Many Tricks enters the Mac App Store

Unless you’ve been vacationing in Bora Bora for the last three months, you were probably aware that Apple’s new Mac App Store launched today. We were thrilled to have three of our products front and center on launch day: Name Mangler, Time Sink, and Usher were all available when the store opened this morning. (We actually have one more in process right now; a special non-preference-pane version of Witch has been sitting in the review queue for two weeks now.)

So far, it’s been an interesting day, just watching the sales charts trying to figure out what they mean (we don’t get real-time data, so we don’t really know what’s happening with total sales). We did a fair bit of of work to get our apps ready for the store, though, so it’s very gratifying to finally see them there on launch day.

For those who prefer “traditional” software distribution, don’t worry—we’re not going away from that, just taking advantage of a new sales channel. We have apps (Butler and Leech, at least) that can’t be sold on the app store, and we have others (Witch) that have slightly different functionality. So our direct sales model isn’t going away because of the Mac App Store.

Also, we’ll always keep our apps “in sync” to the extent that the App Store rules allow us to do so. That is, if we update Time Sink on our web site, the App Store version will get that same update, and vice-versa1. Due to Apple’s review process, it may occasionally take a bit more time for the changes to reach the App Store, but rest assured, they’ll get there (assuming Apple’s approval, of course).

Our objective with both our App Store apps and our “traditional” apps is simple: to deliver compelling Mac programs that are a delight to use, and to do what it takes to keep our customers satisfied. So whether you want to purchase through the Mac App Store, or via the web, or via our in-app purchasing module, we’ll be there for you.

(1) The two sales channels are distinct, and require different builds of our software. So you can’t update your Mac App Store version of Name Mangler with a download from our site, and vice-versa. If you purchase from our web site, your app has a built-in updater that reminds you when it needs an update. If you purchase from the Mac App Store, the Mac App Store itself will tell you when there are updates to install, and you’ll do the updating via the Mac App Store app.

12 Responses to “Many Tricks enters the Mac App Store”

  1. nope says:

    >two app versions
    this is stupid…

    • Rob Griffiths says:

      Care to expand on that verbose comment? In what way is it stupid to make your product available to more potential purchasers? We’re working with one code base for each set of apps, so it’s not like one will get ignored while the other gets updated. If someone wants to buy from the App Store, that’s fine with us; if they want to buy direct, that’s fine with us. (Personally, I hope everyone buys direct, because Apple does take a big bite of revenue in exchange for providing the store. But they also get us exposure that — as a small shareware developer — we simply cannot afford to purchase on our own.)


  2. Olli says:

    @nope: Actually two app versions is what I call a great support policy. There are certain developers out there going MAS exclusive now. And what shall happen to those customers who bought directly? Imagine this: You bought a copy of Usher directly from Manytricks and they decide to go MAS exclusive now. You wouldn’t receive any more updates and if you wanted updates you would be required to purchase Usher again via the App Store, thus paying twice.
    So thank you Manytricks for the effort (and it truly is extra effort) of maintaining two versions. Great attitude.

  3. Peter Maurer says:

    Thank you, Olli.

    By the way, maintaining two build variants for the app store and your own store means negligible additional effort if you do it right. To switch between these two variants for Name Mangler, Time Sink, or Usher, I have to change exactly one setting in a pop-up menu, then click the “Build” button. For Witch, which will hopefully be approved soon, I then have to open another project and hit the “Build” button there, too; but I don’t consider that an unreasonable amount of additional work, either.

    Frankly, I don’t buy the reasoning that putting your apps on the app store exclusively is a means to optimize your development workflow and thus, to benefit your customers. As demonstrated in the last paragraph, it means close to zero additional work — unless you have no idea what you’re doing. And I don’t think that’s the case for either of the two developers who have gone to the app store exclusively that I’m personally aware of.

    Selling your stuff on the app store exclusively strikes me as a public relations/advertising strategy more than anything else. By routing all your sales through the app store, you will of course look better on the app store’s “Top Paid” and “Top Grossing” charts than a developer who only has a a certain percentage of his overall sales contributing to those statistics. And those percentages depend heavily on whether Apple has chosen to feature your app at a prominent spot, for instance.

