Apple’s 30%, Part 2

August 14th, 2015 by Steve Harris

Update Aug 15 I’ve decided to tweak the price to $59.99 — the next tier down. It looks more appealing than $64.99 and you could argue the Mac App Store provides more particularly in the case of Together, which uses iCloud. The revenue would be the equivalent of Apple taking 16% off the $49.99 price, but that’s now only $2.50 less than when I sell direct, rather than $9.50.

Following my post earlier in the week on how Apple’s 30% cut of all Mac App Store sales is threatening the very existence of this business, I have decided to take action and introduce some transparency to the pricing. If Apple wants a 30% markup on everything they sell through the Mac App Store, that should be obvious.

Together

With immediate effect, Together on the Mac App Store will be $64.99 $59.99 or $49.99 when bought directly from this site. The money I receive will be roughly the same no matter which way the app is purchased, because Apple take 30% and FastSpring, who process my direct sales, only take 8.9%.

There is one crucial difference between the Mac App Store version of Together and the one on my site, which is that Apple only allows apps sold through the Mac App Store to use iCloud, but that is their restriction. It’s for the same reason that I can’t just pull the app from the Mac App Store and sell it direct.

Feeder

Feeder 3 will return to the Mac App Store at some point with the same pricing policy. There won’t be any difference in functionality, discounted upgrades will still be available for all Feeder 2 customers at $24.99, half the full direct price, through this site.

Feedback

I got a little feedback on my previous post. This conversation serves as a very useful illustration of how things have changed:

It’ll be different for everyone, but it’s pretty much true that if you averaged Apple’s whole 30% cut from when the Mac App Store opened in 2011 until the end of the last financial year in April 2015, that’s roughly how much it would be for me every week.

If I remember correctly, Apple only lowered the cost of developer membership to $99 and made Xcode free once it was possible to develop apps for iPhone in 2008; they announced it would be free at WWDC this year. Reinvented Software started in 2004 and I was developing Mac software for years before that anyway. You actually got things like hardware discounts with that too.

The Mac App Store is a great place to discover apps, I would rather not miss out on that. These price changes may impact sales, but right now it’s a case of damned if I do and damned if I don’t. If Apple’s cut changes, Mac App Store prices will be adjusted accordingly.

Thirty Percent

August 10th, 2015 by Steve Harris

When I released Feeder 3 last month, I decided not to make it available on the Mac App Store. Immediately I received an angry email from someone asking why I’d taken Reeder off the Mac App Store, and was it to do with sandboxing, because he thought sandboxing security technology was great. I explained that I didn’t develop Reeder, but Feeder. He apologised and asked if it was because of sandboxing anyway. I said no, that there was no technical reason why the app could not be on the store, but I know it’s not the same for everyone.

As far as Feeder’s own customers are concerned, nobody’s even asked. Feeder is over 10 years old now, long predating the Mac App Store, mostly used by podcasters, but also app developers and people who run web sites, so it’s quite possible many are au fait with all things geek and already know the Mac App Store can be a challenge for developers. Perhaps the 9 month grace period for free upgrades and half-price discounts for everyone else allayed any concerns. Maybe if I was pulling another app the response would be different.

Or maybe not. When it comes to developers and the Mac App Store, it’s hard to say anything new, because little has changed since its launch in 2011. There are longstanding gripes that affect both the iOS and Mac stores, such as long app review times, no upgrade discounts, no way to respond to reviews either privately or publicly, and a severing of the connection between developers and users in general. Then there are the things the iOS App Store has that the Mac version lacks, like a way of mass beta testing apps that rely on Mac App Store-only technology, quite alarming since Apple has offered public betas of OS X for its two most recent releases and iCloud (one example of Mac App Store-only tech) can certainly have issues. For some developers the sandboxing requirement means their apps cannot exist on the store at all, and that’s not to mention apps that get rejected or pulled because… well, just because.

Although in no way exhaustive, that’s still a long list. It’s a shame, because for customers the Mac App Store can be great and there is plenty to like from a developer perspective too, particularly if you don’t already have your own infrastructure: payment processing, taxes handled, downloads provided, automatic updates, no need for license codes, etc. And if your app gets featured that’s better than any advertising or promotion.

But is it worth it?

Apple takes 30% of all sales, whether the app costs $1 or $100. Even though not all my sales go through the App Stores, Apple’s 30% cut far exceeds what I pay the UK government in Income Tax and National Insurance each year, and for that I get things like healthcare, pension, education, transport, emergency services, defence, etc. To think of it another way, if I add up all the money they’ve taken since the store’s launch in 2011, it could pay my rent for almost 7 years.

FastSpring, who process my direct sales, take 8.9%. They don’t promote or review the apps, host downloads and so on, but they do handle things like regional sales taxes and allow the developer to know who their customers are, process refunds, etc. Developers in business before the Mac App Store know firsthand that you can do it cheaper, with more control and flexibility AND provide better service to your customers by selling your apps yourself.

For a niche app like Feeder, which typically only manages to cover the cost of supporting and maintaining it, doesn’t need any Mac App Store-only features like iCloud, would have a slim chance of getting featured and may not even benefit if it did, it hardly makes sense for me to sell it there from a financial perspective… and yet if I don’t, many people might not even know it exists.

