In this post from August, I laid out my reasons for avoiding app stores like the ones on Mac, Windows 8, and Ubuntu. There's a number of reasons why app stores are bad and there are a number of good reasons why developers should avoid them as much as they can. But being a pragamatist, I also realize that, as independent developers, we have to feed ourselves. Sometimes, that means doing things that we find a but unsavory and making hard compromises in order to put food on the table and live a decent life.
App stores are one of those things.
I've got a few applications that I sell through services like GumRoad and, I have to say, it's tough. More and users are turning exclusively to app stores to find everything from small, free, utility software to major applications like PhotoShop and Quicken. Additionally, users are (incorrectly) begining to equate app store inclusion with security; if you're not in the app store, you can't be trusted but if you are, everything is alright. The sad fact is that we can rage against the machine as much as we want, we can blame users ineptitude at using their computers, we can shake our fist at the heavens but, at the end of the day, it's all about money and putting food on the table.
After selling software for over 10 years without being in an app store (for a good part of that time, they didn't exist), I'm not convinced that an independent developer must be in an app store to succeed. There's simply no way around it. I continue to hate the idea and I think it's harmful to independent developer like myself, but it is what it is and I will be paying my $99 to Apple and Microsoft to be part of the club.
Times are changing for both users and developers. We either have to change with them or be left in the dust. It's time to pick our battles. I'm not choosing to die on this hill.