WP App Store launches with 17 theme and plugin partners

28 Comments

WP App Store, the project aiming to make plugin and theme purchases easy within the WordPress dashboard — and which we previewed a couple of months ago — quietly launched yesterday (complete with slick intro video). Their plugin is downloadable on their website, which once installed will give you a new top-level menu item for browsing commercial themes and plugins recently added to their system.

Seventeen theme and plugin partners are in place at launch, a few more than announced when the original teaser page went up. Brad Touesnard, the developer behind WP App Store, said that a couple of the vendors that originally showed interest haven’t been responsive, while others just aren’t in the store yet. Developers interested in bringing their own theme or plugin products to WP App Store can request an invite.

Touesnard’s certainly not on his own with this project. In addition to the vendors partnering with WP App Store, his advisors include prominent WordPress business owners Adii Pienaar, Carl Hancock, and Jason Cohen.

Above: The WP App Store plugin, active in the dashboard and displaying newly available themes and plugins.

Vendors (still) on board

The following vendors were present at WP App Store’s launch:

  • AppThemes
  • Crowd Favorite
  • Digital Telepathy
  • Dev7studios
  • Gabfire Themes
  • MintThemes
  • Modern Tribe
  • Obox Themes
  • Organic Themes
  • Press75
  • SeedProd
  • ThemeFuse
  • UpThemes
  • WooThemes
  • WPZoom
  • Wysija Newsletter
  • Zen Themes

Right now, as you might expect, the WP App Store lists many more WordPress themes than plugins — sixteen or so pages of the former and only a few pages of the latter. That likely has more to do with the higher ratio of theme businesses to plugin businesses than anything else.

Touesnard said that WordPress.org’s clause restricting storefront plugins will likely keep it from inclusion there, though teased that they “have some pretty clever strategies to distribute the plugin.” We’ll have to wait to hear more about these ideas, but for now you can download their plugin from WPAppStore.com and upload it to your WordPress install.

In answer to a few questions on Hacker News, Touesnard said that the ability to search and review items in the store are high up on the feature list for future versions of the plugin.

What do you think?

Will WP App Store bring a proper theme and plugin shopping experience to the WordPress dashboard? It will be interesting to find out, in time, what kind of penetration WP App Store can achieve. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

28 thoughts on “WP App Store launches with 17 theme and plugin partners

  1. I’ve always been dubious of App Stores but in the case of WordPress I’ve long thought we need something similar to the built in free plugin search for paid plugins. It’s super easy to find free plugins in the plugin panel in wordpress, but getting and uploading paid ones can be a pain.

    It would be REALLY awesome if they automated plugin updating so that individual theme and plugin devs didn’t have to work that out themselves.

  2. It’s a good idea and been watching the growth of the concept for a while now, but why is it called an AppStore when its not selling “apps”? And how soon will Apple lay the legal smackdown on it because of the name?

    • If Apple, which is the only company that would have a legal claim (although they’ve yet to be able to successfully enforce it in a legal battle with Amazon), posed an issue down the road then there are already contingency plans in place for the WP App Store to change it’s name to an alternative name quickly and seamlessly.

      People such as Adii and myself have been advising Brad and the WP App Store team on a variety of issues and this is most definitely one that we discussed. So I don’t see this as an issue at all.

      Why “apps?” because people understand it and it is precisely what it is. Plugins and advanced themes ARE apps when you think about it. They are applications built in PHP and designed to run on top of and enhance WordPress.

      I have always viewed Gravity Forms as an application, not a plugin. Plugin makes it sound much smaller and less advanced than it actually is. It’s an application that runs on WordPress. Just like iPhone apps run on iOS.

    • The difference is the WP App Store has the support of most of the top theme and plugin developers.

      This space is going to be defined by the themes and plugins that are available within each respective marketplace and the one that garners the most vendor participation is going to be the winner.

      I’d put money on the WP App Store over the others precisely because I know what kind of support and vendor participation it is getting from the commercial WordPress community.

  3. It’s a great idea, looks very promising.. If the wpappstore team can market this with some great promotions to the average users, this could really take off

  4. This is the most exciting thing that happened in the WordPress community in the last years. It could have been nice if there were also some free content. I’m sure there are plenty of theme and plugin developers that won’t mind to put their themes or plugins for free out there as well as on the official repository.
    Also, another thing to note is the UI of WP App Store. I think it could be nice if the UI was a little more related to WordPress UI guidelines. The single theme/plugin view feels somewhat alienated from the rest of the UI that WordPress utilizes.
    In general, looks like the big next thing in the WP sphere.

  5. I think WordPress.org should just develop a marketplace for themes and certain types of plugins- one that gives a strict code review and whose proceeds could be reinvested back into the project. I know the Joomla community was hindered in part by paid components- but I think WordPress might be mature enough to support it. And, at any rate, ThemeForest and projects like this already doing it.

