Developing Perspective

#22 - After the Launch


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspective.

00:00:02   Developing Perspective is a near-daily podcast discussing the news of Note and iOS, Apple

00:00:06   and the like.

00:00:07   I'm your host, David Smith.

00:00:08   I'm an independent iOS developer based in Herndon, Virginia.

00:00:11   This is show number 22 and today is Tuesday, September 6th, 2011.

00:00:17   The format of Developing Perspective is that I'll cover a handful of links, articles, things

00:00:20   I find interesting in the first part of the show and then move over to a more general

00:00:24   discussion towards the end.

00:00:26   This show will never be longer than 15 minutes.

00:00:28   Let's get started.

00:00:30   All right, the first slide I have today

00:00:32   is just a really interesting thing.

00:00:34   I think it was linked by Louis Mantilla and his Twitter feed.

00:00:37   But it's a fascinating Tumblr that someone

00:00:39   has put together that basically walks

00:00:41   through a variety of products.

00:00:42   At this point, it's mostly Apple products and things like that.

00:00:45   But there's a whole other kind of other things.

00:00:47   And it essentially analyzes them in terms of the golden ratio,

00:00:51   which if you're not familiar with,

00:00:52   is this kind of magical 1 to about 1.6 ratio

00:00:57   that seems to crop up all over in nature

00:00:59   and is very, very aesthetically pleasing.

00:01:01   And it's just kind of fascinating.

00:01:02   Like when they look at the Mac OS Lion logo even,

00:01:06   like the icon with the lion in it, it fits that.

00:01:09   And the iPhone 4 in a variety of ways.

00:01:11   Just kind of fascinating to watch and look at.

00:01:14   Next, there's just kind of a funny little joke

00:01:17   that I saw that I thought would appeal to most developers.

00:01:20   And I'll link to it, but I'll just read it right here.

00:01:23   This is called the six stages of debugging.

00:01:25   And basically, the first one is that can't happen.

00:01:31   The second one is that doesn't happen on my machine.

00:01:34   The third is that shouldn't happen.

00:01:37   The fourth, why does that happen?

00:01:40   The fifth, oh, I see.

00:01:43   And the sixth, how did that ever work?

00:01:45   So just a little bit of a humor to start the week off.

00:01:49   I've definitely experienced personally all

00:01:51   of those stages of debugging and can

00:01:54   vouch for the veracity of that.

00:01:56   And next, I have a little certificate repository

00:02:01   that is something that will be helpful for certain people.

00:02:04   Hopefully many of you don't have to run into this,

00:02:06   but it's something that I personally needed

00:02:08   and so I figured I'd share.

00:02:10   And it's to a project that allows

00:02:12   you to easily set up Microsoft Internet Explorer

00:02:17   virtual machines on Mac OS.

00:02:20   And essentially, it uses--

00:02:23   if you're not familiar, Microsoft

00:02:24   publishes these little virtual PC instances

00:02:27   whose primary purpose is to be Internet Explorer 7, 8, 9,

00:02:33   which is great.

00:02:34   But you have to have Microsoft Virtual PC, which

00:02:37   I don't believe runs on Mac.

00:02:38   And so it's kind of a bit of a pain.

00:02:40   And so this essentially configures and converts

00:02:43   them to work with VirtualBox, which is an open, free,

00:02:47   virtual environment, which you can also

00:02:49   for all kinds of other cool things.

00:02:50   Like, you can run a Lion instance in there

00:02:52   and all kinds of cool stuff.

00:02:54   But basically, it's just a nice way,

00:02:55   if you ever need to do-- if you have a website

00:02:57   for your application or you're doing website testing,

00:02:59   it's a way that you can kind of spin up instances

00:03:01   and try out all the different versions of IE

00:03:03   without having to actually have a Windows machine kicking

00:03:06   around.

00:03:08   And lastly, I was just going to point out--

00:03:12   which many of you probably saw over the weekend--

00:03:14   but is over on TechCrunch, they had a big thing where--

00:03:21   I guess, let's see.

00:03:22   They had a big exclusive where MG Siegler

00:03:26   was able to get his hands on the upcoming Amazon Kindle tablet.

