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Posts tagged with "app store"

App Store Policy Now Allows Tipping Content Providers

Josh Constine reports for TechCrunch about an updated App Store policy that will enable apps to allow tipping of content creators, provided 30% of that tip goes to Apple. The newly updated policy from Apple reads:

Apps may use in-app purchase currencies to enable customers to "tip" digital content providers in the app.

Constine explains that previously, tipping was a grey area, leading some developers to avoid implementing it for fear their apps would be rejected by the App Review team. But this new policy changes that, he writes:

This means developers can add tipping features without fearing repercussions from Apple, as long as they’re willing to give the giant 30 percent. The grey area had kept tipping out of some popular apps who sought to avoid any tension with Apple. Now app makers can offer and promote tipping features with confidence.

The developers will have to determine whether they themselves take a cut of the tips or pass the full 70 percent on to the content creators. Passing on 50 percent while taking a 20 percent cut could unlock paths to monetizing video where ads can be interruptive or tough to match with unpolished footage.

The App Store has been rife with changes since Phil Schiller adopted responsibility for it, and this particular change will impact certain people in different ways. Some developers may appreciate the clarity concerning what they can or can't do in the realm of tipping, but for any apps currently allowing tipping without the 30% tax, both developers and content providers will be harmed.

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App Store Earnings for Developers Exceed $70 Billion

Apple announced today that since it launched in 2008, developers have earned over $70 billion from the App Store.

People everywhere love apps and our customers are downloading them in record numbers," said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Seventy billion dollars earned by developers is simply mind-blowing. We are amazed at all of the great new apps our developers create and can’t wait to see them again next week at our Worldwide Developers Conference.”

According to Apple’s press release, subscriptions saw a 58% increase year over year, fueled by their availability in all 25 app categories. Games and Entertainment are the App Store’s top grossing categories, Lifestyle and Health and Fitness apps have experienced 70% growth, and the Photo and Video category is up over 90%. Apple’s press release also highlights the addition of iMessage apps and stickers with iOS 10.

The timing of Apple’s press release is interesting coming just days before WWDC, its annual developer conference. Developer earnings have historically been covered as part of the WWDC opening-day keynote. One possibility is that this is a sign that the usual keynote updates are being compressed this year to make room for more product and operating system announcements than usual.

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Dash Returns to the iOS App Store

Last fall, Dash, a popular iOS and macOS developer documentation app by Kapeli, was pulled from Apple’s Mac and iOS App Stores amid allegations of fraudulent reviews and Kapeli’s Apple developer account was terminated. Since then, Kapeli has continued to sell Dash for macOS outside the Mac App Store. With no way to sell the iOS version of the app outside the iOS App Store, Kapelli open-sourced the code for the app.

According to Kapeli, open sourcing Dash for iOS has led to numerous people submitting it to the App Store in violation of its GNU GPL license. In an attempt to slow down the rate of copycat apps appearing to the App Store, Dash’s developer, Bogdan Popescu, announced in a blog post today that he created a personal developer account with Apple and submitted Dash for iOS to the App Store. The app was approved and is now available as a free download in the App Store.


Apple Clarifies That Affiliate Program Changes Affect In-App Purchases Only

On April 24th, Apple sent an email to participants in the iTunes Affiliate Program that said:

Starting on May 1st 2017, commissions for all app and in-app content will be reduced from 7% to 2.5% globally. All other content types (music, movies, books, and TV) will remain at the current 7% commission rate in all markets. We will also continue to pay affiliate commissions on Apple Music memberships so there are many ways to earn commissions with the program.

The drastic cut in the rate on apps and In-App-Purchases and the short notice took participants in the program by surprise.

The May 1st deadline came and went seemingly without any change to the payout rate on apps. Apple has since posted a clarification to the iTunes Affiliate Resources website that says:

We’d like to clarify some changes being made to the Affiliate Program. Commissions for all iOS in-app purchases will be reduced from 7% to 2.5% globally, and all other content types (including music, movies, books, paid iOS apps and TV) will remain at the current 7%.

Anecdotal evidence since May 1st supports the clarification that the change to affiliate commissions affects In-App Purchases only. Links to apps and other content sold by Apple will continue to earn 7%, which is welcome news for websites and developers who rely on that revenue.


Phil Schiller on App Store Upgrade Pricing

Gadgets 360's Kunal Dua interviewed Apple's Phil Schiller last month and, among questions about voice-only assistants, he also asked about upgrade pricing on the App Store.

Gadgets 360: With all the recent changes in the App Store, can developers expect to see upgrade pricing next?

Phil Schiller: The reason we haven’t done it is that it's much more complex than people know, and that's okay, it's our job to think about complex problems, but the App Store has reached so many successful milestones without it because the business model makes sense to customers. And the upgrade model, which I know very well from my days of running many large software programmes, is a model from the shrink-wrapped software days that for some developers is still very important, for most, it’s not really a part of the future we are going.

I think for many developers, subscription model is a better way to, go than try to come up with a list of features, and different pricing for upgrade, versus for new customers. I am not saying it doesn't have value for some developers but for most it doesn’t, so that's the challenge. And if you look at the App Store it would take a lot of engineering to do that and so would be at the expense of other features we can deliver.

For example, the App Store has one price for an app, when you see it, you see if there's a price on it, that's the price. It doesn't have multiple prices for multiple tiers of customers so to engineer that in, it's not impossible, but a lot of work for a small segment of software that we hope for many of them, subscription pricing is a better model, the one where the customers are comfortable with. So we’ll keep talking to developers about what's most important on their list, we want them to keep telling is if that [upgrade pricing] is high on the list or not, and we’ll keep an open mind to it, but it's harder than people realise.

