Problems with App store?
One clear problem with any App store is that you’re locked in to use their limited set of licensing models (i.e. ways to sell your app). This is evident when you want to support proper subscription based model (i.e. customers need to pay on a monthly or early basis to continue to use your app). Many big companies, such as Microsoft and Adobe, are starting to charge their customers on a recurring basis, for instance in Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud. Now, you no longer buy the “product” but rather the “service”, which means that we want to give our customers a great user experience independent of the platform, may it be a tablet, a smartphone or a PC. Unfortunately, this is very difficult to implement and manage across multiple platforms if you use built in functionality of the App store (and other app stores) because you’re locked in into their ecosystem.
Not only are you locked in into their ecosystem, they also take 30% of your revenue that you could have used to develop your application further.
Say you sell your service for $100/per month. Then you have to pay $30 per month in royalties, which adds up to almost $400 per year. Note, this is in addition to the fee that you payed to register a developer account.
How is this solved now?
One question that comes into our mind is following: How do companies like Spotify and Uber avoid to pay Apple the 30% transaction fee? The common denominator is that they use a custom licensing component that they maintain themselves. For example, to use Spotify, you need an active subscription (even if the app is free), which you can get outside of the Apple store, for example, on Spotify’s website. So, technically, no transaction occurred in the app itself.
The idea is to avoid using the built-in functionality of the App store as much as possible. You can do this in the following two ways: either you develop a licensing component from scratch or use a third party.
Building from Scratch
If you have some time at your disposal, you can create a licensing system from scratch or use an open source library, such as SKGL. The advantage is that you get to design it specifically for your needs. Using open-source systems can save you some time, but please keep in mind that you might instead need to spend time on configuring it and possibly extending depending on your requirements.
Using Third Party
The idea here is simple: “Why invent the wheel?”. Software licensing and monetization is such a common problem so there are solutions out there that can do just that.
First of all, they will probably cover many cases and secondly they are also cheaper than doing it on your own (after all, think about the time it would take, which is approx. 2-3 months, and later maintenance).
The critical bit is maintenance. Imagine that your business model changes and you have to restructure your licensing solution. If you use a third party, they most likely have what you’re looking for, so changing won’t be hard. Otherwise, you have to do it yourself from scratch.
Example solution using SKM
In order to get a working licensing component, one way to go is to use SKM – a cloud based licensing as a service. SKM is like a toolbox that contains many of the tools that you would need to set up a licensing system within hours. In comparison to many of the alternative solutions, it’s aim is to be accessible, which includes being affordable and simple-to-use. Moreover, one of the values is transparency and developer friendliness; many of the tools used in SKM are available open source and free of charge. It’s very simple to get started.
This year has almost reached its end (at least here in Sweden) and within several hours a new year will begin – 2017.
By looking back on 2016, I’m very happy that we are getting closer to achieve our mission: to make software licensing more accessible. This is thanks to our partners and customers, who continue to support us with new ideas and insights. I’m very thankful to all of you.
Soon 2017 will begin, and I’m convinced that this new year will come with new interesting challenges and opportunities for all of us.
I wish you all the very best! 🙂
Lead Developer, Founder
The aim behind SKM is to make software licensing more accessible. By making it simple, it becomes more accessible.
This led to the construction of a new Wiki page, which you can find here: help.skmapp.com.
The entire page is open source and does not require any server side (i.e. PHP/ASP.NET). You can find it here:
You can read more about open source at SKM: skmapp.com/open-source
Today we’ve released a new license key overview panel, which you can access by clicking on a license key on the “product page”. It is a replacement of the page were you would normally be redirected when selecting a key and the “Advanced Key Details” page.
The current page uses our new Web API 3, which means that everything you can do on this page can be achieved in your code. Please keep in mind that it requires a ‘standard’ subscription (‘premium’ won’t work unfortunately).
A unique feature of this new license key panel is that is supports labels that can help you to distinguish between various properties of a license key. For example, you might already use ‘feature 1’ as a way to mark a license key as a trial key. You can specify this here. Our intention is to build on top of this idea and bring support for labels to the product page, etc. More labels are coming later this month.
This panel is still a work in progress, so if you would have any suggestions or questions, please let us know! Here’s our feedback form.
The newest release of the SKM Platform (since 2016.06.27) is now supporting the new LicenseKey format, which is the default format of the Web API 3. This change has two implications: on Activation Forms and on the activation files on the product page.
- Activation Forms – only new activation forms will be affected
- Activation Files – the default is the new format.
To make this work in your application, please upgrade to SKM Client API (v.4.01). A good migration guide can be found here.
You are always welcome to ask us questions by contacting us!
A sample format of the new activation files is shown below:
Today, we’ve released a new major version of SKM Client API (aka SKGL Extension). To sum up, the new version brings full support for Web API 3 and combines that with all the positive features of the previous versions. The aim is to make all use cases much simpler to implement.
This week we’ve finished the “activation file box” that can be found on the product page. Here’s an overview:
The advantage of using it that you can easily add and remove new devices, as well as get an activation file that can be sent to users with no Internet access. The activation box consists of several ideas suggested by our users, so it feels great to add support for it!
Where we are moving
Many of us have experienced that since the last year, the core interface has remained unchanged. However, under the hood, many new functionalities have been added. Our primary focus has always been on the new Web API 3, which, in contrast to Web API 2, gives you more power and customization. Now that we have the foundation up and running, the new changes to the interface are going to occur much faster. Here, our aim is to move to a single-page design that allows you to stay on the same page without having to refresh the page. The goal is to increase productivity by reducing page loading time.
Another point worth mentioning is that we are going to expand the capabilities of the SKM.dll (aka SKGL Extension). Many of us use KeyInformation objects to store license information. However, many things have changed since it was first introduced, and keeping adding new things to it won’t be good from both a design perspective and a usability perspective.Therefore, we plan to add an entirely new class of representing license key information, with fields for customer information, data objects (aka additional variables), etc. Unfortunately, this will require some migration for those of us would like to adapt the new way. But, we will do our best to make it as simple as possible.
This is really exciting and I hope to be able to share some updates with you in the coming weeks! 🙂 You are always able to see the progress here.
Are you going to be in Stockholm on Thursday next week (10th of March)? Please come by the Entrepreneurial Days 2016 Fair in Nymble (Drottning Kristinas väg 15-19)! 🙂 http://www.ed.thsnaringsliv.se/
Automation of software licensing and distribution greatly reduces the time needed to process orders, and thus allows you to focus on building great products. SKM Payment Forms allow you to easily achieve that automation.
Here are some of the improvements we’ve made in the last couple of weeks:
- Tutorial: Designed a new, comprehensive tutorial about Payment Forms.
- Receipts: Enabled support for sending receipts on a successful transaction.
- Email: Add a requirement to enter an email during for each transaction.This was done to make it easier for you to identify the customers for each transaction, which is good in case something went wrong.
- PayPal: Allow the IPN to be used with multiple payment forms. Now, you only need to specify one IPN address, i.e. https://serialkeymanager.com/Form/IPN/.