Setapp, a monthly subscription to Mac apps, could hint at Apple’s future

“It’s less than 2 years old, but Setapp — a monthly subscription service to Mac apps — has been called the ‘Netflix of apps,’ credited with ‘filling a hole that needs to be filled,'” Anita Balakrishnan reports for CNBC. “Compared to Apple’s 1.3 billion active devices, Setapp’s reach is miniscule: It has 17,000 paid users and recurring revenue of $1.5 million. But those who use the service can’t stop talking it up. In fact, the previous owner of Setapp’s Twitter handle accepted a lifetime membership in lieu of payment. Setapp has also received kudos from Product Hunt and SXSW.”

“Setapp is gaining steam at a time when Apple’s future is increasingly in subscriptions, education and enterprise, three areas where Setapp thrives,” Balakrishnan reports. “The subscription service also supplements an area where some people think Apple is lacking — MacOS.”

“Setapp’s rave reviews and its different way of thinking about apps as a bundle could be a map to Apple’s future plans, as the company tries to double its software and services sales by 2020,” Balakrishnan reports. “For $9.99 a month, users get access to Setapp’s catalog of apps, which includes everything from file organization apps to translation apps and study aids for the periodic table of elements. You might have to pay thousands to buy any of these apps on their own, but for the flat monthly fee, you can access as many as you want through the Setapp icon on your Mac. There are no in-app purchases, paid upgrades or ads, and all the apps included are fully updated. The only catch? Stop paying the subscription, and the apps stop working.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As per “Apple Prime:”

We’d really like to see a way to pay for all of the Apple services we choose for one price. Give us a bunch of tick boxes and let us choose our combination of iCloud storage, Apple Music, iTunes Match, etc. and let us pay a single price for all of our choices.MacDailyNews, October 17, 2016

Analyst: Apple should mix hardware and services into ‘Apple Prime’ subscription – February 5, 2018
Survey finds Mac developers continue to be unhappy with Apple’s Mac App Store – June 15, 2017
Macworld’s hands on with Setapp: Getting started with the Netflix of Mac apps – January 25, 2017
Mac App Store alternative: MacPaw’s Setapp service offers a suite of Mac software for $9.99 per month – January 25, 2017

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. “… You might have to pay thousands to buy any of these apps on their own, but for the flat monthly fee, you can access as many as you want through the Setapp icon on your Mac. ..”

    I took a look at Setapp yesterday coincidentally. The few apps I saw were the typical small discrete single-purpose types you find on Apple’s App Store(s) now. Desktop organizers, task managers, calculators, yet another word processor and so on.

    Not a single one of them would be worth $100 let alone thousands. I’ve got some old stuff around I’d like to sell the author based on his judgment of value.

    The model might fit the coming iPad world better. I expect more from Mac apps though.

    And therein lies a deeper problem. Have you noticed that with the advent of cloud-based services, most modern serious applications are being built for the web? From accounting to zoology, comprehensive applications are being turned into cloud services. Not “apps” built for a single platform.

    Seemed to happen right around the time that “applicaitons” became “apps.” Little, generally useless applications became apps. Large significant engineering efforts are becoming services.

    Once an application becomes an online service it can be marketed to anyone. I am looking into law office management and such software for the Mac doesn’t really exist and what does and what is being developed is for the web now.

    Lawyers looking to run their office on Macs have to choose from a smattering of “apps” from the app store to get their work done. I would like to say that “apps” fit together like legos, but most have no idea there are any other apps in the world. They operate in their own little secure but functionally isolated sandboxes.

    It really is time to re-imagine the entire app+document model.

    All of this, of course, harkens back to the end of the desktop and the rise of the mobile device. This is exactly what using an iPad is like.

    There are apps I like, almost anything from the Omni Group, for instance. Pixelmator and Infinity Designer are great. MindNode is another, but the vast majority of tools on my Mac are no longer creative, but tools for network management and security.

    The people who use setapp tend to be the same people who install MacCleaner to make their computers run faster, and there are a lot of those people. So maybe it’s a good idea, once again, for the 80%.

    Just seems to be another step toward the computer evolving into the information appliance or data pocket knife to me.

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