There's a small but growing trend in the Mac App Store: Developers are starting to pull their software and sell directly to customers.
The latest of these is Sketch, which announced the news on Tuesday. Panic did the same with its Coda app in October of 2014, saying earlier this year, the move didn't significantly hurt sales, even after the software price jumped from $79 in the App Store to $99. Indeed, Panic sold fewer licenses but revenues rose 44 percent after going the direct sales route.
That's because apps sold outside the Mac App Store don't have to pay Apple its 30 percent standard cut, putting more revenue per sale in the developer's pocket.
But increased revenues aren't the reason that developers are making the change according to Sketch. The problem is with the Mac App Store in general that Apple hasn't addressed:
"There are a number of reasons for Sketch leaving the Mac App Store-many of which in isolation wouldn't cause us huge concern. However as with all gripes, when compounded they make it hard to justify staying: App Review continues to take at least a week, there are technical limitations imposed by the Mac App Store guidelines (sandboxing and so on) that limit some of the features we want to bring to Sketch, and upgrade pricing remains unavailable."
On it's blog, Sketch says its decision wan't impacted by the recent certificate expiration issues that recently affected Apple's Mac App Store.
While the Mac App Store is Apple's do as it sees fit, at some point, it's going to have to address developer concerns from Sketch, Panic and others. Otherwise it runs the risk of losing the control it has by owning and managing the centralized software repository, which could hurt revenues and give the company a black eye with users.
Software upgrade pricing changes ought to be the easiest first step and one that both developers and consumers will appreciate. There's simply no reason to require full license costs of long-time software supporters; particularly when developers want to reward their current user-base.
The app review process surely needs to be sped up as well; especially for apps that have long been a part of the App Store. There should be a certain amount of trust between Apple and developers that have had a lengthy relationship at this point.
As far as Apple's technical limitations go, the company should at least consider some additional open dialog with developers - even if it's behind closed doors out of the public's sight - to explain why they exist and what, if anything, Apple plans to change.
That's the problem with complete control of an application ecosystem without acting on or responding to feedback from the developers that have greatly helped to build it up: Annoy them and they'll eventually find other options, especially if they can make more money for their efforts by doing so.