by Caleb Jaffa

Archive for April, 2009

AppStore Wishlist

While I have more thoughts, I haven’t had the time to research and properly hash out my thoughts the way it deserves. However here is my list of annoyances with the AppStore and some possible fixes.

Rankings should be influenced by revenue. I don’t think revenue should be the sole deciding factor, or else we are going from one extreme to the other. Do we really want niche apps that command high prices dominating the ranking lists? I’m not quite sure what the formula should be as I don’t have the numbers Apple does to tweak and see how it would play out across the entire store. I think this will encourage developers to appropriately price their applications on what they are really worth. Though I do think if you have a $5 app and a $10 app that have the same revenue there is something to be said for the $5 app having the appeal to get twice the buyers.

Reviews are not support channels. I don’t know what Apple can do to further encourage this, but the primary audience of a review is other customers. If you want to get in contact with the developer there should be a link on the product page. Also it would be great if reviewers couldn’t penalize developers for their own ignorance. My worst reviews that left actual reviews wanted offline access for Lexikon, even though it was stated plainly that it wasn’t something I or really anyone could offer cause of the existing copyright. So the application was useless for iPod Touch users without wireless internet access. I’ve seen many other apps with similar reviews demanding essentially the impossible. If an application is providing access to data online, and you don’t see all the data you want, perhaps it’s cause the source isn’t providing it for the developer to include, you would be better off at least complaining to the right set of ears.

iTunes Connect, the website developers use to interact with iTunes is antiquated. Slow and the UI is horrendous. I know stability is important, but we don’t even get that. On that note Lexikon is a pre-rendered icon, so it should not have the shine that a lot of applications’ icons have, to fix this it used to be that you re-uploaded your artwork even though it hasn’t changed. Apparently even that hack has broken and so Lexikon wrongly has the shine added to it in iTunes and I have no idea how to get it to go away.

90 Days of Lexikon in the App Store

Beyond giving me a good pocket Swedish-English word book on my iPhone, Lexikon has been about gaining experience with developing and selling for the iPhone. Selling an application above a free application has its own complications with the agreements and bank information.

Lexikon has so far has had three prices and seen three releases. On January 10th the first version was approved for sale. It was a free application and over the next 10 or so days would be downloaded 4190 times at that price point. Then I priced it as a tier 1 price. Then a few weeks later as an experiment and more importantly cause I felt that Lexikon was underpriced, even in the current AppStore, to a tier 2 priced app. Downloads about halved, but my revenue stayed about the same. Here is a graph of my weekly sales (week 4 was when the price doubled to tier 2):

Weekly Sales of Lexikon

I’ve averaged over $30 a week. Nothing too great and it hasn’t even paid for the marginal cost of my billing time. Though it has led already to other iPhone work so the experience and work gained from the exposure it gave me has it as a worthy investment of my time. Things I’ve seen are sales usually peak on Sunday and Thursday/Friday being my weakest sales days.

Lexikon is helped by it being a niche application, but at the same time it hurts it. I have less direct competition, but then I don’t appeal to the mass market.

There are still improvements I would like to make to Lexikon. I would like to refactor my code, support all the languages Lexin does (though this is complicated since English will be a different site in the future), offline access to the database and suggestions for when words aren’t found.

Having the entire database offline will be enabled once Folkets lexikon releases the database. I’m either going to make a separate application for the offline only version, or perhaps make use of the new iPhone 3.0 SDK ability to have add-on content for sale inside your application. I’ll charge a nominal fee for my time making the application, and not for the actual content. Offline content is perhaps the single most requested feature to add.

The other items on the list are fairly straight forward at this point. It’s merely a matter of executing on the ideas properly and well. The correction suggestions is the second most requested feature. Unfortunately it isn’t really part of Lexin’s API, but it’s implementable.