Theres no arguing that theres a difference between restrictions in place from the get-go (the iOS App Store), and restrictions retro-fitted over time (the Mac App Store). Thats not to say that the Mac App Store launched without any restrictions; from day one, it lacked support for upgrade pricing, limited root access, and banned apps that accessed private APIs (application programming interfacecode provided by Apple that developers can use to make their apps) or attempted to tweak elements of the Macs interface.
And Arment isnt the only developer who thinks the Mac App Store is, at least in some respects, doomed. The Mac App Store faces a risk of becoming irrelevant, or at the least, far less than dominant, because of Apples failures, Paul Kafasis of Rogue Amoeba told Macworld. Many apps, Kafasis says, including our own, have never entered the store due to the onerous restrictions in place from day one. Airfoil and Audio Hijack Pro are both enormously popular applications which would need to have major features removed in order to fit within the App Store. Castrating our apps is simply not appealing.
Kafasis recognizes the benefits of the Mac App Store: [It] made it easy for developers to sell software, without a lot of overhead. But, he adds, the obstacles to selling software have been shrinking for years& Selling directly is easier than its ever been. The Mac App Store is a nice enough idea now, but it would have been truly revolutionary 20 years ago.
Customers will go where the software is, Kafasis continued, and if the software is only available outside the store, most customers will still find it. And indeed, they did just that for decades before the Mac App Store ever existed.
In fact, Kafasis argues, its possible the store is educating folks as to the existence of third-party software, period, and once new potential customers are aware of that fact, it becomes easier to sell to them anywhere. That may become increasingly important for Rogue Amoeba: Kafasis says the company is working to sandbox Piezo, but that doing so may be impossible. If were unable to do that, well have little choice but to shift Piezo from the Mac App Store to direct sales exclusively.
And as it does for Arment, that sort of uncertainty turns Kafasis off as a customer: For me, when I see an app is only available in the Mac App Store, Im actually less likely to be interested. Will it still be there in 6 months or a year? Will Apple force it to remove functionality? That uncertainty makes me desire a direct version, every time.