iPhone App Store -- Mobile Monday Austin 2009/02


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iPhone App Store -- Mobile Monday Austin 2009/02

  1. 1. App Stores Is the hype real? Michael Yuan, PhD Ringful LLC michael@ringful.com
  2. 2. Who am I? • Co-founder of Ringful – Voice and SMS mashups for web and mobile apps • Eg Facebook Voicetag and Two-factor Auth – iPhone application development • Pollen Journal, iConference, MultiMedia Messaging, etc. • A top 100 free app, a rejected app, a top downloaded Cydia app, and everything in between! • Author of 5 books • Frequent speakers in national conferences • Contributor to several open source projects • Have a background in enterprise and mobile Java • http://michaelyuan.com/
  3. 3. The Hype • iPhone App Store • Android Marketplace • Blackberry App Center • Palm App Catalog • Symbian App Store Ovi • Windows Mobile SkyMarket Device / Software vendor branded app stores
  4. 4. On deck déjà vu? • App stores have been around for almost a decade – carrier branded “on deck” offerings • Difficult for developers – Hard to get approval – Porting across legacy devices is a major issue • Difficult for consumers – Difficult to find apps for your device – Deceptive recurring charges on phone bills Most people just download 2-3 apps when they get a new device and never bother again after their first bill
  5. 5. A new kind of app stores • Apps written for and marketed toward a specific type of device • Integrated discovery and billing experience • Cross carrier international reach • Apps have to be approved – Yes, even the “open” Android market does this • One time fee with free updates • Store operator takes 30% from the top – A very good bargain for the services provided
  6. 6. Ease of payment • World wide one click shopping – Credit card / gift card already in iTunes store – Google checkout – Carrier billing? • Buy on the device or on the computer • Even ridiculous apps have buyers – “I am Rich” sold 6 copies
  7. 7. Does it work? The case of the iPhone app store • 20,000+ apps got approved in the first 7 months • 500 MILLION downloads in the first 6 months • Best sellers can see 10,000+ units of sales EVERY DAY • Several apps have already broken the $1M revenue mark • Very impressive growth (Source: PinchMedia): – 3mo ago: the #25 app gets 11,000 downloads per day – Now: the #25 app gets 20,000 downloads per day • Developers in extremely hot demand even in the current down market • Web sites now have both iPhone web and SDK apps – New York Times, Facebook, Digg, Amazon and many more
  8. 8. The tale of a developer • News paper headline: “iPhone game saves a family’s home” • Ethan Nicolas – 30-yr old programmer at Sun – Build an iPhone game at nights and weekends – Climbed to be #1 in paid app list – Makes over $37,000 per day at the peak – $700,000 in profit in 3 weeks • This kind of success is not that uncommon! http://www.newsobserver.com/front/story/1413551.html
  9. 9. App store marketing • Conventional online marketing has not been very successful – Blog / news stories – Advertisements – Lack of referrer tracking • App store itself is where people discover and buy applications – Try to get on various lists – Frequent update helps drive sales • Word of mouth
  10. 10. Blockbuster vs Longtail • Blockbuster – get into the top 25 list – Typical stay time is several weeks – Do whatever you can to stay on that list • Drop your price to 99c if needed • The complaint about “ringtone apps” – Only takes one hit to make you “rich” • Longtail – People find it via search – Could be 10 to 500 downloads per day – Stable, steady income while you work on the blockbuster – Price high for niche market
  11. 11. Free versus paid • Free apps get 10x more download on average • They also get used less and generate bad reviews – Everyone who downloaded the app can bitch about it in the review section • Advertisement options – Admob: Most ads are to drive people to buy paid apps in the app store – PinchMedia / JumpTap: Brand / display ads – Other per-click ads models not yet proven on mobile • Ad-supported model does NOT work for most apps – Around 1% click through – 25c eCPM – Need to carefully study analytics before making your app free
  12. 12. When does FREE make sense? • Lite version of your paid app to drive sales – Trial is a known way to generate sales – iPhone app store does not allow trial / demo apps – Android Market has a one-day return policy • Free app that charges outside of the app store – Eg. RTM, Jott • Apps that are designed to promote something else – Fring, New York Times etc. • Tricky to navigate the approval process
  13. 13. Is the approval process as bad as they say? • The process – Takes 2 weeks for a new app to get approved, Takes about 4-5 days for each update to get approved – No undocumented API access (cover flow …), no background processing, no breaking out of the sandbox • The bad – Unconventional apps could be put on a back queue for lengthy review – No visibility to the process • The good – They do catch bugs for you! Esp subtle UI inconsistencies • Android? – Probably the same opaque process – But it allows distribution outside of the Marketplace
  14. 14. Opportunity for developers • “I have an idea for an iPhone application” – The financial gap between idea to app – Good developers can turn ideas to apps on personal time • The good old consulting business • Take initiatives in your own company
  15. 15. What’s involved • Sign up to the iPhone developer program – $99, background check – perhaps 1-2 months wait • Develop your application • Submit it to App Store – The review and update iteration – This is the biggest uncertainty in the process • World wide distribution • Sit back and watch the money roll in 
  16. 16. Is Cocoa really as hard as they say? • Objective C – Somewhat weird but futuristic language – Not all that different from Java if you know the jargon • Cocoa Touch framework – A lot of familiar design patterns – Very nice UI designer – A lot of “convenience” methods added over the decades (think PHP)
  17. 17. Can I distribute the app to friends? • Yes, you can do ad hoc distribution – Requires their device ID – Digitally signed by the certificate issued to you by Apple • Or, use the “promotional code” program in the App Store
  18. 18. Thank you michael@ringful.com