Archive for November, 2009
Now that the Thanksgiving table has been cleared in the US, thoughts turn to holiday shopping and wishlists. We have a short wishlist of our own that we, as iPhone app developers with a global view, would like to present to Apple.
We strongly believe that consumers want well-designed, easy to use, feature-rich tools that entertain, organise, inform and improve their quality of life… and that they will pay for quality. In order to create quality apps, it takes time and, of course, financial resources.
We have understood the importance of marketing and promotion from day one. We knew that this responsibility was squarely on our shoulders and were happy with this fact. The App Store is merely a distribution channel and that’s okay.
HOWEVER, there are small things that Apple could do that would make our efforts just a little easier or more effective:
1. Allow a peek into the black box of App Store
It’s very difficult to take a leap of faith when there is only anecdotal information regarding the impact of marketing efforts on sales. Many developers have created offline systems to get around this, but none provide clear tracking data that shows the unbroken path between marketing effort, click-through and sale of a specific app.
App Cubby hits it on the head: Developers need at least a little peek into the black box that is the App Store. Pinch Media is a great source of summary data (thanks, Fred Wilson), but developers need app-specific data regarding activity in the App Store. Allowing click tracking all the way through to purchase is a minimum, but additional data would be helpful (such as where shoppers are coming from: direct links, search, top lists, featured pages, etc.).
We’ve seen the trend of Apple opening the doors ever so slightly. As of this month, developers can now see more detail in the approval process – whether the app is Waiting for Review or In Review or Ready for Sale.
Hopefully, this is the beginning of a trend.
2. Allow demo videos in the store
This will get rid of 90% of the crap because people won’t waste the time to download crap even if it’s free! Most serious developers make demo videos for their websites anyhow, so it wouldn’t be an additional burden for most developers.
3. Allow gift cards for specific apps or at least the App Store itself as opposed to iTunes in general.
People love gifting songs and creating playlists for their friends and family. It’s a time-honored tradition, harking back to mixtapes… It’s a thoughtful and personal gift. So many people don’t have the time to dig into the App Store as deeply as they would like. There are so many apps – it’s always nice to get recommendations from friends and it would be even better if they were able to send apps to you directly.
Dan Grigsby from Mobile Orchard points out that ‘providing a “Gift This App” mechanism would open up a universe of novel marketing, bundling and promotional opportunities — all of which would drive App Store revenues, none of which would threaten Apple’s commission. Taking a page from Amazon and providing a simple API would further support this.’ So true. We aren’t asking Apple to do the marketing for us. We’re just asking for them to give us a chance to do thoughtful marketing.
Apple needs to take this issue seriously for both consumers’ and developers’ sake.
4. Give promo codes outside of US
For goodness’ sake, let us give promotion codes OUTSIDE the US. We are a global company (hey – just like you) and expect to have customers in many of the stores, if not all. We’d like to build up our customer base in Italy, Russia and Japan for example. For this, we know we need to do our legwork and talk to local journalists, niche media and bloggers. We’ve got the language skills, but it’s slightly less effective when we can’t give them a promo code.
So a short wishlist – please Apple, we’ve been awfully good this year:
1. More info on tracking click-throughs
2. Demo videos in the App Store
3. Gift This App
4. Promo codes valid outside the US
Of course, the ultimate gift would be the Holy Grail of marketing info – a list of our customers! A girl can dream, can’t she?
What other items could we put on this wishlist?
Evernote, of course, has a devoted following and this app is used by such a wide variety of people for all sorts of productivity improvements. I personally love this video about a dairy farmer using Evernote in his business. This is no ordinary dairy farm!
I’ve been a fan of Evernote forever (not just because they come from the land of the White Nights or because they’ve got Esther Dyson on their Board, but because their product is so truly innovative), but I can’t claim such exciting use. I’m sure this video has given many people new ideas on how they can use Evernote in their own businesses.
We want our users to use our apps in ways we might not have expected or for purposes that aren’t as obvious. We’ve already had one user tell us that he (yes, he) is going to add his scarf collection to the myShoebox database by giving them all the Style of ‘Other’. Clever!
Come and get it! Dinner is served!! Tonight’s main course: myPause and for the pudding: myShoebox!!!! We submitted on Halloween and are now launching on Friday the 13th. Boy, are we pushing the fates.
As corny as it sounds, it’s quite thrilling to open up the App Store and see an app that your own team created right up there… with the other 90,000!
Thanks again to the entire team that made this all happen – appSolution: Jen, Jacqueline, Steve, Bert, George and our part-time Corporate Banker and Corporate Baker Gina; at Night & Day Studios: an enormous thanks to Nat, who persevered during difficult times, Nicki with her boundless energy and detailed skills, Erin with her wonderful input, Chris with a precise crunchtime juggling act and numerous others adding their skills and energy to this project including Justin Hawkwood, Scott Bates, Jason Blackheart, Abby Palmer and Carolyn Merriman.
Additional thanks to Dr. Elizabeth Poynor, a friend for decades and a colleague for months! Her insight, expertise and network were invaluable to us so that we could bring myPause to a strong level of credibility and neutrality in the maelstrom that is the discussion of menopause treatments today.
We are very proud of our two apps and are excited to start imbedding them into everyone’s lives. Both of them are addictive in different ways, hopefully because they are easy, fun and valuable!!
While waiting, we are discussing as a family what the definition of ‘success’ for this venture is – financial reward, workstyle, time spent together, our name in lights, whatever…
David from App Cubby does a fine job of discussing the softer definition of success in his blog post. He opens with a favorite Thomas Edison quote of mine – “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
So true. It’s never the ideas that are in short supply – it’s the perseverance and skills to execute on those ideas that make an entrepreneur. David’s post is a great story of hard work, realistic reward and thoughtful decisions.
For our family, this venture is a mixture of acting on a dream (developing an Apple product), working together, helping each other through difficult times and maybe making some extra money. Financial success is important – we want to recover our costs and fund updates, new versions and, of course, new apps. However, none of us are in this to become iPhone millionaires.
We recently came across Newsweek’s article , which shoots down the dream of ‘becoming an App Store millionaire’. We’ve been fairly realistic all along, but this article is definitely a bucket of cold water! In a strange way, though, it made us more determined.
It’s important, though, that any developer keep their rose-colored glasses on the side table for the duration of their time in the App Store. You must have other goals than simple income generation to participate in this casino! Like all good casinos, the odds are with the house. Guess who makes a buck no matter if you recoup your costs or not….? That’s okay. That’s how it should be. We all know that the steady income comes from selling the shovel, not prospecting for the gold.
We have been Apple fanatics for decades and if nothing else, this has been our chance to participate in the creation of Apple products that are helping people to be a bit more efficient, have a bit more fun and generally take control of their lives. Not bad, not bad at all.
We are on the edge of our seats now… We have submitted the apps and are awaiting Apple’s approval from on high. This is nerve-wracking stuff.
Now we need to focus on the marketing and get all our ducks in a row. Average approval time currently is four weeks, so it looks like they may be out just in time for Christmas! We hesitated over whether we should set a release date or just let the apps go on sale as soon as they are approved. I suppose this is one of those things you learn through experience, but we’re so excited to get our apps out there that we decided to just let the dice fall where they may.
Wouldn’t that be funny if they were approved in under a week! We did submit myPause on Halloween, so anything could happen… not that I’m superstitious.
Has anyone else submitted two apps at once? Isn’t it crazy?