Schiller's point makes sense – rather than retrofitting the App Store for old software pricing systems, Apple has found success with a new, simpler model. It's also true, however, that upgrade pricing has worked successfully for developers that have never sold "shrink-wrapped software" – companies that want to retain their most loyal customers without forcing them to sign up for a subscription. You don't need to sell software on physical discs for upgrade pricing to make sense.

It'll be interesting to see how developers – especially on iOS and the iPad (if WWDC brings new incentives to the platform) – will continue to adapt and try different strategies. We've seen some signs of this over the past year, with The Omni Group shifting to In-App Purchases and productivity apps relying on subscriptions, and I hope Apple will add even more flexibility to these new models at WWDC.

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iTunes Connect’s App Analytics Adds Source and Referrer Data

Two years ago, Apple rolled out App Analytics on its iTunes Connect developer portal. Originally announced at WWDC in 2014, App Analytics gave developers a better understanding of how and when their apps were used, how many views their app’s page on the App Store received, and more. However, the original version of App Analytics did not report how customers got to the App Store.

Yesterday Apple announced an expansion to App Analytics that adds source and referral data. According to Apple’s developer news website:

App Analytics in iTunes Connect now provides insight on where customers discover your app, including App Store browsing and search, within other apps, or on the web. With key metrics based on source types, you can see your top referring apps and websites, making it easier to optimize your marketing campaigns.

Apple’s App Analytics page elaborates:

With App Analytics, you can see how many users discover your app while searching or browsing the App Store — including tapping on Search Ads for your app — to gain insight into how your marketing and metadata impact downloads.

App Analytics counts users who visit your app’s product page from a link within another app.

Blogs, websites, and other online sources that link to your app’s product page, are critical in driving user acquisition through word-of-mouth marketing and PR. With App Analytics, you can see which organic marketing channels drive the highest traffic, downloads, usage, and revenue for your app.

There is a lot of interesting new data for developers to digest in App Analytics that should help them market their apps more effectively. I particularly appreciate the ability to drill down into any source of App Store traffic to see how it has performed over time and from which countries those customers are coming.


Dispelling the Apple Services Myth

Apple is known for its quality hardware and software, but services are another story.

Cloud-based services are the future – there's no denying that. And Apple historically has struggled with its cloud offerings. From MobileMe, to the early growing pains of iCloud, to the Apple Maps fiasco, the company gained a poor reputation in the area of services.

Only in the last two years has Apple publicly touted services as a core part of its business. Company press releases as recent as May 2015 ended with the following self-definition:

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

There's a lot that feels outdated here, including the fact that both Mac and iPod are highlighted before the iPhone. But one major way this paragraph fails to describe the Apple of today is that the word 'services' is nowhere to be found.

Amid a variety of other changes, Apple's current self-definition includes the following:

Apple’s four software platforms — iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud.

Services are a key component of modern Apple. The way the company defines itself, along with the numerous services shoutouts in quarterly earnings calls, prove that.

Despite Apple's increased focus on services, the common narrative that the company "can't do services" still hangs around – in online tech circles at least.

But is that narrative still true, or has it grown outdated?

I want to share how I use Apple services in my everyday life across three important contexts of life:

  • As I work,
  • On the go, and
  • Around the house.

My aim is not to perform an in-depth comparison of Apple's cloud offerings and competing products. Though competitors and their features will come up occasionally, the focus here is on my experiences in everyday living – my experiences, not yours. I understand that just because something does or doesn't work for me, the same isn't necessarily true for you. The point of this piece is not to try proving anything; instead, I simply want to assess and share my current experiences with Apple's services.

Read more


Apple Cuts Affiliate Commissions on Apps and In-App Purchases

Today, Apple announced that it is reducing the commissions it pays on apps and In-App Purchases from 7% to 2.5% effective May 1st. The iTunes Affiliate Program pays a commission from Apple's portion of the sale of apps and other media when a purchase is made with a link that contains the affiliate credentials of a member of the program. Anyone can join, but the Affiliate Program is used heavily by websites that cover media sold by Apple and app developers. The announcement, which was made in the May Affiliate News email that Apple sends to participants in the program says:

Starting on May 1st 2017, commissions for all app and in-app content will be reduced from 7% to 2.5% globally. All other content types (music, movies, books, and TV) will remain at the current 7% commission rate in all markets. We will also continue to pay affiliate commissions on Apple Music memberships so there are many ways to earn commissions with the program.

With ad revenue in decline, affiliate commissions are one way that many websites that write about apps generate revenue, MacStories included. Many developers also use affiliate links in their apps and on their websites to supplement their app income. This change will put additional financial pressure on both groups, which is why it’s especially unfortunate that the changes are being made on just one week’s notice.


Curtis Herbert on App Store Review Replies

Curtis Herbert, creator of the excellent Slopes for iOS (I wish I was a skier or snowboarder to use his app), has some great tips for developers on dealing with replies to App Store reviews:

I'd recommend every app owner do the following, today. Head into the review section in iTunes Connect and sort by "Most Helpful." These are reviews that customers have voted should be floated to the top, and that's what Apple does. Take a quick look through there and see which ones you can address.

Future customers are most likely to see your replies to these reviews, so that's the best bang-for-the-buck you can do right now. I went further than that, personally, and re-read a ton of my negative reviews and replied to the ones that met the above goals, but you don't have to rush it.

If you're a developer, you'll want to start engaging with customers right away and work through your existing backlog of reviews. I have a feeling the new ability for developers to reply to customers will fundamentally change the tone and utility of App Store reviews.

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