This 30% cut is having a devastating effect on me, particularly since Together, my bestselling app, has predominantly moved to Mac App Store sales for iCloud. Consider the irony that I can’t afford to buy the Apple kit I need to develop and test the apps they’re selling. Taking Feeder off the Mac App Store provides slight relief, but I’m running out of ideas.

All things being equal, if Apple had taken 10% of my money over the last few years, I’d have no problem at all. Same if they’d taken 15%. At 20% I’d break even. 30% is killing me.

The trouble is you don’t see it itemised, and even when you think about it you put it down to the cost of doing business, but it wasn’t the cost of doing business before 2011.

It surely doesn’t cost anywhere near $15 for Apple to sell a $50 app on the Mac App Store, and while they should profit, should they really be taking so much that it risks putting independent developers like me out of business? At this rate none of my apps will be sold anywhere, and then everyone concerned loses.

Update Aug 14, 2015 There’s a follow-up to this post here: Apple’s 30%, Part 2

Feeder 3.0 Now Available

July 16th, 2015 by Steve Harris

Feeder Icon Feeder 3.0 is now available with a brand new look, thumbnails and previews in the list, Markdown editing and autosave. Feeder’s library and feeds can now be shared with cloud services such as iCloud Drive and Dropbox, and feeds can be shared with others in a self-contained format that preserves all the publishing settings.

Over the last 10 years, Feeder has proven itself to be one of the best ways to publish RSS feeds and podcasts, and Feeder 3 improves on this in every way, but does so in a way that feels completely familiar.

Feeder 3 Screenshot

New Look

More than just a makeover, Feeder 3’s new design makes finding items and working with your feeds far smoother. The list now shows thumbnails and textual previews for each item for quicker visual identification. Switching between the feed, its items and settings is now easier and designed such that the sidebar can be hidden, saving on space if you only have one or two feeds. Every icon has been redesigned to look just right on today’s OS X.

Improved Editing

The editor also has a new look, and items can be written in Markdown, which will be converted to HTML in the feed, and extends to all editing features where appropriate, such as the Insert Link and Insert Image panels. Like all modern OS X apps, the editor now autosaves, but doesn’t commit those changes to the feed itself until you are ready. Autosave also means Feeder can restore its state, so windows you had open when the app was last quit will reappear when it’s opened again, with all your changes intact.

Share Libraries in the Cloud

It’s now possible to share Feeder’s library with cloud services such as iCloud Drive and Dropbox by placing the library folder in the appropriate location, thanks to a new library format — there is a new Move Library command in the Feeder menu to do that for you. Feeder automatically updates as soon as it detects a change has been made.

Self-Contained Feeds

In addition, Feeder can now save feeds in a self-contained format that contains both the content and settings required to publish it. This makes it easy to send a feed that you’ve already set up to someone else without needing to share your entire library or help them set up publishing from scratch. As with shared libraries, these contain everything apart from your passwords, which are kept securely in your Keychain.

Publishing

Feeder now shows progress in the Publish toolbar button, and clicking this will show more detailed progress in a popover. When a library is being shared with many Macs, only one will publish scheduled feeds, and you can choose which in Feeder’s preferences. It’s now also possible to run an AppleScript, Automator workflow or Unix shell script after publishing has completed to perform additional tasks.

And Much More…

Find and replace all links in a feed, see servers, ping services and blogs together in the new Servers window, and Quick Look previews for attached enclosure files are just some of the many other things in this version.

Just about every part of the app has been tweaked and refined, including the things you don’t see. OS X has moved at a blistering pace over the last few years, Feeder 3 not only brings the app up to date on the surface, but also under the hood to take advantage of Apple’s latest innovations and lay a solid foundation for the future.

See the release notes for a full list of changes and some useful information about them.

Availability

Feeder 3 costs $49.99 for new customers, $24.99 for those upgrading from Feeder 2 and is available exclusively from Reinvented Software. Free upgrades are available for anyone who purchased Feeder 2 after the release of OS X Yosemite on October 16, 2014, regardless of whether they purchased the app through the Mac App Store or directly from Reinvented Software.

Feeder requires OS X 10.10 Yosemite or later. A fully-featured 15-day trial is available to download and try out the new features. Your Feeder 2 library will be preserved should you decide not to upgrade.

With this release, I have decided to stop offering Feeder for sale on the Mac App Store, so can offer the same upgrade deal to all customers, along with the fastest updates and best service I can possibly provide.

Chrome Extension for Together

April 14th, 2015 by Steve Harris

Matt Howell has created a Chrome extension for Together, built on Together’s bookmarklets to import web pages as PDFs, bookmarks or web archives.

Together Chrome Extension screenshot

You can download the extension from the GitHub project page.

Poster and Photos for OS X

April 9th, 2015 by Steve Harris

Now that Apple has released Photos for OS X, it seems a good time to mention that Poster 1.4 and later can work with it to send your photos and videos to Flickr, SmugMug and Facebook (including Facebook pages you administer) using its Share extension.

Post to Poster used in Photos for OS X

Back when OS X Yosemite was released, Poster’s export plugins for iPhoto and Aperture stopped working, causing some upset for Poster users. Apple had previously announced those apps were discontinued and did not add support for Yosemite’s Share extensions to them.

As a brand new app, Photos fully utilises Share extensions. If you have Poster installed, “Post with Poster” will appear in the list of services when you click the Share button. If you don’t see it, click More to enable Post with Poster in System Preferences. Poster’s extension lets you choose an account, then sends the photos to Poster for you to work on as normal.