Apple revamps App Store, may not win over all developers

“Apple Inc announced a series of long-awaited enhancements to its App Store on Wednesday, but the new features may not ease concerns of developers and analysts who say that the App Store model – and the very idea of the single-purpose app – has seen its best days,” Julia Love reports for Reuters.

“The revamped App Store will let developers advertise their wares in search results and give developers a bigger cut of revenues on subscription apps, while Apple said it has already dramatically sped up its app-approval process,” Love reports. “The goal is to sustain the virtuous cycle at the heart of the hugely lucrative iPhone business. Software developers make apps for the iPhone because its customers are willing to pay, and those customers, in turn, pay a premium for the device because it has the best apps.”

“The store is now more strategically important than ever for Apple as sales of the iPhone begin to level off and the company looks to software and services to fill the gap. Apple CEO Tim Cook said on a recent conference call that App Store revenues were up 35 percent over last year,” Love reports. “But the store is also a victim of its own success. Eight years after its launch, it is packed with more than 1.9 million apps, according to analytics firm App Annie, making it almost impossible for developers to find an audience – and increasingly difficult for customers to find what they need, as some 14,000 new apps arrive in the store each week.”

“Meanwhile, rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) could lead to a world where people navigate their phones through voice-controlled digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri, rather than opening individual apps,” Love reports. “Apple may yet find ways to wield AI to reinforce the App Store. The company has already woven more intelligence into its operating system, which now prompts iPhone users to open certain apps during the day based on their habits.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: At the end of the day, search ads or not, the basic issue is discoverability: How do you let each user find their specific needles in the haystack?

Gruber: Apple’s App Store changes likely to spawn slew of professional-caliber iPad apps – June 8, 2016
Apple to reveal App Store 2.0 at WWDC: New subscription model, search ads, and more – June 8, 2016


  1. I’ve collected and redacted a series of comments I’ve made elsewhere here on this subscription thing, especially as a consumer of high-quality music production apps from companies like Korg, Moog, Arturia, Virsyn etc. as well as many smaller developers.

    I apologize for the length of what follows, but I feel very strongly about it. So, here goes 🙂


    I also will not buy subscription apps *EVER* – or desktop applications come to that. I’ll gladly pay for upgrades. So, please, developers, don’t do this.

    I don’t with Pro-Tools. I don’t with desktop FX, (Slate, EastWest) etc. etc. I simply won’t do it. Either I have it and “own” it (no, I know, not own, but have a perpetual license) or I won’t buy it. Period.

    Here’s my bottom line. If an app is sold on a subscription-only basis, it’s a lost sale (to me).

    Developers (I am one too!) we love you. We want to support you. We’d love to see more revenue go your way. We’re not saying we’re “cheap” (we’ve spent $100’s on your apps after all! 🙂 ). We want to find a way to see your income increase. But not subscriptions (only)!

    Now *IF* there’s an option to buy a perpetual license too, then that’s a different matter. I do that currently. And a paid annual update subscription. Or pay outright for upgrades (as in the case of Presonus with Studio One for example). No problem with *that* model.

    If it’s not imposed, if there’s an option, and if there’s a better way to recompense developers for major updates, that’s all good. Of course!

    The bottom line in my reasoning *isn’t* that offering a subscription or rental service *alongside* a perpetual license is bad per se, but if it’s the *only* way of having access to something… No! Having the option to purchase outright is the issue.

    So, again, if an iPad music app *only* offers a subscription in the new model, it would be a non-“purchase” for me.

    I’m not saying there’s not a place for *any* kind of subscription model, as I say I pay an update fee for Pro Tools and Waves. BUT, my applications don’t stop *working* or get withdrawn or the like when those subscriptions run out because I already have a perpetual license for them. If I’d wanted to I could have continued using PT 8 until now. But, I paid for an update to PT 10/11 and got 12 along with it and have paid for updates for another year.

    *However*, if I don’t care to pay that fee after another year, I can carry on using it for as long as I can maintain a working system on which to run it with which it’s compatible. *That’s* the rub here. It doesn’t go away… I “bought” it. It’s “mine” (yes, yes, I bought a perpetual license not the actual IP or code, sure, but that feels no different. If I never open my doors again to anyone or switch the Internet on ever again, I can carry on using it).

    If apps provide both models, then, fine. If it’s subscription only that means an effective renting or it stops somehow, then no. Never.

    My life in my hands here: 🙂 . I say this with some trepidation because I know it’s controversial, and I’m only *here*, by saying this, putting forth a viewpoint. But, here goes. The principle of subscriptions ultimately gets to the issue of the right of ownership of private property, and, yes, fundamentally freedom from some form of servanthood (having to toe the line with strings attached in some way where you are not in control in what is otherwise a “free” situation).

