Apple’s Mac App Store is a ghost town

“Sam Soffes, the developer behind the new Redacted for Mac shares the number of downloads that the app had, while being the 8th top paid app in the US and top paid in app in Graphics category,” Stephen Hackett writes for 512 Pixels.

It’s pretty nuts that 59 sales is top paid on the Mac App Store in the US.

“Ouch,” Hackett writes. “I think it may be time for Apple to take a long, hard look at the Mac App Store and either invest in it and woo back developers (and customers) or just shutter the thing.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We barely use the thing. The problem is that it’s an app, among many apps, and we only ever really use it when it pops up after we hit “Software Update” in the Apple Menu. Sometimes, rarely, we launch it to see what’s on there, but it seems, uh… less than vibrant.

For longtime Mac users, the Mac App Store is an afterthought, if it’s thought of at all. It’s like Dashboard. We know, vaguely, that it’s there, but, seriously, who really gives a shit? (Frequent users of Dashboard, please, no need to chime in. Just substitute Dashboard with something you never use on the Mac. You know, like Launchpad.)

New Mac users, do you use the Mac App Store with any regularity?

Related articles:
Dev pulls MplayerX from Mac App Store over sandboxing; Latest of many Mac developers to abandon Apple app distribution – August 21, 2012
Apple’s Mac App Store hits 10,000 apps milestone – April 27, 2012


    1. I use it a lot.
      I typically love to test new software.
      I will find interesting software at macupdate. Apple has no trial software… that i dislike. But App Store does have free.
      If I like an app, I try buying from the app store, why? because, I like auto update and the serial number attached to my apple id so i never need to remember the licence number again.

    2. There’s a major difference between iOS and OS X when it come to “apps.” This is part of the reason for the difference in usage of the app stores. On Mac (and Windows), people typically use a much smaller number of apps. I typically have open and actively use a web browser (Safari), email reader (Mail), and iTunes. And I sometimes play games. I have a lot more apps installed and some may be running in the background, but I don’t USE them actively.

      On iPhone and other mobile devices, there is often a specialized app for every web site (or entity with significant online presence). On my Mac, I just use Safari and go to the web sites like MDN. Or do online shopping. On my iPhone, I use the equivalent app, such as the Amazon app and MDN app. That is the primary reason there is a large difference in usage between the Mac App Store and the iOS App Store. On devices with a small screen and more limited processing power, specialized apps provide a better user experience. On a “full-sized” computer, using a web browser to access web sites is more convenient.

      I don’t install that many new app on my Mac period. It’s not that I’m avoiding the Mac App Store, and getting apps elsewhere. On my iPhone, I regularly try new apps. Even my credit union has its own app. Most of the third-party apps on my iPhone don’t even have a Mac equivalent, because on my Mac, I just use the web site with Safari.

      Gaming is an exception. That’s where the Mac App Store could do better. I’m not a serious gamer, but I tend to use Steam to buy games. The experience is more cohesive, because it’s dedicated to gaming. On the Mac App Store, a game is just another app.

      1. I have Steam as well. What you say makes total sense. I find that I hate having a lot of apps on my Mac, yet tons on my iPhone. I think I trust iPhone apps more, where I am squeamish about desktop apps. Also Mac apps are more expensive, so I tend to run a little leaner that way. I love getting Mac Heists, which is my main source of trying out new things. That too takes away from MAS. If Apple allowed for trial, I think people would spend more there.

    1. “That app in particular looks pretty useless at 4.99.”

      Which, of course, only makes the fact that it’s #8 in the U.S. reinforce Hackett’s and MDN’s contention: “Apple’s Mac App Store is a ghost town.”

      So, as you’ve thus far given no proof for your contention, only against, how is it that MDN is “completely wrong?”

  1. I like that apps purchased through the Mac App Store will automatically notify you of updates. If you purchase elsewhere, you have to rely on notifications from vendor. Also, App Store apps have been cleared by Apple, so no worries about malware. Downside, of course, is that not all best stuff is there, nor is it easy to find stuff you’re interested in that is.

    1. I agree with your assessment. I like the App store except it is hard to find what I want, and major software titles are not available there. The best way Apple could improve it is to recruit major titles, and make it easier to use.

      1. Exactly! I love the automatically updating feature but the major titles don’t put their application there because they thing Apple’s % take is too high. I agree for the big titles.
        Perhaps Apple could take a smaller % on the higher price programs.

      1. For those who were frightened away from the cruddy old versions of MacUpdate Desktop, it is been thoroughly revamped, is much faster, and is very helpful. Whether you want to pay for it, I’ll leave up to you.

        1. What version?

          MU Desktop 6 is a huge step backwards from 5, IMHO. First of all, $20 per year subscription to keep apps updated is ridiculous.

          Any application worth buying has a user preference pane that allows the user to select update reminders at the least. Or you can just do an annual spring cleaning like any good administrator should.

