Under the Radar

113: Grading the App Store in 2017


00:00:00   - Welcome to Under the Radar,

00:00:01   a show about independent iOS app development.

00:00:04   I'm Mark Orment.

00:00:05   - And I'm David Smith.

00:00:06   Under the Radar is never longer than 30 minutes,

00:00:08   so let's get started.

00:00:10   - So in the grand tradition

00:00:11   of early January podcast episodes,

00:00:13   we decided it would be nice to kinda do a 2017

00:00:16   in review episode and to look over some of the things

00:00:20   that happened in 2017 that were relevant to iOS developers

00:00:23   and then kind of our perspective so far

00:00:25   on how those are going or how those have changed things

00:00:28   so far and kinda where we see things going.

00:00:31   And I wanted to start out, you know,

00:00:33   and first of all, just a brief opening statement here,

00:00:36   they've been killing it ever since Phil took over.

00:00:39   Like there have been so, there's been such a pleasant

00:00:43   and dramatically improved rate of progress in the app store

00:00:48   ever since they, I think like a year and a half ago,

00:00:51   basically authority of it transferred to Phil Schiller.

00:00:55   And I don't know what other changes happened at that time,

00:00:57   but there's a pretty clear trend that like since that time,

00:01:01   things have gotten significantly better

00:01:04   and significantly faster than the progress

00:01:07   that used to happen before that, which was pretty minimal.

00:01:09   So big thumbs up to Phil

00:01:11   and whoever else was involved with that.

00:01:13   So one of the big changes that has happened

00:01:17   this past year or two is greatly broadening

00:01:22   subscription pricing for apps.

00:01:24   It started out in actually in 2016 in June,

00:01:29   right before WWDC when they announced

00:01:31   that more apps would be allowed to use subscriptions

00:01:34   and that the, from years two onward of a subscription,

00:01:38   you would get 85% instead of 70% of the commission.

00:01:41   So while that was the year before,

00:01:43   the effects of that I think have been felt more in 2017

00:01:47   and especially because starting in June of 2017,

00:01:50   we got our raise.

00:01:51   We got those first round of 85% renewals.

00:01:54   And for me, those started in September, I think,

00:01:59   or October because that was like the one anniversary

00:02:01   of me launching my auto renewing plan for Overcast.

00:02:04   But I think subscriptions have,

00:02:07   there have been a lot of developer wish lists

00:02:12   over the years that have included things like free trial

00:02:15   and paid upgrades and things like that

00:02:18   that are basically the old ways of monetizing software,

00:02:21   the ways that we pretty much always had

00:02:24   and many companies still use on PC and Mac.

00:02:28   And we don't have those yet.

00:02:31   And I'm not sure we ever will have those on iOS.

00:02:34   But with all the changes to subscriptions

00:02:37   and some of the new features that were added

00:02:39   for things like free trials of subscriptions

00:02:41   and different flexibility and different price tiers

00:02:43   and everything else, I think we've come very close to those.

00:02:47   And it's not nearly as easy as it was before,

00:02:50   but you can now simulate free trials in a few different ways

00:02:54   that people are seemingly doing with success.

00:02:59   So that's a pretty big thing.

00:03:00   And also just by expanding subscriptions so much,

00:03:05   there are so many more business models

00:03:07   that have become possible that while it is still not

00:03:11   trivially easy to make money in the app store

00:03:14   in a sustainable way, we have more options

00:03:16   than we've ever had before.

00:03:18   And I feel like now, if you can't find something,

00:03:21   if you can't find some way to monetize your app

00:03:24   that people actually want,

00:03:26   then I don't think you're looking hard enough.

00:03:28   So thumbs up for all the subscription changes

00:03:32   and the rules around subscriptions becoming loosened

00:03:35   in some ways for really giving us way more options

00:03:40   for how we monetize our apps.

00:03:42   And having the 85% on the years to and above

00:03:46   is a pretty nice raise also.

00:03:48   - Yeah, I think too, it's also nice to see that,

00:03:52   and this is to your earlier point about that now

00:03:55   that it seems like the changes that are being made

00:03:57   into these types of business model changes

00:04:00   or more policy changes, they're not in a situation

00:04:03   where they're sort of like one and done.

