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iTunes App Store Gets Makeover

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iTunes New & Improved Layout

The Apple App Store recently got a makeover.  As of December 11,  Apple has been slowly transitioning all apps to a new & improved layout.

The new layout really emphasizes the main app icon, screenshots and user reviews.  The once prominent app description is now playing second fiddle as only the first two lines are shown. However, the whole description can be viewed by clicking on the more button.  The more button is little and out-of-the-way, which is obviously Apple’s way of telling developers to say what you need to say in two lines!

After viewing several apps in the new layout, I would give it two thumbs up.  I like how the screenshots are larger and several are shown at a time.  It will now take a little more thought on the order of the screenshots for those first couple of slots.   I also appreciate the link to the developer’s site is no longer hidden at the bottom of the description.

If I could make one change to the layout it would be the ability to add a background image to the whole page.  I think this one change would really “jazz” up the app store and make each app a little more unique!


Written by wirebear

December 15, 2009 at 11:19 am

Posted in Apps

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Astroturfing Catches Up With iPhone Developer

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Let the propaganda begin! Image Credit: Tom Dynia

Astroturfing is a form of propaganda that tries to deceive the consumer in believing that something is more popular than it really is.  Long used on the political front, it now appears it has creeped its way into the iPhone realm.

A particular iPhone developer, Molinker had over 1,000 apps pulled from the App Store for posting fake reviews.  It appears it wasn’t the doing of one “fake review” but over 40 bogus reviews for each app!

On a side note the article says that many of the reviews were badly spelled.  Does this mean that Molinker thought that by misspelling words in their reviews, that it would be more realistic and believable?

Forty fake reviews does seem pretty excessive.  However, what is the protocol if an employee of a company downloads an app and truly appreciates the work?  In a perfect world the reviewer would disclose their relationship with the maker of the app.  We all know that 99% of the time this won’t happen.

Every time I read a story like this it bugs me.  Not because someone is trying to get a leg up, but because it makes me realize how much junk there really is in the App Store.  I think Apple will need to address this issue at some point.  If they don’t developers will get frustrated as their App will easily get lost in the sea of worthless apps.

Written by wirebear

December 9, 2009 at 11:23 am

Updated Apps No Longer At Top of “Release Date” Sort

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Dan Grigsby with Mobile Orchard reported on Monday that updated apps will no longer move your app to the top of the release day sort.

What really ticks me off (if true) is why doesn’t Apple send out a note to its developers before making these types of changes? Apple needs more transparency.  Would it be too much to ask to send out a note to keep us developers in the loop?

The good news is for apps that work well out of the starting gates and with a good marketing plan, they have that much more of a leg up on the competition. However, for those more unfortunate apps that are riddled with bugs and poor marketing, it will be a much longer journey to the top.

WireBear currently submitted an update to SportsBook: Pro Football Edition last week to add the ability to view the news articles within the app (default) or to launch them in Safari.  We will update everyone to let them know if the update puts us back to the top of the list.

Written by wirebear

November 11, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Failing Forward

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John C. Maxwell, author of the book Failing Forward believes “the difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.”  In the book he takes a closer look at failure–and reveals that the secret of moving beyond failure is to use it as a lesson and a stepping-stone.

Most iPhone app developers should really learn the lesson of failing forward.  As we know not every app developer is currently relaxing on a  yacht discussing the millions they made in the App Store over cocktails and hors d’oeuvre.  It is hard to not get caught in the trap and blame your app’s lack of success on Apple or the buying public.

Every project has its hurdles and its failures.  The key is to minimize and learn from these mistakes.  Hindsight is of course 20/20, however there is no harm in taking a step back and giving a retrospective look at the recently completed project.  Often times after looking over the perceived failure you determine that if you had taken the other fork in the road, the consequences would have actually been much worse.  Other times you simply made the wrong decision.

The question of – How do you successfully take an iPhone app to market, can be answered by the veteran app developer much easier than your first timer.  For the veteran app developer the answer can be found in looking at the successes and failures of your past app.  Every app is different but the underlying philosophies are the same.

Just remember if your next app is a failure, jump back on that horse and give it another spin.  You already have a leg up on the competition as you already know what not to do!

Written by wirebear

November 9, 2009 at 2:10 pm

The Free iPhone App

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Does anyone ever wonder why a developer spends his time to develop a free iPhone app?

It irritates me when someone on our team comes up with a great iPhone app idea and then we research to see what is out there – to only find out that someone has already done the app.  AND FOR FREE!

My hope is that the developer either got paid to do the work, is getting advertising dollars from the app or simply is trying to get publicity for future paid apps.  If the developer did the app for free with no future plans to make any money, then that is a problem.  Why not sell the app for at least $.99?

I would love to hear other legitimate reasons to build a free app.  Please let me know so I don’t hold this grudge against these pro bono developers!

Written by wirebear

November 3, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Posted in iPhone Marketing

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The Average iPhone App

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I had a thought today after reviewing on iTunes Connect the amount of downloads our apps have produced.  I thought to myself – not bad, but I wonder how that stacks up with other developers.

I didn’t run across with any certainty what the average iPhone app produces, however Nicholas Lovell over at GAMESbrief noted the average around 25,000 downloads per app.  While helpful this information doesn’t really tell the whole story.  Some apps hardly have any downloads and others have tons.  Nicholas commented that a median would be more helpful in figuring this out.

One of his astute readers, Luke Halliwell, commented that by plugging the data into a formula (Zipf’s law) that he derived the median was probably closer to 4000 downloads per app.

What would be real interesting is removing the free apps from the equation.  Then trying to figure out where these paid apps are setting their price.

Just for giggles, suppose that by removing the free apps you get about 2000 downloads per paid app and lets suppose they sale for a price of $1.99.  That means your average iPhone app profits about $2800.

Of course what would be really helpful, instead of the speculation is if Apple just gave us the information!

Written by wirebear

October 28, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Android vs. iPhone

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Can Android beat out the iPhone?

Call today the calm before the storm. Chris Ziegler at EnGadget Mobile believes that on October 28 the new Droid phone will be unveiled.  Verizon Wireless is claiming it as the “must-have device of the year”.  For Google’s sake this statement better be correct.

If the new Droid phone doesn’t stack up to the iPhone, it is going to be an uphill battle from here forward.  The iPhone is already leaps and bounds in front of any other competitor.  Every other platform at this point is playing catch up, due in large part to the Apple App Store.  Currently a lot of smartphone developers are simply saying “iDon’t” care about the other platforms because of the lack of a decent app store.

I personally think that there is room for several different platforms and welcome the variety.  I think that the key for Android is to find its niche in the market place.  What is that niche?  That is up to the brain power at Google to find out.

I think one of the more interesting underlying stories in the whole Android vs. iPhone story is the companies behind the platforms, Google and Apple.  Several years back both companies were seen as the sexy alternative to Microsoft products.

I sense a paradigm shift on the horizon.

I feel that in a way it is almost becoming “uncool” to like Google and Apple, kind of like it was (or is) to be a Microsoft advocate.  Sure people still hate Microsoft, but lately all the tech blogs are talking about the frosty relationship between Apple and their developers.  This is something you definitely would not have seen a couple years back.

The rest of the year should be interesting for the smartphone world.  My feeling is what happens over the next several months will clearly define the direction every smartphone developer will have to take.  If the Android “does” get the job done, then it will force Apple to take the next shot and step it up with the release of their next iPhone.

In the end, the consumer will definitely benefit!

Written by wirebear

October 27, 2009 at 4:46 pm