          But, that being said, MacUpdate offers 40k apps, and Apple’s Mac App Store has ~19k. the Mac Appl Store is very poor at searching & discovering apps, and it doesn’t allow a time-limited “try before buy” option.

          It all goes to show that Cook cares more about limited functionality consumer products than he does the Mac platform.

          1. I deliberately stayed away from price and buying it. As for version 5: What a POS that was. I never could get it to work properly. Somehow, I have 6 actually working fine.

            Where do I go every day to look for app updates?
            1) MacUpdate
            2) MajorGeeks Mac

            I have bookmarks for a few others, but I never go there. I totally nuked my bookmark to poor, zombified VersionTracker. Boohoohoo! I still mourn its passing. 😥 curse you CNET!

          2. MacUpdate Desktop 6 is built using modern APIs and had several features version 5 did not, including a) searching in-app to install new apps from MacUpdate and b) installing apps directly from with a single click for free. You can update up to 5 apps per month and instal unlimited apps for free, as well as track and install your purchases from MacUpdate. If you can part with $1.66 a month, we feel that the small price is more than worth the time and energy saved. Unfortunately, we have a 24/7 staff and servers and stuff that cost real money, and unlike Apple, can’t afford a loss leader here. If you have other feedback for MacUpdate Desktop, you can contact our team –

            1. So for people like Derek and I who refuse to update to the sham that is Yosemite, does MacUpdate help users identify the most stable app software versions that are available for their version of OS X?

              There is nothing worse than “upgrading” to a new version of software that has been “optimized” for the latest Mac OS, which breaks what was working just fine on a prior version of OS X.

              If I had it to do all over again, I would have never progressed past OS X 10.6.8. Apple has done nothing but uglify, complicate, and undermine the reliability of OS X since Snow Leopard was superseded.

            2. MacUpdate Desktop will show an alert for apps that requires a newer OS version if you try to install them. In many cases when a developer releases a new version which requires a new OS, we still list the “older” released version that are still available and supported on older OSes. In 99% of the updates we post, developer stop updating older versions once they release a new major version, so if you still with an older OS, you will stop seeing updates that work for you over time.

    2. Agree with your thoughts.
      And yes, as others said, App Store really is hard to locate what you want. Pretty horrible mess of categories. Furthermore, some apps can be seen in two or three categories too.

      1. How’s this for a single, basic, ground breaking feature I’ve hounded Apple to add to the Mac App Store application:

        Being able to sort the applications you’ve bought. Size, date of purchase, alphabetical naming, date of last update… dead basic stuff any database can perform.

        Isn’t that a stunning idea? The Mac Finder has been able to do that since version 1. But that’s far too advanced for the AWFUL Mac App Store application. The mind boggles. Who the frack wrote that cruddy thing?!

        Take note Apple haters: This is when Apple fanatics show their true colors: When Apple screws up, we say so!

        1. Careful when you say stuff like that, as silver surfer will be pasting the troll label on you for daring to criticize Apple with a legitimate complaint.

            1. Whatever, silverhawk1. We’ve all read you lash out repeatedly at anyone and everyone who doesn’t glorify Apple here. Most of your posts are attacks at people, not discussion about the topic. Seldom do you offer any helpful information about anything. You are the worst kind of fanboy and are giving Apple users a bad name. Do us all a favor and stop your shadowboxing.

  2. Whatever. I just bought stuff there yesterday. I don’t see a problem with the Mac App Store. I for one am glad it exist. It helps keeps the apps legit, relatively safe and issues are resolved quickly because of the Mac App Store.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree with you @Jubei. I like having auto updates and only one place to look for those updates. I wish more devs would use the app store… The problems that hold the app store back are the updates take a week to go live (sucks as a user when you’re waiting for a fix), Apple doesn’t let devs move out of the sandbox (only a problem for some software) and the 30% cut.
      I bet this is pretty good advertising for Redacted though… seems pretty useless to anyone with just about any paint app…

  3. Any classic Mac OS users remember “the Launcher”… it shipped with big buttons to launch eWorld and ClarisWorks and… other… stuff? Yeah…. That’s Launchpad now. I don’t use it either. It’s as if Apple was trying to mimic the Start Menu from Windows to entice switchers (default position in bottom left of the Dock), but in a really bad way.

    I can’t say I use the Mac App Store either. I bought a few apps like Coda and Pixelmator, and also some free ones. But many of the purchased apps disappeared after the devs pulled them out of the MAS. Far more lucrative to sell them on their own websites, thus not having to pay Apple anything. Really, who can blame them?

    While some apps probably got much more recognition from being on the MAS then they otherwise would on their own, I just don’t see why it was necessary for an established platform like Mac OS X. Sure it works fine on iOS, but just not for Mac.

    1. Jim the fact that Apple make sure the apps have no viruses or malware is a good reason for MAS.

      Next, users never need to remember their software licences using MAS.

      Updates are typically behind. Yet, usually free.

      The only Apps I have seen disappear, are apps that do not wish to upgrade to Apples Sandboxing or changes to OS X.

