Tag Archives: App Store

App store sales top $10 billion

Apple – Press Info – App Store Sales Top $10 Billion in 2013

Apple® today announced that customers spent over $10 billion on the App Store℠ in 2013, including over $1 billion in December alone. App Store customers downloaded almost three billion apps in December making it the most successful month in App Store history. Apple’s incredible developers have now earned $15 billion on the App Store.

That's an awful lot of happy developers. In completely unrelated news, is this the only place Apple uses the trademark symbol?

Microsoft Skydrive causes friction between Apple and Microsoft

Apple and Microsoft are going head to head over the future of Microsoft Skydrive, according to AllThingsD:

“Sources familiar with ongoing negotiations between Apple and Microsoft tell AllThingsD that the companies are at loggerheads not over the 30 percent commission Apple asks of storage upgrade sales made through SkyDrive, but over applying that same commission to Office 365 subscriptions sold through Microsoft Office for iOS, which is expected to launch sometime next year.”

This makes much more sense than the two companies arguing over the relatively-small Microsoft Skydrive. But what I don’t understand is what Microsoft thinks it’s playing at: there’s simply no way that Apple is going to bend over this.

Nieman Journalism lab responds to John Gruber

Nieman Journalism Lab responds to John Gruber’s defence of the 30% Apple subscription take:

“But if someone searches for and downloads The New York Times app — after the Times has spent more than a century building up its brand, as the cost of billions of dollars — can it really be said that Apple has “brought” that subscriber to the app, and that they deserve 30 percent of the revenue the app generates, forever?”

To which the obvious and correct answer is: No, they don’t deserve it. Apple’s argument that it “brings” customers is hogwash. It’s like Mozilla claiming that Amazon ought to give it a percentage of my spend there as it “brings” me, just because I’m using Firefox.

It’s a good article, well worth an in-depth read.

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When is “the best price” for customers not “the best price” for customers?

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 08:  A Wal-Mart customer...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

The Sage Gruber’s contortions to position Apple’s subscription pricing scam as “good for consumers” are getting so wild that he’ll be a high-level yoga master before you know it:

“Why not allow developers and publishers to set their own prices for in-app subscriptions? One reason: Apple wants its customers to get the best price — and, to know that they’re getting the best price whenever they buy a subscription through an app. It’s a confidence in the brand thing: with Apple’s rules, users know they’re getting the best price, they know they’ll be able to unsubscribe easily, and they know their privacy is protected… So the same-price rule is good for the user, and good for Apple”

John’s being obtuse here. How would a publisher offering a lower price than that offered through Apple’s store be bad for customers? It wouldn’t – it would be bad for Apple. Customers could choose to vote with their wallets – take the lower price on offer elsewhere, or take the convenience and privacy advantages of using in-app purchasing.

By the same logic, any large retailer could use its position in the market to force suppliers not to allow anyone to undercut it, and claim that it was simply ensuring “its customers got the best price”. I’m sure Wal-Mart would love its customers to “know that they’re getting the best price” by contractually obliging people not to sell their products for less elsewhere. Nothing to do with hobbling the competition, oh no sir.

As I’ve said before, Apple’s subscription offering is a mess. It offers publishers little value compared to what developers get, and it’s not good for consumers because it effectively stifles competition. No amount of juggling semantics by talking about “Apple’s customers” – like they own them – will change that.

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No, Apple isn’t patenting developers’ work. But it still has a bigger problem

Patents are hard to understand. If any government wants to reduce the costs of running a business quickly and easily, it should revamp the system of patents to make them easy for people who aren’t lawyers to read, and harder to actually get in the first place.

So it’s no surprise that there’s been a massive amount of misreading of Apple’s patent application on “Systems and methods for accessing travel services using a portable electronic device”. What’s made it easier to misread is Apple’s – frankly stupid – use of FutureTap‘s interface for its excellent Where To? application in the descriptive part of the patent. FutureTap, understandably, are miffed because it looks like Apple is trying to steal their ideas.