00:04:06   They felt like, oh, there's a problem with subscriptions.

00:04:08   Let's change something, and then now it's fine.

00:04:10   What's nice to see, I think, now is if things continue

00:04:13   to get better over time.

00:04:15   Like towards the end of 2017, we got introductory pricing

00:04:20   as a new option in subscriptions.

00:04:23   It's like now there's this new mode, there's this new tool.

00:04:26   And I like that with something like business models,

00:04:31   with subscriptions in this case,

00:04:33   it's nice to see that continue to develop

00:04:35   and that it's reasonable to imagine

00:04:37   that 2018 will continue that process,

00:04:41   that Apple will continue to expand both sort of the types

00:04:44   of subscriptions that are possible

00:04:46   and some of the mechanisms mechanically with that.

00:04:50   Like I know we also, I think at WWDC last year,

00:04:53   we got a bunch of new web hooks, I believe,

00:04:56   for being able to do validation and understanding

00:04:59   around a user's state in a subscription.

00:05:01   So all these types of things that are,

00:05:04   they just make that better and better.

00:05:06   And I love to see, irrespective of whether

00:05:09   the individual details are important or useful

00:05:14   have panned out wonderfully, what is most important,

00:05:16   I think, is that this is an area that Apple

00:05:18   is clearly continuing to enhance over time.

00:05:21   And it seems, generally speaking, to be the area

00:05:23   that they are putting the most effort behind

00:05:27   in a lot of their development and their allocation

00:05:32   of resources and attention, that they are making

00:05:35   subscriptions a better and better way

00:05:37   to monetize your apps.

00:05:39   And if that's true and that's sort of where they're pushing,

00:05:41   then it kind of makes sense to start to think about it.

00:05:45   Like I currently don't use any, and I know you do,

00:05:47   but it's certainly something that I'm aware of

00:05:49   because any time that it seems like things keep changing

00:05:53   in a direction, it's like, hmm, that's interesting.

00:05:55   Maybe I need to be thinking thoughtful of a way

00:05:58   to take advantage of that because clearly it's something

00:06:01   that is seemingly just getting better and better

00:06:04   of a deal and more and more flexible of an option over time.

00:06:08   Also when subscriptions launched, a lot of people

00:06:12   had concerns about whether app store customers

00:06:16   would feel, quote, subscription fatigue.

00:06:20   This is the idea that like, well, one or two apps

00:06:23   can charge subscriptions, but soon all the apps

00:06:27   will be charging you X dollars a month

00:06:28   and people will get tired of it and don't want

00:06:30   that many subscriptions and they'll stop paying

00:06:32   for all of them.

00:06:33   And I don't think that has really happened.

00:06:35   I haven't seen any, just anecdotally,

00:06:37   I really haven't seen any signs of that.

00:06:40   Many apps are still not charging subscriptions,

00:06:42   so it isn't like they all of a sudden changed over.

00:06:46   And I haven't really heard from people who meaningfully

00:06:51   have a lot of feedback from people saying

00:06:53   that they won't pay their subscriptions

00:06:54   'cause they have too many subscriptions.

00:06:55   Like that doesn't seem to be happening, which is good.

00:06:58   - Yeah, and I think it's, as with all these things,

00:07:02   I feel like there's this fundamental question of

00:07:05   are you providing a service or a value to your user

00:07:09   that exceeds the cost that you're asking for that service?

00:07:13   Like at its basic level.

00:07:14   And subscription fatigue, I'm sure, is a thing,

00:07:17   and it's certainly something that's possible,

00:07:19   but you kind of imagine a scenario where

00:07:21   if someone is feeling that and they have that many apps

00:07:23   that are providing that much value to them,

00:07:25   they're gonna be more apt to continue to pay.

00:07:27   Like the situation, I think, is more,

00:07:29   it's like subscription fatigue is perhaps a shortcut

00:07:33   for saying you're not providing enough value to your user

00:07:37   to be able to justify subscription pricing,

00:07:39   which I think is an entirely reasonable end.

