Has Apple left the Mac App Store for dead?

“Other than an article last week about another developer dropping out, it’s been quite a long time since we’ve discussed the Mac App Store in any depth,” David Gewirtz reports for ZDNet. “There are a few useful apps available from the Mac App Store, but if you’re going to do anything serious with you Mac, you’re going to go elsewhere for you apps.”

“Where the iOS App Store is the center of the app universe for iOS users, the Mac App Store was an afterthought and a bolt-on that never really took off,” Gewirtz reports. “We don’t have proud press releases from Apple about the success of the Mac App Store, probably because there haven’t been many.”

“In fact, last May, a developer reached #8 on the overall Mac App Store and #1 in the graphics category on the day he launched. Sounds good, until you look at the numbers: on the day he launched, he sold 94 copies of his $4.99 program. That means he made $328 on launch day with a Top Ten app that also topped a major category,” Gewirtz reports. “Mac sales just had their biggest quarter ever. So, Mac sales continue to rise, while Mac App Store sales continue to disappoint. So what’s going on? Is the Mac App Store a bona-fide failure? Has Apple forgotten it? Has Apple given up on it? Or does Apple have something exciting up its sleeve?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It is what it is. Since Mac users can get their software from other sources, it’s not that big a issue for users or, apparently, for Apple.


  1. Brand new Mac users can “rejoice” when they discover that the Mac App Store is filled with overpriced crap. One of the things I can do seriously well with my Mac is frustrate the hell out of myself. Sorry, iOS fits the needs of most people who just surf, email, and connect.

    1. Just add the Mac App store fiasco to the litany of screw ups and mismanagement disasters that Cook has been responsible for during his tenure as CEO of Apple!

      To all the TC apologists, please remember this… Cook has screwed up so much that even the Internet can’t keep track of all his mistakes.

      What does that tell you?


      1. I’ve actually started making a list of the mistakes which I find particularly annoying:

        Changing iWork’s User Interface and reducing functionality

        Taking graphics cards out of the Mac Mini and 13 inch MacBooks

        Switching from Nvidia to AMD

        Making Retina MacBook Pros non-upgradeable

        Releasing buggy versions of OS X as if they were finished products

        I guess you could also include not making the new 4th generation  T.V. 4K-capable.

    2. The problem with the Mac App Store is that it does not allow “Upgrades.” For example, if you buy Screenflow 5 directly from the developer it’s $99, then $30 for an upgrade to Screenflow 6 next year . . . However, if you buy Screenflow 5 from the Mac App Store, you pay $99 now, and next year you pay $99 for Screenflow 6 . . . upgrade pricing is important to serious developers, and the Mac App store needs to figure out a way to implement it.

        1. Look up the term “troll”.
          Longterm Mac users, people used to the inspired genius of Jobs, are now forced to watch a numbers guy like Cook rake in massive profits while actual usability and quality tanks.
          I don’t give a monkey’s how they stack up against PCs, with control of the “whole widget” Apple *should* be doing much better.
          People who expect such are not trolls.

      1. And trials. You gotta get trials!

        I hate buying software that doesn’t work. Reading reviews doesn’t always help.

        Sometimes you say, “I’d like to give that a shot.” But, you don’t want to lose a buck if you find the software doesn’t fit your needs.

  2. There are many positive advantages of buying from the Mac App Store, and when software is available on the App Store, it is worthwhile to obtain there. It would be nice if all software could be gotten there, but not a big deal. All in all, it is exponentially easier to buy software in 2015 than just five years ago.

  3. Seems like once or twice every year a developer screams about something and the Apple centric or broader tech site freak out and it morphs into the ridiculous; like iPad Pro is a failure because there aren’t tons of “pro” level apps available on day one.

  4. When the capability to run apps was added to iOS, Apple was able to tightly control the distribution of iOS apps from the start. But the Mac existed for over two decades without a Mac App Store. Apple could not put that genie back in the bottle without pissing off a lot of people. So it is what it is.

    When I need an app, I would prefer to buy it from the Mac App Store – easy to install on my other computer, easy to update. But I just don’t need new Mac apps very often. I have everything that I need for documents, graphics, video, music, email, etc. Unless I start using my iMac for something new, or a great, new way of doing something that I already do pops up, I don’t need to buy an app. Imagine that…

  5. I look on the app store when I’m app shopping – sometimes there’s specialty stuff there that’s hard to find elsewhere, and sometimes there’s enough customer reviews to help me make a decision – when professional reviews are either lacking or don’t address some of my main concerns and interests in an app.

    And if the deal’s the same from the developer or the store, I’ll still often buy direct from the developer, feeling ISVs – who make our machines useful in ways that matter to us – are often gasping for revenue, and can use the full price more than Apple needs a 30% cut.

    But with the above factors, and so many apps not even on the store, generally end up buying from the developer.

    PS: A small rant about user reviews. First, internet wide, and “verified purchaser” or not, the fact that nearly all products with a good number of reviews invariably have both “best thing ever” and “worst piece of crap imaginable” reviews leads me to believe there’s a whole lot of “reviews gaming” going on by both makers and competitors.

    Second, for software reviews (Mac OS, iOS, Android, Windows, whatever), it would be so much more helpful if the users’ equipment and OS were always specified. As I suspect many of the negative reviews about “won’t run,” etc. are from those using relatively ancient setups.

    My two cents.

    1. Just fyi, You can’t review an app you haven’t bought from the app store. I tried when Boom 2 blew out the speakers of my 11″ MBA, (yes, I was going to bitch) but since I bought the app at a discount as an update from the developer, I was unable to warn other potential victims.

