My Delivery Truck

Posted on July 2, 2015

As tends to happen in regular cycles in our community, there has recently been another bout of handwringing over the difficulty of making it as an indie. Brent Simmons kicked this one off in his well written piece titled Love. And I don’t mean to make light of his piece. If you haven’t done so, I encourage you to read it. It encapsulates well a lot of the emotional angst that many independent developers are feeling about their businesses right now. Things aren’t as easy as they once were – especially in the App Store. As everyone in this business knows, supply is up (there are hundreds of thousands more apps in the App Store than there were just a few years ago), and prices are down. The App Store is no longer the land of milk and honey that it once was. As a result, we complain about it. A lot.

“The App Store is hostile to indie developers.”

“People won’t pay money for apps on the App Store.”

“The App Store should do more to help customers discover my app.”

But you know what? We developers need to get over it and stop blaming the App Store for our business troubles, because when it comes down to it, the App Store has only two purposes: credit card processing and software delivery. That’s it. Yeah, I know the App Store was originally sold to developers as a marketing channel, but it hasn’t been that for many years.

Today, the App Store is basically your delivery truck that takes cash on delivery. We wouldn’t blame a delivery truck for our business failure. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s not a delivery truck’s responsibility to ensure that there’s a market for our products. That’s what market research is for. It’s not a delivery truck’s responsibility to advertise our products or introduce them to customers. That’s what marketing is for. And it’s not a delivery truck’s responsibility to prop up prices in the market place. That’s just not it’s role.

So the next time you hear a developer complaining about the App Store, mentally replace “the App Store” with “my delivery truck” before evaluating the reasonableness of the complaint. As I think you’ll see, most complaints about the App Store just don’t hold water.

My delivery truck is hostile to my business.”

“People won’t pay for apps on my delivery truck.”

My delivery truck should do more to help customers discover my app.”

Instead of blaming the delivery truck for our business problems, we need to double down on the business side of our software businesses. We need evaluate the market for an app before building it. We need to go to where our customers are and market our products outside the App Store. We need to research whether customers would actually pay a sustainable price for our app – before we even open Xcode. We need to take responsibility for our own success and our own failure and stop blaming the delivery truck for our problems.

Note: I’ve posted a follow-up to this article titled, My Delivery Truck (2nd Delivery Attempt).