00:07:42   I mean, that's in many ways the reason why a lot of my apps

00:07:44   don't have something like subscriptions,

00:07:46   where I don't feel like I have something tangible enough

00:07:49   to warrant that kind of direct action

00:07:52   on an ongoing, sustained basis, but other apps do.

00:07:55   And like you said, it doesn't seem like

00:07:59   that's actually a problem in practice,

00:08:00   that if you provide a service that has a tangible value

00:08:03   going forward, that charging a subscription for it

00:08:06   is a reasonable thing.

00:08:07   And fair enough, like not everybody is going to

00:08:10   take advantage of that, and I think there is a certain

00:08:12   element of getting used to the mindset that

00:08:16   not all of your customers are going to be paying customers

00:08:19   is something that is certainly a very important thing

00:08:21   to understand and just be comfortable with,

00:08:23   that there are gonna be people who use your application

00:08:25   and you never really directly receive

00:08:27   any monetary value from that.

00:08:29   But that's okay, because as long as you have

00:08:32   a reasonable proportion of users that do get enough value

00:08:35   to be motivated to do that, you'll be okay in the end.

00:08:39   - So moving on, one of the other big changes

00:08:41   that was announced earlier this year

00:08:43   is that developers got the ability to respond

00:08:47   to app store reviews, and this was long awaited.

00:08:52   I think the Google Play Store had it since the beginning

00:08:55   or since early on, and so iOS developers

00:08:57   were clamming for this for years.

00:08:59   So we finally got the ability to respond publicly

00:09:03   to user reviews on the app store.

00:09:05   How has that been going for you?

00:09:07   - I think it's one of these things that I am glad

00:09:11   that it's there, that I think overall,

00:09:13   like as with all the stuff, I love that it's a tool

00:09:15   that is now available.

00:09:17   The impact of it I think is more measured,

00:09:19   and some of that is dealing with also some changes

00:09:23   to the app store that I think we're gonna talk about later.

00:09:26   But the way the new app store is set up,

00:09:28   the reviews, like textual reviews,

00:09:30   I think are less emphasized than they used to be,

00:09:33   in the sense that there's really, you see one review,

00:09:37   and it's kind of hard to even understand

00:09:39   that there's even more than one review.

00:09:41   So assuming that your main review is a positive one,

00:09:45   the others kind of disappear into the,

00:09:49   sort of disappear into the ether behind it.

00:09:51   And so it's less important in that regard

00:09:54   because the reason why I think it was,

00:09:57   initially very useful is that if you,

00:10:01   there's a huge whole section of your app store page

00:10:03   that was about reviews, and if someone was asking a question

00:10:08   or talking badly about your app in a way that wasn't true

00:10:11   or accurate or that you could help with even,

00:10:14   you know, even just from a positive

00:10:15   customer service perspective,

00:10:17   now it's good to be able to respond to that.

00:10:18   Like that was important, I would say it's less important now

00:10:21   and I view it now, it's just another,

00:10:24   in some ways it's just another support venue,

00:10:26   you know, that people email me

00:10:28   and then some people leave reviews

00:10:29   and it's nice to be able to reach out to them

00:10:32   and it avoids that situation where someone

00:10:35   was complaining about something like,

00:10:37   oh man, I wish this app did this,

00:10:38   or when I do this, it doesn't seem to work right,

00:10:42   and being able to reach out to that person and correct that,

00:10:45   but it's much more of a customer service thing

00:10:47   than it was a marketing thing, I think initially.

00:10:49   So like, I'm glad it's there, it's useful,

00:10:52   but I don't think it had a major impact

00:10:55   in a way that it may have if they hadn't

00:10:57   redesigned the app store.

00:10:58   - Yeah, I am in complete agreement,

00:11:00   I mean, it turns out that in practice,

00:11:03   the reading of the reviews with these responses,

00:11:06   like I loved how Mike put it on Connected

00:11:09   this past week here on Real AFM,

00:11:11   they were doing a year review of like

00:11:12   kind of just all Apple tech news

00:11:14   and they mentioned this and Mike said,

00:11:16   it's kind of like reading somebody's email chain.

