Posts Tagged 'App Store'

More review scraping

Happy New Year, all! Looking forward to 2009? We expect it’s going to be … interesting.

To start you off the year with some handy review scraping, here’s a handy little webpage to retrieve all the country reviews for an App Store application, by either application ID or store URL. Based on the same code that we mentioned before that you could work with yourself or install a Dashboard widget to make more convenient, but it’s most convenient of all to bookmark this and pull it up from anywhere, yes?

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App Store Rankings

Here’s a couple posts with hard numbers to link App Store ranks with actual numbers for you!

First up, conversions for the … well, let’s be polite, the novelty application iFart Mobile can be found here:

Date – Units/Day – Rankings
12/12 – 75 units – #70 entertainment
12/13 – 296 units – #16 entertainment
12/14 – 841 units – #76 overall, #8 entertainment
12/15 – 1510 units – #39 overall, #5 entertainment
12/16 – 1797 units – #22 overall, #3 entertainment
12/17 – 2836 units – #15 overall, #3 entertainment

Hey, even at only 99¢ apiece, that looks like a good return on investment, doesn’t it now?

For a more detailed look at budgets, sales and revenue, you can look here and find a dissection of the performance of the more intrinsically useful AppCubby applications. Selected highlights:

While I agree with the need for marketing, the only methods of marketing I’ve found to be measurably cost effective are working with the press and getting featured by Apple, both of which are essentially free, but incredibly hard to guarantee…

I’ll start with the earliest marketing attempt, a banner ad on …  Without click tracking there is no way to know exactly how many clicks turned into sales, but I doubt it was anywhere near the number needed to break even, much less turn a profit on this endeavor.

The AdMob experiment … I spent over $500 (2224 clicks) the first day and couldn’t wait to check my sales the next morning. Well, sales barely moved, and I had spent 3 times more on advertising than I saw in gross sales … After spending the last $3,000 buying ads for Gas Cubby, I still haven’t seen a pattern that would confirm AdMob to be a cost effective marketing solution for my apps. This is by no means a conclusive test of the overall effectiveness of AdMob, but the numbers are pretty telling.

I’m admittedly not an AdWords ninja, so I took a very conservative approach, bidding low on highly targeted ads. The ads have throttled up and down as cheap ad space comes and goes, but have added up to almost $600 in 4 months. Without a way to track which clicks turn into sales, it seems foolish to throw money into a black hole bound by competitive placement and fraught with click fraud.

Many developer’s have chosen to offer an “Lite” version of their app … As opposed to what most people think, this strategy doesn’t seem to be paying off for most developers.

Hmmmm. Well, if none of the conventional advertising channels work, what does? Well, it kinda boils down to making yourself worthy of attention, oddly enough:

… so far the strategy that has made the most fiscal sense is to spend money on development and hope for good placement with Apple and the press.

There you go then — your one sentence guide to how to succeed at iPhone development!

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The first 5 months

In case you missed it at the beginning of the month (yeah, yeah, we’re catching up quick as we can) there’s a fascinating update over at O’Reilly Radar on the first five months of the App Store. Definitely worth just clicking over there and reading the whole thing yourself, but here’s a couple quick highlights as of the end of November:

– About 9,800 unique applications, 22% of which are free;

– Sale prices of Top 100 apps continue to decline, currently average $2.60 and median $1.25 or so;

– Games and Entertainment continue to dominate the listings

Some excellent graphs on percentage by price point, free/paid share by category, etc. to be seen there as well, so we’ll just repeat our advice to go read the whole thing.

And hey, here’s your brain teaser for the day, since we’ve got all these cool trip pictures to share: Where was this shot taken last week? Hint: It was used as the Massassi Outpost on the fourth moon of Yavin in a little movie you might have heard of, name of Star Wars.


Gimme hint: It’s in Guatemala. You can figure it out from there, I’m sure.

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Scraping your reviews

So, I’m sure you’ve all been there with us on your first iPhone app: Soon as it’s up there you want to see ALL the reviews! Right NOW! NOW NOW NOW! But iTunes only lets you see the reviews for the country you have an account in, bah! So how do you get around this conundrum? Well, you could make friends with people with iTunes accounts in the other 61-odd countries, I suppose; or, you could simply apply this script from voluminous authoress Erica Sadun:

As you know, iTunes currently exists in 60-odd countries. 62 if I’ve done my counting right. Each store has its own storefront code, which I have laboriously produced for you below. Seriously, this took forever! These country codes allow you to access AppStore for each country and retrieve the review data you’re looking for…

The user review URL shown here returns the first page of the most recent (sortOrdering=2) reviews. You can retrieve those reviews directly from the Terminal command-line.

To talk to iTunes from curl, spoof the user agent to pretend to be iTunes and set your store front to one of the legal values. Here, I set the store by passing it as a header field using curl’s -H switch…

The last step involves looping this over all available stores. It’s easy to throw together a perl script that does exactly that, opening the results in TextEdit. The source for that script follows at the bottom of this post.

Incredibly useful, no? But it gets better! Another fellow Jeremy Wohl took this and ran with it to fix various issues and call Google Translate as well, you can find that hosted on github here; and for the absolute ultimate in convenience, yet another fellow John Ballinger has written that into a Dashboard widget. Really couldn’t ask for anything more, could you?

