So, according to my records it's now exactly one month since Sudoku Grab went live on the app store and it's been quite an adventure.
As you can see from the above chart; in the past week sales have suddenly picked up. Until around the 16th I had pretty much resigned myself to getting maybe 20 sales a day and I was feeling fairly happy with that. The only slight disappointment was the lack of very many sales in the US - I did think that as it was the biggest market it would have the biggest sales - just goes to show what I know about selling software...
One of things I have learnt over the past month is how decoupled the app stores are in each country. You can have a big sales spike in one country and absolutely nothing everywhere else.
The chart below shows the sales by country. I'm only showing the top 10 countries - but as you can see it tails off pretty quickly the Netherlands only has 8 sales.
I'll take each of the interesting regions one at a time. First off Japan; this was the first country to get any significant sales. Now bear in mind, when I say significant I'm only talking about breaking double figures! We're not talking about heading out to buy a yacht or retiring early.
This big spike in sales came when ipodtouchlab in Japan posted a review of the app. I have to admit when I saw those sales figures come in from Japan I started to get quite excited. Sadly, as you can see from the chart, the app store is a fickle beast and the sales tailed off pretty quickly.
Fortunately the UK came to the rescue!
The first jump in sales in the UK on the 6th March came after an unexpected mention by the kind folk at b3ta in their most excellent newsletter. This is a great source for all things interesting on the internet. However, after the initial peak sales quickly decline to a more normal level. If you look at the statistics for the youtube video of the application you can see what an impact being mentioned on a popular site has.
You can also see an Italian site driving a lot traffic my way - just as the UK sales seemed to be disappearing the Italians picked up the baton with a mention on the spaziocellulare website
Sudoku Grab è una bellissima applicazione disponibile in AppStore
Once again we see how transitory the publicity is. A brief spike in sales and then a pretty rapid decline.
Back in the UK other things were happening. I was just taking a look at the app store checking where my app was in rankings, making sure it was still there (not that I have become obsessed at all). When what do I see? My icon on the front page in the "New and Noteworthy" section and also in the "What we're playing section".
I think if you look at the chart for UK sales you can probably guess when this occurred...
The first daily sales report was good - 42! I thought, that's pretty good. The day before I had noticed that Germany had done well, but I just put it down to some mention on a random blog. But, on checking I found that the app was also being featured in Germany! This is good I think. 42 sales in the UK, 25 sales in Germany - if this carries on I might actually recoup the cost of the mac book and the phone. Then the next day's figures came in... I think the charts speak for themselves.
Sadly, as I've already mentioned the app store is a fickle beast - once the app stops appearing on the front page I expect there to be a sharp decline in sales back down to the normal levels of one or two a day.
I think I should quickly mention the US sales. This is the largest app store market - and overall things have not been bad in the US. 1 or 2 sales a day, occasionally 4, nothing very exciting. So I'm trying a few strategies to try and improve exposure of the app. I've released a press release for version 1.3 using prMac. This did actually have an impact - 22 sales on the day the press release went out which has helped moved my app onto the first page of results for "Sudoku" (it was on the 4th page before!). I'll be monitoring the figures to see what happens over the coming days.
I've also tried some facebook ads - it's unclear what success they are having, but it's cheap.
As a bit of an experiment I've also tried to use Google AdWords - for iPhone apps this seems like a waste, basically people don't use Google to find apps for their phone, they use the app store.
Now for some conclusions:
- If you're planning on quitting your job to make iPhone applications, take a look at the sales figures before the application was being featured in the what we're playing sections of the UK and Germany.
- If you're doing it as a hobby then go for it. $1-$20 a day is not a bad return, I've really enjoyed getting emails from happy customers, talking with other developers, blogging random things about the app. It's a nice break from real work.
- If you do hit the app store lottery and your app is featured or you get high up in the charts then you can make a nice bit of money - I don't think I'm going to be a millionaire though...
- If you are willing to commit money to a sustained and focussed advertising campaign then you might also be successful. The main problem is that unless you can get enough sales over a long enough period to get your app into the first pages of the app store no one will know you exist.
- Make sure you have a novel idea. I was kind of stuck doing a sudoku app as it's a good thing to apply image processing to, but there are something like 50 other sudoku apps out there - being noticed is hard.
Thanks for reading.
Sudoku Grab is on the app store for just $0.99 go and buy it now!. If you don't I'll have nothing to write about... Or don't buy it and I'll write another article about how my sales are really bad.
In the next week or so I'm hoping that my friend Magnus will write about his experience on the app store with his FICS app "Magnus' Super Online Chess" which is also available on the app store here.