Developer interest in Mac is waning, study suggests

Posted:
in macOS edited September 2021
New estimates suggest developers are losing interest in releasing new apps on the Mac App Store, with new releases per month down to below 300 titles in June and July.

AppFigures


According to metrics gathered by AppFigures, the average number of new Mac App Store releases hovered at 343 apps per month so far in 2021. That compares to an average of 392 apps per month across 2020.

AppFigures forecasts releases to drop to the low 200s in August.

It should be noted that Apple does not provide exact App Store metrics for either iOS or macOS, meaning analysis of the online marketplace relies on estimates. That said, the iOS version of the App Store is known to be much more popular with developers, with Apple last year saying it receives more than 100,000 apps or app updates for review per week.

The publication does not speculate on the reason behind the reportedly lower Mac App Store submission rate, though it could be chalked up to Mac's relatively low segment penetration. According to the latest estimates from IDC, Apple shipped 6.2 million Macs in the second quarter of 2021 to take a 7.4% share of a growing PC market.

Also of note, Apple allows users to download and install Mac apps from other platforms, including the web. The company's mobile operating system is, at least for now, a virtually closed environment.

The AppFigures estimates were spotted by 9to5Mac on Tuesday.

The situation could change going forward. Apple is well on its way to transitioning Mac to Apple Silicon, a shift that could bode well for the Mac App Store. The move to ARM-based M-series processors on Mac means developers can -- with a little help from Xcode -- simultaneously code for both Mac and iOS with relative ease. So far, however, only a few iOS developers have brought their wares to macOS.

Apple's Mac App Store launched 10 years ago in January 2011, about two and a half years after its iOS counterpart.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    Not sure that diminishing App Store submissions directly correlates to diminishing Mac development. Given a choice between buying from the App Store and going direct to the developers’ stores, I nearly always choose the later. While there’s a certain convenience to the App Store, I also know that many of the developers I buy from will release updates with discounted upgrades, something that’s more difficult to offer when buying through the App Store. In fact, I honestly can’t remember the last time I purchased software without going direct to the publisher.

    Maybe my buying habits are unique? I suspect many others feel the same, which means there may not be a lot of incentive for developers to publish through the App Store, especially considering some of the limitations Apple imposes on apps distributed that way (notwithstanding the exception in that iCloud-enabled apps must be distributed that way).
    Pascalxxfirelock
  • Reply 2 of 20
    Not sure that diminishing App Store submissions directly correlates to diminishing Mac development.
    Agree. As the Mac moves from Intel to M1, new app developers presumably want to focus on M1 and want a large enough installed base of M1 Macs to justify their effort. Seems too iOS developers will begin the work of making their iOS apps available on Mac App Store when that M1 base is worth it. Maybe the calm before… maybe not a storm.. but a beefy rain at least.
    TheObannonFileforgot username
  • Reply 3 of 20
    imatimat Posts: 201member
    Maybe Apple itself could lead the way by showing more integration. I, for one, run quite often and would like a simple way to view my activities, Health info and the like on the bigger screen of a Mac.

    Also, the change in processor, with only 1 model of new CPU available makes it a bad time to develop for Mac. I suspect, once the transition is complete, there will be more interest in developing for the Mac. Of course, the apps one needs on a Mac are less and more specific to the platform than the ones available for iOS devices. More often than not, the Apps for iOS are some sort of version of the website. Think banking. On iOS you have apps for most major banks, whereas on the Mac you simply go on the bank's website (correctly or not, from a security point of view, that's what happens).

    So yes, I think it is normal in a transition period and, moreover, Mac Apps are much more specialistic, most of the time.
    opinionTheObannonFileviclauyyc
  • Reply 4 of 20
    COVID-19 and the M1 could be additional reasons why submissions are down 15%.
    maltz
  • Reply 5 of 20
    Apple should do more to help all of us Mac users to be allowed to work on our workplaces on Macs too. As it is now in too many places it´s either a no Mac policy or you have to fight really hard to be able to use one on your workplace. Some exceptions of places prefer you to work on a Mac or let you choose to. I guess developing for Mac would be more relevant if Macs were more common in workplaces.
  • Reply 6 of 20
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    The point of using a Mac over say an iPad Pro is that you’re not within a jailed environment. But Mac AppStore have similar restrictions als iOS apps, so obviously the most interesting Mac apps cannot possibly sold on the AppStore, as they provide functionality not allowed for AppStore apps.

    Also, it’s a mature market: relevant and interesting niches are long covered by established players. It’s not like on iOS where most apps a silly wrappers around corporate web sites or trivial mobile games.

