Job one for Apple's Phil Schiller: Fix the Mac App Store

Schiller's role is expanding to include responsibility for both of Apple's app stores. The mobile side earned devs $10B last year, while the Mac App Store is losing key software names.

Phil Schiller iPadjpg

Among the Apple corporate reshuffle where it announced a new COO, perhaps the more important change is Phil Schiller's role. Formerly the Worldwide Marketing Manager and occasional front-man for product introductions, Schiller's responsibilities are expanding to include overseeing Apple's software stores for both iOS and Mac OS X.

Thank goodness.

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The iTunes App Store for iOS is in fine shape, having earned $10 billion in revenues for developers last year while Apple has been losing prominent developers on the OS X side for some time.

That's not good when Apple's Mac computer sales are on the rise. It represents a rare break-down for Apple in terms of the hardware - software connection that the company is known for.

Sure, Apple's own apps are optimized for OS X and are beginning to look and feel more like those for iOS. That consistency in user experience is a definite plus.

The problem is that third-party developers are struggling with the store, with issues ranging from lengthy app review times, poor communications from Apple and functionality restrictions that keep some app makers from offering features they want to provide.

Some of them are more than willing to move out of the App Store and guess what: It's not necessarily hurting them.

Panic did just that in October 2014 by pulling its popular Coda app from the Mac App Store and raising the license cost from $79 to $99. It no longer has to provide Apple a 30 percent cut of sales so even though the move hurt total sales figures, the app returned 44 percent more revenue.

Sketch followed suit earlier this month, although it hasn't updated status on what the impact to sales has been. Why did Sketch leave the centralized software store? App reviews taking more than a week and App Store guidelines that prevented the company from adding features it wanted in its software.

Those are common themes I've been hearing from prominent OS X software developers and yet, it appears that Apple hasn't been listening since nothing has changed.

That's where Schiller's opportunity lies: Distilling developer feedback and finding ways to remove obstacles so that app makers can and want to be in Apple's Mac App Store. Restoring relationships and getting key app-makers back into the store would be a positive sign as well, helping to establish greater confidence in the software storefront.

Hopefully, that's job one on Schiller's new task list as his role expands.

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