Apple has long had Apple Downloads, a section of Apple.com that lists third-party software. It’s been a popular place for users to browse and sample the wealth of Mac software available from both large and small developers, including St. Clair Software. We get a significant amount of web traffic from Apple Downloads.
I recently received an email from Ron Okamoto, Vice President of Worldwide Developer Relations at Apple, notifying developers that Apple Downloads will be going away, replaced by the new Mac App Store. Because both Default Folder X and App Tamer do not meet the Mac App Store guidelines, this is a big cause of concern for us. We’ll lose a lot of customer visibility, and won’t be able to replace it by putting our apps in the Mac App Store.
I wrote Ron this reply:
Thanks for your notification – I can’t say that I’m surprised as Apple’s support for the Downloads section of Apple.com has been waning for quite a while. I fully expected Apple Downloads to just go away without even getting a notification, so I applaud your professionalism in actually letting us know.
As a long-time Apple developer (I’ve been doing this since 1988) I’ve become accustomed to changes in direction, forced rewrites as Apple has adopted or invented new technologies, and sometimes capricious decision making on Apple’s part. As in the past, I’ll deal with what comes my way and work to keep my business healthy, but shutting down a primary traffic source for our web site is going to make things quite a bit more difficult.
In your letter, you say “the Mac App Store will be the best destination for users to discover, purchase, and download your apps,” but that doesn’t apply to my two best-selling applications, nor to those of many other developers. The guidelines put in place for the Mac App Store disqualify Default Folder X and App Tamer from inclusion in the App Store, despite their popularity and utility. I’m left to reinvent my products and company (again) as they don’t fit Apple’s vision of what a Mac application should be. There are numerous developers in my position. We make useful – some would say essential – products that users will now have a more difficult time finding as Apple drives customers and market focus to the Mac App Store.
For small developers with applications that don’t fit the guidelines, is there some avenue that we can pursue for getting exposure on the new Mac App Store? Some kind of advertising / comarketing that we can participate in to get into an “other great apps” section where users can at least see that our products are available? If such an “Apple Downloads for the App Store” were an option, I certainly wouldn’t argue with giving Apple a percentage in return for what I anticipate will be a lot of traffic.
I’m running a business, and I understand that you’re running yours. I know that you need to have restrictions for apps in the Mac App Store in order to ensure that users have a seamless, trouble-free experience and I respect that. It’s what will ultimately make it a big success. But as a developer of applications that won’t be allowed in the store, I’d like to see alternatives that would let me focus on keeping those applications alive and vibrant.
– Jon Gotow, President, St. Clair Software
Quick follow-up: It looks like I need to address a few questions based on the tweets I’ve been been getting:
Default Folder X
and App Tamer
aren’t going away – this affects how much time we spend developing vs. marketing. The more we have to work at getting users to see our products the less time we have to develop them.
Why can’t Default Folder X and App Tamer be in the App Store? In the Mac App Store guidelines, Default Folder X fails to meet item 2.15 (it installs a Scripting Addition) and may also violate item 6.5, since it creates floating windows around file dialogs that could be construed as “changing native user interface elements.” App Tamer violates 2.27 because it asks for your admin password (and needs to).