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Upgrade pricing is the App Store’s weakness

Omni Group and Mac App Store Logos

When Apple opened the Mac App Store (2011) it made tracking and downloading software purchases much easier for the consumer, but it created a conundrum for software developers in some areas. In his 2012 Macworld article, “Why developers, customers should be wary of the Mac App Store,” Lex Friedman noted that the store “lacked support for upgrade pricing, limited root access, and banned apps that accessed private APIs (application programming interface-code provided by Apple that developers can use to make their apps) or attempted to tweak elements of the Mac’s interface.” Software companies often post the coveted try-before-you buy versions on their own web sites, because that’s another stumbling block not available in the Mac App Store.

The issue of upgrade pricing for a company’s loyal customers is not so easily resolved. Jeff Gamet at the Mac Observer wrote this week that “Apple has worked to make the Mac and iOS App Stores more friendly for developers and customers, but there are still some big omissions that need to be addressed, like upgrade pricing. Some developers will sell new apps at a discount on the Mac App Store as a workaround for upgrade pricing, which works, but still doesn’t address the underlying problem: upgrade pricing is an industry standard, and it’s a glaring omission at the Mac App Store.”

Jeff details how the creative team at The Omni Group solved their software upgrade management problem by developing a free utility tool called OmniKeyMaster. Their software includes OmniFocus, OnmiGraffle, OmniPlan and OmniOutliner for the Mac.

According to The Omni Group, “OmniKeyMaster finds Omni apps that you’ve purchased from the Mac App Store and offers to generate Omni store licenses for them. Select the licenses you’d like to create from the Ready for Import tab.” Omni uses your name and email address to generate a license for a major update. The Mac Observer further writes that “The upside is that you can take advantage of upgrade pricing. The downside is that Apple’s App Store app on your Mac won’t handle future updates for you.” Omni apps check for updates from within the program, so that you won’t miss any minor updates. What you lose is the convenience that the App Store provides by notifying you of updates, which appears as a red number on your App Store icon in your Dock.

Jeff Gamet’s article sums up the upgrade pricing problem developers put up with from the Mac App Store well and thinks that Omni’s solution is “a clever way to work around a big App Store limitation, but it also underscores a problem developers deal with every day.” He thinks the Mac App Store is remiss in not providing upgrade pricing and calls for Apple to add upgrade pricing to the store.

It is interesting that the users who commented on the the article do not seem to agree with Jeff’s assessment. They seem to think that the omission of upgrade pricing leads to less expensive software. According to AppShopper there are 16,541 Mac apps available in the Mac App Store and I wonder how the developers of those apps feel about the lack of upgrade pricing. What are your thoughts on upgrade pricing?

Fun Tidbits
Wikipedia writes “An update to the Mac App Store for OS X Mountain Lion also introduced an Easter egg in which, if one downloads an app from the Mac App Store and goes to one’s applications folder before the app has finished downloading, one will see the application’s timestamp as “January 24, 1984,” the date the original Macintosh went on sale. This is the first time an Easter egg has appeared in a piece of Apple software since Steve Jobs’ ban on Easter eggs when he returned to lead Apple.”

Wikipedia includes a page on which it lists all the software available for the Macintosh. It’s rather incomplete even though it was updated on August 9, 2013, but it’s not a bad starting point if you seek a particular kind of software.

Related Articles
Omni Group releases OmniKeyMaster OS X app for discounted upgrades of apps bought in the Mac App Store (TUAW)

Mac App Store apps to get subscriptions support in OS X 10.9 Mavericks (TUAW)

Detailed look at pricing an app for the Mac App Store (TUAW)

Mac App Store Overview (TUAW)

Apple’s Mac App Store Opens for Business (Apple PR)

[via The Mac Observer]

Upgrade pricing is the App Store’s weakness originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 30 Aug 2013 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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