      1. The “free updates’ is an unsustainable model for most Mac developers that have depending on upgrade revenue for years – this reason alone is why so many big developers stay away from MAS. It is nice for users, but bad for the Mac community overall.

      2. No viruses, malware, or broken apps may be the one argument I’d agree is good about the MAS. Even though there have been a lot of buggy apps on the MAS too.

        The automatic updates argument is null, because Apple has already provided a method for applications to self update and it’s been used by many apps for years prior to the MAS. You open the app, it tells you there’s an update, you download it (or not), and relaunch. Previous version goes into the Trash. Simple.

        I personally do agree with chadatmacupdate, and look at it from the developer point of view. Free updates are not sustainable, and with no paid upgrades you can’t offer your customers discounts.

        Apple doesn’t have a good method of advertising or allowing trial software. So either a developer…
        1) Releases two separate apps (which is what I hate about the iOS App Store). One that is free, but limited version and one which is the full paid version.
        2) Only puts the paid version on the MAS but force them to go to your website to download a trial (leaving behind the safe, walled garden of the MAS).
        3) Puts the full version up on the MAS and lists it as free, but once you download it you find that it’s only a trial which wants you to purchase a license through the developer.

        Apple also limits marketing and sales information to its developers and places many restrictions on what apps are allowed to do on your Mac.

  4. I use my Mac a lot, more than my iPhone and iPad, but I just don’t have the need for the variety of apps that I like to have on my phone. OS X comes with a good selection of apps for most people’s needs, you have the web, and then there are also a lot of apps that for a variety of reasons aren’t on the App Store. iOS is different, I have over a hundred apps and over the years have installed well over 500, most of which are quite specific in what they do. I would never bother installing a weather app on my Mac for example, purely because I’d use my phone. I have various apps for the underground and transport systems, but I’d never put them on my Mac because I primarily use them when out and about, and there’s no need to double up.

    1. Whilst not expensive, an app like Pixelmator for example is one that I’ve bought on my Mac, am quite happy with and have no reason to shop around and try multiple alternatives. On my phone I’ll spend a small amount on one app, and be quite happy to try a few others. Often I have multiple apps that do a lot of the same things, but there are specific features I like on each and that I use depending on what I want to do. I have 4 calendar apps on my phone, but on my Mac I just use the built in one and most of the time I just look at the monthly view to get an overview. Day to day management I tend to do on my phone – again because often I’m out and about when I want to add something. Before smartphones I used to download a load of software, but by and large my Mac is how I like it, and kind of just ticks over. That’s not a negative, it’s just how it is.

  5. I somehwhat agree and really disagree.

    So I disagree because of these Pros:

    First, I buy apple iTunes gift cards 20% off, so my netflix, my music purchase and my app purchases are automatically 20% off, so I love buying an app on the app store first (unless there is some ludicrous bundle deal like macheist or macupdate).

    Second, I love that whenever I get a new mac, I don’t have to go through all the installs. I just have the app store install all my purchased apps. So much better.

    Third, it installs on all my macs, I basically get a family pack for any app I buy, which is HUGE!

    So where I somewhat agree: and cons:

    First: The app store is too restrictive. Things that lots of mac users have are not on there. iStat menus. Apple considers basically any useful utility not worthy. So thinks like Onyx, and DiskWarrior, and Drive Genius, and Data Rescue. This is just stupid. Stop being an arbiter of taste. If the app is digitally signed, let it be.

    Second, They take too much of a percentage. Dump the take down to 20%, don’t be so greedy here and maybe you’ll get Microsoft Office and Adobe products up on there (yes I know that these are not part of the koolaid loved apps, but they are necessary evils and should be available).

    Third, there is no F*@#$# upgrade mechanism. There is NO f’n excuse that there is no upgrade mechanism this long. Ludicrous!

    Fourth, the navigation, browsing, discovery parts of the app need a serious rethinking. Some human beings to curate this for different types of users. The average user. The power user. The developer. The office borg’d clone. Whatever.

    Overall, I’d really really miss the app store if it went away. You guys are on the hippster-too-cool train here.

    1. True the Mac App Store is there when needed and should not go away. But really after a point app purchases become few and far between once your Mac is set up for whatever uses a user has determined. Most are not constantly looking for new apps to buy. Need, added convenience, new ability or purpose is the driver there. Macupdate does a better job of advertising what apps are out that MIGHT be useful.

    2. The other factor no one seems to be addressing is how often do you actually buy and/or install a new app for your Mac?

      Most of us use a handful of regular apps on our Macs. These apps tend to be very full featured such that we don’t need additional, companion apps. Plus, developers are not required to sell through the Mac App Store, and many do not.

      The opposite is true for iOS, for which most apps do small, targeted tasks, thus you may want several apps rather than one big one as on the Mac. Developers MUST sell only through the App Store, so outside sales require jailbreaking, which very few iOS users do. In addition, iOS is simply a much better and far more popular gaming platform, which makes frequent downloads of new games a popular activity.

      IOW, they’re just different animals wearing similar skins.

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