    In short: the publishing of these numbers are meaningless clickbait or the attempt by competition to tarnish Apple’s image, it’s well known enough that the entire PC industry is shitting their collective pants due to Apple’s own silicon advantage.
    TheObannonFile
  • Reply 7 of 20
    Not sure that diminishing App Store submissions directly correlates to diminishing Mac development. Given a choice between buying from the App Store and going direct to the developers’ stores, I nearly always choose the later. While there’s a certain convenience to the App Store, I also know that many of the developers I buy from will release updates with discounted upgrades, something that’s more difficult to offer when buying through the App Store. In fact, I honestly can’t remember the last time I purchased software without going direct to the publisher.

    Maybe my buying habits are unique? I suspect many others feel the same, which means there may not be a lot of incentive for developers to publish through the App Store, especially considering some of the limitations Apple imposes on apps distributed that way (notwithstanding the exception in that iCloud-enabled apps must be distributed that way).
    True, I love the Mac, but I rarely ever use the Mac App Store. In fact, some of the most useful apps are not available on the App Store (e.g. Carbon Copy Cloner, dBpoweramp).

    opinion said:
    Apple should do more to help all of us Mac users to be allowed to work on our workplaces on Macs too. As it is now in too many places it´s either a no Mac policy or you have to fight really hard to be able to use one on your workplace. Some exceptions of places prefer you to work on a Mac or let you choose to. I guess developing for Mac would be more relevant if Macs were more common in workplaces.
    I wish my organization offered the choice to work on Mac, but IT doesn’t want to support two systems (Windows and Mac) and once they chose Windows it’s unrealistic to replace 1000s of devices. I can’t see what Apple could do here, though.
  • Reply 8 of 20
    Pascalxx said:
    I wish my organization offered the choice to work on Mac, but IT doesn’t want to support two systems (Windows and Mac) and once they chose Windows it’s unrealistic to replace 1000s of devices. I can’t see what Apple could do here, though.
    I know what you mean but if the IT departments can support thousands of Windows installations I am sure supporting Macs too would, in comparison, not be much of hassle (and those thousands of Windows PC:s are most certainly going to be replaced soon anyway since I have seen that Windows based PC:s simply gets outdated faster than Macs). There are tools both from Apple and third party to ease management of Macs too. But what you say is kind of the head on the nail and I mean that Apple are so good at promoting things that I am somewhat puzzled that they don´t do more about this issue and simply let the IT departments know that it´s not such a hassle to support and manage Macs too. And on top of that make a big campaign in style of something like: "Hey Mac user - here´s what to do if your IT department won´t allow you to use a Mac..." and "Hey IT-department - here´s what to do if your collegues want to use Macs...". Show the solutions, give examples, push it out, let people know instead of letting old "truths", group think, bad knowledge and simple arrogance stand in the way.
    edited September 2021
  • Reply 9 of 20
    Developer interest in Mac is waning, study suggests”

    That is not at all what the study suggests. The study suggests developer interest in the Mac App Store is waning. The Mac App Store is not the Mac. 
    tokyojimu
  • Reply 10 of 20
    This article does seem to be drawing a conclusion from estimated data and largely unknown causative variables. This is of course a rumor site so speculation should be expected. Still, ‘waning developer interest’ seems like an overly broad claim to base on the vague evidence that’s presented. Are we just filling space, or hoping to momentarily cause a dip in the stock price to create a “buy” opportunity?
    edited September 2021 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 11 of 20
    I don't know many however the developers I have asked seem worn out with the rate of macOS, iOS and WatchOS changes consuming time from dedicated app feature development...
  • Reply 12 of 20
    It's just not an exciting new platform for apps any more. Early on we (developers) thought iOS had almost unlimited potential for groundbreaking new apps. At first that was true but over time Apple placed crushing restrictions on what apps could allow users to do. Eventually even basic things like scanning your home network for devices and identifying them by their mac address was eliminated by Apple's draconian security measures because they were concerned about their misuse. Of course we have since learned that Apple never actually cared at all about user privacy. These restrictive policies now starting to have their predicted effect: They are costing Apple billions of dollars as both developers and customers flee the platform for other more exciting technology. Note that this does not mean "let's all go Android". Other technology includes things like unbelievably powerful GPUs and $50 Raspberry PIs neither of which have any restrictions on what code you can run on them (other than NVIDIA's failed attempt to stop cryptomining on their gaming GPUs).
  • Reply 13 of 20
    thttht Posts: 4,498member
    It's all but inevitable that vast majority of app development will be using web technologies. With computer architectures becoming more heterogenous, well, ARM and x86, and computer platforms becoming more heterogenous, such as Windows, Linux, iOS, macOS, ChromeOS, it drives app development to the browser. That's inherently a good thing.

    It will drive native app development down. This is one of Gruber's big fears where developers will use Electron or other non-native API rather than native macOS APIs, resulting in apps not using macOS GUI idioms. So he knows it, fears it, and should be hitting the acceptance stage soon.

