Brad Touesnard, founder of the WordPress App Store has published a detailed post that explains the reasoning for why the app store failed. Hind sight is 20/20 so it’s great to get this kind of perspective from Brad. We find out what went right but more importantly, what went wrong. One of the major reasons for its failure was the inability to have the plugin listed on the WordPress.org plugin repository. According to the guidelines, marketplace type plugins are not allowed. This prevented the App Store from being placed in front of a large amount of eyeballs and thus, slowed adoption rates. The most interesting take away I had from his post is the fact that after WooThemes added WP App Store support to their themes, their customers started complaining and thought the menu link was spam, or that their sites had been hacked.
The snippet that I developed worked great and WooThemes added it to all their themes. Unfortunately, their customers started complaining as soon as it was rolled out. Many didn’t know where the menu item had come from. They were confused by it. Some thought their site had been hacked and that it was spyware.
Two months after adding it, WooThemes removed the installer from their themes.
In those two months, we saw significant gains in registrations and sales, so this mistake was costly. Clearly the WP App Store menu item should have been tucked under the WooThemes menu item to make it clear that it was part of the theme.
Brad goes on to explain that while there was quite a bit of interest from webhosting companies to integrate the app store into their control panels, many of them wanted to see traction first. Talk about being in a tough spot. You need webhosting companies to gain traction but they won’t jump on board until they see traction. At the end of the day, WP App Store will still be around but in the form of a product newsletter, not a store. Once or twice a month, an email will be sent out containing exclusive coupon codes for products.
If Not WP App Store, Who Else?
I remember a few years ago when a number of discussions were happening throughout the WordPress community where there was apparent demand for something like the WordPress plugin repository, but for commercial themes and plugins. More so for plugins than themes since the repo already had a page dedicated to commercial theme companies who follow the GPL licensing. These discussions began around the same time WPPlugins was launched in 2009. They gave it a ride for a few years but eventually folded. WordPress plugin app stores have come and gone over the past few years, is it an idea that can still be capitalized on or has sites such as CodeCanyon and ThemeForest eroded any chance of being successful?