The most distressing – and frankly inexcusable – failings of Apple’s “App Store” infrastructure reared it’s ugly head again this week when the crew at the Omni Group had to renege on a promise to customers regarding upgrade pricing. In a nutshell, there is no mechanism to offer anything other than a single purchase price for any particular piece of software. If you are a developer and you put “PowerSoft Pro Gold Deluxe Premium 2.0” in the App Store you have to pick a single price (i.e.: $4.99) and that is the price that everyone pays, period. If you wanted to offer an upgrade price of $1.99 to your customers who had already purchased “PowerSoft Pro Gold Deluxe Premium 1.0”, well, too bad.
This is unfortunate, because that sort of “discounted purchase price for incremental increases in functionality” is a standard – and good – thing in the world of professional and/or business software. People expect it, they plan for it, and they use it. With that option off the table and the choice now between paying full price for a new version or not upgrading at all, the vast majority of business users will pick “not upgrade at all”. That takes money out of the pockets of developers and out of the coffers at Apple, so you would think that someone would be paying attention and try to address this. I can understand this being an oversight or a “real soon now” feature when the App Store was launched, but at this point in the development of this infrastructure it is nothing short of pathetic.
Two things of note here: One, developers can still sell their apps directly to users from their own online stores, and that includes versions with upgrade pricing. That mitigates some of the pain, but it also serves to further highlight the fact that the most visible and highest traffic sales portal lacks this seemingly simple function. And two, the Omni Group makes some really excellent software. Just so you know.