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Pixelmator Grosses $1 Million on the Mac App Store (pixelmator.com)
97 points by shawndumas on Jan 25, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 48 comments

I think the team deserves it. It's a solid alternative to Photoshop for those who want to fiddle with image editing but don't want to pay hundreds of dollars for the privilege.

I agree, and good for them. It's a great little program. I use it in place of Photoshop oh my relatively low-end Macbook for light image editing, just because it performs so much faster.

Pixelmator is "The Missing Editor" (to quote TextMate but even more applicable here).

I thought one weakness of OS X was that it came with no built in image editor. People mock MS Paint on Windows, but it's a lot better than nothing.

Yes - A decent, lightweight image editor is one of the weaknesses of OS X (though it has a world class screen grabbing capability built in). The very first thing that I put on any new Macintosh (mine, or others) is Acorn. Kind of a pixlemator competitor. Gets 95% of the lightweight cropping, editing jobs done - and, as a bonus - it's free if you don't need any of the advanced features.

The OS X built in Preview.app does most of the lightweight cropping and editing for me. In terms of lightweight editing, what it lacks is basically brushes.

Actually Preview lets you do a lot of the things you'd want to do with an image editor and -- unlike MS Paint -- what it does, it does very well.

It's a much better PDF and image editor than, for example, TextEdit is a text editor.

Why the dig at MS Paint? I'd say the exact opposite: it's a simple pixel-level bitmap editor, and for that purpose served me well for years before I moved to OS X.

I must poke around Preview later to see what it can do.

Preview allows you to resize, crop, rotate and save images in different formats. (It is not possible to rotate in less than 90° increments which seriously sucks.) It also has nearly the same adjustment tools as iPhoto (exposure, saturation, levels, …). You can add arrows, ellipses, boxes and text to images (in order to annotate them).

That seems like the perfect feature set to me, I’m not aware of any situation where I actually needed to manipulate the pixels of an image. Cropping, resizing and saving in different formats is the most important functionality to me and in that respect Preview seems much more useful than Paint.

I actually never really need pixel manipulation. Tools like Lightroom are perfect for editing photos and I don’t see any need for Photoshop or similar tools at all if all you want to do is edit photos. The only time I actually needed Photoshop was to create bitmaps for a website (rounded corners, backgrounds, …).

(Preview also allows you to edit PDF documents. You can crop pages, delete or rearrange them, or easily merge pages from different PDF documents into one, all just by drag and drop.)

You can rotate from the command line on OS X via sips:

$ sips -r <degrees> <image file>

Note that sips updates the file in-place, so make a copy first if you wan to retain the original.

(sips does a whole lot more as well, though its interface is a bit odd. See sips -h and sips -H as well as its man page)

> That seems like the perfect feature set to me, I’m not aware of any situation where I actually needed to manipulate the pixels of an image.

Well then you're not creating any images, just modifying existing photos and screenshots. We're talking about different things.

Who does create images? I’m pretty certain that the overwhelming majority of people do not, hence there is no need to include a drawing program with an OS. Cropping, resizing and adjusting photos is plenty for most people.

I create images because the inclusion of Paintbrush then MS Paint in Windows gave me access to the enjoyment and skill building to do so when I was growing up.

Indeed, I used to love MS Paint when I was using Windows on a daily basis.

It's simple, fast, easy to use, and does its one thing very well.

It wasn't until Paintbrush 2 came out that I didn't have any individual software from Windows that I missed when using OS X. I've never tried Pixelmator however so that might be a better replacement.

Pixelmator does a lot more besides - it's closer to Paint.NET on Windows, which is also rather good.

Seashore was another MS Paint-like editor for Mac, but looking at the current screenshots, it seems to have expanded scope now.

it has a good 'instant-alpha' feature for getting rid of the background of images

On the other hand, the (strange, considering MacPaint) absence of a built-in image editor has led to a very healthy ecosystem of small, "indie" image editors on OSX: Pixelmator, Acorn, Seashore, Paintbrush, DrawIt and Sketch, ChocoFlop, and even more "niche" products like Picturesque.

Acorn has been a godsend to me as it's just powerful enough to handle the types of family projects that come up (mostly picture thank you's, invitations, xmas cards) but simple enough that family members can accomplish the projects without my assistance.

That seems to be a very dangerous position to be in. There is nothing stopping Apple from shipping OS X with a similar product. What if they do?

It's happened lots of times before and will happen lots of times in the future. On the other hand, now that the App Store is out, everybody that buys Pixelmator sends 30% of $29.99 to Apple, so... :)

I can totally see how this is a win-win for both parties. Hadn't thought of that.

If performance stays similar outside this 20 days (obviously not saying it will), this app is an $18 million/year business for Pixelmator and a $7 million/year one for Apple.

