Developer run smartapp/device store

I’m posting this to see how much support a developer run smartapp/device store would have. My rough concept is as follows.

A website for payed smartapps and devices with PayPal to handle payment processing. Features would include,( if possible) try before you buy, reviews, auto update, support request, screen shots, and Faq. To keep things simple developers would be charged a fixed price per transaction like $0.10 and (hopefully) be able to charger users more than $1.00 to buy and use various smartapps and devices.

What do you guys/gals think?

3 Likes

I just don’s see how it would work since the apps and device handlers have to be distributed in the source code form and self-published by the user via the IDE. Not something what most paying customers would expect from the AppStore, I guess. :worried:

1 Like

You pay to get the code. What you do with it it’s up to you. I think it’s a great idea. You guys put a lot of time and effort into these apps and deserve the financial support up front! If you don’t like to pay, then write your own.

SmartApps could be installed via OAuth which would allow the users to install from the web / mobile app and would provide an avenue for automatic updates.

2 Likes

It would have to work in a similar way to how smarttiles, perch, obything and smartrules works. Code would not be exposed to customers. Honestly I’m not sure if all the features are possible, mainly try before buy but the others I’m pretty sure are possible. If I can revoke the oauth token of a device or smartapp after 7 days then try before buy would work.

geko, you are one of the developers I would really want to have on board to be able to pull this off along with @625alex, @obycode, @yracine, @notoriousbdg, @Mike_Maxwell, @copyninja, @tslagle13, @MichaelS, @Kristopher, @JoeC as well as several others (Max 10 mentions per post) All of you have written some amazing code and I’d be honored to have your feed back and assistance in making this possible or killing it.

Not sure what I can do to help this along, but giving this a shot beats the alternatives…
Which are currently none…
Tim now works for ST, not sure he’ll be able to play this game.
@pstuart and @jody.albritton may be interested or have thoughts as well.

1 Like

I have tested this and it could work. In the scenario I have tested, the app author would need to create an account and then fill out a form for the web service, enable oauth on the smartapp they would want published, and publish it to the external web service. End users would sign up for a user account and be able to browse and install smartapps. This would only work for smart apps as device handlers don’t work in exactly the same way.

There are a few reasons why I have not tried to make it happen

  • It would bypass the approval process and likely be shutdown by SmartThings
  • Who gets paid and how much do they get paid?
  • Selling apps for a few dollars won’t be very profitable for anyone other than the person running the app store.

Starting up an app store and allowing paid apps would be a huge responsibility to take on. There is not an easy way to revoke tokens, so using that as a method of authentication is not going to work. Once the app has been installed via oAuth the only way to get in uninstalled is via the ide or mobile app at the user’s request.

I would love to hear what @Ben thinks about this, because it would be him that could kill it.

1 Like

I’m not sure it would be vey profitable, i am just going for that it makes enough money to run itself and provide an incentivized platform for richer smartapps and possibly devices. I honestly feel that once developers have a tangeable incentive to build better smartapps and devices, and it’s easy for users/customers to consume them it will bring more users/customers to both platforms. A “build it and they will come” concept.

Honestly I’d love to hear what both @ben and @april have to say about this and if devicetypes types can’t be installed over oauth working with them to make it a possibility.

I know this a a very risky and ambitious project assuming it even gets off the ground. It’s the main reason for this thread, I want to know if this is something enough developers actually want enough to be willing to back it with their code. I want to know if users are even willing to pay for apps to easily extend SmartThings functionality.
I can say this for certain if this project does end up making sence, I am willing to back it up with my time and money, but I can’t do this with out the support of the community.

1 Like

Hey Sid,

I’m all for it - though I think the Samsung TOS actually prohibit this. In any case, companies are very sensitive about marketplaces inside their marketplaces. Some of the other folks have mentioned it more eloquently than I could.

I think you raise an interesting point for @Ben and the team though. There are plenty of folks sitting on the sidelines because they can’t figure out how to make it economical for them. This is also the reason Control4/ADT and all the big guys have an integration market. There are a lot of clever people who need additional support from the hardware community to increase the market size.

If you wanted to go off and write custom code for folks, $100 / pop kind of thing, you could probably do this. There are many examples of these kinds of marketplaces doing well. They do cap out at a certain point.

In any case, best of luck. Please let me know if you need any help

Kristopher

1 Like

I will spin up the server today and let you check it out. I had previously built a store with ratings and reviews so I had that code laying around. A few months ago I tweaked the code to look like an app store. My only reservations were how to take payments from customers and then turn around and pay the sellers.

You can install the service manager smartapp but the individual device types would have to be installed by the user.