    For the macOS app store, its doesn't have enough customers, or enough customers buying. It's been a problem from the beginning. It is not going to be fixed until Apple quadruples down by becoming a game studio, publishes killer apps on of its own, etc. Apple has been very hesitant to develop apps and games of their own. The only way these digital retail stores survive is to have a keystone set of apps to drive customers there. Big 3rd party app markers just aren't going to use the Mac app store as long as they have direct downloads.

    The only recourse, and it's been this way from the beginning, is to have Apple branded killer apps and games. As long as they don't do that, the Mac app store is just a side show.

    Lots of forces working against it.
  • Reply 14 of 20
    Pascalxx said:
    Not sure that diminishing App Store submissions directly correlates to diminishing Mac development. Given a choice between buying from the App Store and going direct to the developers’ stores, I nearly always choose the later. While there’s a certain convenience to the App Store, I also know that many of the developers I buy from will release updates with discounted upgrades, something that’s more difficult to offer when buying through the App Store. In fact, I honestly can’t remember the last time I purchased software without going direct to the publisher.

    Maybe my buying habits are unique? I suspect many others feel the same, which means there may not be a lot of incentive for developers to publish through the App Store, especially considering some of the limitations Apple imposes on apps distributed that way (notwithstanding the exception in that iCloud-enabled apps must be distributed that way).
    True, I love the Mac, but I rarely ever use the Mac App Store. In fact, some of the most useful apps are not available on the App Store (e.g. Carbon Copy Cloner, dBpoweramp).

    opinion said:
    Apple should do more to help all of us Mac users to be allowed to work on our workplaces on Macs too. As it is now in too many places it´s either a no Mac policy or you have to fight really hard to be able to use one on your workplace. Some exceptions of places prefer you to work on a Mac or let you choose to. I guess developing for Mac would be more relevant if Macs were more common in workplaces.
    I wish my organization offered the choice to work on Mac, but IT doesn’t want to support two systems (Windows and Mac) and once they chose Windows it’s unrealistic to replace 1000s of devices. I can’t see what Apple could do here, though.
    Your IT department too small? I know some companies IT supports Windows, Macs, and Linuxes. They have little problem doing so. 
  • Reply 15 of 20
    Wow, those are really low numbers. If true, it means that a couple times this year, I was the developer of 1% of new Mac App Store apps. Also note that review times for Mac apps is almost instantaneous. I recall submitting a few updates lately that went live in less than an hour. I think Apple could turn this around with some well-written sample apps on their dev site -- and not just summer intern projects. That would let student developers see the lay of the land. My head is filled with such arcane knowledge of how to build apps that I don't see how any new developers would ever figure it out.
  • Reply 16 of 20
    It's just not an exciting new platform for apps any more. Early on we (developers) thought iOS had almost unlimited potential for groundbreaking new apps. At first that was true but over time Apple placed crushing restrictions on what apps could allow users to do. Eventually even basic things like scanning your home network for devices and identifying them by their mac address was eliminated by Apple's draconian security measures because they were concerned about their misuse. Of course we have since learned that Apple never actually cared at all about user privacy. These restrictive policies now starting to have their predicted effect: They are costing Apple billions of dollars as both developers and customers flee the platform for other more exciting technology. Note that this does not mean "let's all go Android". Other technology includes things like unbelievably powerful GPUs and $50 Raspberry PIs neither of which have any restrictions on what code you can run on them (other than NVIDIA's failed attempt to stop cryptomining on their gaming GPUs).
    The article was about relatively few new apps on the Mac App Store. Did you understand that to mean there are fewer iOS apps? I can't imagine any developer abandoning iOS for Raspberry Pi, although I don't write networking apps -- I'm mostly games and education.
  • Reply 17 of 20
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,804moderator
    tht said:
    For the macOS app store, its doesn't have enough customers, or enough customers buying. It's been a problem from the beginning. It is not going to be fixed until Apple quadruples down by becoming a game studio, publishes killer apps on of its own, etc. Apple has been very hesitant to develop apps and games of their own. The only way these digital retail stores survive is to have a keystone set of apps to drive customers there. Big 3rd party app markers just aren't going to use the Mac app store as long as they have direct downloads.

    The only recourse, and it's been this way from the beginning, is to have Apple branded killer apps and games. As long as they don't do that, the Mac app store is just a side show.

    Lots of forces working against it.
    Games would be the biggest driver of more frequent Mac App Store use as they are consumable. Steam has a better setup for games due to being able to buy for one platform and get versions for multiple platforms so the Windows version can be on sale and the Mac version comes with it. Typically desktops don't need many apps installed, mainly just the big suites from Microsoft and Adobe plus some utilities would cover most use cases. Mobile has apps for all sorts of things like messaging, photography, hotels, airports, taxis, maps that only make sense in a mobile device.

