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Apple's Proposal for its App Store


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#1 Tom

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 07:55 AM

I wanted to ask what those at Accordance thought about the prospect of Apple's announcement for their Mac App Store. I read various commentaries and opinions on it, but not much from actual developers and company spokespeople.

I would love to hear Accordance's initial thoughts (I know its still early to know what the estore will untimely look like). Here are my particular questions:

(1) Are you excited or apprehensive about it?
(2) Do you think it will effect you either profitably or adversely to a large degree?
(3) Do you think you will eventually be selling Accordance through the store? How would updates work then? Trial versions?
(4) What about the guidelines (as they appear to be right now)? Would your application qualify or be disqualifed?
(5) Finally, are you afraid at all about what this "might lead to" as far as Apple and their control and future decisions?

OK, so if not these questions, how about just a quick "off the cuff" thoughs about the Mac App Store?

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#2 Joel Brown

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 10:00 AM

I'd like to preface this entire post by saying that this is in no way representative of anything except my personal thoughts. I'm certainly not a spokesperson, nor have I consulted with others in the company. You just wanted some quick off the cuff thoughts, and these are my personal ones at that.

1) I am very apprehensive about it. I do not feel this is a good direction for computers. Mobile devices are one thing as they are single function, limited configuration, and, frankly, not particularly serious. I've never used my iPhone for serious work, nor would I expect to. I also can't imagine what sort of serious work I'd do on an iPad. My serious work involves programming, design and music. None of those are possible on the iPad, now or in the foreseeable future.
2) The profitability would only possibly come from attracting more users to the Mac as a platform, but I do not think the Mac App Store will do that. The adverse effects, though, are theoretically possible. To answer #3, I do not think Accordance will be on the store, and it is possible some users may use that as an opportunity to attack Accordance or be moved away. I can imagine people creating the principle that they *only* buy things from the Mac App Store.
3) As I said, I am not expecting Accordance to be available on the store. There are a myriad of reasons why. Some are: • No price control. We sell site licenses, discounts, upgrades, coupons, etc. None of those are possible within the store. One price, thats it. You can go on sale and such, but you can't tailor your price to different situations. • No content control. From my understanding of Apple's guidelines, this store has even stricter standards than the iOS App Store. They stated explicitly in the Mac App Store that programs that involve additional content (read: modules) are not allowed. • A 30% cut is very large compared to 0%. We do not primarily sell boxed versions. For the developers that focus on that, 30% seems reasonable as it is less than the cut of reseller + distributor + packaging, etc. For us, primarily digital already and moving even more so, 30% becomes a significant portion.
4) As I stated, I'm not certain we would even qualify as the primary point of Accordance are the resources you own, not the app.
5) I am quite concerned with the direction of the Mac. This last keynote was the only one that I can ever recall being disgusted with. Not a single thing was appealing, and in many times was very disappointing or upsetting. Lion looks quite poor to me, and the 'bringing back' of iOS features to the Mac seems also like a poor idea. The Mac was all about creativity and control for so many years. It brought some of the best developers to the platform. Now, Apple's biggest marketshare is in a walled community, and Lion brings walled markets to the remaining chunk. Of course, right now nobody *has* to sell in the store, but who's to say how long this keeps going? Money is what makes the world go round. The success of iOS convinces Apple that something is right about it, so they will take these emulated ideas elsewhere. Of course, to me, they completely fail to see the reasons iOS is successful. I have an iOS device because the UI is consistent and intuitive. I think the iPad is a great device because of how it is built technologically and some of the apps available. Nothing about Apple's control over the market is what made iOS devices popular, and I am afraid that bringing that back to the Mac will hurt the Mac, not help it. Oh, and I haven't even mentioned how bad of an idea it is to be putting DRMmed applications on the mac in such a centralized or 'popular' manner.
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#3 R. Mansfield

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 01:59 PM

If I'm correct, the restriction of custom APIs would exclude Accordance. It also excludes Microsoft Office apps and all the Adobe Creative Suite apps. I don't see Microsoft or Adobe kowtowing to Apple's demands just so they can get in the Mac App Store. They don't need the Mac App Store. And Apple's not going to do anything to keep Office or Creative Suite off the Mac, because for better or worse, these apps are essential for the Mac's survival (you'll notice that Apple isn't releasing a new iWork rev along with iLife because it doesn't want to interfere with Microsoft's Office 2011 launch this week). We'll see the new iWork next year.

All that to say, I'm confident that the Mac App Store will never be the only way for software to get on one's Mac. Thus it won't ever be an issue for Accordance.

