Sketch and BBEdit leave the Mac App Store (a blip or the tip of an iceberg of developer discontent?)

Bohemian Coding is no longer selling Sketch on the Mac App Store because of what the company describes as poor customer experiences. (Sketch is a tool for designing interfaces, websites, and icons.) At least one other company is also taking this route.

In a blog, the gang at Bohemian Coding had this to say: “Over the last year, as we’ve made great progress with Sketch, the customer experience on the Mac App Store hasn’t evolved like its iOS counterpart. We want to continue to be a responsive, approachable, and easily-reached company, and selling Sketch directly allows us to give you a better experience.

“We don’t expect this decision to be unanimously popular, but we want to share how we arrived at it. We take your satisfaction and support seriously, and hope you can understand the choice we have made.

“There are a number of reasons for Sketch leaving the Mac App Store—many of which in isolation wouldn’t cause us huge concern. However as with all gripes, when compounded they make it hard to justify staying: App Review continues to take at least a week, there are technical limitations imposed by the Mac App Store guidelines (sandboxing and so on) that limit some of the features we want to bring to Sketch, and upgrade pricing remains unavailable.

“We should also add that this move is not a knee-jerk reaction to the recent certificate expiration problems that affected so many Mac App Store customers. However, in light of what happened, we can’t help but feel vindicated in our decision that the Mac App Store is not in our customers’ best interests right now.

If you download Sketch directly from Bohemian Coding, they can recognize that you bought Sketch on the Mac App Store and will give you a free license for this new version automatically.

Bohemian Coding isn’t the only company that’s not totally pleased with the Mac Store experience. Rich Siegel of Bare Bones Software says the company won’t be sold at the store as of the next major release. He says there are many benefits to the store and doesn’t even mind the 30 percent cut of sales that Apple takes (Siegel says it’s a fair price considering all the benefits get).

He says that Apple has set pricing models expectations that great software should be free — or at least sold for very little. Siegel says this works great for Apple and its own apps since it makes money on hardware sales (iPhones, iPads, and Macs). Also, “sandboxing” is infeasible for some complex, long-established software.

Also, many developers have complained that the review process for getting an app, or an update of an app, on the Mac App Store takes way too long. Others think Apple treats the Mac App Store as a poor stepchild of the Apple App Store for iOS devices), devoting more resources to the latter than the former.

Are Bohemian Coding and Bare Bones’ decisions exceptions to the rule or the tip of a looming iceberg? Either way, Apple needs to listen to developer concerns. Otherwise, the Mac App Store may end up as a mall with an ever decreasing amount of tenants — or at least high quality tenants.