00:03:30   And basically, it's a seven-inch tablet

00:03:32   that runs a forked version of Android.

00:03:35   It's very focused on using the Amazon ecosystem

00:03:38   to buy books and movies and all those types of things.

00:03:42   And it's not necessarily news in the sense

00:03:45   that it's a lot of things that we've been speculated

00:03:47   about before, sort of in the past.

00:03:50   The thing that I'm most interested in and why I'm bringing it up

00:03:53   is I think for me, who is someone who has apps in the Amazon App Store,

00:03:56   I think knowing for sure at this point, OK, it's coming.

00:03:59   It's going to be $250.

00:04:01   It'll probably do pretty well.

00:04:02   It's like, all right, the Android apps that I have in the Amazon App Store,

00:04:06   I think I'll make sure work nicely on a seven inch screen in a way

00:04:10   that for a while I'd written it off.

00:04:13   I'd find the Amazon App Store to be very low volume,

00:04:16   low traffic, not very good.

00:04:18   Maybe it's worth checking back into.

00:04:19   So just something that I wanted to put on people's radars

00:04:22   just in case you have a similar situation that you

00:04:24   have some Android apps.

00:04:26   The Amazon App Store may actually

00:04:27   be a worthwhile thing rather than a bit of a waste of time

00:04:30   than it was before.

00:04:31   All right.

00:04:32   And that's it for the links today.

00:04:34   And I was going to move over into our general discussion.

00:04:37   Today I was going to talk about--

00:04:39   So this is sort of the third part in our series

00:04:41   about submitting apps to the App Store, where

00:04:44   we talked about the provisioning and setup part.

00:04:46   Then we talked about the second phase, which is actually

00:04:50   the submitting of the app.

00:04:51   And I'm going to talk a little bit of what

00:04:53   happens once you've submitted, once your app's approved

00:04:55   and released and in the store, some of the things

00:04:58   that you can expect there and what to look at.

00:05:00   If you've released an app before,

00:05:01   this is probably a fairly old hat to you.

00:05:03   But if you're thinking about it or you're just curious,

00:05:05   this is my experience having launched dozens and dozens

00:05:08   apps for how that process goes and things to keep in mind.

00:05:12   All right, so firstly, immediately

00:05:14   after you launch an app, it'll go

00:05:16   into a couple of different spots in the App Store itself.

00:05:21   And see, these are the different places

00:05:23   that your users can find you.

00:05:25   One, obviously, they could search for you.

00:05:27   They can do direct links.

00:05:28   So if you create a link directly to your app,

00:05:31   someone can click on that and take you to there.

00:05:34   They could find you in the app sorted by release date list,

00:05:39   which is very prominent on the devices themselves.

00:05:42   It's a little less prominent in iTunes itself,

00:05:44   but I think most people get apps from the device itself.

00:05:46   So it works fairly well there.

00:05:49   The challenge is that is less helpful than it used to be.

00:05:52   It used to be when you first launched an app,

00:05:54   you'd have a nice big bump at the beginning.

00:05:57   And it was really quite nice because you kind of

00:06:01   have a day or two where people would be seeing you a lot,

00:06:03   because you're right at the top of the recently released list,

00:06:07   which is sort of given equal listing versus top apps.

00:06:14   And so you get a lot of traffic.

00:06:15   I found recently, though, that that's very, very muted now.

00:06:18   It used to be very strong.

00:06:21   But at this point, the number of apps

00:06:25   that are released every single day

00:06:27   is so high that that number just-- in the first day,

00:06:33   in the first hour, you'll likely be overrun

00:06:35   by a whole other page of apps.

00:06:37   And so that's just something that's not really especially

00:06:39   helpful.

00:06:41   So for example, and if you're curious about how many apps

00:06:46   are submitted, the best place to go, I would know,

00:06:50   is 148apps.biz, which is an app review site primarily.

00:06:56   But the best part about it is it has a stats area.

00:06:59   And in here, you can see the number

00:07:01   of apps that were submitted per day overall and so on.

