App Store Pricing

App Store Pricing (it’s not a free market!) (2008)

This past week I came across this old post by David Barnard from 2008 and ended up reading it several times (I didn’t really start reading dev blogs until ~2013, so I’m sure I missed many gems like this). Between this and all of the discussion about how Marzipan may negatively affect users’ pricing expectations, I feel…well, I feel fired up, actually.

More than ever I realize that it’s futile to try to compete on price. So if you’re an indie dev, and your non-subscription-based app is priced under $5, I want you to go into App Store Connect and bump that baby up to the next price tier. See what happens. If the world doesn’t end and your sales don’t nosedive, bump it up again. What you’re doing is not evil or greedy, neither is it comparable to Adobe doubling the price of their Photographer bundle. That’s apples and oranges. And if someone says, “I was planning to buy your app at $3.99, but there’s no way I’m paying $4.99,”…forget ’em.

$5 should be the absolute rock bottom price for a quality indie app, full stop. So, for whoever might need to hear this: stop kidding yourself, you’re not going to make it up in volume, raise your dang prices, thank you and good night.


The Sweet Setup Review

The Sweet Setup Reviews Snapthread

I love this review of Snapthread by Josh Ginter, especially this paragraph:

These backdrops and Creative Commons music options are, again, very plain and simple. However, the point of the app is to be a quick and easy way to share Live Photos with non-iPhone users and with a little extra pizazz. Snapthread is not designed to replace iMovie, so feel free to export your video after the Live Photo conversion and do more major edits inside iMovie.

Josh really nails what Snapthread is all about: it’s meant to be simple and fast, with a few little extras for those who really want them. I’d absolutely advise people who want more control over music, titles, and other effects to continue editing in a more fully-featured editor like iMovie. I’ll continue to add more editing functions as time goes on, but my intention has always been to compete with super casual apps like Clips rather than bigger apps like iMovie.


Marzipan on Mojave

Benjamin Mayo on Marzipan

Marzipan apps are ugly ducklings. As soon as you use them, you can just know these are not at one with the system. You detect that there’s a translation layer of some kind at work here, just like when you use Slack on the Mac you instinctively feel that it’s a web app in a thin wrapper. The underlying implementation is exposed to the user with a bevy of performance sluggishness, UI quirks and non-standard behaviours. That’s bad.

Awhile ago I wrote about Marzipan and included a crowdsourced list of “what makes a Mac app a Mac app.” It was a pretty comprehensive list, yet lacking in minor details. I knew there had to be a bunch of nitpicky visual annoyances and UI oddities, and Benjamin covers those really well in his post. I feel like I have a much better understanding now of what needs to happen for Marzipan apps to feel native on the Mac.



Snapthread on Product Hunt

Snapthread on Product Hunt

Someone was kind enough to post Snapthread to Product Hunt, and upvotes are of course appreciated. One of the challenges of launching (or re-launching) an app is maintaining some kind of momentum. Without it, the app will have a difficult time climbing the charts or gaining any additional exposure. I’m sure Snapthread’s downloads will fall off a cliff, perhaps as soon as tomorrow, and will settle into a 1-2 sales per day rut. I’m hoping to stave off that inevitable decline for a few more days, if possible!


Snapthread on MacStories

MacStories Review of Snapthread

John Voorhees reviewed Snapthread over at MacStories, and it totally made my day.

Relatedly, for the first time in my life I feel comfortable telling people I meet that I make apps. “Independent app developer” is finally starting to roll off my tongue (and fingers) a little easier. Like, this is really happening…this is me…this is what I do. It just feels so darn cool, and also a bit surreal. Thank you to everyone who has offered kind words and encouragement over the past few years, as well as promoted my work. I wouldn’t be here, feeling cool, without you. ❤️


Interview: App Camp Fireside Chats

Interview: App Camp Fireside Chats

App Camp for Girls is interviewing one member of the Apple community each day for the duration of its current Indiegogo campaign. They were kind enough to ask me to participate, so you’ll find my entry above!

