MacOS Developers Still Haven’t Warmed to Mac App Store

Developers targeting macOS aren’t depending on the Mac App Store to sell their products, despite Apple engaging in more aggressive outreach to those creators over the past year.

That’s the conclusion of the fourth annual Setapp Mac Developers Survey (PDF), which queried 812 Mac app developers about distribution, monetization, and more. The big takeaway: Only 21 percent of developers sell via the Mac App Store only, versus 32 percent who sell their apps outside of it, and 47 percent who use a combination of Mac App Store and outside channels.

Moreover, some 58 percent of developers’ collective revenue comes from outside the Mac App Store, versus 42 percent via the Store itself. That makes sense, the report added, “considering the 30 percent revshare with the Mac App Store.” Also, nearly two-thirds (62 percent) thought that Apple’s slice of revenue was far too high.

If these numbers echo the broader sentiment of Mac app builders, that’s a potential problem for Apple, which is trying to introduce its developer community to the idea (and eventual benefits) of cross-platform apps via the Mac App Store. With the arrival of macOS Catalina and Xcode 11, we have Catalyst, the cross-platform tool for iPad and macOS; clicking a few buttons in Xcode will translate an iPad app to the macOS environment with (supposedly!) a minimum of work.

In theory, a cross-platform app-builder could boost the Mac App Store, which is anemic compared to the iOS App Store when it comes to available apps and general consumer activity. However, a Dice survey from earlier this year suggested that developers don’t really care about Apple’s cross-platform offerings:

It’s still early days for Catalyst and cross-platform apps, though, and it’ll be interesting to see if Apple can persuade developers to port their iOS apps to macOS. A big part of that could come down to revenue; developers might appreciate the convenience of an app store (especially if that store can help highlight their product in a crowded marketplace), but they really don’t like shelling out a big chunk of their revenue for the privilege. If Apple adjusts its revenue split for macOS, will more developers jump onboard?