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5 more things I wish I knew when I released my first iPhone app


Haven’t read the first part? Read Part 1 and then come back, we’ll be waiting.

Okay, read that? Here we go!


6. Wise SEO choices can have a huge impact on sales

iOS App SEO is not exactly like web SEO. The rules are much more simplistic, based on fewer factors than google search for example. I’ve found that the App Store ranks search terms on a few key factors:

– Title

– Company name

– App description

– Keywords

I would venture to say they are even prioritized roughly in that order. To get started optimizing your keywords on the app store, you can check out your competition using https://sensortower.com/. It’s a free and easy site to quickly get a good estimation of the keywords other apps are using. This may give you some ideas for keywords to use in your own app. Testing it with some of my own apps, I can say the results are fairly accurate.

7. Piracy is a very real concern

I remember the first day I released in-app purchases for one of my apps, PhotoGoo. Users could now purchase “stickers” to place on their photos to make funny faces and pictures. When my analytics reports started coming in I could see there were many purchases being made! I was thrilled. The minimum cost of all these purchases to deliver content to the device would surely be lower than the amount users were paying, except one problem:

The next morning I woke up to find nearly 1% of the purchases actually showed up in my iTunes reports. Upon further investigation I discovered mass piracy causing my analytics to disagree with my iTunes reports, and it was costing me money.

Now, in this case it wasn’t costing much. All I was doing was delivering some png files to the users, and not very big ones. But, it’s important to note that the cost of bandwidth and other such services may be impacted by piracy if you are selling premium content through IAP, or just using your bandwidth to serve customers who you *assume* are paying you.

8. App development is expensive.

This one gets asked often, “How much would it cost to build and app that does xyz?” I may do a full follow-up post on this help people asking this question find a rough answer. But in short, the simplest of the simple apps will be a few thousand dollars to pay a developer to write, and anything substantial could be $30k, $50k, or more depending on the app. The technology is pretty recent, so there is also not much competition in the space of app development. If you want to get an app developed, contact some developers with your idea (and wireframe it as well as you can.) See what their average prices are, but just know it’s a relatively big investment.

9. Planning is key

This is one if the most common problems I find in app development. Now, I’m not advocating that we all abandon agile development processes. In fact I’m not talking about programming right now. What needs to be locked down before beginning a project is a solid business strategy. This strategy may change over time, but the developers and stake holders need a goal. It goes beyond technology, because technology is just implementing features, and feature are just implementing business logic, which are usually just selling points for a product. Most software development can be traced back to it’s original business value, and if it can’t… well then why are you building it?

Having great planning can be the difference between the MVP you need, and the bloated unpolished product nobody wants. Yes, I group early product testing in to this category as well. It’s important not only to plan the technical details of your product, but trace it back to marketing objectives. What do the customers really want? Hint: They don’t know.

10. The apps in the top 10 aren’t the only ones making money

Based on my own apps, and many conversations I’ve had with other app developers, I can tell you that being in the top 10 doesn’t neccessarily need to be the goal. Sure, it would be great to have a top 10 app, but there is plenty of money to be made in the 300th spot on the iPad Photography charts. I think it’s important to remember that you can make money without being the biggest app in existence. If you set your goals to be slightly less lofty, it will increase your odds at being successful in the development process. You may even find that you end up making plenty of revenue this way.


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