This is a guest post by Josh Michael's developer of Magic Window and 24 Hour Wallpaper.
Think … the press swings that Apple has forgotten the Mac for the benefit of iOS … A special press conference is called on Apple and an event titled " Back to the Mac "is held to put the story right. Apple still loves Mac!
No, this is not a new event. And the host was not Tim Cook – it was Steve Jobs. This was the Apple event that announced the first Mac App Store. I want to say I can not believe I lived to see this story play back, but it's usually a common occurrence in technology.
Once again, Apple has been defensive about the amount of attention Mac receives, and again Apple responded with beautiful new hardware, the new Mac App Store, and a host of other enhancements in MacOS Mojave.
It feels like everything in the world has changed between the "Back to Mac" event and now. One thing stays the same: the ability of indie developers on the Mac is convincing.
The Mac App Store is a unique and often overlooked market in the Apple ecosystem, and it's never been a better time than sending products into it.
Our app 24-hour wallpapers has been in the Mac App Store for most of the last two years. It offers about the same as Apple now does with Dynamic Desktop, except that it has a lot more wallpapers.
Until Mojave launched, the app had sold an embarrassing small number of copies. Even after Dynamic Desktop was announced, the app was on average less than one sales per day. It's hard to bet on an app that has been selling badly for two years, but the opportunity here looked straight.
With Apple that only gave two Dynamic Desktops, we could fill the demand that their limited offer would create. And with a whole new Mac App Store with video preview, we can actually communicate how beautiful the background images are for customers.
Now 24-hour wallpaper grows faster than any of our previous Macs and without any special feature. I have to give a lot of credit here to Apple. They created a beautiful store on Mac and created a great opportunity where I could build an app to fill.
Combined Revenue From Our Mac Apps [ Magic Window and 24-hour Background
Can You Tell When The New The Mac App Store opened?
There are several aspects to the Mac App Store that make it mature at this time. I would like to sum up some of my favorites here. As with all possibilities, this gives the risk. After investing in new Apple markets that did not break out, I know the first hand. But this is a market that has shown that it can be lively and at least for the moment it's lively again.
1. There is demand for high quality Mac Apps
I've seen some posts ripping on the Mac App Store to have really crappy apps. And that's true, there are many bad banking programs that are likely to be removed. But among them are a limited number of really high quality apps like Fantastical, 1Password and iA Writer. And quality programs that speak to what Apple wants, has a good opportunity for marketing. Obviously, Apple will have quality apps to promote and if you have one that increases your chances.
The fact that crappy apps are performing well in the Mac App Store should be one of the first indicators of the opportunity. The first apps on the iPhone were not especially the stars. But over time, when the market turned out, the pole was completely up to what was expected of a quality app. On the Mac, the bar is still surprisingly low, especially for apps that meet a clear need.
What You Can Do:
Take a look through the Mac App Store on what types of apps you are doing well based on their rankings and what their prize points are. Note which apps are good, generally generally high quality, and generally priced over $ 10. See if you can identify a product area on Mac that is missing an app of high quality.
2. There are many unexplored opportunities, including new APIs.
On iOS, Apple seems like setting new APIs or features like devs can take advantage of being swarmed and quickly saturated. If there's something new and cool that can be done on iOS, it's better to be there on day one with the app that's doing the best, or 100 other people will take the place.
Reviewing the Mac App Store Only a handful of devs took advantage of an overview of new features that came with Mojave, including Google's portable plug-ins. 24-hour wallpaper is currently the only app that used the option of Dynamic Desktop. I was sure there would be others.
What You Can Do:
Take a look at the latest APIs and capabilities available on Mac and especially with Safari. See if you can identify an area where a common need is not currently being completed by a quality app.
3. The price point is higher
The Mac App Store exists in some magic countries where they are lost where people are still willing to pay in increments of $ 10 for apps. The full set of factors that make up the Mac Desktop market have not yet pushed prices down to the bottom as we've seen the iOS and Android markets. It's quite reasonable to charge $ 10, $ 20, even $ 50 for a Mac app if it's high quality and fulfills a real need. The new free trial model can change that game.
There is of course also a market for lower priced apps ($ 1- $ 9.) The possibility it is interesting because the volume required to rank in top app charts on Mac is two order orders lower than iOS. With many of the programs that cost more, there is a possibility that a cheaper app can stand out and get exposure through the rankings. Simply put, it's a lot like the iOS App Store, but with even higher prices.
What You Can Do:
When pricing your Mac app, refer to the Pricing Points of other regular Mac apps. If you appreciate your app as an iOS app in the Mac App Store, you'll lose money on the table.
4. Video previews make a difference
The Mac App Store was the only remaining large App Store that did not support video previews. This was a real disappointment especially with the higher price point, as people who spend $ 10 or $ 20 on an app will see more than just five screenshots.
Although the presentation of the videos in the store is not perfect, the sales side is a dramatic improvement over the previous store. Looking at the old store now feels like looking at a 90's website. Apple did a great job with the update, and the addition of videos makes a big difference with conversions.
What You Can Do:
When you send apps to your Mac, it always contains a preview video. Be sure to review many other app video previews before making your own. Note that the App Store right now crops the preview videos to the right and left, so extra attention is required for adjustment. Make sure you read Apple's video specifications carefully here.
5. Get in before iOS apps do
With the new "making it easy for iOS apps to go to Mac" initiative, Apple is trying its best to create iOS devs to support the Mac platform. How well this will work, we have to wait and see, but meanwhile, the tools for iOS devs are still unavailable. So it's this new, new Mac App Store that expects a number of iOS apps to come in, but it's a good year or more before it's going to happen.
The quality that gives this opportunity great can easily evaporate when the new iOS conversion tool goes live. While the tools make it easier to convert an iOS app to Mac, if you are building a new Mac app that has no benefit to you. And many of the best opportunities are for things unique to Mac, so having an iOS version will not help anyway.
The truth is that Mac development and iOS development have not been so different for some time. Yes, there are a number of differences and eccentricities that you need to learn, but an experienced iOS developer should not have Mac problems even without special tools. What the tools eventually do is to lower the bar to everyone else.
What You Can Do:
If you've been focusing on iOS for a while, look at the opportunity right now on the Mac and shop on it. You'll find Mac is not dramatically different from what you're used to for development on iOS, and as an indie you can have better luck.
Mac App Store Tips
After spending almost eight years selling Mac apps I can safely say that the Mac App Store has been the most reliable in terms of monetization for my business. It's not going to be the case for everyone, but if your app fits well with Mac, this might be a great opportunity for you. Here are some important tips:
Look for something that really fulfills – Your "good idea" can not beat an app that does something everyone already needs .
Look for something unique no one has done – The API surface is full of unique possibilities. Yes, sandbox can be frustrating, but think outside the sandbox.
Avoid Games – Games are just not so popular in the Mac App Store (despite extensive editorial exposure).
And games are among the hardest apps to build and succeed in the first place. Unless you have already built a game popular on other platforms, you have better choices.
Keep it Easy – Challenge yourself to send a simple app in 2-6 weeks. Find some basics and make it happen.
For inspiration, take a look at this short video "Start Now, No Financing Required" by one of my heroes Derek Sivers. The easier you hold this, the better your odds.
Josh Michaels is an interdisciplinary artist and engineer working on time as a medium. Josh is best known for his visual apps, including Magic Window, Earthlapse, Magic Flowers and Magic Fireplace. His latest app 24 Hour Wallpaper brings more dynamic desktop to MacOS with great wallpapers that match the time of day. More on his apps can be found at http://jetsoncreative.com.