I admit I haven’t donated to the campaign yet, but plan to: I just need to decide on a rewards tier. As I’ve said in the past, I would have loved App Camp as a young girl. I hope you’ll donate too! I also want to encourage everyone to check out the other fireside chat interviews. They’ve been really fun and encouraging to read.


Larder Blog Interview

Larder Blog Interview

The only interview I’ve ever given was in middle school, to my local newspaper, after winning a spelling bee (ironically, the reporter spelled my last name wrong). So I was super excited when Belle Beth Cooper asked me if she could interview me for Larder’s “Making it” series. In the interview I talk a bit about my background and the advice that I would give beginning iOS developers today.

Indies/App Store Responses

There have been some good reactions/responses to Rene Ritchie’s article about independent developers and the App Store. Here are a few that I enjoyed:

Brent Simmons: Indies and the App Store

But my experience since then tells me that writing Mac apps is the best economic bet for indies. (Particularly if you sell the app yourself, so you can have a trial version and upgrade pricing.)

I would love to see more people take up Mac app development, and I would love to write Mac apps myself (except that I’m just starting to get the hang of iOS, and learning whole new frameworks sounds really daunting).

Chuq Von Rospach: Fixing the Apple App Store

It’s not Apple’s job to guarantee your app to be successful. Most apps won’t be, and if you look through the App Stores, most of them don’t deserve to be.

BOOM! And also,

First, I’d remove apps that haven’t been updated in three years. Honestly, if you aren’t doing some kind of even minimal bug fixing when Apple releases each new version of the OS, you aren’t really trying and the app is likely abandoned.

To these I say: amen!

Daniel Jalkut: Make Wooden Toys

Although the market is dominated by cheap plastic, there is real money for thoughtful, careful developers in the market that favors charming, slightly overpriced throwbacks to another era. Make wooden toys.

For Daniel, the glass is indeed half-full, and I appreciate that. :)


iMore on the Indie App Market

What no indie developer wants to hear about the App Store

Rene Ritchie gives his take on the state of the indie app market. Like him, I hope things will improve, but I’m not necessarily optimistic.

When I was a child, all my favorite toys were wooden, painstakingly carved by artisans who ran the store near my home. I cherished them. Today those kinds of toys are all but gone, and that business model is no longer viable in the mass market.

Indeed, isn’t this the fate of every product market? Everything distills down to a few big players and a lot of little hobbyists/mom-and-pop shops. I can’t think of another profession where one of the expectations of being “indie” is making a sustainable living…let alone striking it rich.

There will always be customers who care deeply about quality, and there will always be a place in this world for wooden toys. However, in order for wooden toymakers to stay afloat they’ve had to either raise the price of their toys, or take on a different job while making and selling their toys on the weekends.

One last thought: in any market (art, music, software, etc.), indies sometimes see themselves as artists more than small business owners. When the market is thriving, that balance of focus probably won’t hurt their chances of success. However, when times get tough, the ability to wear that small business owner hat with competence is absolutely critical. I like Rene’s final words:

Either way, times have changed and we, all of us, have to change with them. We can lament the past and challenge the future all we want, but ultimately the most important thing we all have to do is this:

Figure out what’s next.


The Fate of iAd

Apple Discontinuing iAd (update)

From 9to5mac:

February update: We have followed up with Apple numerous times since this original post for more clarification and have finally received a firm answer to explain the situation. The whole of the iAd network is going away — developers will not be able to include any ad banners in their apps after June 30. Developers will have to find a new ad company to continue monetizing their apps using ads, as iAd will no longer function.

Well, I guess that’s that!


Swift Enums

Casey Liss on Swift Enums

Casey is learning Swift for his new job, and as a fellow beginner I found his explanation and examples of Swift enums very helpful. I wasn’t even aware that enums could have associated values until a few weeks ago…it definitely made me want to rewrite some of my code!