The No Win—Strikeout
Sadly, a large number of apps on the App Store are DOA. After working months and months or paying someone else to write your app, you post the app to the App Store and anxiously await its review and approval. After a few weeks you get the word back that your app has been approved. The app is posted within a few hours of approval, and your expectations soar! You can see the checks rolling in from Apple. You've already bought the swimming pool (remember Christmas Vacation). Then, you wait. You check your sales stats each day. A few sales here, a few sales there.... What has happened? Where are all the buyers? What happened to the 10,000 daily downloads? You thought people would be breaking down the doors to get this new app. You are discouraged and think you've wasted your time. You've probably thought about dropping your price. Surely there must be something wrong with the App Store to cause this.
Sometimes, even very well-written apps end up unnoticed and ignored. An app that sees 0 or 1–2 sales a day is not going to cut it to reach your break even. At the time of this writing, there are over 78,000 apps that are inactive and no longer for sale on the App Store. So what does a person do who finds himself in this predicament where his app is not doing well? It's time for a total app makeover. Ask yourself the following questions and be brutally honest:
- Is there really a market for my app? Did you come up with your app idea while sitting around with a bunch of friends and thought you had stumbled onto something that was incredible? Or did you do some solid competitive research to see if there were similar apps already posted, especially in the Free app categories? Nothing wrong with creating a competing app if you can make it better, but it's got to be better! Often whenever we think we have a great idea we need to really analyze whether it's viable or not. Ask some family, friends, or coworkers if they would be willing to pay for such an app. Find out if you have a market (and its potential size) for your app before you start coding or launch into an expensive project with a developer.
- Is your app extremely well written? A number of apps on the App Store are poorly written. They have bugs, or some of the features don't work too well. This is a surefire way to get a one-star rating on the App Store by a disgruntled buyer. Even at $0.99 people will take the time to point out that your app is crap and not worth the money on the customer reviews. One of the outcomes of competition is that prices fall and quality goes up. Customers expect an app to work just as well at $0.99 as they do at $29.99.
- Have you done any marketing yet? As I mention time and time again in this book, marketing is not posting your app to the App Store. You've had your app approved by Apple, and that's a great accomplishment. Now the second half of your work starts. Selling iPhone/iPad apps is not a passive activity if you intend to make money at it. A few other questions to consider: Does your app's icon convey what the app does? Icons that don't convey what the app does or at least what category the app is in are missing a marketing opportunity. Does the name of your app communicate the value of your app or help tell the story of what it does? Does your web copy match your product website in terms of crisp well-written content? All of these things combined help you to tell the story of your app and communicate its value. Figure 1.13 shows some sample icons that do a good job of communicating their value.
Figure 1.13 These icons communicate very nicely what the apps do such as a sports app a professional team may have built. This is an important part of your overall marketing.
There is always an explanation as to why an app is not successful. The answer is always there with a little digging.
If you should decide that your old app should rest in peace, at least you can have a better understanding of what you can do the next time around to help you achieve success. Don't kid yourself when you answer any of these questions. If you truly believe you have a great idea for an app and you've done your homework, then go for it. If you have written a great app and know it without a doubt, then apply some marketing and get those sales moving.