Sketch Leaving the Mac App Store Shows Understanding of Sales

Apple CassetteThe MacOS X developer community is abuzz with the announcement that Bohemian Coding is pulling their Sketch vector art product from the Mac App Store. Here is why developers should pay attention.

MacOS developers tend to be both fanatical supporters of all things Apple and subject to highest highs and lowest lows verging on the bi-polar. MacOS in any of its incarnations has always been jammed packed with user experience wonders.

Lets step back in time a bit to see how we got here.

MacOS developers are usually a bit too much all in when it comes to all things Apple. Developers were all in on selling on the iOS platform, even with the severe constraints on that platform – an Apple channel monopoly being one of them. You have to put all your eggs into the one basket, because there is only one basket.

MacOS software and hardware have always experienced challenges reaching customers as compared with the Windows platform. You sold direct, through the few store chains and standalone resellers that were MacOS focused, or through catalogs. This collective channel was also expensive, too – and you often had to be expert at getting products into distributors as some stores didn’t buy direct. And resellers can demand even more from their suppliers, such as stock rotation, stock balancing and also if you actually wanted your product promoted, extra money for their advertisement campaigns.

When Apple opened the Apple Store chain, it up ended the channel. Some vendors got into the Apple Store and thrived, even though they often paid extra premiums to be there. For seasoned channel sales managers, this was understood because you, software vendor, are not just a vendor. You are not a client or customer. You are supplier.

Retail is nozzle end of a fat pipe to customers. Retailers think about margin profits, but its based on available space, volume and the likelihood of returns. Retailers are giving you, software vendor, an opportunity to be a supplier.

Long time channel vendors know that it is extremely risky to sell only through one reseller. You see, resellers also go through bad times too. Sometimes your products no longer get shelved or supplied to all stores in a chain. Sometimes resellers only pay when they want to order more product from you.  They make decisions based on what’s good for them. The supplier doesn’t matter.

The Mac App Store follows the exact same philosophy of retailing. You are a supplier, and if you want to be on that virtual shelf, you have to conform your specs to be there.

There is a generation of software vendors who grew up around selling exclusively through Apple virtual venues. They never developed much of a direct sales channel. Knowing how to sell using other types of methodologies isn’t a part of their experience. They believed they were customers or clients, not suppliers.

Bohemian Coding developed a direct sales channel anyway, so while leaving the Mac App Store will make the financial road a bit bumpy, they should survive. Would you?

Photo credit: jurvetson / CC BY

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