00:07:06   As of August, so for the whole month of August,

00:07:08   it averaged out to 782 apps per day.

00:07:13   And so you can kind of get a sense for why the new release

00:07:16   doesn't really help nearly as much as it used to.

00:07:20   Because if you're looking at something like 32 apps being

00:07:22   released every hour, your app would be at the top of overall

00:07:28   for a very short period of time, especially

00:07:30   because apps are typically reviewed in batches.

00:07:33   And so anyway, so then the primary way

00:07:35   that people will find your app is in the top paid or top free.

00:07:39   These are generally speaking volume-based in terms

00:07:41   of if you have a very expensive app

00:07:43   and you're doing very well, you'll

00:07:45   do high on sort of the top grossing list.

00:07:47   But you may not necessarily do well on the top paid or top

00:07:50   free, which are more based on just actual units sold.

00:07:53   So this is why the race to the bottom happened

00:07:55   and all those types of things.

00:07:57   because a $0.99 app is more likely to have a higher

00:08:01   volume than a $10 app.

00:08:03   So that's just something to keep in mind.

00:08:05   Something to-- I think it shouldn't necessarily

00:08:09   drive your pricing, but it's making sure

00:08:11   that if you're trying to be successful from visibility,

00:08:14   then visibility is based on volume and so on.

00:08:16   So that's why most of the top grossing apps, even now,

00:08:19   are free with in-app purchases to make money in it,

00:08:22   or advertising.

00:08:23   They're primarily in-app purchase.

00:08:24   because taking that approach allows you a lot of visibility

00:08:29   in the App Store.

00:08:31   And so once you're in the App Store,

00:08:33   one thing I would always recommend that you do

00:08:36   is that you need to check your app

00:08:38   description, your screenshots, on a couple

00:08:41   of different devices.

00:08:42   Ideally, a retina and a non-retina display,

00:08:45   those types of things.

00:08:46   And just be looking for things that you weren't expecting.

00:08:49   So for example, I've had problems

00:08:50   where things don't display quite right, awkward breaks in my

00:08:57   sort of description text where you get awkward line breaks,

00:09:01   those types of things, things that you want to edit.

00:09:03   Something else you can look at is how long your app's title is

00:09:07   and making sure that it doesn't break at an unfortunate point.

00:09:10   You can end up with sort of strange, misleading words being

00:09:13   shown at the end because it's cut in half,

00:09:14   those types of things.

00:09:15   Just be mindful of that right after launch

00:09:17   to make sure that you don't have any of those sort of biting

00:09:20   in the butt.

00:09:21   And let's see, the last-- let's see, other things about once you're in the App Store

00:09:26   is that in there, there's always going to be-- your app will get a star rating.

00:09:30   Your star rating is based on reviews.

00:09:32   As a developer, I would say it's worth initially taking a look at that and making sure that

00:09:37   there's no immediate big problems, especially looking at your one-star reviews.

00:09:42   But overall, after a period of time, I found that it's very kind of-- it's just demoralizing

00:09:47   to look in that. Because you have such a variety of users. You have some people who are, you

00:09:53   know, it's like, "Oh my goodness, this app is amazing. It changed my life and I'm a better

00:09:58   person because of it." And then the next, you know, five stars. Next review, one star.

00:10:02   I can't believe this developer even considers themselves a developer. They should be ashamed

00:10:06   of themselves. And it's just kind of non-constructive, I find, typically, to look through, spend

00:10:12   too much time looking through your reviews,

00:10:14   just focus on making your apps better.

00:10:17   And probably more constructive is

00:10:19   to focus on responses that you get from users in email

00:10:22   or those types of support forms.

00:10:24   Those users have made a bit more of an effort,

00:10:26   and so they tend to be at least somewhat constructive.

00:10:28   You've still got a few flaming trolls coming in saying,

00:10:31   oh, it's terrible, oh, it's terrible.

00:10:33   But you get a little less of that

00:10:35   than you do just in the App Store reviews.

00:10:37   So just something I'd recommend, because for a while

00:10:39   I used to get really depressed and, oh, I

00:10:41   wish I could contact this person.

