FIPLAB in 2017: Our new strategy & focus

A Brief History

FIPLAB began as an iPhone game development studio back in March 2009. Making games was fun, but the hit-based short term nature of the gaming business made us look towards utility and productivity apps (which tend to have a constant level of demand) as a more reliable way to build a sustainable software business.

In 2011, we decided to direct our efforts to the newly launched Mac App Store (MAS) and we've mostly had a good experience selling exclusively through this platform; over 26 million downloads and several hundred thousand daily active users.

However, slowly the MAS has become increasingly neglected by Apple, who, perhaps understandably, have chosen to focus on the bigger and more profitable iOS App Store.

The Mac App Store Situation

Many of the App Store improvements announced by Apple have never made it to the MAS1 and Mac developers have become very frustrated at what was once an exciting new place to sell software. This neglect, coupled with inconsistent review guidelines and sandbox restrictions has meant that many of our peers completely left the MAS a few years ago2.

Today, the MAS is full of scam/spam apps (e.g. fake MS Office apps and Antivirus/Adware apps that have 100's of fake reviews) and very low quality apps, which are somehow manipulated to rank high on the top charts.

Ultimately, these issues have led the MAS to become a terrible place to easily discover good quality apps.

The Future for FIPLAB

Before I go any further, let me make clear that this isn't a post to announce we are moving away from the MAS (it's still a viable platform to sell software), but going forward, we will be focusing on selling our apps directly through our partnership with Paddle - a platform that has sprung up to capitalize on Apple's neglect of the MAS. It makes the whole app licensing and payment process very straight forward for developers.

Purchasing apps directly from our website is completely safe and secure. It also has several benefits:

Developer Benefits
  • We get to keep a bigger share of our revenue. Apple charges a 30% fee for every app sold on the MAS. This is a huge fee for merely processing payments and providing a download of our apps. If we sell and distribute directly, we can get the same service (in fact, a lot better) for a fee of around 10%. So straight off the bat, that is a 20% saving.

  • Furthermore, when we sit down and actually look at the facts, the MAS doesn't actually provide developers with a great deal of exposure to potential customers. Developers already have to spend time, money and effort on marketing, just to direct a potential customer to the MAS. We don't even get analytics on the traffic being received by our MAS app (unlike on iOS) and Apple chooses to keep all the customer data to themselves. Therefore, it makes sense to direct our marketing efforts towards building a loyal customer base that is happy to support us by purchasing high quality apps directly from our website. By doing so, we can actually know who our customers are and where best to direct our marketing efforts.

Customer Benefits
  • For customers, buying directly means you benefit from more timely app updates (no need to wait for Apple to approve them) and most likely get a version of our app that is not crippled by sandbox restrictions3, which prevent powerful features from making it into the Mac App Store4.

  • Finally, purchasing directly means that you can take advantage of occasional discount coupons, upgrade pricing and app bundles, along with free trials to evaluate apps before purchasing.

All the above things have been repeatedly requested by Mac developers, but Apple has failed to take action.

Refined Focus:

In line with our new strategy to prioritize direct selling, I have also redefined our company's focus and throughout our team there is now the highest emphasis placed on ensuring our customers are genuinely pleased with our apps. Whilst nearly all of our apps have a 5/5 average rating on the MAS, I know we can still do better.

Over the next few months, we will be launching a range of brand new apps and reinventing some of our existing apps with the highest level of care and attention to detail to ensure that we have a diverse portfolio of Mac apps which are undisputedly the best of their kind. We will not rest until we achieve this goal.

Update: The first of these new apps are now released: Window Manager for Mac and Handy Note for Mac.

I believe that FIPLAB's customer orientated approach will build trust, respect and loyalty. This in turn will encourage our customers to help grow our business through personal recommendations. This is the only way to build an indie software business that will stand the test of time.

When you buy an app made by FIPLAB, you can be confident that you will receive a high quality product that will be improved upon for many years to come.

The FIPLAB team and I would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to the millions of Mac users that have purchased our apps through the Mac App Store and we hope that you will continue to support us through purchasing apps directly from our website in the future.

  1. For example, app video previews, app bundles and app page analytics.

  2. More details here: https://9to5mac.com/2015/12/01/sketch-leaves-mac-app-store/

  3. Apps sold the the MAS are not allowed to use the full range of Mac OS features and APIs.

  4. Examples include fan speed controls for MacBooks, utilities to show the health of your iPhone/iPad batteries, and advance window management tools that require accessibility APIs that are no longer permitted on the Mac App Store.