And the coverage on the back of it follows suit. John Brownlee at Cult of Mac titled his “Apple submits software patent for other developer’s app, including title and design“. Om Malik at GigaOm (probably my favourite tech site) was so astounded by what he thinks Apple is doing he had to preface his post title with “Not a joke“. Continue reading

Cory is wrong, Nick is right

Nick Sweeney is (1) one of the cleverest and most astute people I know and (2) doesn’t post anywhere near often enough. Fact Number Two is probably connected to Fact Number One.

In the comments to his post on the iPad, which you should go read right now, he more ably puts the argument against Cory’s anti-iPad screed than I possibly could:

“I am so over the idealistic belief that every computer user is a latent hacker-maker-coder who just lacks the right tools. I am so over the idea that access to the cornucopia of creative and insightful and useful stuff that’s available online requires either a boatload of foundational computing skills or extensive hand-holding. While I have no objections to those battles being fought out in the computing space I inhabit, I am personally done with this guild-mentality shit.”

And then, as if that wasn’t enough, he adds this:

“What particularly annoyed me [about Cory's post] was his image of a purported user as a passive, bloated ‘consumer’, as if the only makers that matter are the ones assembling crochet-covered Arduino-powered companion cubes to sell on Etsy. Well, bollocks to that.”

I argued with Cory about this on Twitter earlier, bailing out mainly in deference to the fact that I know Alice would tell the pair of us off for converting her Twitter stream into a slanging match.

But before I let Cory have the last word, it became pretty apparent to me that Cory’s point conflates creativity with coding, and prizes hacking over any other kind of creativity. So what if the iPad enables more people to do more creative things – to write, to paint, to communicate, to play with pictures, to learn. None of that matters, because you can’t write code for it (unless you pay Apple $99 and accept the hegemony of the App Store).

This just seems wrong to me. It places the primacy on geek-creativity, at the expense of every other kind. That is a remarkably narrow world view.

My position is the same as Nick’s, which he ably-explains:

“If the iPad truly abstracts away the whole ‘using a computer’ bit of using a computer, it will make me very happy. If another device comes along that does the same thing without DRM or developer lock-in, then like Andre I’ll embrace it. (Before anyone chips in: no, the Archos is not that device.) If that kind of lock-in comes to OS X proper, I’ll resent it, resist it and reject it. But it’s been nearly 30 years since I received my first home computer, and it’s about time everyone else got to play without it requiring informal training, monthly VNC sessions, and every family gathering turning into onsite tech support.”

Until the open-platform people step up to the plate and make an open machine that matches this, I, too, will be using an iPad.

The ball is in their court.

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Is it time for Apple to open up the App Store model?

I don’t often link to Daring Fireball, basically because I assume that you’re all reading it anyway. But in his post on Tits and Apps, John perfectly summarises the challenge that faces Apple in maintaining its mindshare with mobile developers:

Apple sees the App Store as an aspect of its brand. Developers see the App Store as the entirety of the Cocoa Touch platform. This is a significant conflict. Developers, if rejected from the App Store, can freely deliver whatever content they choose through MobileSafari — but you can’t reuse compiled Cocoa Touch apps that way. The work invested in a native app can only be recouped through the App Store.

The obvious answer to this – and, I suspect, the long-term solution – is to have more than one App Store. The Apple App Store would, like Apple’s physical and online stores, be quality goods selected by Apple. The other store (or stores?) would be more free-form, with levels of gauranteed quality which differed from those Apple set.

You would expect that any store which Apple allowed into the walled garden of the iPhone would have certain limitations. For example, the apps wouldn’t be allowed to use private APIs, or contain malware, and I would expect Apple to continue to check every iPhone app for this (and take a cut – less than 30%, but not nothing).

Good luck with making money from Android apps

Android App Store Is 57% Free Compared to Apple’s 25% – app stores – Gizmodo:

App store analytics firm Distimo recently released a bunch of juicy info about the major mobile app stores, and the results are pretty interesting. For one, Android has a much higher proportion of free apps.