Edited by R. Mansfield, 24 October 2010 - 02:00 PM.

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#4 Robb Brunansky

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 07:07 PM

Joel,

I completely agree with you about the preview of Lion. None of those features are compelling for me to upgrade. In fact, I'm not sure I would prefer them over how SL works. I have to think there are many new features they don't want to tip off this early in the game since MS still has not said anything about Windows 8, but at this point, I'm wondering if the glory days of OS X are over. I hope not, but I share your concerns.

As far as the app store, I think it's more of a way for games, simple apps, or obscure developers to get publicity, but I don't think they envision it as a one stop for all software needs. At some point, I have to think we'll see the end of physical media for installation, and maybe Apple is trying to jump ahead of that curve. As long as Apple doesn't lock down OS X, I think it's a minimal concern, and with the recent upgrades in Accordance 9, Accordance already offers the benefits that the Mac App store would theoretically provide, and then some.
Soli Deo Gloria,
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#5 Joe Weaks

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 01:22 AM

Always with you it cannot be done.

It would be foolish to not try and get an Accordance bundle onto the Mac App Store if at all possible—perhaps just the app with some open source modules. The app store very well could become a huge success, which would spark new interest in discovering niche apps within new market segments; and rejecting the endeavour on ideology would be leaving money on the table. It doesn't take a degree in Marketing (which I have), to realize the significance of new market penetration. You won't find a partner if you never show up to the dance.
Perhaps something will disqualify the app. Hard to believe it'll be on grounds of "new content", since any ebook reader requires you to buy new books, and how is Accordance different than a proprietary format ebook reader in the eyes of Apple? Maybe it will not be possible, but in my opinion, it's worth exploring every possibility.

As for the hate on the Lion features: Little premature there, since so little was revealed about the next iteration. So you don't like some iOS interface options being added, so what. Don't use them. OSX has seen the addition of Spotlight, Dashboard, Exposé, Spaces, Services, Gestures, all as new interface options, and I don't really use any of them. Me and my trackball and my scripts have been plugging along happily through it all. I doubt I'll be using the App Launcher or the Command Center either. But I may always be surprised. You know who knows more about this stuff than us? Several folks in Cupertino. :)
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#6 Joel Brown

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 01:40 AM

As with all things, it is a matter of weighing the cost vs. the benefit. I don't speak for the company in this, so who knows what direction Accordance will end up doing with the Mac Store. But, if I see an identical market (same platform!), limited capabilities, and a 30% cut, that seems to right now be a bigger cost than benefit. Just cause an avenue is theoretically possible doesn't mean its wise to invest.

Regarding Lion, if all I did was open and close folders, sure I wouldn't hate the new features, I would just not use them. But, now, as an example, they have taken a fantastic feature (Expose), and steadily made it worse in each iteration. Snow Leopard (IIRC) brought standardization of the window sizes, so now I can't identify by spacial size, only by name or shrunken appearances. Now, Lion makes it even worse by taking up screenspace with these fullscreen apps and grouping windows by app, so I have to remember and find the app first. It is now a two step process and even less intuitive. Every other feature brings the OS in a direction I do not want it to go, so it is a dislike more in terms of a sign of whats to come and Apple's goals than the feature adversely affecting me right now. Apple is very consistent about deprecating features that are now replaced (in their eyes) by something different. Perhaps their support for installers or applications elsewhere starts to diminish due to the presence of the Mac App Store. Who knows if that will happen at this point or not, but that is an example of a feature I don't have to use (App Store) adversely affecting other features I do use (applications).
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#7 Timothy Jenney

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 06:56 AM

As with all things, it is a matter of weighing the cost vs. the benefit. I don't speak for the company in this, so who knows what direction Accordance will end up doing with the Mac Store. But, if I see an identical market (same platform!), limited capabilities, and a 30% cut, that seems to right now be a bigger cost than benefit. Just cause an avenue is theoretically possible doesn't mean its wise to invest.


Personally, I'd like to see our Intro levels available for purchase in the new app store. Alternately, perhaps something akin to a set of "Starter modules." I keep running across people who don't know about Accordance. I think this would be a good way to market our program—despite the fact that we'd take a real hit on that first purchase.

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#8 RobM

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 11:55 AM

4) As I stated, I'm not certain we would even qualify as the primary point of Accordance are the resources you own, not the app.