    There was an interesting piece on Planet Money a couple months back, about how the Apple App Store spurred development and created a huge new market: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/01/31/146152273/the-tuesday-podcast-the-app-economy

    If someone was taking a 30% cut of every theme/plugin I sold, I’d appreciate the opportunity to have it be the WordPress foundation.

    • That would get complicated pretty fast, I think. But it doesn’t seem like it’s something WordPress leadership is really interested in pursuing anyway.

      • I think what Matt said a year back was that there are others already doing a good job at distributing themes (or something to that effect). I hope that view never changes. It’s best to let third parties develop the entire commercial WordPress economy (including marketplaces). It would be interesting if ThemeForest hired a couple uber WP code geeks to classify themes coded to WP.org standards a special designation and price hike.

  6. If only this would be included in core by default 🙂 … we’ll have to see how much traction this gets… also does anyone know what options there are for selling themes on per site basis? so if you want to sell on per use basis…

    • I wouldn’t worry about it be included in core, which is never going to happen anyway. There is a propagation strategy that hasn’t begun yet that is going to be the next best thing to having it included in core by default.

  7. Brad certainly has a great idea, but not everyone is going to be onboard with it. As Brian from StudioPress pointed out to me, they have no interest in joining the app store.

    There will certainly be missing some quality themes and companies from the app store, but I still think it’s a good idea in theory.

    • StudioPress is definitely the biggest theme developer that is missing.

      There are several other well known theme vendors that simply haven’t launched within the App Store yet. So while there are several vendors missing, a lot of them are in process and just haven’t gone live yet. Gravity Forms itself isn’t in the App Store yet but will be shortly.

      I know some of the strategies that are going to be implemented in order to propagate the WP App Store in the community and get it in front of WordPress users. I’m sure vendors who don’t participate now will be knocking on Brad’s door once that strategy begins to come to fruition.

  8. The first thing that came to mind when I installed the plugin and saw the main presentation page was Tumblr – except with wpappstore there are no free themes on offer.

    The second thing that came to mind was that this is somewhat of a fight back for market share against the big marketplace(s) and I’m sure you know who I mean.

    The third thing was to question whether this is going to be the direction WordPress core takes in the future. Particularly since some of the people behind wpappstore are involved with Automattic.

    It’s an interesting development and prompted me to vlog about it.

  9. This makes browsing/buying of themes/plugins easier. But it clouds pricing, sales, update and support issues since App Store will not deal with any of it. As such, once I buy something, I still need to go to the supplier direct. As such, the overall customer experience is not improved. And since I can already buy the products direct from the supplier, I see no benefit personally.

    True, AppStore only products may come along, but for example, say Rocket Genius releases a killer AppStore only plugin. Would I HAVE to buy it through AppStore? Even after being a direct customer using their service with numerous clients and promoting them to whoever would listen. Would they then force me to give my credit card details to a third party for their convenience OR go without the plugin?

    I love Gravity Forms. Just playing devil’s advocate here, but I don’t see how this improves customer service.

    • How exactly does it cloud pricing, sales and updates? Pricing isn’t cloudy, you see up front what the price is. Sales? You purchase what you want and you have it. Updates? The vendor will release updates just like they would if you purchased directly from them. There is no difference.

      As for support issues, how is this any different than purchasing an app in the iOS App Store on your iPhone or iPad, purchasing an app in the Mac App Store, or purchasing ANYTHING from almost any marketplace involving software products? In all those situations you still go to the vendor for support. This isn’t anything new.

      Sure you can still buy the products direct from the vendor, you can purchase them either way. It’s entirely up to you.

      HOWEVER you are missing a few key valuable things that the WP App Store brings to the table for both vendors and end users.

      DISCOVERY… you can always buy products direct from vendors but you have to know about the theme or plugin before you can even do that. I would bet you were not aware of every theme and every plugin that is currently in the WP App Store right now. I know I wasn’t, and I follow the commercial development community very closely. The App Store makes it easy for users to browse and compare themes as well as find plugins that fill a need without having to wade through Google trying to find what they are looking for.

      AUTHORITY… a big issue today is users not know which themes and plugins are good from a code reliability standpoint. One of the biggest issues we run into with supporting Gravity Forms is NOT issues caused by our code, but issues caused by poorly developed themes and plugins. The App Store provides consumers a reliable place to browse and purchase themes and plugins while being able to breath easy that they aren’t buying a poorly developed product.

      The App Store is curated, it doesn’t allow just any vendor participate and those vendors are expected to deliver a quality product AND fix issues that may be encountered in a timely fashion. For me, this is one of the most important things because now we have a reliable source that we can refer users to when we get asked by our customers where they can purchase reliable themes and plugins.

      CONVENIENCE AND EASE OF USE… commercial themes and plugins are typically not available in the WordPress.org repositories. The exception being SaaS plugins or commercial plugins that may have a free version. But most, like Gravity Forms, are not available on wordpress.org. This means you can’t browse and install them via the built in Theme or Plugin installer in your WordPress Dashboard. The user has to manually download the product and then manually install it on their WordPress site. There is no one click install. Once the user has the App Store, they can easily install any theme or plugin they purchase without having to do any manual downloading or uploading.

