How Apple’s Mac App Store messes with the app economy

“The Mac App Store has three major issues which Apple needs to address. The first is search. It sucks,” Ron McElfresh writes for McSolo. “Search on MAS is helpful for developers, not for Mac users trying to find the best apps.”

“The second major issue is free trial versions or a way to try an app and pay later if you like it. App developers get around that limitation by creating an additional free trial version with limited functionality. Or, they limit the free app, but put add-on, in-store purchase options with extra features, but for an extra charge,” McElfresh writes. “That’s messed up.”

“The third major issue is the inability to upgrade an app to a new version,” McElfresh writes. “Updates, yes? Upgrades, no. So an app on MAS can be updated from, say, version 1.5.1 to 1.6, but not the typical upgrade route to a full-on version 2.0 with substantially new features.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. All are valid issues that Apple need to stop ignoring. The lack of free trials has left me waiting for price drops on more expensive apps or just ignoring cheaper ones cause I don’t want to pay for something that doesn’t do what I want and/or work as advertised. Due to the majority of app review sites, 148Apps ect, are all corrupt and rate based on how much they’re paid, app visibility is at its all time lowest.
    On a surprising note, search on the Play Store is just as bad, if not worse than the App Store. Search is the only thing Google are good at and they messed it up for their own store

    1. Google has messed up search on their primary search platform as well. Any web site owner can tell you horror stories of trying to figure out how Google lost their way. The promise of natural language search and machine intelligence have been squandered by Google misguided attempts to monetize you & me.

    2. I believe at the WWDC this year they did adress the free trial thing. They said they were going to give that to developers, a way to try an app for free before you buy. They also said they’d give developers the ability to add video clips of the app in action.

      1. Videos are already going live, devs just have to add them. I haven’t checked if it’s the same way Apple handles stills, but you can’t add new content unless you update your app. There were too many scammers submitting an app, then changing the images to someone else’s legitimate app to trick people in to buying it. So it might be a while before everyone has vids up there…

  2. Discovery is horrible on iTunes, the iOS App store, Apple Books and the Mac App store. Maybe the droopy in sales is the inability of browsers to shop and find stuff they like.

    I would like to be able to create an interest profile for Books, video and music that filters out shit I have no interest in. That would eliminate most of the shiteous crap that is actively promoted on iTunes.

    There is a great deal of wonderful movie, TV , Music and Book type content out there on the stores. Finding new stuff is a wretched experience.

  3. The search sucks like a black hole. With over a million apps, there needs to be multiple search fields to narrow things down. If I type in a name and get >300 hits I’m not going to look at each one, I’m going to do without.

    1. They could solve this problem with very little change just by separating out “most relevant and recommended” from “also relevant”.

      That would still allow niche and new applications to be found, but make quick decisions from the top-apps easy too.

  4. I find that search on the Apple website is even worse than the app store.

    Whenever I try to find a useful support article for a problem, I end up doing a web search as the Apple site throws up useless articles from 10 years ago, or stuff that’s hardly even related.

    Search is an area that needs lots of work at Apple, I’m sad to say…

        1. Because Apple has decided everything should work like an electronic etch-a-sketch. I’m an Apple fan but I’m frustrated by their dumbing down of everything. And it has started to have a real world impact – I had to shut off Spotlight because it forced my failure prone 2011 MacBook Pro to run fans all the time – did all the troubleshooting etc. but have many large pdf files and it can’t handle them. Why not let me control the indexing? So now I use another search app. Not good long term direction for Apple.

  5. Also, for non-US users, the review section is badly broken, in that one can only see the reviews from one’s own national store (Switching to the US AppStore and back is possible, but not without totally losing context).
    For smaller countries, the review section lacks statistical significance.
    Since the majority of apps are country-agnostic, one should be able to set a selection of languages that are acceptable for reading. E.g. English + Dutch + French.
    Please, Apple

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