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App Store report

The good folks over at O’Reilly Radar have done some crunching through publicly available info on the App Store and have a report with all kinds of interesting metrics for anyone interested in how the marketplace for iPhone apps is developing to take a gander at. We thoroughly recommend reading the whole thing, but here’s one particularly interesting graph — although by absolute numbers games blow out all other categories, as could be confidently foreseen, this graph shows you what percentage of available apps in a category make the top 100:

So if you’re looking to get rich quick … apparently “Music” is your best bet! On an iPod smooshed into a cellphone? Gee, who saw that one coming?

h/t: MacSurfer!

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Pimpin’ PinchMedia

Here’s an interesting site for iPhone users and developers both: PinchMedia!

If you’re an iPhone user, they’ve got a quartet of interesting RSS feeds about developments at the App Store for you:

Recently Added iPhone Applications

Recently Updated iPhone Applications

Top 100 Free iPhone Applications

Top 100 Paid iPhone Applications

and if you’re a developer, they have a pair of offerings that look interesting:

1) Pinch Advertising

We’ve just announced Pinch Advertising – a service that allows developers to earn money from their free iPhone SDK applications.

When the Pinch Advertising code is integrated with your iPhone SDK application, you can easily add unobtrusive, industry-standard advertisements from high-quality brands…

2) Pinch Analytics

When the Pinch Analytics code module is integrated with your iPhone SDK application, Pinch Analytics will track the number of unique, active users, the length of time your application is being used, and, if enabled, the geographic location of your users. You can understand exactly how many people are actually using your application, as opposed to simply downloading it. You can know where your users are coming from, so you can provide them with content tailored to their location. And you can track use of specific application features, so you can learn what’s working and what’s not. Statistics are updated hourly – learn how your business is doing now, not at the end of the month.

Well, that all sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Sign up for an account and check it out!

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I Am Rich

In case you haven’t heard, there was an application put up at the App Store — briefly, before Apple pulled it — called “I Am Rich”. It did, well, nothing really, just display a picture … for $999.99.

Yeah, funny joke, ha-ha. But would you believe, eight people actually bought it??

But Apple couldn’t pull it down before curious aristocrats — eight of them — had purchased it. Six people from the United States, one from Germany and one from France dropped a grand for the gem in the first 24 hours it was available, Heinrich said. That’s $5,600 in revenue for Heinrich and $2,400 for Apple, which collects 30% of each sale for “store upkeep.”

And, allegedly, six of those eight are satisfied.

“I’ve got e-mails from customers telling me that they really love the app,” adding that they had “no trouble spending the money,” he said.

Well, we find it rather hard to dredge up any flattering words for the programming achievement — but as a piece of performance art, this little brouhaha certainly is a milestone, indeed. Massive amounts of generated angst flooded across the spectrum from totalitarian demands for Apple to censor “junk” apps all the way over to libertarian defenses of the caveat emptor principle by way of musings on the buying process and calls for Apple to be more transparent with its app-pulling process, as apparently there’s been no communication to the developer as to on exactly what grounds they justified pulling the app. And, indeed, as the app does not fall under any of the various categories of nefarious functionality — hard to do when you actually have no functionality, certainly — there is no obvious justification in the agreement for denying distribution, as “expensive joke” appears nowhere. Yes, we checked.

In any case, we find it hard to get behind the calls for censorship, not just on libertarian principle but because the outrage seems selectively applied. If it annoys you that somebody can buy a $999.99 app for an iPhone that does nothing much, how come we don’t see you getting at least as upset that somebody can buy a $14,990 case for that same iPhone that does nothing more than a $14.99 model? Logically that should merit another order and a magnitude of a half of outrage, right?

No, we think the allegedly offended people are just putting on a front to cover up what they’re actually thinking, which is probably about the same as us:

$5,600?? $5,600!! WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT FIRST???!???!!!!!

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gold rush reports

Just in case you were wondering whether this iPhone thing was really going to take off, here’s a good example for you: The guys behind MacHeist have two applications up on the App Store — and they’ve posted the sales numbers for the most recent week. Let’s see how this stacks up:

1) Where To? — “makes your iPhone … find points of interest around you”

  • price: $2.99
  • number sold: 3,193
  • net sales: $9,547.07

2) Tipulator — “the tip calculator that’s actually fun”

  • price: 99¢
  • number sold: 353
  • net sales: $349.47

Let us compare to their marketing expense, which they have likewise provided — they’re just too kind, aren’t they — for us:

And for tap tap tap we put out under $2,000: $1,250 for the Daring Fireball ad, around $200 to send a mailing out, and around $300 in iTunes Music Store gift certificates sent to potential reviewers (Apple NEEDS to provide us with a better way of doing this).

This is really incredible when you think about it and calculate the margins.

Yes, indeed, “incredible” is actually an appropriate word here. I’d expected that iPhone programming would be a great opportunity, but never expected returns on this level. We are indeed in a gold rush, people; the only remaining question is if and when we’re going to have the amount of competition that something approaching normal marketing budgets become necessary again. In the meantime, full steam ahead!
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App Store is open!

Well, will you look at that; the App Store is open! Hmmm, let’s see … it’s probably still an NDA violation to show a screenshot of the store itself, but is it an NDA violation to show a screenshot of a device with apps installed from it? Well, let’s cross our fingers and hope it isn’t, shall we?

We’d go into more detail, but besides the NDA factor, there’s the all of a sudden rather pressing issue that, well, you see that “BrainJogging” icon above? You can not download that from the App Store … yet … and we need to be fixing that problem. Normal blogging will resume once that is sorted!

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