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/1010701/apple-app-store-revenue-share-by-category-worldwide/
    https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2021-05-19-62-percent-of-all-app-store-revenue-is-generated-from-game-transactions

    This will be one motivation behind bringing iOS apps to the Mac. One recently successful game, Genshin Impact, has been ported to most platforms including Windows but not the Mac natively so people have to sideload the iOS version and that's made in Unity where cross-platform support is pretty easy to do:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genshin_Impact



    The Mac App Store 30% fee is quite a heavy fee for niche Mac developers as the potential audience is lower. Sublime text editor for example isn't on the Mac App Store, they'd have to pay this cut for every full purchase or subscription.

    One thing they could do to make it easier for game ports is to get the Codeweavers team behind Crossover to support the binary versions of the games. That's what Valve did for their Linux OS to run Windows games and it says 15,000 games work out of 19,000 tested:

    https://www.pcworld.com/article/3625673/what-is-proton-the-steam-decks-live-or-die-software-explained.html

    They aren't as good as native ports but it's better than not having the games at all and with custom tuned software per game, they'd run even better and could support all the DLCs.





    If the gaming audience for the Mac is around 10% of the userbase, that's around 10m users. If they bought around 20 games each with an ASP of $30 per game, that's $6b in revenue and $1.8b for Apple and they'd only need to port the most popular 100 or so games over.
  • Reply 18 of 20
    narwhal said:
    It's just not an exciting new platform for apps any more. Early on we (developers) thought iOS had almost unlimited potential for groundbreaking new apps. At first that was true but over time Apple placed crushing restrictions on what apps could allow users to do. Eventually even basic things like scanning your home network for devices and identifying them by their mac address was eliminated by Apple's draconian security measures because they were concerned about their misuse. Of course we have since learned that Apple never actually cared at all about user privacy. These restrictive policies now starting to have their predicted effect: They are costing Apple billions of dollars as both developers and customers flee the platform for other more exciting technology. Note that this does not mean "let's all go Android". Other technology includes things like unbelievably powerful GPUs and $50 Raspberry PIs neither of which have any restrictions on what code you can run on them (other than NVIDIA's failed attempt to stop cryptomining on their gaming GPUs).
    The article was about relatively few new apps on the Mac App Store. Did you understand that to mean there are fewer iOS apps? I can't imagine any developer abandoning iOS for Raspberry Pi, although I don't write networking apps -- I'm mostly games and education.
    Take a look at that chart Apple released showing the amounts developers have earned by percentile. The vast majority of Apple developers have earned nothing or a few hundred dollars, ever. This is a good thing. It means a lot of people are writing apps for their own enjoyment and the good of the community. Developers go where the fun is and iOS is just not fun to develop for any more thanks to Apple's restrictions. It's like programming with handcuffs on.
  • Reply 19 of 20
    OutdoorAppDeveloper said: Developers go where the fun is and iOS is just not fun to develop for any more thanks to Apple's restrictions. It's like programming with handcuffs on.
    I develop for iOS because I make a good living at it AND it’s fun. I’m not always 100% happy with the review process, but generally it works pretty well. And I also develop for macOS (again) now that Catalyst is available and relatively easy (once you figure out menus and help). 
  • Reply 20 of 20
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,395member
    It's just not an exciting new platform for apps any more. Early on we (developers) thought iOS had almost unlimited potential for groundbreaking new apps. At first that was true but over time Apple placed crushing restrictions on what apps could allow users to do. Eventually even basic things like scanning your home network for devices and identifying them by their mac address was eliminated by Apple's draconian security measures because they were concerned about their misuse. Of course we have since learned that Apple never actually cared at all about user privacy. These restrictive policies now starting to have their predicted effect: They are costing Apple billions of dollars as both developers and customers flee the platform for other more exciting technology. Note that this does not mean "let's all go Android". Other technology includes things like unbelievably powerful GPUs and $50 Raspberry PIs neither of which have any restrictions on what code you can run on them (other than NVIDIA's failed attempt to stop cryptomining on their gaming GPUs).
    Nonsense. I’m glad Apple doesn’t let app developers scan my home network for devices and collect their MAC addresses. That would be a raging security hole. That you would think that’s a basic thing that should be allowed is precisely why I don’t want you to be able to do it. 

    Apple has punted the scanning for quantities of known child pornography being uploaded to iCloud photos for now anyway, but it’s interesting that you think that the plan for that says Apple doesn’t care about privacy, but that keeping you from scanning my home network for all of its devices is “draconian.”

    Apple is not losing billions of dollars because of customers fleeing the platform for raspberry pi gadgetry. That’s simply not happening. The Venn diagram of Apple customers and enthusiasts for DIY fiddling and programming does not overlap much. 
    edited September 2021 Fidonet127
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