      I could go on and on as to benefits the App Store can provide because as a commercial plugin vendor, i’m well aware of the issues that we run into and our customers run into on a daily basis.

      If we (rocketgenius) released a new plugin would you have to buy it through the App Store? Maybe. We have no plans to make our products App Store only, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t do so if we decided we wanted to. I’m not sure how being a direct customer and promoting us has anything to do with where you purchase our products.

      You already give your credit card details to a third party, PayPal, and our checkout system is already completely hosted by a third party, e-junkie, so there is absolutely no difference between purchasing Gravity Forms from us directly vs. the App Store from that standpoint. Absolutely none.

      When you purchase Gravity Forms from the App Store (it will be available soon), you are still a rocketgenius customer. You still receive a welcome email containing your license email and your support site account information directly from us when you purchase and updates are delivered via automatic update the same way we deliver them now.

      I’m going to stop myself now because I could literally go on all day as to the many reasons why the App Store is good for both vendors and consumers. Needless to say, the benefits are tremendous and I think it’s shortsighted to discount it so quickly.

  10. Hi Carl,

    Thanks for the response. You make good points and I will correct myself and say I was not discounting the AppStore. I was bringing up questions that came to mind and you have addressed them. Being able to discover themes/plugins is a great benefit, and the code review would definitely be the greatest benefit. You have the viewpoint of being on the other side of the support window and that insight is appreciated.

    What I meant by pricing being cloudy is: Will a theme or plugin be the same price in the store than it is elsewhere? Sales, if something goes wrong with purchase, who do I speak to? AppStore? Developer? PayPal? By upgrades I meant, for example, the Gravity Forms developer license is annual. So do I then renew that license through the AppStore or via your site directly? I will find my answers by using the service. Support follows the regular model and as you say, is not any different.

    I think the AppStore is an established idea that was missing in WordPress. As mentioned I was playing the bad guy. This is a new service and it will bring value. I was being overly critical. I love WordPress and this site, the community and your plugins are great too. So I would not discount it. I think this comment thread is now richer for your convincing case of the AppStore benefits.

    • Actually he does not address any of your common sense concerns. He paint a picture where the lousy and glumpsy dashboard is now a peek in to a world other wise hard to get a glimpse of. So you go ehhhhh I can do my own research just fine. Doubts? Oh let us take care of them. You of course get a filtered version of reality, for your own good. Send out some well known reps and fire that off – lets see who laugh at that 🙂

      This is obviously a sales person talking as none make sense unless you have no clue of WP and too much money to burn. Which probably also is target base so may be no need to be THAT excited over what is essentially a shopping cart. Trying to make it look not just like a business idea but actually BETTER, for who?, is pretty optimistic.

      Reminds of the horrible TopTen Review sites where one of their slogans is something like “We do the research for you” – yep and pimp highest aff. offer with fake tests etc.

      This app store idea make Envato look like a serious business partner 🙂

  11. With wpXtreme [http://wpxtre.me] we’re building a PluginStore for WordPress too, but at the same time we “dope” the WordPress core with tons of new features for free.

    Ryan, I’m sending you some info about our startup with some exclusive screenshots 🙂

  12. I tried it out and I like it for two reasons: it’s simple and has a very strong list of vendors.

    But the issue remains that a user has to discover then download and install the plugin. That’s a huge barrier! But I can see there are some smart biz peeps involved with this so I am excited to know what the clever strategies to distribute the plugin are.

    I hope one of them is an affiliate program. Speaking personally, I would promote the use of this plugin if I could get either a very large commission on first sale (*cough* WP Engine *cough*) or a smaller commission from ALL sales resulting from the referred user account. I’m sure there would many others that would be willing to do the same if the payout is lucrative. What say WP App Store to this!?

    And I’m already sure they’ve though about getting hosts to include this with their one-click WP installations. As a user I’d find it annoying to have stuff pre-installed with my WP but it’s easily removed so it’s not going to make anyone hate their host and many entry-level users might actually find it to be interesting. It seems to me the target needs to be entry level users anyway? The pros already know which shops and marketplaces to get their themes from and will probably not care to install a plugin that effectively limits their selection.

    My five or six cents.

    • I listened to a wpcandy podcast while driving last night that mentioned this app store and how the main barrier to this taking off would be the initial download and install of the plugin. Then I came on here this morning to say pretty much what you just said!

      The app store is taking quite a heft commission which gives them enough leeway to pay out 5-10% to affiliates. The main affiliates being WordPress web hosts or any host with a one-click install of WordPress. Nothing has to be in core then, it’s just an additional plugin that gets installed by your host. Hosts are happy because they have an extra revenue stream and customers are happy because they can access premium plugins without user effort or technical skills.

      I’d be surprised if the WP App Store hasn’t already got this planned.

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