Here’s What Defines 2023 for Mac App Developers
Setapp talked to Mac developers from across the globe about app distribution, development, ChatGPT, the impact of global events, and future plans.
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For the seventh year in a row, Setapp surveys Mac developers about the state of the industry. From AI to app distribution challenges, developers share their take.
As app developers, we know that knowing what everyone else is doing is key to effective work and bringing useful products to market. This year, Setapp talked to 701 developers from across the globe about app distribution, development, AI (yes, including ChatGPT), the impact of global events, and future plans.
Let's discuss some of the curious challenges and expectations our survey has spotted.
App Distribution Goes Beyond Mac App Store
Mac Developer Survey is designed to gauge the state of the industry and market trends, and thus it's the only one that zeroes in on issues surrounding app distribution for Mac app developers.
A significant number of developers distribute their apps outside of the Mac App Store. 67% say they distribute their app on their own website. 40% use third-party tools to distribute their apps outside the Mac App Store.
From Setapp to Paddle, to FastSpring, to GitHub — developers have a number of options when it comes to third-party distribution.
At the same time, revenue distribution between these channels has yet to catch up — developers who distribute both via the Mac App Store and third-party tools say they earn about 57% of their revenue on the Mac App Store and 44% outside of it.
The key challenges we see developers face when it comes to app distribution, both in 2023 and 2022, are app discovery, marketing, and user acquisition. One big difference we are seeing this year is monetization listed as a challenge much more frequently — 35% of our respondents considered it one of the major challenges in 2023, compared to only 22% last year.
But what about the iPhone? Amid reports that Apple might be preparing to allow third-party app stores in the EU, as reported by Bloomberg, are developers interested in distributing their iOS apps outside the App Store?
Our survey shows that 60% of the surveyed developers were interested in distributing their apps outside the App Store, given the opportunity. Some of the main reasons for that were the desire to grow the user base and create an additional revenue stream.
Apple Silicon Wins Hearts
71% of the surveyed Mac developers have already optimized their apps for Apple silicon, 22% are working on it. More than 70% believe Apple silicon chips had a positive impact on their app performance.
AI/ML Continue to Win the Market
We asked Mac developers if they use AI/ML models in their apps. 44% said they already use them, while 28% are working on implementation.
But you are probably most curious about ChatGPT. Turns out, 39% of surveyed developers already use it in their development process. Only 20% are not planning to implement it in their workflow.
Which UI Framework Could Dominate?
When it comes to UI frameworks, AppKit, SwiftUI, and UIKit + Catalyst retain comparatively sized shares.
That said, almost 70% of those not using SwiftUI are considering switching to it this year, at least partially.
Global Events Impact Mac Developers
In 2022, more than 150,000 people lost their jobs at some of the biggest players in tech due to layoffs, according to Layoffs.fyi, quotes The Wall Street Journal. As the wave continues in 2023, one-third of the surveyed Mac developers felt the negative impact of these events.
80% of respondents felt at least some impact of the Russian war against Ukraine, with 10% being impacted majorly or severely.
So, what do Mac developers have planned for the future? According to our findings, many plan to focus on integrating new third-party technologies, sunsetting apps, and hiring new staff. Notably, surveyed developers expect AI/ML and hardware advances like Apple silicon, 5G, wearables, etc., to be some of the most impactful trends in 2023.
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