Mon 11/18 Omni Solves App Store Upgrades

When The Omni Group announced OmniKeyMaster on August 27th, I was curious if not a little skeptical.

OmniKeyMaster is a simple app that finds App Store copies of Omni apps installed on your Mac, then generates equivalent licenses from our store - for free. This gives Mac App Store customers access to discounted pricing when upgrading from the Standard edition to Professional, or when upgrading from one major version to the next. Another benefit: since they don’t have to wait in an approval queue, our direct releases sometimes get earlier access to new features and bug fixes. OmniKeyMaster lets App Store customers access those builds, as well.

Unfortunately OmniKeyMaster was too good to last, because on September 4th Apple shut it down.

My apologies: I’m afraid we will not be able to offer upgrade pricing to our Mac App Store customers after all. So long as we continue to sell our apps through the Mac App Store, we are not allowed to distribute updates through other channels to apps which were purchased from the App Store.

The thing to remember about the App Store is that Apple wants their cut. That includes 30% of all app and in-app purchases sold in the App Store. But it also includes sales an app generates outside of the App Store, like subscriptions or upgrades. Because Apple has no control over what happens outside of the App Store they try to block every avenue a developer might take to convert App Store purchases into outside revenue. OmniKeyMaster was a avenue to convert App Store purchases to outside revenue.

As an early App Store adopter I have spent hundreds of dollars on apps, including a $199 license for OmniGraffle 5. I choose the App Store because of the convenience it offers, instant downloads, single sign-on, no serial numbers.

I am not alone:

The Mac App Store is the most convenient way to buy our software, letting you purchase, download, and install our apps with just one step, and easily update our apps at the same time as you update other apps you’ve purchased from the store. - Ken Case, The Omni Group CEO

Because Apple does not endorse upgrade pricing on the App Store, I am not afraid to purchase the new version of my favorite apps at full price for the convenience the App Store offers me. But at $199 for a updated license of OmniGraffle Professional 6, I was hoping for a better way.

The Omni Group found a better way! Starting with OmniGraffle 6 you can upgrade to OmniGraffle Professional by using in-app purchase.

  • OmniGraffle 5 needs to be installed — to verify your purchase. (You can delete it later if you want to.)
  • Make your purchase of OmniGraffle 6 for $99.
  • From the OmniGraffle menu, select In-App Purchase.
  • OmniGraffle will ask you to point to your copy of OmniGraffle 5 — you’ll see an extra option to purchase the upgrade for $49.99 if you own 5 Standard; and you’ll see it’s free if you own 5 Pro.

Because I own OmniGraffle 5 Pro, I get OmniGraffle 6 Professional for the price of $99. The same price I would have gotten if I had purchased OmniGraffle 6 in The Omni Group Store.i It is hard to believe Apple let this into the App Store, but as far as I can see it doesn’t break any of their rules.

Thanks to The Omni Group’s tireless efforts I no longer feel bad about choosing to the App Store. It is hard to think of another company that goes this far out of their way to help their customers, even if their efforts end up losing them money.