My Delivery Truck (2nd Delivery Attempt)

Posted on July 9, 2015

Since posting My Delivery Truck, I’ve gotten a lot of responses, both on Twitter and (in the best tradition of blogging) reply posts. Although many were supportive of my post, some developers took me to task. A lot of the same objections were raised repeatedly, so I’m going to concentrate on a blog post from Aleksandar Vacić titled Store your Love which nicely summarizes many of the objections that were raised.

Aleksandar writes:

The iOS App Store is not just a delivery truck. For starters, it is the delivery truck, the only one out there.

The App Store is the only marketplace where you can compete as indie iOS developer. As such, the way it works and behaves strongly influences everyone’s business on it.

The App Store is also your storefront which, for some time now, strongly favors early comers and big-budget apps not interested in earning money.

The App Store is also a dominant discovery truck where it fails spectacularly due to its abysmal catalog search.

The fact that there’s no viable way to re-monetize your existing customer base [such as upgrade pricing] severely limits available business options.

All of these things are true. In many respects, the App Store is hostile to individual developers. Unfortunately, we have to deal with the App Store the way that it is, not as we would like it to be. In the end we have two choices: compete in the App Store despite its hostility, or get out.

Yes, we should recognize the limitations of the App Store and suggest improvements, but we can’t count on those improvements being implemented. Most of the complaints that Aleksandar raises above have been pointed out time and time again over a span of years. And yet these limitations remain.

And yes, we should study the App Store so that we can better understand its behavior. Understanding the quirks of, for instance, the App Store’s broken search algorithm can help us optimize our App Store presence. But what happens when Apple changes that search algorithm? What would happen to all the apps with keyword optimized titles if Apple decided tomorrow to penalize apps with “spammy” titles in search results? Building your business based on the quirks of the App Store is like building on sand. You’ll never have a strong foundation beneath you.

So if the App Store has all these problems that Apple has shown no interest in fixing, and if it’s not safe to build our business based on the quirks that the App Store happens to have today, then what’s left?

What’s left are the fundamentals of running a business. Carefully choose a market that will pay for the value you provide. Plan from the beginning to market your app outside the App Store. Use the permissible payment methods to engineer recurring revenue into your app. What’s left is building your business on only those aspects of the App Store that you can rely on – payment processing and software delivery. Essentially, what’s left is treating the App Store as merely your delivery truck.