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The Revenues of a Moderately Successful iPad App (remembary.com)
54 points by peteforde on Aug 12, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 15 comments



Really fantastic article, complete with graphs and solid numbers, as well as detailed explanations of those figures.

The underlying theme in all app pricing advice I've seen is that if you're not in the top 100, the actual price of your app matters very little. That is completely borne out here, with price increases resulting in more revenue and about the same rate of units sold.


It’s bizarre, but I’ve had this experience as well. Last October, I started raising the price of my app by $1 every week or two. The total number of purchases per week varied very little, so I ended up leaving the price at $9.99 (the highest I tried).


I experience something different. From $0.99 up to $9.99, no matter what price I set, my daily income remained essentially the same. Before you ask, the amount was greater than $0.


Thanks for sharing. The diary/journal app space is pretty crowded, otherwise I think you would be selling a lot more apps. The one thing that I noticed is that there aren't many reviews. I think that reviews are key when someone is evaluating your app for purchase.


(BTW I'm the author of the article and the developer of Remembary)

Thanks for reading. It is true that the diary space is crowded - and the lock-in on a diary app is pretty strong once people pick one. Getting reviews is of course a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem: reviews help get users, but you can't get reviews without users in the first place. I've got a link in the app for the review page, but I thought an interruptive pop-up box wouldn't be appropriate for a personal diary.

I've worked hard on distinctive and powerful features for the latest releases, but I have a nagging suspicion that my big boost in sales recently was from rearranging the screenshots on the app page to highlight the "Jane Austen" handwriting font.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how the "lite" iPhone and Universal versions work out - but I have to find some time to build them first.


In my experience with our app, prompting for reviews is worth it. Our average sales have gone up about 3x and I attribute it mostly to having more reviews spurred by prompting. Especially with a low number of users you just don't get enough reviews otherwise. Prompting doesn't have to be too onerous either if the app waits until it's been in use for a while. Also if it lets a user dismiss the prompt permanently how annoying can it be? If someone likes an app and uses it, giving a review is a significant way they can help ensure it survives. If it takes a little prompt to motivate them it's worth it for both sides. Prompts have gotten me to review apps positively in the past that I otherwise might not have bothered.


I can definitely imagine you picking up some sales from people searching "Jane Austen" and finding this app, then seeing the screenshot and making an impulse buy.

That said, I can hardly imagine using a font like that, personally. It's fairly strongly illegible.


It actually gets easier to read over time - but I'll admit I didn't include it for legibility but rather how distinctive it looks. App sales seem to be a balance between well-implemented innovative features and flashy-looking hype.


Nice read. I am very curious about iPad apps and their revenue, some time ago I asked around here about the profit ratio between the iPhone and the iPad for those apps focused on both platforms but I got no response and I did get some upvotes so I guess it's something people would like to know a little better. Anyone?

Original submission: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2845158


It really depends on the type of app and is very difficult to generalize.

For our app (Paprika Recipe Manager - http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/paprika-recipe-manager/id3924...), iPad sales are 4-5x the iPhone sales. Based on the type of app this makes a lot of sense: cooks want to use an iPad in the kitchen, an iPhone screen is too small.

But then I know there are a lot of other apps where the numbers are completely reversed.


I'd definitely be curious to see a comparison from someone who wrote an iPhone and iPad optimized version of an application and released in the same time frame.

The other thing I'd be interested in seeing is if someone did a study on the buying habits of iPad vs. iPhone (heck, lets generalize and say tablet vs. smartphone) application buyers. I have a feeling we'd see more apps being purchased in the smartphone arena as people buy-try-dump apps on the go, whereas there'd be a more stable market in the tablet space where people research which apps to buy because they use the tablet for longer durations.


My next step is to extend Remembary to be a Universal iPhone/iPad app, and to build a cheaper 'impulse buy' iPhone version with only a few of the key features. I'll definitely be writing a follow-up with the details of how that goes.

I just need to find some time to actually build these versions!


My iPad app got a bunch of good reviews, was featured in stores all over the world, and pulled close to 100 sales a day for the first week. It's looking like lifetime revenue is still going to be in four figures though. When I consider how much time it took to write, I could have easily made 10x the money consulting.

I know there are indie devs out there doing well on the app store but statistically speaking I'm not sure it's a smart investment of time compared to other options. Prices are too low and there's just too much competition.


Addendum: Having a post about your app on the front page of Hacker News = several thousand hits, but no extra sales. Funnily enough, this is the exact same experience I had with AdWords.

Have to say I feel much better with the hits from HN than AdWords.


Thanks for the writeup and the honesty.




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