Archive for March, 2010


Marketing: App Gifting

Here’s a good read on one developer’s experience using app gifting as a promotional tool, to the tune of giving away 1000 copies of their game to promote their new iPad version:

About a week ago, Apple enabled gifting for apps. This got a lot of developers thinking about how gifting can be used for marketing purposes. We weren’t the first ones to try it, but we decided to try it on a mass scale.

Our plan was to give away 1,000 copies of our game Harbor Master for iPhone to the first 1,000 subscribers to our newsletter. We coordinated this with promoting the upcoming Harbor Master HD for iPad.

We were lucky that TouchArcade picked up the story. We had our 1,000 subscribers within the first 10 hours, most within the first few hours…

Woah. Even at only paying 30% of full price, that’s still a pretty serious investment. Worth it? Well, they think so:

Overall, this was a great promotion strategy for us. We got over 1,000 interested mailing list subscribers, great media attention for Harbor Master HD, and a lot of good will from the community. People value a gift much more than a free app. While people tend to rate free apps much lower than paid apps because a free app has lower perceived value, the recipients of our gifts have been nothing but grateful….

Hmmmm. Seems like you could have managed it more cheaply to us … but hey, more options are always great.

And for a little comedy relief, note the tempest in a teapot about whether this was a cheap(ish) way to buy a higher App Store ranking. Short answer: nope. But my, people do just love jumping to conclusions, don’t they?

h/t: MobileOrchard!


Monetization: Burstly

So a couple weeks ago, we mentioned a very interesting looking ad management platform called .app/ads? Yeah, they’ve gone and rebranded themselves,


so for the sake of easy archive searching after the however long it is until we actually get around to thinking about putting a new ad platform into a project, here’s an update to point you at the all-new, all-wow, Very pretty indeed. And Apple developers will have a bit of a chuckle at their documentation library design, no doubt.

Also, check out this good introductory app monetization blog post. From which we also learn that they do see themselves as having a direct competitor, the new to us AdMarvel. Although since AdMarvel is now owned by Opera, one does wonder just how much focus they’re going to be sparing for iPhone development needs.

And see what the press is saying at MobileBeat and at TechCrunch, and this missive from a VC investor. Certainly does look very interesting, and something that looks worth jumping into right away …

… if not for the elephant in the room here, which is what’s reportedly coming from Apple in short order.

It certainly is interesting times on the advertising front!



So no doubt you’re all looking forward to developing for the iPad, and here from the same people who did the iPhone GUI PSD that we mentioned ages ago — and is now up to version 3.0, by the way — comes, wait for it, the iPad GUI PSD!


The PSD was constructed using vectors, so it’s fully editable and scalable. You’ll notice there are a few new UI elements as compared to the iPhone interface. The workable screen design is formatted to 768×1024 so anything you design in the Photoshop file can easily be brought over to the SDK.

It’s 1.0 so I’m sure we’ll notice missing elements as we begin to use it. We’ll perodically update it to include new elements as we notice them or as they become available through any SDK updates.

Any other iPad design helpers you’ve noted out there so far, Dear Readers?


Poses Professional

So yep, here we are again with another shipment from the laboring minions of the Trollwerks empire to all of you out there: and no doubt to your complete lack of surprise, after a one-product break we’re back to displays of conspicuously concupiscent femininity. Introducing Poses Professional,


and its companion free version Poses Sampler!


Yep, that IAP-enabled upgrade of the Poses series that we’ve been mumbling about getting around to any day now for around six months, yes we finally got everything sorted out and guided through approval, which was a bit of a trick with three current app updates, two new apps, and six IAP items between them.

The reason all this needed to be synchronized is that the original three volumes of 368 poses each we’re now making available as IAP items — but you can’t share purchases between apps directly, plus we wanted purchasers of the originals to transfer over their content without paying again. So how we ended up handling that is sharing a keychain between all five apps, and purchasing a volume in either new app or running the original volume apps marks a flag in the keychain for the new apps to download the appropriate content from our servers. And no angry emails or crash reports showing up in the first three days, so apparently it’s all working out well, to our mild surprise. Er, we mean, as we confidently expected.

Any-ways, this is a moderately interesting controlled experiment in pricing, going from high (by App Store standards) priced content to a lower priced paid entry plus a freemium model, and we’re going to be fascinated indeed to see how that works out. So all you photographers out there, you know what to do!

Poses Professional


Source: SCSegmentedControl

You ever had that problem where you just had too darn many choices to fit into a UISegmentedControl? Well, here’s a solution: make it multi-line!


Cute. Maybe stretching the HIG a trifle — but cutely stretching them! It’s part of the TouchCustoms repository on github, which is apparently a collection of kibbles and bits used by ScreenCustoms a duo out of Belarus. Looks like some other goodies in there too if you rummage a bit…


Source: FJSTransitionController

Here’s a possibly handy piece of source from The Flying Jalapeño Lives — FJSTransitionController! Which is:

Well, FJSTC is a custom “top level view controller” to be used as a replacement for UINavigationControllers and UITabBarControllers. It handles transitions between view controllers, but with more flexibility.

Instead of managing a stack or an array of view controllers, FJSTC manages a Dictionary. You can associate VCs with keys and load them arbitrarily…

That would’ve been kinda handy, well last week actually, when we were putting a bunch (thirty-one, to be exact) of inconsistently hierarchical views into a navigation controller and winding up with hints of inelegance whilst doing so. But hey, it’s working-ish now, although we might consider retrofitting it, since FJSTC includes a few other nifty features like FTUtils-provided animations. If that sounds interesting, source on github and project on codaset!


