I released my first iPhone app a few weeks back, Countdown Calendar, based on the OS X Dashboard Widget I created a couple of years ago.
I’d been in love with the idea of writing iPhone apps for several months, and though I was overflowing with ideas on what to write, due to the success of the countdown widget, it made sense to build off of an idea that I knew people liked.
But I was stymied in that I wanted to make an app that was a pay-for app, and preferably one that would cost at least $2.99. (Any less, I thought, couldn’t make money, and I still think that’s the case unless you get pretty lucky.) How could I make a Countdown Calendar app into something worth $2.99?
I could could make the thing look really nice, and polish the experience to the point that it felt like a well-oiled machine…but that didn’t seem like enough. Then lying in bed one night, it occurred to me: what if I added a social component to the app? What if I let people mail countdowns to each other, and download them from a central repository that had all sorts of interesting dates…movie premieres, sporting events, important dates in geek history: the launch of the Apple II; the premiere of Star Wars… Would that be worth $2.99? Maybe. At least, I had my hook.
And here it is. Sales have been strong, though I’ve been a little dismayed at the way that iTunes Store ratings work. I recently put out a new release that lets you attach notes to countdowns, and out of the blue I got hit with some anonymous 1- and 2-star reviews. No idea where those came from–until then, reviews had been all 4- and 5-star–but because they happened at the same time a new version premiered, and because the iTunes Store wildly overpromotes “current version” reviews over “past version” reviews, my app effectively had a rating of 2 stars. And if there’s one thing that’s clear to me now, it’s that people don’t buy 2-star apps: sales plunged 75% immediately. Fortunately, a few days have passed and my ratings are back up along with my sales.
And I absolutely love writing iPhone apps. More to come, featuring some ideas that, if I do say so myself, are pretty fantastic. Keep watching this space…