Apple’s influence on Mac app developers cannot be understated. The company has created an app store environment which seems to push app prices down while ignoring the industry standard upgrade method. When was the last time you simply upgraded an Apple app to a major new version? Whether it’s iLife or iWork apps, or Logic Pro X or Final Cut Pro X, Apple’s newer versions come with a price tag but no upgrade path– not even on apps in the Mac App Store.
One of my favorite Mac image editors is called Snapheal, which features a clever function which erases unwanted objects from a photo while filling in the erased area with nearby background. It works very well, and it debuted a year or two ago with a low price, rave reviews, and satisfied customers. As Snapheal grew in popularity, so did the price tag.
Now there’s a new version of Snapheal which has more capability than the original (which is still available), and a new price tag. The new Snapheal Pro comes with a free trial version, and the industry standard ‘new version‘ upgrade path. While the upgrade price is higher than the original Snapheal, at least the developer provides a free trial and a feature comparison so customers can see and try each version to determine which one will do the best job.
While I’m not keen to pay more money to upgrade to a new version, kudos to MacPhun, Snapheal’s developer, for doing the right thing. Free trial. Upgrade pricing. Improved functionality. Entry level version. Pro level version. And, notice that the Snapheal Pro version is not sold on the Mac App Store.
Now, let’s compare the Snapheal scenario with Apple’s own apps in iLife and iWork, and the pro apps, Logic Pro X, and Final Cut Pro X. For Mac users, iLife and iWork apps haven’t received much love in recent years– no completely new upgrades– while the Pro apps have each received a makeover upgrade. Does Apple provide an upgrade path? No. If you want the new Pro versions you have to pay full retail. Again.
Apple’s Jekyll land Hyde approach to pricing is evident in Aperture, the photo processing and management app. It once cost hundreds of dollars but is now available for $79.99. That’s a big price cut. Remember a few years ago when new cat versions of OS X were priced at $129 and we Mac users stood in line to get it? OS X Mountain Lion was priced at $19.99; a total bargain.
What’s going on? The Mac App Store is a convenient way for Mac app developers to distribute their apps, though they lose about 30-percent of the revenue to Apple. That’s also a good way for Apple to make money on their own apps (iLife, iWork, Pro apps) by exposing them to more customers with lower prices.
Wherefore art thou, App Store upgrade pricing? I would rather not pay full price an app I already paid for just because it has a few new features and functions. The upgrade method works for many app developers and customers. Apple, in true Disneyesque fashion, doesn’t seem to like upgrades.