Library: ASIHTTPRequest

We’re not quite sure how we managed to overlook this so far, but if you’re outgrowing NSConnection and figure that you need something CFNetwork based, there is an excellent library called ASIHTTPRequest that wraps it nicely, is compatible with iPhone and desktop both, and has plenty of features, some of the more nifty being:

Yes, that is indeed a comprehensive feature list. Source on github; group on Google; and Lighthouse bug base even. And BSD-licensed to boot. Why, it’s like an awesome sundae topped with awesome sauce!

[UPDATE: But ho! The very next day, we stumble across a purported good reason to NOT use it --

I'm sorry, I have to speak out against the ASIHTTP library. It's mostly quite good, but because it doesn't sit on the NSURL* classes it ignores any global proxy settings. This is particularly an issue in a VPN environment, but it comes up in other situations as well. Unless you're willing to deal with wonky support issues (and bad reviews as a result), don't use it.

Hmmm. That does sound like a worry ... but we could swear that CFNetwork can use CFProxySupport to get the global proxy settings, because we've done that. On the desktop, mind you. Perhaps CFProxySupport is not available/functional on the iPhone? Or this fellow is just making stuff up? If you have some actual iPhone experience to know one way or the other, please share!]


Touch To Give

Yes, here we are again: another exquisite troll production up on the App Store today — and, for a change, there is not one single scantily clad female in it! A shock, we know. And although the gestation was rather prolonged, not an instant of that was due to any deficiency on our part, so we’ll count this as another successful troll project. W00t!

So said project was for the GreaterGood Network, a collection of charities like, well, these,


that you go and tap on every day, and then advertisers donate to the various worthy causes. So hey, everybody should go download it right now, because this is something that we’ve put together just so you, yes you, that’s YOU, can make the world a better place. You’re welcome.



Monetization: .app/ads

Well, this looks like a remarkable step up in monetization functionality for the penurious iPhone app developer: the (still in beta) OPEN! and FREE! .app/ads “ad management platform for iPhone developers”. And what is an “ad management platform” exactly?

.app/ads gives you complete freedom over the ad space within your apps by providing an open and free ad management platform. There are a lot of revenue opportunities for app developers today, and you can count on even more direct ad and ad network opportunities being available in the future. Given the turnaround times on App Store approvals, locking your app into using just one ad network, or even just one ad network aggregator, could cost you substantial ad revenues. Take advantage of all the opportunities available to you now and in the future with .app/ads. You can easily manage and run third-party ad network and aggregator SDKs (AdMob, Mobclix, TapJoy, AdWhirl, et al.), direct ads, house ads, content (such as Twitter and RSS feeds), in-app purchases, and developer-direct marketplace offers from just one platform. Use one dashboard to manage your ad space and optimize what is going to make you the most money while maximizing your users’ experiences.

That does sound exceedingly comprehensive, indeed. We had been intrigued by the Flurry AppCircle idea, but since they’ve shown a distinct absence of willingness to answer any emails sent to them, we’ve kinda cooled on the idea of relying on them for any business purpose. [UPDATE: Why look at that, the AppCircle SDK arrived in our mailbox first thing the very next morning. How coincidental!] And these guys certainly do a great deal more, if the non-beta version lives up to the advertising (heh) here. Read more about them at TUAW and at TechCrunch.

Indeed, it would be an interesting exercise to see just how many of the ad providers listed in our increasingly disjointed advertising/analytics collection one could fit into this platform…



Well, apparently we’ve now established what phase 2 of the successful iPhone developers’ business plan is!

(If that’s a trifle obscure of a cultural reference, what we’re making there is an analogy to the South Park underwear gnomes‘ business plan:

Phase 1: Write iPhone app.

Phase 2: ???

Phase 3: PROFIT!!!

Sound like anybody’s business plan you know? Yeah, thought so.)

It seems that, perhaps not so surprisingly, Phase 2 is “charge $299 and up for joke apps”. No, seriously.

… Along with fellow prolific indie developer Adam Saltsman (Canabalt, Wurdle), Refenes developed a “joke game” for iPhone titled Zits & Giggles, consisting mainly of popping virtual pimples.

Like so many other iPhone games, Zits & Giggles launched at $0.99. Sales were never remarkable, and they eventually tapered off entirely. But rather than pursue a traditional marketing strategy like offering the game for free for a limited time, Refenes did just the opposite: he raised the price to $15, exorbitant by iPhone standards.

Shockingly, “the day I put it up to $15, three people bought it,” Refenes said.

“So,” he continued, “I said, ‘I’m going to put it up to $50.’ Four people bought it.”

After observing that fortuitous trend, Refenes decided to test its resilience by boosting the game’s selling price every time at least one copy was sold.

“I stopped paying attention to it for a while,” he recalled, then “I checked it on Valentine’s Day, and 14 people bought it at $299.”

The game has now reached a price tag of $350.

Based only on Refenes’ sales figures for a limited number of the game’s many price tiers, Zits & Giggles generated at least $4,431 at the $15, $50, and $299 price points alone. It currently holds an App Store customer rating of two and a half stars out of five, with only two written reviews, one of which reads in its entirety, “It’s hilarious.” (Its official description still claims it costs “a FRIGGIN DOLLAR.”)

“My conclusion to all of this,” Refenes said, “is that the people who you’re selling to on the App Store are not necessarily gamers.”

Not necessarily sane gamers, in any case, one suspects. We’re all in favor of preferring the upper half of the demand curve as a matter of policy … but tales like this make you wonder if it’s not actually more of a hyperbola than an actual curve. Or that people are just strange.

h/t: iphonesb!