  6. There’s two reasons I rarely buy from the Mac App Store.

    First, there’s no way to try before you buy. The trialware model has been very successful and is my preferred way to obtain new software, There’s no way I’m going to drop more than a few bucks on a piece of software sight unseen.

    Second, once you have the software, updates from the developer are much more timely if you buy direct. The app store makes updating convenient, but each update has to pass through Apple’s review process, meaning that the version available on the store is often one or more revisions behind the current version.


  7. I still strongly recommend that people use the MacApp store for security, integrity, and updates. I check the store first when looking for software.

    I don’t see a whole lot of new software, but I don’t see a whole lot of new software outside the store either.

    This all goes back to Apple thinking everything is Phones and watches right now.

      1. I view applications and programs as the same. Apps tend to be one-trick-ponies. Some are useful but most can be found as a menu item of a “real” application. Even “real” applications are limited by the app store rules. I discovered this by buying an application rather than updating an existing application since both were the same price. Later I noticed certain features were missing. I contacted the developer and was told that his application would not be allowed on the app store unless he removed certain functions. With proof of purchase he sent me a registration key and I grabbed the full version from his site.

        If I see an interesting app, I always go to the developers site to make sure the app store version hasn’t been lobotomized before purchasing. The most important apps I have would never be allowed on the app store.

        1. Apple has always called them Apps.
          MS however has switched from Programs TO Apps.

          you always bash the MAS so it’s not worth arguing with you on the rest of your BS.

          1. I really don’t care what they’re called, but I take exception to the BS remark. Apple has rules that have to be followed in order to get your software in the app store. Some developers disable the functions that Apple disapproves of in order to reach a wider audience but keeps those functions intact on the version they sell on their own sites. You can buy either for the same price. Personally, I prefer the full featured version.

            And yes, I do bash the Mac App store because it caters to the iOS app store mentality of having small, cheap single purpose apps that bombard you with ads for the developer’s other apps and then hound you to rate them. Are there good apps there? Of course! But there are a lot of bad ones too and it’s hard to tell the difference and if you’re really interested, you have to buy to try. There’s no shareware on the app store.

            It’s a good idea for a tightly controlled system like iOS, but the Mac is a different story.

            1. And those restrictions are NOT allowing apps to have deep access to the OS. Keeps MALWARE out of the equation, something you can’t say about non MAS apps.

              Shareware/trial apps, we agree there.
              really the only apps that have ads that spam other apps are the free ones, rarely do paid apps do that. I’ve seen apps not on the MAS have those very ads though..

              I don’t think they can “hound” you with rating the app.. once per update is all that is allowed i think. Just hit no thanks and move on.

              Have you heard of researching an app? if you see an app you remotely think you may be interested in… research it. Simple…

            2. Doing research is never a bad thing, but for these small apps it most often leads nowhere or to opinion sites like Cnet, MacUpdate or right back to the app store. :-/ I prefer try before you buy.

              Software like TinkerTool/TinkerTool System, Cocktail, Onyx, TechToolPro, Disk Warrior, Little Snitch, Scannerz, and tons of other useful software require deep access to the OS to do their jobs, but they tend to be “Old Timers” with well established reputations, and if you get them from the developer’s site, they’re safe (barring stupid things done by the user) but would never be allowed in the MAS.

              Of corse I want my apps to be free of malware or adware (which is why I avoid Cnet and MU), but I also don’t want sanitized versions either, like that graphics program I mentioned elsewhere. Granted, I’ve found some gems in the app store, but that’s the exception rather than the rule.

              If I decide to try a questionable piece of software, I enable Little Snitch, and afterwards run an AV program followed by Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. If I find problems I always have a fresh backup ready.

              Not that a source of software that’s guaranteed free of malware is a bad thing, but I don’t care for the limits put on software and a sane approach to buying software can go a long way in keeping one safe. In 30 years the one time something unpleasant managed to get installed on my machine was some adware included in something I downloaded from MU. In my case, if the MAS disappeared tomorrow, I wouldn’t miss it.

            3. Can’t disagree with you there.

              I’m not a 100% MAS user, I use some of those same apps as well.
              The *only* thing I use MU for is to look for something to do a specific task, and then head to the dev’s site from there. I won’t download anything from them either.

  8. I’ll bet there are not many people on this forum who went to CompUSA, Computer City or Egghead to buy software in a box. Microsoft Word and WordPerfect were $300, games were $50 and up. No such thing as the Internet, just a few BBS’s around and 2400k modems. Quit your bitching, you have it so much better off now than ever before.

  9. Most new Mac users don’t use the App Store because Apple has already included most everything an everyday user needs to work on a Mac. All of these Apple apps are tightly integrated into OS X and iCloud, so there’s little that a typical user needs otherwise.

    1. Too late Josh. The lingo has leaked into and saturated the ‘computer program’ world as well. Every executable is now an ‘app’. That battle for proper semantics and syntax is over and done. But I sympathize with your point.

  10. From the perspective of the cruddy, never-came-out-of-beta App Store application, Apple NEVER took the Mac App Store seriously. Therefore, it’s difficult to think of it as ever having actually been alive to begin with.

    Poorly Done Apple. You’re just proliferating Poorly Done.

    If I can get apps direct from developers instead of the Mac App Store, I always do.
    • They’re updated faster. (No slow boat Apple re-vetting of updates to already approved applications).
    • They’re typically more functional.
    • No having to deal with the clunky, awful, annoying, dysfunctional App Store application designed by a dolt.

  11. There are a lot of shitty apps in the Mac App Store. It is amazing how may paid apps simply do under a GUI things that can be done by command line – and some of them used to be GUI on older versions of OS X.

    As security becomes a bigger and bigger issue the walled garden will become a bigger deal to many consumers and Apple is not wise to let the app store’s reputation west in the wind.

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