When I woke up on October 20 I found an email from my partner in Sweden with the subject heading: Yeees!! Naturally it peaked my curiosity a little extra. The email, as it turned out, had no text – just a picture. The picture was a screen dump of Apple USA’s New & Noteworthy section for educational apps with our Happi Spells icon prominently positioned in the middle of the top row.
We had all heard the stories about what happens to sales when you get featured by Apple but being very close to experience it for yourself is a little more exhilarating than taking someone else’s word for it.
For all you developers who rather take someone else’s word for it or are still waiting for your Apple shoulder tap – it does give sales a very strong boost. In our case it made sales of Happi Spells go up by 10 000%. However, let me stop you before you jump to the conclusion that we became millionaires overnight. I am not sure I am allowed to divulge the actual sales numbers in dollars – so I won’t – but a raise from let’s say $1/day to $100/day is also an increase of 10 000%.
More questions, not less
Before you get featured by Apple there is really only one question you ask yourself: How do we get featured by Apple? Once you have been featured you would think that there would be no more questions at all. Well, it is actually rather the contrary, at least in our case. When the initial excitement had subsided we found ourselves left with a whole bunch of questions like: Why did Apple feature us? How long will we stay on the featured list? Will sales be strong the whole time we are on the featured list? Will there be any “carry over” effect on our other apps? What will happen to sales when we are no longer featured?
For those of you who are interested, I will try to answer these questions below. Unfortunately, the most important question of all still remain a mystery: How did this happen? How did we get featured? We had had no conversation with Apple prior to the feature other than a few phone calls and emails about the unfairness of the double VAT tax that the Swedish government suddenly had decided to levy on us. It is unlikely, though, that this sob story made Apple take pity on us and featured us for that reason. At least we hope not…:-) Just making a great app an leave the rest to faith doesn’t either sound very likely. Probably less likely than finding a needle in a hay stack since in this case you don’t even know where to look for the hay stack… Anybody with a better clue, please step forward.
A few answers
Next question; How long will we stay on the featured list? Apple adds and removes apps from their featured lists every Thursday. In our case we where on the list for 3 weeks before dropping out. Not in the same prominent place every week but at least on the list for 3 whole weeks. I don’t know wether this is below, above or just average all together.
During our 3 weeks on the list, sales remained strong. However, it is clear that there is a strong correlation between the number of sales and the position on the list. As soon as Happi Spells fell off the front page and down to page number 2, sales dropped a little. Our last week on the list when we had been moved even further back on the list, sales dropped a little more but were still about 3000% higher than before the feature.
The carry-over effect on our other app Happi Reads were less than we thought and had hoped. There was definitely a boost in sales also for this app but from very low levels to begin with. The dollar value of the carry over effect will of course be higher the more apps you have on the App Store. In our case we unfortunately only had one other app released in the US at the time of the feature. Tip of the day: Make sure you have at least 10 apps before you decide to get featured…;-)
Down to earth
At the time of writing we have been off the featured list for a couple of weeks. Sales in the US has returned to to the (rather low) numbers that we had before the feature. This is, of course, very disappointing and somewhat discouraging. Judging from the great sales figures of our apps in the Scandinavian App Stores, we have always been under the impression that if we could only gain some traction on the US top lists we would be able to keep or increase our position there based on the fact that we have a great app. Even though we have done just that in Scandinavia, we know now that things are not that simple in the US.
To sum it all up: Yes we got featured, which is great, but we don’t know how or why. We had a working assumption that if we could only get on a list and get noticed in the US, the quality of our apps would be enough to keep our position there. We know now that isn’t true. So, as the title says, now what?
Well, to be honest, we don’t have all that many great ideas. We have learned a few things, had a faulty assumption straightened out for us and made some money we had not expected in the process. Things aren’t that bad but any insights on this are very welcomed in the comments.