Or, to put it another way, you’ve got even less chance of making money on Android than you have on iPhone.

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Nokia app store passes one million downloads a day mark

Brand Republic:

Nokia‘s Ovi application store is now attracting one million downloads a day around the world, the company has claimed.The store was launched in May last year, allowing the handset manufacturer to join the progress in apps being made by rivals such as Apple and by Google’s open source Android platform. Ovi Apps include Ovi Maps, as well as business tools and games.

To put a little context around that, Apple is currently running at about ten million downloads per day, from an installed base significantly lower than Nokia.

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Come, gentle readers: Help me buy a new phone (Part 1)

Within the next month, my contract with o2 runs out – and that means it’s new phone time. However for the first time since the release of the iPhone, I face a serious choice: do I stick with iPhone, or not. Here are the runners and riders.

iPhone 3GS

Let’s be clear: I like the iPhone. Compared to everything that came before it, it’s a wonderous thing of amazement. There’s the responsiveness. You touch it, it responds, and you almost purr with pleasure. Yum. This thing was designed by someone who really, truly understands that the most important thing about a touch interface is how it responds to being touched. Sounds obvious – but try any one of the competitors, and you’ll quickly see how few companies have really got this fundamental point.

But… I’ve run into some walls with the iPhone. Things which actually have begun to drive me what can only be described as “batshit crazy”.

First, multitasking – or rather the lack thereof. I cannot begin to describe how painful the lack of multitasking is. I’ve used an OS with multitasking that I’ve forgotten what computing was like before it. Or rather, I had forgotten it – until the iPhone.

Using iPhone is like taking your lovely new MacBook Pro, ripping out Mac OS X, installing System 6, and disabling MultiFinder. But still letting you run the powerful lovely apps you’re used to. Just one at a time. It’s dark ages computing – and I’m bored of it. The novelty has worn off. I can multitask – why can’t my phone.

I don’t care that I might do terrible things – like making my phone run at less than optimal Jobs-dicatated performance. It’s my phone – treat me like a grown up and let me do it.

Multitasking is the big beef, by it’s by no means the only one. There are plenty of elements in the iPhone which are half thought out, or just plain half baked.

Take email. Like a lot of people, I have work and personal email accounts, and I check both a lot. And on the iPhone, the elegant, minimal iPhone, it takes four taps to get from one inbox to the other. By happy coincidence, that’s the same number of taps it takes to type “suck”, which is what the iPhone’s email client does.

This “make ‘em tap” approach is elsewhere, too. Tethering, for example, takes five taps from Home Screen to turning on, and the same five if you want to turn it off – which is, of course, what you should be doing. This should be on the home screen, but it’s not. It’s almost like the developers were so pleased with how well tapping and scrolling and touch generally worked, that they decided to make you, the user, do more of it so you’d appreciate just how responsive the interface is.

Worse yet, no developer other than Apple can create the simple app to do it, because that is a Part Of The OS Into Which Only Apple Is Allowed. Thou shalt not mess around with those bits, sayeth Steve.

And that’s a great example of the other great flaw of the iPhone: developers cannot fill in the bits which Apple doesn’t do right, if it means digging into some bits of the system. Leaving aside the fact that the App Store is broken, what developers can do is firmly in Apple’s control, and the company keeps tight reign on where they’re allowed to poke. Want the ability to link up an external keyboard to your Mac? Can’t have it – not because developers don’t want to make one, but because Apple won’t allow them to do it.

But… having said all that… the iPhone is still my front runner. Why? Put simply, because it’s the path of least resistance. I have lots of Apps, which I like, and I’d need to install and run some of them on my iPod touch if I didn’t have an iPhone. And that touch interface really is seductive. So for all my complaining… maybe iPhone is my best option.

In part two, I’ll look at the two other contenders: Android (of some kind) and the Palm Pre.

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