1Password 7 has been in beta for six weeks now and the feedback has been fantastic. We are getting close to the official release date and have begun final preparations, including submitting 1Password 7 to the Mac App Store. 🎉
When 1Password 7 is released it will be available from the Mac App Store as well as our website, and will be available as both a subscription and a standalone license.
When adding 1Password 7 to the Mac App Store we needed to answer the following two questions:
- Should it be a new app?
- Should it support both subscriptions and licenses?
Ultimately we decided that 1Password 7 will be a new app in the Mac App Store, and available only as a subscription. I know that many of you will be curious about this, so I wanted to share with you why we decided on this approach.
Mac App Store and upgrades
The Mac App Store is one of the most convenient ways to purchase apps for your Mac. You can purchase with confidence, pay quickly in your local currency, and updates happen automatically. Overall it is a pretty sweet experience.
The App Store, for all it does well, struggles mightily when a paid upgrade is introduced because it does not allow developers to charge for an update to an existing app.
When considering a paid upgrade, developers have two choices: they can re-use their existing app or submit a new one. Both have their pros and cons.
Re-using an existing app
Developers are very creative and one approach that some have used to introduce paid upgrades is to re-use their existing app and offer an In-App Purchase to make the upgraded features available.
We actually went ahead and gave this an honest, if short-lived, try. Very quickly it became apparent that this would lead to a complete mess of spaghetti code as we tried to encapsulate new features. Worse yet, any significant UI updates (including the many we have in 1Password 7) were next to impossible to add as we’d have to keep the old UI around as well. Ultimately this proved infeasible and all my developers threatened to mutiny. 🙂
Submitting a new app
A new app avoids these issues, allowing us to keep our code base clean and my developers happy. It comes at a price though.
Introducing a new app means that everyone who wants the upgraded version needs to go back to the Mac App Store, find this new version, and download it.
We’ve done this before with 1Password 4 for iOS, and have the scars to prove it. Thousands of customers were confused when trying to update because their 1Password 3 app claimed to be up-to-date. To this day we have customers on 1Password 3 who do not realize a new version is out.
To be quite honest, one of the main reasons we haven’t had a paid upgrade on the Mac side for all these years is that we were dreading the pain this would cause us and our customers. However the time has come to bite the bullet and have a paid upgrade.
To avoid this pain in the future, this will be the last time we will be submitting a new app to the App Store. To make that possible, 1Password 7 will only be available as a subscription in the Mac App Store.
Mac App Store for subscriptions only
1Password subscriptions are eligible for free upgrades, meaning we can keep the same app in the App Store and seamlessly upgrade everyone to the new version as it comes out. This is just one of many the reasons why we love memberships.
If we were to sell standalone licenses in the Mac App Store we would have these same problems all over again when 1Password 8 is released. Ultimately this is why we decided not to sell licenses through the Mac App Store.
While still tough, this decision was easier to make as people looking for licenses will be able to download 1Password 7 directly from our website. I know this isn’t ideal for those who love the Mac App Store and prefer to purchase standalone licenses and I apologize for that. But overall I believe this was the correct decision to make.
I’ll be out at WWDC in a few weeks and would be more than happy to talk further if you have questions or are facing similar decisions with your own apps.