00:11:19   It's like, because in practice you see like one person's,

00:11:22   you know, talking about some problem

00:11:24   and then you see like a support person saying,

00:11:26   we're sorry you've had this problem,

00:11:27   please contact us and we'll help you resolve it.

00:11:29   Like it's like resolve, it's like basically

00:11:31   reading somebody's support email, like in public.

00:11:34   It's kind of weird as a reader and as a developer,

00:11:38   I tried responding to reviews for a little while,

00:11:42   but found it mostly not worth doing.

00:11:46   And I think you nailed it with like,

00:11:48   one of the biggest reasons is the new app store

00:11:50   design change where reviews, written reviews

00:11:53   are so sidelined in the new app store layout

00:11:57   that they barely matter at all anymore

00:11:59   and frankly, I think that's all for the better.

00:12:02   Because, you know, for years I think it's been apparent

00:12:05   that your star average mattered way more

00:12:09   than what any particular written review said.

00:12:12   And there's so many problems with written reviews,

00:12:16   it's a system that is so deeply broken and dysfunctional

00:12:20   and always has been.

00:12:22   So the ideal solution would be to get rid of star ratings

00:12:26   and reviews altogether and replace it with like,

00:12:29   a thumbs up, thumbs down kind of thing.

00:12:30   That way you remove the problem of different star levels

00:12:35   meaning different things to different people.

00:12:37   Like what does it mean?

00:12:39   Like what does it mean for me to write four stars

00:12:42   versus five stars and is that the same thing

00:12:43   that you distinguish between four stars and five stars?

00:12:46   Like that whole system is dysfunctional.

00:12:48   But the way they've done it now, I think is

00:12:50   a significant improvement where it is way less emphasized.

00:12:54   You hardly see any written reviews unless you really try

00:12:57   to seek them out and even then you're likely

00:12:59   to only read the first one and maybe two

00:13:01   if you really get into it.

00:13:03   But it's so cumbersome to actually scan through

00:13:06   written reviews that they might as well not even be there.

00:13:10   Which also means that it's not really worth responding

00:13:12   to most of them.

00:13:13   It's, you know, unless you're the kind of developer

00:13:16   who I greatly respect you, who goes through

00:13:19   and answers every single person who has anything

00:13:22   to say to you, that's wonderful.

00:13:24   I don't have time for that.

00:13:25   I can't do that.

00:13:26   I'd like, if you have staff or if you're so motivated

00:13:29   that you can do that, awesome.

00:13:30   This is one more channel for you to do that in.

00:13:33   But for people who don't have the time to respond

00:13:35   to every single thing, this, like the written reviews

00:13:40   and being able to respond to written reviews

00:13:44   I think should be treated the same way you treat

00:13:46   support email or tweets.

00:13:47   Which is if you can respond to them all, cool.

00:13:49   If not, this is no different than those

00:13:51   and you don't need to worry about it.

00:13:52   And with the new App Store changes,

00:13:54   it's less important than ever.

00:13:56   - Yeah, and I think probably the biggest change

00:13:58   that they made, which was a 2017 change,

00:14:00   is not resetting reviews on updates now.

00:14:05   - Right, making it optional.

00:14:07   - Sure, making it optional.

00:14:08   Making it that you, in general, you can choose to do it

00:14:11   and you would obviously only do it when it would

00:14:14   made sense to do it.

00:14:16   That in general, it's kind of changed the,

00:14:19   I don't even know if it's right, but it's almost like

00:14:21   app reviews were this weird kind of vague currency before.

00:14:24   Where like, as a developer, you're trying to build up

00:14:27   this number as quickly as you can for every update you do

00:14:32   so that you can appear good in the store

00:14:35   and continue to grow and look like you're a good app

00:14:38   that's worth downloading.

00:14:39   But this change, I think, had a, I mean, it's probably,

00:14:42   if I had to pick my favorite change out of everything

00:14:45   in 2017, it's probably that.

