Monday 11th August 2014
App Bundles – Strategies for Indie Developers
Not having had the possibility to offer potential customers "deals" to convince them to take the plunge and buy our apps have been a major drawback of the Apple dictated pricing scheme on the App Store.
For that reason we were extra excited when we, earlier this year, learned about un upcoming feature of iOS 8 called App Bundles. Just like the name suggests this new function would allow developers to bundle together apps in different combinations and sell them at a discount (compared to buying them separately).
Our initial thought was that App Bundles could both help us create better priced options for our apps and at the same time boost our visibility by selling both individual apps and App Bundles. This initial thought, however, faded fast when we realized that the larger players on the App Store, the ones currently stealing all the thunder, would do it too and then we (smaller devs) would be back in the same situation as we are now.
Apple Thought of That!
Fortunately, Apple thought of this and has limit the number of App Bundles any company can have active to 10 at the time. Mathematically this actually means that a smaller company with a limited number of apps (like an indie dev) would gain real estate on the App Store compared to a larger company with hundreds of apps as both companies can only add 10 more (App Bundle) icons to the App Store. For a company with 100 apps that equates to a 10% increase in visibility whereas it means a 100% increase in visibility for a company with only 10 apps on the App Store.
Bundle Rules 101
While the 10 bundle rule is the most important rule for smaller devs, there are a handful of other rules you must also know about and consider when creating your App Bundles:
- App Bundle apps must be paid apps giving this business model back some of the momentum it has lost to the Freemium business model over the last year.
- Each individual app of yours can only be included in 3 bundles which will mean that developers with very few apps (<6) are at a slight disadvantage as they will not be able to create 10 bundles.
- Apps must be available as stand alone purchases as well – no bundle specific apps.
- All apps in a bundle must be available for sale in all countries you want the App Bundle to be visible in.
- If a customer already owns one or more of the apps in your bundle, he can "complete the bundle" at a lower price.
How to Create a Bundle
Creating a bundle will be very easy according to Apple. All you need to do is:
- Name the bundle in iTunes Connect
- Pick the apps to include
- Set a price for the bundle
- Write a description
However, please note that all other info like the first screen shot, video preview (new iOS 8 feature) and App Store category will be picked automatically by iTunes Connect from the first app in your bundle.
Also note that App Bundles will be developer specific when the feature launches this fall. We have reached out to Apple asking if there are plans to make App Bundles a cross developer function in the future. As always, Apple won't tip their hand about future plans but our contact was definitely interested to hear that there is a demand for such a possibility.
Last piece of advice
For those of us who have had apps on the App Store for a while (3+ years), it is often the case that the first app or apps released are the ones that have generated the most revenue to date. This is due to the fact that it was both less competition "back in the day" and to the fact that those early apps have worked up a better "search position" meaning they will be listed closer to the top of the app list when customers search for a relevant term (keyword).
We suspect the same will happen with App Bundles so be sure to get in early on this. There will both be less App Bundles in the beginning to compete with and a greater chance that your early bundles will grab a good search position on the App Store.
Please tell us your bundle plans in the comments below. Will you try to use all your 10 available bundles? Will you have your bundles ready when iOS 8 goes live? Do you think bundles will affect your bottom line as a developer?