This would suggest Apple already think highly of Pixelmator: http://www.apple.com/mac/app-store/great-mac-apps.html

Macs shipped with GraphicConverter for many years; I'm surprised nobody in this thread has mentioned it.

An unregistered version, alongside a pile of unregistered shareware like StuffIt!

That's not really how Apple work these days.

Mac Pros used to (maybe still do) come with a fully registered group licensed version, along with Art Director's Toolkit, which is an absolutely awesome tool.

At $29 per copy and assuming by grossing they mean their share after apple takes its 30% cut, that's 50,000 copies sold.

Amazing success!

I would assume gross is before Apple's cut. Net would be post-Apple's cut

I'd have assumed gross to mean "after Apple's cut" (since Pixelmator Team doesn't ever see any of that revenue — their payment from Apple (thus, their entire income) is only for the remaining 70%) whereas net would be gross minus taxes and their other expenses. But I totally don't know.

Yeah, maybe. I was thinking in terms of how PayPal works, but your way makes sense too.

re Apple's 30%: do you guys (in the US) get itunes cards on special? Here (AU), there's almost always some place that has them 20-25% off.

I was thinking that for apps purchased with those cards Apple probably sells them at break even or a loss, assuming a few % goes to the retailer selling the cards.

I have an rss feed from here http://www.itunesonsale.com.au/ to make sure I never pay full price

It is probably a consequence of the favourable exchange rate. An app that sells for US$10 costs AU$13 here. Right now they get close to US$13 for each app sold in Australia, but they still pay the developer a cut of US$7.

That's a profit margin of 46%.

Gift cards sold at 25% off simply bring Australian prices closer to US prices. Apple probably just offers these discounts as an alternative to continually fluctuating their internal exchange rate.

I'd need to check, but I'm pretty sure they get 70% of the currency the app's sold in

This makes me very happy. I am in the overwhelming minority of professional photographers who don't use Photoshop, but I have happily been using Pixelmator since it launched.

Depending on your photography style, you should definitely consider Aperture, particularly now that it's so much cheaper through the App Store (US$80). I used image-editing software for my photography for a long time, but I have moved almost entirely to photo-dedicated apps like Aperture and Lightroom.

I actually do use Aperture to import RAW's (I bounce between that and Lightroom, but I find that Lightroom seems intentionally limited to entice you to use Photoshop).

I don't really post-process my images; they're controlled studio setups (mostly nude fine art). I also am not anti-Photoshop, if it turns out that at some point I need to use it for something, I'll buy it (I'm just happy that for the few years so far I've been doing work I haven't needed it).

I've used it in the past, just not since making a go as a photographer.

It's more that I was still using film for all of photography school, and doing processing in the darkroom. Since switching over to digital a year ago, I haven't really adjusted my process.

Nice sales reports, although I have to feel it has something to do with them including the upcoming 2.0 release and no way for current users to upgrade to the Mac App Store.

Pixelmator is perfectly positioned, which wont be very common. A good solid application, easier to incrementally learn and much cheaper than the primary competitor.

In my opinion this is more indicative of the lack of solid image editing apps on OS X than any real quality on Pixelmator's part. I find the free tools available on Windows (Paint.net is amazing) to be far more useful and intuitive that Pixelmator , which I use only because it is marginally better than the other options, and I don't really want to overdo things by installing photoshop. Good for Pixelmator, though.

Isn't anyone else curious about their figures before the Mac App Store?

I'm very happy for them, and very anxious that I'm on my 13th day now waiting for a review from Apple for my own application.

I gladly paid my $29, it's a nice app

Anyone knows where I can find a clean version of the picture that is on their front page ?

Wow.. Very impressive!. And it was actually 19 days, not 20. I'm crying a little inside.

I stopped using pixelmator when they made it so that you can't edit photoshop files without saving them in the pixelmator format. Further in my workflow I have an app that will read photoshop but has never heard of pixelmator. So, their forcing me to save my edits in their proprietary format makes the app a pain to use.

The default behavior for situations like that is to write the format you read in the first place. Weird that they would choose to do this!

Not that weird: they likely have features which cannot be saved in Photoshop format, and users end up frustrated and confused if opening up a file results in something different than was saved.

Being tied to another company’s proprietary and idiosyncratic file format sounds like a terribly obnoxious burden for any piece of software: all the effort in reverse engineering the format and so on never yields quite the result you expect (Microsoft for example can’t even get their own formats right from one release to another, and they have loads of cash to throw at the problem), and any development time spent on it is time taken away from the actual image-making features of the app.

I'm pretty sure PSD is handled by QuickTime.

If you only care about the features in 10-year-old versions of Photoshop, then sure, that’s probably true.

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