00:14:47   Mostly because it's changed the way that I can think about

00:14:51   my development cycle, and doing small updates

00:14:55   are now fine, it doesn't really matter.

00:14:58   If I had the time and ability, I could update my app

00:15:02   once a week and it would be fine.

00:15:04   It wouldn't have this weird tension that I had before

00:15:07   where every time I updated the app, I knew that I had

00:15:09   to kind of rebuild all this.

00:15:11   And so, things like responding to reviews would have been

00:15:13   more important because if someone had given it a one star

00:15:17   and I respond to them and they changed it a one star

00:15:19   to a five star, that difference was very more measured.

00:15:22   Whereas now, if you, it's like either if you use

00:15:27   the new ratings prompt system, which also came in 2017,

00:15:30   or you just gradually build up your reviews over time,

00:15:34   once you have a certain number of reviews,

00:15:37   you can just keep them.

00:15:38   And assuming that you don't massively mess up

00:15:40   and do something to jeopardize it, you can maintain

00:15:43   a good star rating that makes you look good in the app store

00:15:46   and is generally positive going forward, and you have

00:15:48   to worry less about your app reviews in that way.

00:15:53   And I mean, that's basically what I did for a lot of,

00:15:55   for my main apps is I don't love the ratings prompt system.

00:16:00   It's certainly, it's very effective, but as we've talked

00:16:03   about many times, I don't love interrupting customers

00:16:05   and so on, but what I kind of love about is that plus

00:16:09   non-resetting reviews is I just set up my app

00:16:12   so that I, I was trying to be very respectful

00:16:15   about when I would do it, that it was only at the end,

00:16:17   it's like you've clearly been in the app for a while

00:16:18   and you're returning from finishing an operation

00:16:21   rather than starting an operation, and I sort of set

00:16:24   the app up such that it only prompts until I had

00:16:28   a certain number of reviews, and then since then,

00:16:30   it's just turned off, and I haven't done it.

00:16:32   So it's like there was a two-week period,

00:16:34   or one-week period maybe even, where like I was asking

00:16:36   people for reviews on a semi-regular basis,

00:16:38   and that built up enough reviews that now the app

00:16:41   looks great in the store, and now I can just turn that off,

00:16:43   and in some ways, like as long as I keep, you know,

00:16:45   keep shipping quality updates and I'm not gonna end up

00:16:47   with this big flood of one stars, like the app review system

00:16:51   is not something that I have to concern myself with,

00:16:54   which I love, and I can just kind of keep moving,

00:16:56   making the app better and better, and it doesn't have

00:16:59   this weird external effect that I'm trying to counteract.

00:17:01   - And that's how it always should have been.

00:17:03   Like the written reviews made like the loudest,

00:17:07   most upset people, it made their review count for more

00:17:12   than it should have counted for, and now that we have

00:17:16   a larger number of reviews that persist between updates,

00:17:20   and that we have this way to get quick star ratings

00:17:23   from people who aren't upset enough to write a full review,

00:17:27   like they just like your app and just use it quietly,

00:17:29   like they're like the silent approving majority,

00:17:32   their opinion now matters more, and I think that's great

00:17:36   for everybody, 'cause it more fairly represents

00:17:39   how people actually think of your app, rather than just

00:17:43   focusing on the few people who were most angry enough

00:17:46   to write reviews.

00:17:47   - Yeah, and one thing that's kind of funny is I feel like

00:17:50   it's made me less, as a customer, I care less about

00:17:55   the star rating than I used to, because it seems like

00:17:59   every app has a couple thousand reviews and is four

00:18:02   or five stars, like that's just sort of, like that's like

00:18:06   the baseline now, and so it makes it, it's like if an app

00:18:08   doesn't have that, I'm almost like, I'm actively worried,

00:18:12   like something is really weird with this app if it's having

00:18:14   really bad star rating because they have so many more tools,

00:18:17   they don't have to reset them every time and rebuild

00:18:19   that audience, it's like, it's now it's just this thing

00:18:21   that you have, and so it's like, it's nice to,

00:18:24   in some ways that's nice, in some ways that's not so nice,

00:18:27   but I do love that I just, it's a thing that I care,

00:18:30   I have to care and focus less about, you know, I don't have

00:18:33   to actively check and maintain and manage the star rating

00:18:36   of my apps like I used to, and I appreciate that,

00:18:39   being able to just focus on other things that are much

00:18:41   more important to my customers.