    It’s every developer’s own free choice, but I am not willing to have my livelihood depend on the app store review process just yet. And we don’t expect a lot of users to complain about having a choice where/how to buy.

  4. Kirk says:

    I’m a bit on the fence here. On the one hand, I certainly agree with the point about reaching more users. On the other hand, I’m a bit worried about those developers who have decided to only sell on the MAS, because I have some apps that I bought from them, and I assume that, in many cases (I’m sure about at least one), I won’t get updates from the developers.

    For the developers, though, you lose that connection with your customers that you had via direct sales: you don’t know who your customers are, and only know the breakdown by country. You can’t send e-mails to customers offering other products, and you are less likely to get direct feedback.

  5. I fully agree with and support what Rob and Peter said. Ettore Software will also continue building a shareware version for direct sales even now that TypeIt4Me is available on the Mac App Store.

    As Peter said, building two versions is a simple matter of pulling down a menu in Xcode. Though it did take several hours work a few weeks ago to conditionally compile out of the Mac App Store version things that don’t belong there, such as the registration dialog and the Sparkle updater.

    @Kirk, you are also 100% right that the downside of selling through Apple is that the developer loses that direct rapport with the buyer, which I have always found to be a wonderful experience in the twenty-two years I’ve been updating, selling and supporting my own software. The upside is that for a 30% cut, Apple handles all the sales logistics and to some extent the marketing. Not to mention the extremely easy purchase/install experience offered by the App Store.

    Two days is too early to judge, but for now I’m very happy to have made the (small) effort of packaging TypeIt4Me for the Mac App Store.

    Just my 2c….


  6. Peter Maurer says:

    It’s great to see you agree, Riccardo! And it’s true that I forgot to mention the one-time effort it took to make the multiple-targets setup you’ve outlined happen — converting all of our relevant projects to App Store/Indie twin targets mode took me somewhere between 3 and 5 hours, IIRC.

    I thought our existing customers (the ones that have built our business to this day) were worth that effort, though. And I ended up with a setup that I’ll be able to transfer to other projects in a matter of minutes, so I figured it was a more than reasonable investment.

  7. Tom says:

    Only thing I currently miss in the MAS regarding your fine apps is that I can’t rate them because I’ve purchased all those I have directly from you :-/

  8. Tom says:

    Here’s another take on the MAS by Michael Göbel of MOApp, a German indie developer.

    Sidenote: First I wanted to write “… a (like Peter) German indie developer …” but obviously Many Tricks now is a multinational corporation :D

    Greetings, Tom

  9. Raca says:

    I don’t understand why Name Mangler is at version 2.4.1 here and 2.3.3 on the App Store.
    I wanted to buy the one on the MAS but now I don’t know which one is the latest…

  10. Rob Griffiths says:

    I tried to explain it in the blog entry about the Name Mangler update, but I guess I didn’t do a very good job :).

    Here’s why version numbers get out of sync: we can release software here on our site whenever we wish, but Apple must approve all changes to the programs sold in the App Store.

    On January 15th, we submitted Name Mangler 2.4 to the App Store…and it’s still there, waiting to be reviewed.

    Because there are some key bug fixes and new features in 2.4, we wanted to get it out to our customers here as soon as possible. After waiting five days, we decided to go ahead and release it here, as we weren’t sure how much longer it would be before the App Store version was approved. (We also found and fixed a couple other minor bugs after 2.4 was finished, hence the release of 2.4.1 here.)

    Sometime soon, Name Mangler 2.4 will show up in the App Store—we haven’t submitted 2.4.1 yet, because we weren’t sure if doing so would send Name Mangler to the back of the review queue, and we want folks to get 2.4 as quickly as possible.

    Basically, if you want the latest version of any of our apps as soon as possible, it’s best to buy them directly from us: we’ll generally release updates when they’re ready, and you can get those updates directly within each program. You lose the benefits of the App Store versions (centralized updates for all your apps, easy install, etc.) by choosing to buy direct, but you gain faster updates.

    Make sense?

  11. Raca says:

    Yes, that makes sense.
    Thank you for your (very fast) answer!