Is the Mac App Store Healthy?

Posted by on Aug 17, 2012 in Blog | Tags: , | No Comments

One of the topics during the Reverse Q&A Panel at CocoaConf Columbus last weekend was how people felt about the Mac App Store and selling apps on it. Now that Apple is enforcing the sandbox requirements, some Mac developers have stopped selling on it and others are considering it.

I made the comment that it didn’t seem like a good sign that Lion was still the #1 top paid app in the days leading up to Mountain Lion’s release. Everyone knew it was coming. It seemed hard to believe that lots of people were still paying $30 for Lion, when they could wait a few days, skip it and pay $20 to go directly to Mountain Lion.

Then I noticed something last night that is still essentially true this morning. Apple’s FaceTime app, a 99¢ add-on for Snow Leopard, is still the #8 top paid app (last night it was #7). Since it comes with Lion and Mountain Lion, only 10.6 users should be interested in this app.

I tweeted about it and one response was from @marczak:

True, “normal” people don’t upgrade their OS as often or as fast as geeks, but something still seems not well. Top paid isn’t gross, it’s based on units sold. The Lion and Mountain Lion upgrades have owned the #1 spot since late July 2011. Clearly, many people are upgrading beyond just geeks.

Pages, Keynote and Numbers are #2-4. Let’s assume lots of “normal” people are still on 10.6 and still buying FaceTime. Even more people are buying the entire iWork suite? That doesn’t seem plausible.

Furthermore, I don’t think its ranking can be explained by people not realizing they already have it with Lion or Mountain Lion. If that were true, I’d expect to see a torrent of 1-star reviews from people upset they paid for an old version of an app they already have. I found just one in the first four pages of recent reviews.

Barring Apple manipulating the rankings, which I doubt, the only explanation is that the sales volume in the MAS is just terribly, embarrassingly low.

Is it possible that no one besides Apple is earning significant revenue from the Mac App Store?