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00:19:52   - So the other thing that is probably,

00:19:55   big has had the biggest impact on us

00:19:57   as the case was introduced in 2017,

00:19:59   it would probably be the big App Store refresh,

00:20:02   redesign, re-layout, whatever you wanna call it,

00:20:06   and with that, the big changes in the editorial process

00:20:11   within the App Store, where now we have,

00:20:14   in addition to just like a totally new kind of look

00:20:16   and feel, and a bunch of new fields,

00:20:18   where now we can have promotional text that's different

00:20:21   than the description text, and we have a subtitle now,

00:20:24   as in addition to just the regular title,

00:20:26   and the title's got four shorter,

00:20:28   and we can have multiple app reviews,

00:20:30   and the app preview's auto-play,

00:20:31   like there's that side of things,

00:20:33   and then we also have the new kind of everyday

00:20:37   or several times a day editorial process

00:20:40   that has sort of come along with it,

00:20:41   and I think overall, it's been good to me.

00:20:46   It's always like, I mean, I don't know if that's

00:20:49   just a self-centered way to look at this,

00:20:50   but I think overall it's been a slight benefit

00:20:52   that I think the design changes seemed to work better

00:20:59   or at least, at the very least,

00:21:00   they didn't have a negative impact,

00:21:01   and I certainly had some concerns that

00:21:04   because of the reduction in density in a lot of the screens,

00:21:09   that it would have had a negative impact,

00:21:11   but if anything, it's had a slight net positive,

00:21:14   so I like that.

00:21:16   I think the new editorial side of things seems really nice.

00:21:18   Like, I've been fortunate enough to be in a couple

00:21:21   of the roundups or included in some of the daily articles,

00:21:26   and it certainly has an impact,

00:21:28   and it's nice to have seven chances a week for that,

00:21:32   whereas before you had one chance a week to do that.

00:21:35   It was every Thursday, here's the new set of features.

00:21:38   It's kind of nice to feel like we have more options,

00:21:41   and it probably proportionally means that

00:21:44   the impact of any one featuring has gone down,

00:21:47   that having a substantial feature before

00:21:51   would have resulted in more downloads,

00:21:54   but you can now get them more often,

00:21:55   and it seems like once your app is sort of in that world,

00:22:00   where it's on the list of things that are being considered

00:22:03   for featuring, it's reasonably likely that your app

00:22:06   will show up as they kind of cycle through

00:22:09   the different things that they're trying to promote

00:22:11   throughout the year.

00:22:12   So, overall, I think the new App Store

00:22:14   has taken a bit of getting used to,

00:22:16   but otherwise, I like it,

00:22:18   and I think it's had a positive impact overall.

00:22:21   - Yeah, I was also a little wary when it launched

00:22:23   of just not knowing what kind of impact it would have,

00:22:27   and it's a bunch of very major layout changes,

00:22:30   and major editorial changes,

00:22:33   so it seemed like it was likely to have

00:22:35   pretty wild swings in either way,

00:22:38   and you didn't really know until it launched

00:22:39   whether it would benefit you or not,

00:22:41   and as far as I can tell,

00:22:42   I don't think it really has meaningfully affected

00:22:45   Overcast positively or negatively.

00:22:47   It seems like I kind of got away

00:22:48   with a nice neutral outcome there,

00:22:51   but overall, it does seem a lot more pleasant

00:22:54   to use in a number of ways.

00:22:55   The information density is significantly lower,

00:22:57   and in some ways, that gets in my way and feels clumsy,

00:23:01   but honestly, it wasn't like the App Store layout

00:23:03   and usability and things like that

00:23:05   weren't that great in the previous one either,

00:23:08   so I think it's significantly better than it was,

00:23:10   and all the editorial changes are very welcome.