    Consider the tangle of those strings if you have subscriptions to not only 75 iPad apps, but also, 15 different desktop products.

    It also begs the question “What constitutes a product?” (vs. a service – we pay for lots of services by “rental” / subscription – electricity, phones – different animal). These apps are more like products than they are services. One can imagine paying for an online service – such as, e.g. an online CRM tool. You neither host it nor own it – it’s remote. Not yours. But the app is “in your possession” . Of course licensing in general may beg that question too.

    What about your ebooks? You don’t own those either. You may think you do, but various vendors – Amazon, B&N to name but two – have removed books from access by ereaders because of “licensing” issues, when readers *thought* they had purchased them. What’s the difference? Electronics. You don’t *license* a paperback… (or subscribe to it – or a guitar, or a piano…)

    You can’t will apps to your family. You can’t will ebooks to your family. Same with any electronic music libraries you “own”.

    The principle of the right of ownership of private property was in the minds of the founding fathers of the US (and I say this as not a US citizen or taking sides here, but as a student of history 🙂 ). The contrary concept – of there being no right of private property that one owns – could in some circumstances be therefore considered un-American – let alone any other basis of what might be considered fundamental “rights”. (I’m not trying to take sides or be partisan to the US here, just pointing something out).

    Subscription models could be considered in *some* sense a slippery slope into some aspect of a further erosion of that right.

    (And then there’s privacy too… Ongoing having to give account of ones “use” or not of an app in some sense).

    A subscription model, where the model includes updates, implies several things that do not fit into a known value proposition unless there is a contract between the consumer – us – and the developer and against which we can take action if the money is, effectively, taken without fulfillment of that promise.

    1.) Paying for something on a promise when you have no idea when it will get updated unless Apple force the issue and stipulates what the update would comprise – in general terms of course, but some measure of known value.

    2.) Paying for a promised update without any idea whether the value of what you are paying for on that promise will be worth anything to *you*.

    3.) Paying for continuous use of something as though it is a service when it is not.

    Ultimately, it amounts to a form of servitude of the buyer to the seller, who, err, isn’t really selling, but holding you under a gun.

    To assume that Apple will be able to hold the large number of developers in check is a very large assumption – and not the issue in any case.

    The better value proposition is for the seller to produce a quality product to start with, and then offer the update at a known price (which the app store does not currently support doing properly – and should as the means forward IMO). If the update is of value, the consumer will purchase it. *That*’s the incentive for the developer – i.e. to determinedly make something of value to the customer that they are confident the customer will spend more money on, not put the customer under ongoing servitude to them. It’s the cart before the horse and could be said to be trading on a number of wrong premises.

    Other means exist for developers to get funding for new projects: outside investment in them, other product lines, other work. Presonus take this approach, and in general it has been exceedingly well received by their loyal customer base who stump up for the upgrades because they can *see* the value put before them, choose to pay for the upgrade, and do so!

    In my mind it would be disastrous if any of the big players did this. If Korg introduced it for example, and it even hinted at retro-affecting any of their apps, that would be a bad move and cause me to remove them which would be one of the worst things imaginable for my use of iOS as a music platform (not sure how it would or could, but it might – we’ll have to wait and see), but certainly any new apps from Korg that were subscription would be a non-starter. That would be a crying shame…! 🙁

    Same if Arturia did it. Or Moog. Or Cakewalk. Or Virsyn. Or….

    It would greatly, *greatly* diminish my use of an iPad as a creative tool and might even mean an effective end to it being functional.

    It would, I think, only serve to encourage the smaller developers to do the same.

    Now, I’m *hoping* that it won’t be retroactive. But, even if only for new apps, it’d mean no more cash going to those manufacturers moving forward for any apps that were subscription only. Not a dime. Would effectively kill ongoing iOS music making potential as far as new app purchases is concerned for me.

    And, I’ll add this… I’ve been writing software for 36 years. So, not coming at this from a lack of perspective about software development!

    OK. I’m ducking now… 😀

  2. The perceived value of a subscription will vary from person to person. I never considered a music subscription as worthwhile until Apple came out with their service. Being able to cover the whole family for $15 a month is considerably cheaper than the sum of songs we collectively buy. I totally get that we do not own the songs but more of the consumption will be of songs that we would not buy or will get bored of later. Its advantages outweigh the disadvantages by the broad access to the whole library.
    Going back to discovery of apps (remember the topic of this thread). This is a big issue and if I were a developer I would be frustrated. It is very much like music in some ways since a user may like certain types of apps (read games) so adding a favorite button may help identify new apps that may be of interest to the user. However, a user may also want to find a new type of app and that can be challenging especially if the search term brings up thousands of unrelated apps.

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