Phil Schiller on App Store Upgrade Pricing, Amazon Echo-Like Devices, Swift, and More

Phil Schiller on App Store Upgrade Pricing, Amazon Echo-Like Devices, Swift, and More

Phil Schiller is a name that needs no introduction to anyone that’s tracked Apple for a decent length of time. An ever-present figure at nearly all major Apple events since Steve Jobs made his return to the company, Schiller is perhaps best known to the more casual Apple observers for his “Can’t innovate any more, my ass!” remark while introducing the 2013 Mac Pro.

The Senior Vice President Worldwide Marketing at Apple was in Bengaluru recently to inaugurate the company’s app accelerator facility in Bengaluru where he a spoke to group of Indian app makers that included CEOs of popular apps like Zomato and Practo, as well as developer of the indie app Avaz.

“This [the app accelerator] is a unique new thing we haven’t done anywhere else in the world,” Schiller told the app makers. “We have created the idea of this app accelerator where developers like yourselves can come here in large number week-in and week-out and get help with whether it’s design expertise and I think that’s something Apple has a lot of knowledge on to share, as small as to be able to experiment and play with the technologies that we are working on.”

Later during the trip, Gadgets 360 got a chance to sit down with Schiller and pick his brains on a wide variety of topics, both developer- and consumer-focussed. Before you ask, yes, we did quiz Schiller on the state of neglect that the Mac Pro finds itself in, but just three days after our conversation, news broke that Apple is completely revamping the Mac Pro, so it made no sense to share that bit of our conversation. Here are excerpts of our conversation with Phil Schiller.

On App Store upgrade pricing
Phill Schiller: The reason we haven’t done it is that it’s much more complex than people know, and that’s okay, it’s our job to think about complex problems, but the App Store has reached so many successful milestones without it because the business model makes sense to customers. And the upgrade model, which I know very well from my days of running many large software programmes, is a model from the shrink-wrapped software days that for some developers is still very important, for most, it’s not really a part of the future we are going.

I think for many developers, subscription model is a better way to, go than try to come up with a list of features, and different pricing for upgrade, versus for new customers. I am not saying it doesn’t have value for some developers but for most it doesn’t, so that’s the challenge. And if you look at the App Store it would take a lot of engineering to do that and so would be at the expense of other features we can deliver.

For example, the App Store has one price for an app, when you see it, you see if there’s a price on it, that’s the price. It doesn’t have multiple prices for multiple tiers of customers so to engineer that in, it’s not impossible, but a lot of work for a small segment of software that we hope for many of them, subscription pricing is a better model, the one where the customers are comfortable with. So we’ll keep talking to developers about what’s most important on their list, we want them to keep telling is if that [upgrade pricing] is high on the list or not, and we’ll keep an open mind to it, but it’s harder than people realise.

Thoughts on devices like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo
Phill Schiller: Well, I won’t talk to either one specifically, [I] don’t want to. My mother used to have a saying that if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all. So, instead, let’s abstract the conversation just briefly to some of the general concepts and talk about those, because it’s really interesting.