Thinking of the customer


When running a business there’s always tension between what’s best for your business versus what’s best for your customer.

Dan Counsell’s post on providing access to Mac Apps outside the App Store is a good example of that tension (emphasis mine):

Lets take a look at three of the reasons why not limiting the availability of your software to just the Mac App Store is a sound business decision.

To be fair Dan is not arguing against using the AppStore, he’s simply recommending it be one of multiple channels. However it’s interesting to think through his reasoning.

His three main points are:

  1. Pay less in fees
  2. Earn extra revenue from bundles
  3. Know who your customers are

I think there’s a few problems with the first point, namely that it’s hard to tell how much first-touch revenue you’d make from selling outside the exposure the AppStore provides. But let’s leave that to the side.

In terms of earning extra revenue from bundles, can’t really argue there. Although the iOS AppStore supports bundles, it’s not yet available on the Mac AppStore (although that will likely change in time).

Knowing who your customers are is always useful, and in this case Dan highlights the advantages of up-selling, as well as some customer service benefits.

However the main issue (and the comments on the post highlight this well) is that overall the user experience of the Mac AppStore is so much better than buying directly. As a customer I love using the Mac AppStore because:

  • The search and purchase process is so simple
  • I can check reviews
  • There’s no payment hassles
  • I get notified of updates immediately and can apply them easily
  • When I use a different machine I have instant access to download the apps again
  • I can easily recommend an App to a friend and tell them the name (or send a link) and they can easily purchase it too

As a user the AppStore is so much better for me. And the times I have to purchase directly are a hassle (currently this only applies to my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, and Microsoft Office which I still use).

So there’s the tension. If the benefits for his business are really as good as he notes, then I’d imagine that in time they will stop selling via the AppStore – since having the multiple channels will require too much work, plus still have the issues that he highlights. And yes, it will likely be better for his business.

But will it be better for the customer? My point in this post, is simply to ask: if you are a business owner, does this matter to you?

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By Craig Bailey