We released our first iPhone app early in December. It’s called Bike Maps and it lets you look up Google bicycle directions with a fast, native interface. We struggled to find any sales information for iOS apps before we got started. Inspired by Patrick McKenzie’s open business data we decided to share our numbers too.
Our app was approved for sale on December 8, 2011 after three days in review. This version of the app had a crashing bug that did not appear when running in debug mode (dereferencing a null pointer, for the nerds out there). Heartbroken, we had to pull the app. We submitted a new, fixed version shortly thereafter and we were finally live on the store by Dec 11th. We now always test a version compiled for Ad Hoc distribution before submitting to the App Store.
We submitted our first feature update on December 15th and after another three days in review it was released on the 18th. It included Address Book integration and several smaller UX enhancements.
We sell the app for $1.99. Apple keeps $0.59 and we keep $1.40. We have not yet experimented with pricing changes, but will soon. We’ve sold on average 3 copies a day to date. Zero-sale days are very rare, which is a relief. When you have no sales, it’s hard to gauge how far away you are from reaching that first one. When you have three, it’s obvious how far away you are from six.
We’re listed in the navigation category which has thousands of apps. It’s one of 145 for “bike maps,” but most of those are just apps that only work in one city or region. Our app works anywhere in the US. On days that we’ve sold 6+ copies, we’ve made brief appearances on the “Top Paid” list for the category. Anywhere between 175-195.
To-date we have earned $102. That covers one Apple developer license. Not bad for a hobby, but far from a business. That’s about it for expenses. The website runs on a cheap shared host that runs several other sites. Email is provided for free by Google Apps. We have not paid for any marketing, though we did play with $100 of Ad Words credit, to little effect. The average CPC for us was $1.34. With experimentation we had good click through rates for less than $1 but that was still too pricey to warrant continuing past our $100 credit.
iTunes did not calculate an average rating for us until we had 5 reviews. It showed up in search results as having “no ratings” even when we had 1-4. We didn’t get to 5 until the end of the month, but we’re hoping that makes a material bump in our sales.
We’re using Google Analytics and Distimo to augment iTunes Connect (which is really pretty terrible). We set up a Goal in Analytics to let us see how many folks click on the “Available on the App Store” button. We can get a rough idea of the correlation between views, conversions and sales, but what happens once a person transitions to the App Store is totally opaque. The lack of information about our customers from Apple is a continuing source of frustration. We have no idea how many sales come from people browsing the App Store directly, vs coming in through our web site.
It has been ridiculously rewarding to use our own app. The lack of bike directions on iPhone is such a major oversight for cyclists, so it’s nice to have a simple app that fills that gap.
We’ll update you on how it goes next month.
J & J