The AppStore, and Google Play to a lesser extent, are closed and mysterious worlds, especially when you compare them with “the web”, yes, you know, this old thing whose “end” is proclaimed by Wired every other year. The one with lolcats, if you still didn’t make the difference.
Mugunth Kumar, a pro iOS developer, gave us yesterday at the Plug-In in Singapore a good overview of the appstore economics, and began with a truth: “don’t lament over it, except if you’re a journalist, and learn to play within these closed walls.”
In a concise et well-developed conference, Mugunth was able to make us understand the difference between the “Open web” and the App World, how to develop, market and launch an app, how to price apps and manage updates or rejections.
The golden rule of the Appstore is very clear: it’s very unfriendly to developers because it’s a delight of users, who know the apps work, are updated, have a nice design.
Another interesting lesson is to forget people promising you to have your app featured with their advice or scam, as there’s really one way to do so: have a nice app, be spotted by people at Apple (who love design).
Building your app: bet on design
Hire a UX expert, as design, and design only, is one of the only way to be featured in the Appstore, and to convince consumers to talk of your product (did you really install any app after clicking on an add?)
Don’t try to make a very complex app, or even to think functional, bet all, all, all on design, UX and UI. Make a custom UI for every of your apps, and put lots of animation, again, you have to put yourself in an Apple’s designer brain.
Bear in mind the approval time on the appstore, can vary a lot, but sites such as reviewtimes.shinydevelopment.com will help you find an average
Pricing strategy: low-cost doesn’t do any good
There’s no difference between 0.99 and 1.99 for customers, and as a rule, DON’T push down the price of your app. A good way to think about it is: “will I get twice as many customers with half the price?”, and the answer should be no, so, don’t move it. Conversely, you can afford losing customers when you rise price, provided you’re still earning more. Doubling your price will not make you lose half of your customers, so why think twice?
Aim, if possible, for niche markets so that you can price it higher, and make a living out of your app. Apps for kids are impossible to price. Apps for kids with special needs (on food, on leisure, at school, with a language) have better value.
If the app sells badly, either it’s expensive, either it’s not well-known, which is more common. Your marketing strategy for your app should be challenged. Don’t buy reviews, it’s a poor way to convince, and you never bought an app this way in any case. Use your customers as your marketers (just as Apple do with their stuff), so again, you need a neat product, and target your friends, families, go on the field, make some PR, make people test, try, test, try, and they will talk of it if it’s good.
Appstore algorithm is your friend
To make a successful app and get money from it, the only channel is the promotion made by Apple.
- the New and Noteworthy section will showcase apps that are new, and with a significant number of downloads, around 3 000 in Singapore, and 6 to 7 000 in the US, up to 30-40 days.
- the Featured section is another part you want to get in, and you will be favored, again, if you do good to Apple’s customers, with frequent updates (every week during the first three months, then two per months), have a positive feedback in reviews from users
Market your app in every possible market when you make your choice of country, as many people are on the move, like expats (and they do spend more money than locals, everywhere), especially for service apps, such as transportation apps.
Use as much as you can the new features released by Apple on its devices, as there’s a bounty for apps that use “a cool hardware or OS feature” (such as Passbook).
Take advantage of seasonal marketing, as you never know which new featured category can pop-up, such as Valentine’s specials. July is also a big month for download on the AppStore, and the festive season for Christmas, don’t miss it, and link your marketing with it, it’s an easy opportunity to get spotted.
To know more about appstore strategy, you can get in touch with Mugunth on Twitter.