Mac and iOS app developer Panic pulled its Coda software from the Mac App Store last October amidst issues related to Apple's "sandboxing" requirements. Turns out that decision wasn't a bad one for the company, according to a new blog post.
Panic co-founder Cabel Sasser recently posted a state of union address, of sorts, on the Panic blog, recounting the company's successes and challenges for 2014. Among them Sasser mentioned Coda 2.5's release, and Panic's decision to pull it from the Mac App Store. And after analyzing data since then, Sasser says Coda's sales "have not suffered significantly" since then.
We sold a couple hundred fewer units of Coda post-App Store removal, but revenue from it went up by about 44%.
Now, two explanations for that: in addition to keeping the 30% that would have normally gone to Apple, we also returned Coda from its sale price ($79) to its regular price ($99) alongside the release of 2.5. Even if those factors hadn't been in play, though, I don't think the decline in Coda revenue would have been as dramatic as we originally feared it might be.
Sasser added that Panic benefitted from the fact that Coda is a mature product with a dedicated customer base — he says pulling it from the store would have been a much harder decision otherwise.
Sasser offered some criticism of the App Store that we've heard from developers and users alike, before — specifically, that there's no mechanism at present to handle "traditional discounted upgrades." This affected Panic because the company released a new version of its SSH client for iOS, Prompt, and decided to make Prompt 2 a new app instead of an update to the original, to help cover development costs.
This is one area where the App Store feels like one of those novelty peanut cans with the snake inside.
Sasser also offered some comments on the app review process — Apple first rejected, then allowed an iCloud Drive feature to be included with Transmit for iOS. From Sasser's perspective, the system didn't work very well.
I can say for certain that the "bad PR" version of the app dispute process is monumentally more effective. Which is a shame.
It's interesting reading. Even if you're not a user of Panic's products, Sasser's comments will give you some great insight about what it is to be a Mac and iOS app developer today, and from that perspective, it's certainly worth a read.