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Major version upgrades on the Mac app store

I've been considering entering the Mac App Store with a mature existing product, simply to capture anyone who only searches for software in there. I'm a little concerned about the lack of good trial support and annoyed by the 30% cut but I think these things aren't necessarily deal breakers.

The biggest issue I'm wrestling with is paid major version upgrades. Right now I charge 30% for major upgrades and (users who bought in the last x months get it free). In the Mac app store there's no way to charge for major version upgrades. There are various hacks to try and work around this bug none of them are good. They're discussed at length here:

http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/03/op-ed-the-mac-app-store-needs-paid-upgrades/

One option not discussed there is creating a cut down version of the product just for the app store, calling is something like "... MAS Edition" and just accepting the free upgrades forever model on that version. At least then the existing business model can still exist outside the app store and hopefully no-one will get too miffed as long as the products seem different enough.

I know a few people here are in the MAS. I'm wondering how do you deal with this issue?
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Sunday, August 04, 2013
 
 
The emerging consensus among most Mac developers is simply to treat a major upgrade as a new app and withdraw the older one--i.e. version 3.0-3.5 of FooApp gets free updates, and then when FooApp hits version 4, withdraw FooApp 3 and release FooApp 4 as a separate app. This is not only allowed by App Store policies but reflects Apple's own practice, as the recent example of Logic Pro X indicates (http://arstechnica.com/apple/2013/07/apple-announces-logic-pro-x-available-in-app-store-for-199/).

To mitigate the price hit, many developers will often discount the new app for an extended period at pricing equivalent to an upgrade price, but eventually they usually raise the rate.

It's not a perfect solution, but if you depend on upgrade revenue, it's really the only path you can follow and still be in the MAS. Apple is never going to allow straight upgrade pricing.
Kevin Walzer Send private email
Sunday, August 04, 2013
 
 
Another option is to release new features as an in app purchase.
Nick Moore Send private email
Monday, August 05, 2013
 
 
@Kevin

Yes, it's a possibility. The things I don't like about that are:

- Taking the hit on new licenses during that time, just as the app is (potentially) getting publicity because of the new version

- It stops the users of the old version getting bug fixes, and presumably stops them re-downloading the app if they switch computers etc.

@Nick

Correct me if I'm wrong but that sounds like a bit of a coding nightmare, I'd be maintaining the application as it was years ago and making every new feature an optional pathway in the code. I'm sure there are patterns that make this possible but I'm not sure I'm willing to work like that.

For example, if I do a UI overhaul, that's something I'd usually package in with a major version upgrade. I really don't want to keep the old un-tweaked UI handing around in the code.

I'm sure it would work for some though.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Monday, August 05, 2013
 
 
Jonathan,

re. Kevin's suggestion. You actually can remove an old version of an app from sale, but still provide fixes to existing users. You do this by deselecting the app from every country in the Rights and Pricing module.

Now the app still exists for current users but is no longer on sale. I know of developers that do this.
Nick Moore Send private email
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
 
 
On the other point, yes it is a coding nightmare :)

It wouldn't work for app-wide changes but only for specific features. Actually it's probably a terrible idea.
Nick Moore Send private email
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
 
 
Aha! Thanks Nick. That's new knowledge to me & removes an issue. I'll think more about that.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
 
 
I'm working on an app for MAS, which will have an in-app purchase to enable "premium features".

If the user buys the in-app purchase, then they will have access to the premium features for 12 months. After which, they would have to buy the in-app purchase again.

It's a way of getting some reoccurring revenue, as well as a demo of the app in the store (since it will be free in the store to download).

I guess I'll see how we'll it works. I got the idea from the Instapaper iOS app, which has a similar model.
MrShuffles Send private email
Saturday, August 10, 2013
 
 

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