, dark theme now free •
Marco Arment on his podcasting app's business model change:
<p>There’s still money in some software, especially if it helps people get their work done, but the market for most consumer apps is much more like music, video, news, opinion, and web services than traditional indie software: an overwhelming supply of free choices, many of which are great or good enough, making it hard for anyone with a paywall to succeed.

The content industries figured out the solution a long time ago. If 97% of my users can’t or would rather not pay, but they spend substantial time in the app every day, the solution is probably ads.

Ads are the great compromise: money needs to come from somewhere, and the vast majority of people choose free-with-ads over direct payment. Ads need not be a bad thing: when implemented respectfully, all parties can get what they want.

Most podcasts played in Overcast are funded by ads for this reason, and as a podcaster and (occasional) blogger myself, I already make most of my income from ads.</p>

Reminder: about a year ago Arment <a href="">offered one of the first iOS 9 adblockers, Peace</a> (a paid-for app), which he then withdrew on the basis it made him uncomfortable to make money off blocking ads.
appstore  business  ios 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
Exploring the App Store’s top grossing chart • MacStories
Graham Spencer:
<p>Diving in a little deeper, we can see that the IAPs offered range from $0.99, all the way up to $399.99.1 Unsurprisingly, a large proportion of the IAPs are in the $0.99-$19.99 price range. But you'll also notice huge spikes at $99.99, $49.99, and $29.99.

<img src="" width="100%" />

Games dominate the Top 200 Grossing charts, representing an overwhelming majority of 68% of the apps. The next closest is Social Networking at just 11% and comprised mainly of various dating apps. This is followed by Music at 7% (a mix of music streaming and music creation apps) and Entertainment at 5% (a variety of streaming video apps, mostly).

<img src="" width="100%" /></p>

I really hope Spencer was able to do this in an automated fashion. Note that this barely overlaps with the introduction of Pokemon Go. And the $400 IAP? A "forever subscription" to Headspace.
appstore  pricing 
july 2016 by charlesarthur
App Store subscription uncertainty • Daring Fireball
John Gruber points out that Apple VP Phil Schiller saying "any app can be a subscription app" clashes with <a href="">Apple's own marketing material</a>, which says subscription apps "must provide ongoing value":
<p>I don’t think subscription pricing — even if Apple clarified that subscriptions are open to any app, period — is a panacea. There is no perfect way to sell software. The old way — pay up front, then pay for major upgrades in the future — has problems, too, just a different set of problems. If I had my druthers Apple would enable paid upgrades in the App Store(s), but I get the feeling that’s not in the cards. That leaves us with subscriptions.

DF reader Sean Harding framed the problems with subscription pricing well, in a <a href="">short series of tweets</a>:
<p>I think the new stuff is good, but I don’t think it really solves the upgrade pricing problem from a customer standpoint. A sub forces me to effectively always buy the upgrade or stop using even the old version. I don’t dislike subscriptions because I don’t want to pay. I just want freedom to decide if the new features are worth paying for.</p>

That "what if I don't want the new features?" question - and the allied one, "what if the developer of a subscription app falls under a bus" - seems like a new set of teething problems. Alongside paid search, of course.
apple  appstore  business  ios 
june 2016 by charlesarthur
Apple to launch major overhaul of App Store with paid search ads and subscription changes • The Telegraph
Hey, it's by me:
<p>The iPhone maker Apple is revamping its App Store, with a surprise move to introduce paid search ads for apps, as well as a new subscription model and faster reviews before approval.

The move to introduce a single paid ad at the top of search results in the App Store, initially in the US, could prove controversial both with developers and users, who told The Telegraph that they would prefer to see better "organic" search results rather than paid ads.</p>

Every one of the developers (and users) I contacted ahead of the announcement - without saying Apple had anything planned - told me they wanted "better search". None said they wanted paid search ads. Is this Apple getting the disquiet out of the way early? (I think that the principal effect will be to pull revenue from other media - though probably not Facebook, because its targeting is better.)
apple  appstore 
june 2016 by charlesarthur
Life and death in the App Store » The Verge
Casey Newton:
<p>Last month, Apple announced it had paid $40 billion to developers since the App Store opened, saying the store was responsible for "creating and supporting" 1.9 million US jobs. More than half a million iOS developers have created apps; the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference is so popular that tickets have to be distributed via a lottery. "[Apple] made our company," Sykora says. "If Apple didn’t exist, we wouldn’t have a company at all." And the market for apps is growing: between iOS, Android, and smaller platforms, apps could generate $101 billion annually by 2020, according to market research firm App Annie.

But the App Store’s middle class is small and shrinking. And the easy money is gone.

For a time, Pixite was a shining example of the businesses made possible by the app economy. Like thousands of other developers, Pixite’s founders took what had been a side project and turned it into a full-fledged career. But the company’s recent financial problems illustrate a series of powerful shifts in the industry toward consolidation and corporatization.</p>

The death of the middle class here reflects wider changes in the outside world - but with evolution speeded up thousands of times. In passing, this article by Newton, and the interview below by Sam Byford, are two excellent pieces of journalism: as long as they need to be, well-researched, intimate, illuminating.
apps  appstore  business 
march 2016 by charlesarthur
Leaving the Mac App Store » Sketch Blog
<p>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.

We should also add that this move is not a knee-jerk reaction to the recent certificate expiration problems that affected so many Mac App Store customers. However, in light of what happened, we can’t help but feel vindicated in our decision that the Mac App Store is not in our customers’ best interests right now.</p>

The lack of upgrade pricing and trials could burn the Mac App Store to the ground if Apple doesn't listen and act. Sketch could be the first of a stampede if its business isn't hurt by this move - and there's no reason to think it will.
apple  appstore  sketch 
december 2015 by charlesarthur
The Shape of the Apple App Store >> Metakite Software
Charles Perry took data from Marco Arment and fitted them to a power law (Pareto) curve:
I expected a “hockey stick” curve that’s characteristic of power law models, but I didn’t expect one like this. The hockey stick breaks upwards at around position 870 on the US Top Grossing list. With about 1.2 million apps in the App Store at the time the data was collected, that arguably puts 99.93% of apps in the “long tail” of the App Store. The “head” of the App Store, those 870 top grossing apps that make up 0.07% of the App Store population, collect over 40% of the App Store revenue that’s paid out.

<a href=""><img src="" width="100%" /></a>

Luckily, there’s a lot of money to be made in that long tail. At the top of the long tail, in position 871 on the US Top Grossing list, an app still makes over $700 in revenue per day. That’s almost $260,000 per year. Even number 1,908 on the US Top Grossing list makes over $100,000 per year. In fact all apps above number 3,175 on the US Top Grossing list produce enough revenue to at least make its developer the United States household median income for 2014 ($53,891).

Surprising (as in big). I'd like him to take the data that has been released by UsTwo for Monument Valley, and also for <a href="">Unread</a>, and see how well his curve fits. He has <a href="">posted a followup</a> with data from Manual, a camera app. It still looks much the same.
app  business  ios  appstore 
january 2015 by charlesarthur

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