00:10:42   What's going on?

00:10:42   But ultimately, there's just people who like being grumpy,

00:10:45   and they feel entitled to--

00:10:47   I mean, especially to say, I have a free app, right?

00:10:49   So they've got something for free,

00:10:51   and they're making it sound as though I've just robbed them

00:10:53   of their life savings.

00:10:56   So anyway, so that's sort of how you--

00:10:59   so now you've launched your app.

00:11:00   You're hopefully ranking fairly well.

00:11:02   Kind of funny little notes from a ranking perspective

00:11:05   is you'll notice distinct breakpoints

00:11:07   in terms of revenue you'll get at different points in ranking.

00:11:12   And it's kind of a funny thing.

00:11:13   But basically, obviously, if you're the number one app,

00:11:15   you'll do very well.

00:11:16   Then there's sort of a level below that,

00:11:19   which is sort of the one through five of the App Store, which

00:11:23   is the first screen that shows up in your category

00:11:27   or in any of the lists if you just open it up.

00:11:30   And so that's without any scrolling, you're visible.

00:11:32   So it's all about visibility.

00:11:34   Then there's a slight drop for the one

00:11:36   on the bottom of that, which I think is the fifth, which is

00:11:39   half shown.

00:11:40   And then the first 25 is another break point.

00:11:43   We are kind of getting another sort of--

00:11:45   I'm not saying these are consistent.

00:11:46   Like you're making the same at each of these levels.

00:11:49   But there's kind of these very distinct sort of stair steps.

00:11:51   So rather than just sort of being a linear fall off

00:11:54   with rank, it's like you have these very sort of abrupt

00:11:56   jumps at these various points.

00:11:58   And then the next break point runs

00:12:00   to the 25, which is the first page.

00:12:02   And then for each page thereafter,

00:12:04   there's a fairly similar rank.

00:12:06   So that's just something to keep in mind.

00:12:08   And you can often end up-- sometimes it's worth--

00:12:10   Overall it's probably not worth in the long run playing these games, but it's sometimes

00:12:14   something that I found helpful is if you're at launch and you find yourself right on a

00:12:19   cusp and say your app's $2.99, maybe it's worth for a weekend or two, like stay on a

00:12:25   Friday right before weekends.

00:12:26   For my apps I get best traffic on Sundays, so my Sunday rank is very important.

00:12:32   Sometimes on a Friday I'll drop the price a buck just to kind of get over that hump

00:12:38   so that for my profitable days, I've

00:12:41   sort of ranked slightly higher.

00:12:42   You'll often find that you'll lose money initially

00:12:44   with that, obviously, because you probably

00:12:46   won't make up the difference in volume for what you

00:12:48   did from the price change.

00:12:50   But it's just a little trick that you can sometimes

00:12:52   play with just to kind of help that process out a little.

00:12:55   But generally, like I said, don't do that too much.

00:12:58   But sometimes it's very helpful, and sometimes it's worth doing,

00:13:01   especially just at launch when you're

00:13:02   trying to get traction.

00:13:04   All right, so that's it, I think, for the App Store.

00:13:06   The only other thing that you'll have to do once your app's

00:13:09   launched is update it.

00:13:10   The process is very straightforward.

00:13:12   You go into iTunes Connect, say I have a new version,

00:13:14   give it a new version number, say it would change,

00:13:16   submit the update.

00:13:17   But otherwise, that's it.

00:13:18   And that's it for this kind of three episode arc,

00:13:21   talking about submitting an app.

00:13:22   Hopefully that was helpful.

00:13:23   If you have any questions, comments, thoughts, complaints,

00:13:27   either hit me up in my contact form on the website,

00:13:29   or just developing perspective.com/contact.

00:13:34   Or you can hit me up on Twitter.

00:13:36   I'm @_davidsmith.

00:13:38   Otherwise, I hope you like the show.

00:13:40   If you like it, tell a friend, tell two, tell three.

00:13:42   It's the best way to say thanks to me.

00:13:45   And otherwise, have a good Tuesday.

00:13:48   Happy coding, and I will talk to you later.