I think Accordance could qualify. Bible Reader qualifies and they don't sell any of their additional modules through the App Store. While a 30% cut on what you sell through the store is a hit to profit margin, 30% of $69 dollars for the program and starter package is a pretty small price to pay to win a new customer who didn't know Accordance existed... and these customers will likely turn around and spend hundreds of dollars on add-on modules through Accordancebible.com (similar to Bible Reader customers).

Edited by RobM, 25 October 2010 - 11:56 AM.


#9 R. Mansfield

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 02:08 PM

Always with you it cannot be done.


Nice quote, Yoda.

Look, the Mac app store is going to be great for smaller developers and developers of single purpose Mac applications--especially if they are apps that have been created in recent years. Think MarsEdit, RapidWeaver, etc.

It will be much more difficult for complex applications and applications that have older code to qualify. Look at some of the restrictions that the Mac App Store won't allow would directly affect Accordance (from the PCWorld article: "The Mac App Store: The Devil Will Be in the Details"):

  • Software that use private APIs (application programming interfaces) = How much of Accordance's customized code built over the years would be affected by this?
  • Beta, demo, trial, or test versions of software = The Accordance engine would have to be given away for free for this to work.
  • Software that downloads or installs "additional code or resources to add functionality or change their primary purpose" = No adding on of modules or specialized parts of the program like the Atlas or Timeline.
  • Software that uses its own license or copy protection = This is built into most of the Accordance modules. If you don't have a license key for a particular title, you cannot use it.
  • Software that has its own update mechanism-all updates must be distributed through the App Store = So much for Accordance Updater and Easy Install.
  • Apps that use deprecated or optionally installed technologies = This means that an application has to be Intel-only. So much for PowerPC backwards compatibility.
  • Programs that don't comply with Apple's Human Interface Guidelines = Some of the customized interface elements in Accordance, while improvements upon Apple's guidelines, wouldn't meet the requirements.
  • Software that lets you purchase or unlock features or add-ons outside the App Store = no more buying software from the Accordance website and installing it through Easy Install.
  • Apps that rapidly drain a product's battery or generate excessive heat = Wait...this won't affect Accordance--just Logos for Mac.
For Accordance to meet those restrictions above (with the exception of the last one), Oak Tree would have to essentially create a brand new product from the ground up. If they had all the time and resources in the world, that might not be a bad idea, but I don't see how it would be feasible. It's not any more feasible for Microsoft or Adobe either as I don't see MS Office of Adobe Creative Suite meeting those guidelines either. And I guarantee you with Logos' software, ported from .NET in Windows and running in Mono on the Mac, there's no way it's going to make it into the Mac App Store.

And let's say that some of the interface issues weren't issues, I don't see how a company like Oak Tree would be able to sell it's product in both the App Store AND from its own website. It will be interesting to see how this plays out with other programs, but it seems to me that once you turn over things like all updates coming through the App store, there's no going back to selling it through other venues, too.

Rick Mansfield

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#10 danzac

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 02:11 PM

I personally thought the app store idea was a great one. A nice central place for Mac apps and reviews, etc., will be great. And the auto-updates would be cool too. I'm with Dr. J — an entry level Accordance app should definitely go on the app store.

I also like "mission control". I loved the idea of spaces but never used it, same with dashboard. I think I will once Lion comes.

#11 Matthew Johnson

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 12:50 PM

Personally, I'd like to see our Intro levels available for purchase in the new app store. Alternately, perhaps something akin to a set of "Starter modules." I keep running across people who don't know about Accordance. I think this would be a good way to market our program—despite the fact that we'd take a real hit on that first purchase.


This is what I was thinking before I got to your post in this thread. Logos has the same issue with modules, pricing, etc. Putting out a cheap, entry level app in the app store will be a great way to entice people into moving outside the app store to buying full versions from Accordance. It's hands down the best Bible software out there and making it easier for people to experience that should be great for Accordance.

#12 A. Smith

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 04:46 PM

I am not a developer and cannot een comment on what may or may not be involved in the app store, but regarding 10.7 as a whole, I think it's brilliant. The iPhone/Pad/Pod os apples largest market and many users are coming to Mac based on their experience with these devices. By bringing the best of iOS to OS X they are improving the transition experience of their new customers (who undoubtedly come from Windiws).. Also, while I came to mac under 10.4, when I got an iPhone, I fell in love with multitouch and many other features. I for one think these changes are great! I'm always for a streamlined, more intuitive experience and 10.7 seems to go in that direction.
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#13 Alex H.

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 06:24 PM

Apple is a very consumer-focused company and the Mac App Store seems to me to be a win for consumers. Not sure how that plays out for devs though, and I hear the fear. Guess time will tell all around.

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