My name is Kenneth and I write cool Mac and iPhone software. This is my personal weblog where I post about stuff I find interesting. I usually write about Mac development, the business of shareware and the Mac community in general.read more →
When one hears stories from iPhone developers, they’re either from the lucky ones who made insane amounts of money and laugh all the way to the bank, or rather from disappointed developers who consider their efforts a failure.
The latter tend to blame the App Store for the failure of their application(s). Granted, the App Store is a harsh market which has both its advantages and its flaws. But, in my humble opinion, a good craftsman never blames his tools.
The App Store has trends that can be analyzed, and if you’re going to be developing for the iPhone, you need to learn how to adapt. I have learnt this first-hand through experimentation, and have learnt many valuable lessons along the way.
Last September, while working on a much bigger iPhone game, I thought it would be cool to create a quick one-trick application for viewing jokes. I never envisioned that iLaugh would become my most lucrative app that would keep me going while I develop the aforementioned game.
The Y-Axis shows daily revenue in US dollars.
Let’s leave the end of the graph (Feb-Apr) aside for a minute, we’ll get back to it.
You can see the initial release spikes, typical of the App Store, and then a very depressing downwards trend right after release. For the second release, 1.1, I upped the price from $0.99 to $1.99. Which slightly lowered the initial spike revenue. But at that stage, I had a much more mature app which unfortunately, due to lack of effective marketing stagnated at a sub-$20 daily revenue.
But in February, I made pretty much the best decision I have ever made. That, of course, was to release a Lite version. I initially thought it would be a nearly cost-free way to get some free advertising for the premium version. The main reason I put ads inside the Lite version was actually not to create revenue, but rather to give users a reason to upgrade. But, other than that, the Lite version was an identical, fully functional copy of the premium version.
As you can see, it did a pretty decent job of advertising the premium version. Since the mid-Feb release of iLaugh Lite, daily revenue for iLaugh has been much higher than it previously was.
Fortunately, iLaugh Lite became quite popular on the iTunes App Store, and while never entering the global top 100, it has charted as high as #29 on the Entertainment chart, and has been in the top 40 entertainment apps nearly since its release.
While this did have some unexpected consequences, like bringing my entire server down due to excessive traffic which brought the iLaugh service down and forced me to upgrade to a better server, the benefits were pretty clear.
This graph shows daily iLaugh Lite downloads.
This equates to about 100,000 monthly downloads.
Here’s a graph that shows the web-service traffic this generates (since each joke is fetched from my server, this gives me a pretty good overview of the actual usage of the app). Unfortunately, I only started using this particular analytics package on March 2nd, so that’s when the graph starts.
To date, iLaugh has served over 6 million jokes, and it’s going at about one million per week.
So far I left out one pretty important thing: ad revenue. But one always leaves the best for last, right? So here goes:
As the installed user-base for iLaugh Lite grows, so does daily ad revenue. Currently, I’m seeing pretty good numbers. I have around 6 million monthly ad impressions, and as you can see in the above graph, I’m seeing around $100 daily ad revenue.
While these aren’t mind-shattering numbers, I think they give a pretty good overview of what one can achieve as an average developer for the iPhone platform.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 at 10:28 pm and is filed under Articles, Business, Cocoa, English, iPhone. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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