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Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

How to cross the chasm in the Mac App Store

We launched a few apps with the Mac App Store’s opening. One of them, Social Clipboard, was clipboard history app which also allowed you to post your clippings to FaceBook, Twitter/Twitpic or DropBox. We sent press releases, and contacted every possible blog and review site (we already knew the value of this, see our post: “What happens when the media pays attention“). The combination of the lack of diffusion we got, Apple’s poor ranking system (which gives everything to the top and nothing to the rest) and perhaps our inability to explain a complex value from one icon and a name (we tried several icons, as a matter of fact) gave it very poor sales results.

We still believed in the idea, so we cut a lot of functionality and made a simpler application from that one removing the social/networking components: Clipboard History. The message was now clear, and the functionality too. After the 2+ weeks Apple takes to review apps, it was launched at $0.99, the lowest possible price.

We got a few days of dubious results (26 downloads the first day, 21 the second, 33 the third and 18 the fourth), and starting to loose the only boost the App Store gives (the visibility of being a new app just because they are ordered by date) we decided that it was time to try something drastic. So we went free (at least for a while). That was two days ago.

The first day we got 1775 downloads (100 times the downloads we had the day before at $0.99). The second day we got 5358 downloads, and Clipboard History climbing to Top 1 in the charts around the world (in some countries to number 1 in Productivity as I write or even as overall number 1 Free App).

Where does this path lead to? Without in-app purchases to be able to charge for some extra functionality, or iAds to make some ad money, we still don’t know. But we have a few ideas. We have some time to figure this out. We will share with you our findings in this blog.

At least now we have crossed for the first time the hardest gap in the ecosystem Apple created: putting our software in the hands of the people.

-Rula.

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What happens when the media pays attention

So, you’ve coded, tested, crafted an icon and submitted your app to the App Store. Now what?

Most people think they have a lottery ticket, and now it is time to sit and hope to be noticed by Apple, be featured, get a gazillion downloads and be the next Angry Birds. Dudes: with 1 chance in 350.000, it doesn’t work like that. Sure, that guy from Germany just did it with Tiny Wings, but so did the guy that won the lottery yesterday in your city. The difference between “that could be you” and “that will be you” is simply huge, but we delude ourselves and tend to forget that.

We knew that from the iTunes Store and the time we launched Kolonists, so we took our experience to the Mac App Store. You have to work hard. Make a presentation on who you are, a package with information on the App that could easily be blogged (and not just a copy&paste of the app’s description from the App Store), some screenshots and hi-res logos. Then make a list of every god-damn blog and review site out there and send your package to them, now crossing your fingers again with a much better chance that at least one of them will take the time to have a look at what you’ve done.

We got a review for gNotifier at MacWord. Twitter went crazy. It took us in one day to Top 9 Paid Productivity (with 57 downloads, yes, Mac App Store sales volumes are very disappointing). Then, tough luck: Sparrow came out, the press attention shifted 100% to them and the darted to the top in no time. The result: we got gradually lost in the way to a current rate of 10-15 downloads a day.

But there is something to learn here: since there is absolutely nothing you can do in the App Store to get noticed, your only bet is outside. So, start writing and taking screenshots, and find a creative way to call the attention of the real people that can make you noticed: the reviewers.

-Rula.

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