Another App Leaves the Mac App Store

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

The excellent app Sketch was removed from the Mac App Store today. Here’s why:

We’ve been considering our options for some time. Over the last year, as we’ve made great progress with Sketch, the customer experience on the Mac App Store hasn’t evolved like its iOS counterpart. We want to continue to be a responsive, approachable, and easily-reached company, and selling Sketch directly allows us to give you a better experience.

They go on to reference sandboxing, upgrade pricing, and app review times as specific things that are causing issues.

This is a trend we have seen over the past few years and it on;y seems to be accelerating. The growing message from developers is that that the Mac App Store is not a good experience for them or for their customers. Apple’s intention with the Mac App Store was to make getting and maintaining apps as easy on the Mac as it is on your iPhone or iPad. That sadly has not been the case.

But while there are things about the MAS that make it worse than its iOS counterpart, the major complaints most developers bring up are all present on iOS as well. Sandboxing, review times, and upgrade pricing are all issues on the iOS App Store as well and the rage is much less prominent on that side. There are certainly complaints, but you don’t see many apps go exclusively to the Lydia store for jailbroken users or going the f.lux route and finding clever ways to distribute your app outside Apple’s storefront (even if it was eventually shut down).

I’ve made it plain many times that I don’t think the Mac and iOS will ever merge into one “appleOS” and this schism between how people view the App Stores on each platform is emblematic of why this will never happen. The great things about iOS such as security, ease of use, more minimal design language, and more are what make iOS so great, and why it’s a better computing platform for many, many people. Meanwhile, the Mac’s customizability, freedom, scriptability, and power user features make it a better platform for people who need that control or have workflows that depend on these features.

The Mac App Store was the most iOS-y thing Apple has brought to the Mac, and it turned out to be a terrible disaster. Sure, the app itself could be better, but developers aren’t removing their apps because the app is slow to load, they’re removing them over fundamental limitations of the App Store environment.

These differences would not be that big a deal if customers were buying significantly more apps on the App Store, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. We wouldn’t see apps vacating the market if there was good money to be had. Developers will put up with a bad storefront if it means getting more customers, but if the customers aren’t there…

The right move for Apple is to keep evolving the Mac in ways that embrace the things that make the Mac great. Obviously adapting the App Store model to the Mac has not gone well. My takeaway is simply that the Mac doesn't succeed when it tries to be like iOS, it's a unique beast with different appeals.