John August makes a strong case for getting rid of the best-sellers lists in the App Store.
I like his thinking. I’ve never understood why anybody besides app developers really care about which apps make the most money. The correlation between great apps and apps that make a lot of money is tenuous at best.
But I would like to take John’s ideas in a different direction: Apple should create multiple new charts based on different criteria.
One could be “Engaging” apps. Measured engagement could be the number of times an app is launched, the amount of time customers spend in the app, the number of Tweets and Facebook messages sent from the app, etc. This is all information that iOS has, or could easily collect, and then send it to Apple’s data centers for number crunching. (For privacy, data would only be sent if the customer has agreed to send diagnostics and usage data to Apple, per the existing option in Settings.)
Another one could be “Gamer Favorites” based on app activity in Game Center or active usage of Game Kit.
Or how about “Longterm Relationships” that highlights apps that customers downloaded a long time ago and still actively use.
The exact algorithms are not important (and they should remain secret to make gaming the lists more difficult). What’s important is that there should be many more lists so that I can find the ones that best match my app preferences. And if it turns out that I really like all the freemium games that all the teenagers like, then I’m sure Apple can come up with a more creative name for that list than “Top Free Apps”.
Back in the early days of the App Store, adding a dialog box to your app asking the customer to review your app on the App Store was a great way to get more reviews. And if you timed the dialog in such a way that it was only shown after X number of app launches, it was very likely that the customer was a happy, repeat user of your app.
Today however, with almost every app trying the same trick, these dialogs are just annoying.
Here’s some good advice from Shade Schick of FierceDeveloper: Enough with the in-your-face app review requests
Michael Jurewitz is a former developer tools evangelist at Apple. He’s really smart, well connected and offers keen insights in this multi-part series about App Store pricing. Required reading!
Foster at Mysterious Trousers notices that some apps evoke a visceral sensation when you use them.
The best designed apps don’t just look beautiful, as in pretty static UI elements (buttons, navigation bars, screen backgrounds, etc.). They have motion and the user experience is kinetic.
Have you ever seen an app where a scrolling list doesn’t bounce back? It’s very jarring. Great apps make use of small (sometimes gratuitous) animations and motions that really connect with customers.
Clearly PhotoShop and static comps for each app screen are not sufficient tools to design such user experiences. What tools to you use?
Odyssey Translator is a long-term client with over 50 apps in the App Store.
They are doing many things right in their app business:
- Exploit the international markets. For example, if you live in Spain and you are traveling to China, they have an app for that.
- Code an app once, and populate it with different data to make a series of apps.
- Invest in great UI design. If an app doesn’t look great in the App Store, then potential customers will not give it a second look.
- Relentlessly improve the user experience. Sweat all the details so your customers will have a frictionless, and delightful experience.
- Come up with a unique idea in an existing market. It’s difficult to make a new market and convince people that they need your “new thing”. Odyssey Translator has a unique twist on the old phrasebook idea; one that teaches you phrases in a foreign language in a new way.
Today their best selling Spanish Travel Phrasebook received a new beautiful UI update. Check it out.
If you haven’t yet localized your app to other markets than the U.S. then maybe this report from Flurry might finally convince you.
Flurry’s data shows that China is now the largest market for smartphones and tablets. And the fastest growing markets include Colombia, Vietnam, Turkey, Ukraine and Egypt. Not the typical markets that most app developers target for their localizations. But the App Stores in smaller countries typically have a lot less competition, so it’s easier to break into one of the top lists and hang on to a spot. As the market grows, the early entrants will have a significant advantage.
Trey Smith is an app entrepreneur focusing primarily on games. He has a background in Internet Marketing and is always experimenting with new ways to monetize apps. Worth following.
In this blog post one of Trey’s students, Angela Hayes, gives us some tips and advice on how to use Chartboost in your apps.
Tope at App Design Vault has created a great infographic on the topic of getting app reviews. Check it out here and be sure to also download the Good Pitch sample.
While you’re there, take a look Tope’s pre-made app design templates. If you find something that fits your new iOS app project, then you can save a lot of design time and money by buying the template. I’ve used several for my own and clients’ apps.
Azawhistle Kids – an interactive storybook – is published by a client I’ve been advising. After a short campaign the app hit #3 in the Books category and #85 overall in the App Store. Congratulations!
Apple recently reported more nice round numbers for the App Store:
- 40 billion app downloads since the App Store launched
- 20 billion of those downloads are from 2012
- 2 billion for just December 2012
- App developers have been paid over $7 billion by Apple
- DragonVale and Clash of Clans, together earned $120 million in 2012
Horace Dediu at Asymco provides more context to those numbers with this insightful graphs:
We may think that the App Store economy is huge, but it’s actually just 1/3 of the total iTunes revenues. But Apps are growing almost twice as fast as other iTunes media. We’re definitely in the right business.