I’d like to share a few thoughts on Apple’s WWDC 2012 announcements. I think we can finally say that iOS 6 is evolutionary and Apple takes care of its entire ecosystem.
Evolutionary, not revolutionary. The sixth generation of Apple’s mobile operating system represents an enhanced major release. The improvements are evident in the eyes of the users that will notice new features, new useful options and pixel-perfect finishing touches that are the result of an obsessive attention to detail. The improvements are evident in the eyes of the developers that will finds a ton of awesome APIs (currently under NDA) that they’ll definitely want to start using in their apps.
And requests like Siri support and Notification Center widgets for third-party apps? Inter-app communication? Multitasking rethink? Home screen redesign? Not yet. Apple is focusing on polishing the experience as we know it and creating a mature ecosystem.
Until two years ago, it seemed that Apple had forgotten Mac OS X, but in reality was just concentrated on building a strong breakthrough mobile platform for the post-PC era. Apple is not losing interest in the Mac platform, but plans to strengthen its ecosystem all together (iOS, OS X and iCloud). A year ago at WWDC 2011, Steve Jobs presented iOS 5 (a huge improvement), Lion (the iOS-ification of OS X) and introduced iCloud (the key element of the ecosystem evolution). In 2012 Apple unveiled Mountain Lion (the unification of iOS and OS X) and announced annual OS X release cadence, just like iOS. Today we see an iCloud-ification of both platforms.
So what? In 2012, the challenge is not to build the most advanced mobile or desktop operating system, but the most advanced ecosystem. Hardware, software and services have never been as integrated as they are today. Amazon and Samsung are creating their own ecosystem on top of Android. Microsoft is behind in the mobile OS market, but its desktop OS still remains the standard for PCs and is preparing the tablet-laptop convergence with the upcoming Windows 8. The post-PC era has just begun, the tablet (the very real Post-PC device) market is just beginning to take off and will be huge, the ecosystem war is under way.
On October 20, Apple announced the dates and cities for its iOS 5 Tech Talk World Tour 2011, giving developers from around the world the opportunity to speak with and learn from Apple’s own engineers in nine cities on three continents. The nine cities include Berlin, London, Rome, Beijing, Seoul, São Paulo, New York City, Seattle, and Austin. iOS Developer Program members only and limited to those who got a confirmation from Apple.
Thanks Steve for teaching us…
- …the difference between ‘good enough’ and better
- …that people are at the centre of technology
- …to think first about what is desirable to users and then to consider what’s possible with technology
- …to focus on what truly matters and to keep it simple
- …we can’t connect the dots forward, only backward
- …the difference between a leader and a follower
- …to believe in ourselves and push our life forward
- …to think that we can change the world
- …that “innovation is not about saying yes to everything, it’s about saying NO to all but the most crucial features”
- …that design is not just “how it looks like and feels like, design is how it works”
- …not to waste our time living someone else’s life
- …the importance of quality and attention to detail
- …that our imagination can become real through passion and determination
- …to “keep looking, don’t settle”
- …that compromise is a choice, not a requirement
- …to see things differently
We’ll miss you.
Launching an app? Chasing the secret of the art of the reveal? Promoting your app? Considering a form of promotion? Marketing is not the magic word that can transform your business, the key point is what strategy to follow to make some money and the right business model is specific of your own app. There are no universal rules here, just a small case study.
FreakyAlarm is my first app released on the App Store, an alarm clock for sleepyheads that forces you to wake your brain because you will have to solve a series of logical-math games in order to get it to stop annoying you. It also provides a means to control your own path of recovery, as measured by the iWake coefficient. You can monitor the trend of your progress and achive badges. I released FreakyAlarm on 28th July 2010 without any marketing action also because the initial version included only 10% of what I had in mind. Do NOT follow my stupid example. New & Noteworthy, anyone? The launch is crazy crucial and you have to try to make the most of the initial visibility so that you can push your app up the charts before losing momentum. That means that you’ve gotta have a big launch, which means you’ve gotta have a big build-up.
More than an update, FreakyAlarm 1.1 was a brand new application reprogrammed and redesigned from the scratch, it came out on 19th October 2010 with a good acceptance thanks to some reviews. Sales bounced around for a while and then they had stabilized at a few downloads per day.
Version 1.2 for free at launch
The best way to deal with sales is to improve your app, the best way to deal with piracy is to improve your app, the best way to deal with life is to improve yourself. After a few months of discontinuous work FreakyAlarm 1.2 was ready. Press kit, promo video, stylish screenshots, demo video, website update, iPhone blogs spamming… and four days of promotion as an experiment.
1. get as much visibility as possibile
2. enlarge the installed base of users
3. get numerical information in view of a lite version
Update 1.2 was released on 17th March 2011 – incredibly bad timing since it was St. Patrick’s day and there were so many apps on sale or St. Patrick special editions! I did not notice this coincidence, 17th March is just like any other day in my country, but however the experiment gave good results.
Check out here: http://spirales.it/freakyalarm/freakyalarm-free-promotion/
Downloads charts are generated from sales report data.
During its free period (17th – 20th March) FreakyAlarm was downloaded a total of 6,335 times.
Continental distribution by Day
The interactive intensity map displays total downloads by country as a color scale. The considerable difference between the United States and other countries is evident, in fact the US represented 41% of the total downloads.
Continental distribution by Day
The column chart below to represent continental distribution for each day of promotion. The United States is by far the country with more downloads, but it’s interesting to note that the whole Asia has gradually reached and surpassed North America in the following days.
Rankings charts are generated from MajicRank data.
During its free period FreakyAlarm was in the Top 200 Productivity list of almost all countries. Anyway the app didn’t appear in any Top 200 Free list.
Rankings of Top 5 Countries
The line graph to draw the ranking trends in the Top 200 Productivity list of the 5 countries with the most number of downloads
So? Well, it’s been a really exciting experience. I’m pretty pleased to know that such a large number of people have used my app and now other 6,335 people wake up in the morning with FreakyAlarm ;)
I’m sure an app in the Top 200 Free has MUCH higher numbers, but I’m very satisfied with the result. Unlike the launch of the previous version, this time I did get some press through only three sites (AppAdvice, iPhoneItalia and iPhoneFreak). But that’s nothing new! Blogs report all the same news and only want to write about popular stuff from people they already know.
This means that the obtained findings are largely due to auto-generated buzz and app finders like appbzr (on which FreakyAlarm was the hottest app in the entire Productivity category), and that’s great!
First of all it seems that the introduction of the French and Russian localizations yielded no effect. Only 90 downloads in France and 70 in Russia are too few, but this assessment is not significant without a some form of marketing campaign on the iPhone blogs of those countries.
Taking a look at the last 5 week you can see that there was an immediate affect on sales when FreakyAlarm get back to paid. After a transient phase the downloads has stabilized at a level slightly higher. Not enough even as part-time income, but that’s good. However this was not the purpose. The aim was to assess the numbers of a hypothetical lite version.
So what has this proved? Doubtless the need for a lite version. Probably the revenues from free + ads model would be greater than those from sales. I’d always planned to make a lite version with a subset of the features according to the art of product versioning and including ads (iAd banner when a new advertisement is loaded or full version banner when offline). But if it’s true that the business model is not complete without a lite version, the lite version must be the right lite. I wanted to make sure that the app is as good as possible before to launch a lite and for this reason the preparatory step is to further improve and polish the app.
What do you think about it? What was your experience with free? I’d love to hear your comments.