Thank you for bringing this up as this will also be very important to tackle and due to the definition of non commercial use I’m sure there is a legal way to play with in the TOS. Sometimes it just a matter of setting up the business in a particular way. Worst case scenario, I can work with SmartThings on acquiring a commercial license. I’m blessed to have a amazing circle of colleagues and friends that I can pull on on the legal side of things and the business side of things I know would love to to help me figure out all the things I know I don’t know. :smile:
And thankx, I know I’ll need it

I’m curious to see where this goes and what the official response will be.

1 Like

Pardon me for being direct and cynical, but I can’t think of a bigger waste of effort with tremendous risks.

A soon as you charge for something, you face tax, warranty and liability issues applicable to your jurisdiction and payment processors. Without a strong legal partnership / vendor agreement with SmartThings, you risk being cutoff at any moment and all of the OAuth shared installations disabled.

The installed base of SmartThings is under 150,000, a bare fraction of which will be able to find and trust this unsanctioned “store” without significant marketing effort and expense.

High profile SmartApps that have been put into the mobile App stores (where they get decent exposure and some implied validation) have sales under 1000 units each (under 1% of SmartThings Customers).

SmartThings has the capacity, opportunity, and even “incentive” (ie, adds value to the product!) to run a marketplace but have deliberately chosen not to. If they don’t feel this concept is worth the trivial amount of incremental effort with their extensive resources, that’s another bad omen (though there are counter arguments to this, a SmartApp store has been solidly in the works and now Hawkins is “rethinking” and doesn’t sound confident in the concept, leaning away from it).

Would I use your “store”? Doubt that I would be convinced that it’s worth the trouble of committing to support Customers who pay for any of my SmartApps with a trivial install base.

2 Likes

Hey, I don’t object the idea. :smile:
If you can come up with something useful, I’m on board. Worst case, it will either prove or disprove the idea of the AppStore and paid-for smart apps.

I want to know if users are even willing to pay for apps to easily extend SmartThings functionality.

I think @rboy is running an App Store for himself, but his business model is more like a subscription fee rather than app purchases. I don’t know how many customers he has though.

1 Like

I’m willing to pay, I literally had just donated for some code that I found awesome before finding this post. Maybe another way to do this is to put out some tasteful Paypal donate buttons and encourage the community to use them. I try to buy a beer every time I find something useful, I’d buy you one if we met…

I do think a store is a great idea, but probably doomed. I think SmartThings will want/already want to do it themselves, and in the process of not being able to do it quickly, not being able to admit they want to do it, they’ll find a reason you can’t/shouldn’t do it and piss everyone off either ignoring or shutting it down. They started small and I really like that, but they are growing up. I’ve been a part of companies like this, it’s not totally wrong, just inevitable, part of the lifecycle of products and companies.

My experience makes me say all this, I could be wrong, and I hope I’m wrong, and I could really respect if you think you can find a way despite my nay-saying. No matter what, please find a way to contribute and get what you want out of it, all benefit in the end.

My 2.5 cents.

3 Likes

I truly appreciate your feed back and appreciate you being direct and every point you have made i will take into consideration as i navigate this possibility. As i am still fleshing out ideas on how to make this successful assuming it can be successful. Would you be more inclined if purchasing could be broken out into code use only and support only for a certain period of time with the option of bundling the 2 together?

To address some of your concerns i honestly don’t feel a store will be successful at all with in the first year, but the more and more users/customers see that they can do what they want, how they want easily for a small fee i see that it could grow both the store and smartthings exponentially. I don’t see that the smartthings platform can get achieve a large enough user base to support a store with out one being in existence, Its a very frustrating catch 22 that i’m sure hawkins and steve jobs are both very familiar with. While i’m no Steve Jobs, i do have a vision that smartthings can automate almost everything and do it well. The only things I think its missing is a store to allow users/customers to do more and to support developers to facilitate this, socket connections, and enabling the bluetooth radio in the V2 hub and a bit more consistency :). All in all it’s not that much.

I look forward to earning enough of your faith and trust that you will consider hosting your apps and devices in a store :slight_smile: Hopefully its ours.

1 Like

One way of doing it (and my personal preference), is to use the author/seller’s Paypal button, so the payment goes directly to the author. The store operator than bills the author monthly based on sales volume (either the number or sales or the sales gross total - TBD). Basically the same model that eBay uses.

2 Likes

I am also a fan of this model, i have some issues about it being potentially being abused but it is my personal preference as well and i also think this model will fit with in the smartthings TOS.

Worst that can happen is that seller does not pay his/her bill and gets banished from the store. :smile:

If I can revoke the oauth token of a device or smartapp after 7 days then try before buy would work.

I don’t think you can revoke the token that belongs to another user. What you could do is create a license server and have all apps that wish to offer “try-before-buy” feature request a license from the server.

I have less faith that “SmartThings as a Platform for small developers” is the key to its success.

The keys are much more likely:

  • better out of the box usability (including “rule builder”)
  • major retail and VAR sales channels
  • major partnerships (home insurance, utilities, device makers, … )

Etc.

The above will make a small developer store less and less necessary.