00:23:12   They're clearly putting a ton more effort

00:23:16   into the weekly editorial stuff,

00:23:18   and now the daily editorial stuff.

00:23:20   One area that this is a little bit,

00:23:22   I don't know if unsettling is the word,

00:23:26   but they've added many ways in which companies

00:23:30   with large marketing resources at their disposal,

00:23:33   like companies that can afford to have

00:23:37   a very large marketing effort that coordinates with Apple,

00:23:40   that reaches out,

00:23:41   that supplies all sorts of different materials

00:23:43   and achieves all sorts of different goals

00:23:46   and relationships and everything,

00:23:47   there is more for them to do.

00:23:50   There are more ways than ever for marketing people

00:23:53   and marketing teams to help boost an app in the App Store,

00:23:58   and that's good.

00:24:00   I think those should exist,

00:24:01   and I think those kind of always did exist,

00:24:03   but now they've been made a little bit more official,

00:24:06   but it also raises the bar for independents like us

00:24:11   for how much of this marketing are we ever really gonna do,

00:24:14   or can we afford to do,

00:24:15   or will we have the tools and resources to do?

00:24:19   That is a little bit less awesome in some ways,

00:24:23   but I think a lot of that's just kind of an inevitable

00:24:26   maturing of the App Store over time,

00:24:28   and we're just gonna have to figure out

00:24:29   how to operate in that environment.

00:24:31   - Yeah, I mean, in many ways,

00:24:33   I think it makes me think of search ads,

00:24:34   which is also something that it got enhancements in 2017,

00:24:37   and was something that,

00:24:38   you know, it's like I've just sort of gotten,

00:24:40   as I've gotten a sense of the costs associated with that,

00:24:43   it's just sort of the understanding

00:24:44   that the types of apps I make

00:24:46   don't justify playing in that market,

00:24:48   and that means that I'm never going to be

00:24:51   the thing at the top of a search result.

00:24:53   Even if I am the top search result,

00:24:56   there's always going to be someone else

00:24:58   who is willing to pay more,

00:24:59   and as a result, you know, that's just sort of,

00:25:03   well, the best I can hope for is second place,

00:25:05   and in general, so far, that's been fine,

00:25:08   but it is certainly a bit frustrating

00:25:10   that there's a part of the App Store

00:25:14   that is just not viable for me to take advantage of

00:25:18   that would increase my visibility,

00:25:19   and that's certainly, I see that as my problem.

00:25:22   It's not like it's Apple's problem

00:25:23   for doing search ads.

00:25:25   I think they're useful,

00:25:27   and I'm glad that they exist, I think, overall.

00:25:31   If they'd went away, if Apple decided

00:25:33   that they decided they didn't want search ads anymore,

00:25:36   I wouldn't be sad, but it certainly is

00:25:39   one of the only kind of net downside

00:25:42   of kind of the way that the App Store changes,

00:25:45   and I think the App Store changes

00:25:47   in, if anything, in iOS 11,

00:25:51   made the searches, the stats, even bigger

00:25:55   and slightly more prominent,

00:25:56   just because of the way they change

00:25:57   the layouts of everything,

00:25:59   so that's just one of those,

00:26:01   you know, it's just like one of those things,

00:26:03   but yeah, it is, it's like a net win,

00:26:07   but in that area, it's probably

00:26:08   a much more marginal one for me.

00:26:10   - All right, so to wrap this up,

00:26:11   if you can pick like one number one wish list item

00:26:16   for the App Store in 2018,

00:26:18   do you have any idea what that might be?

00:26:20   - I would love to see Apple further enhance

00:26:24   the app analytics area, especially around sources.

00:26:28   I think that would be very helpful

00:26:30   to get a bit more insight into,

00:26:32   like when someone's, when they say like,

00:26:34   "This percentage of my users are browse,

00:26:36   "this percentage of my users are search,"

00:26:38   having some insight into what they were browsing for,

00:26:40   what they were searching for,

00:26:43   I think would be helpful.

00:26:45   - I like that.

00:26:46   I think that that's something

00:26:47   that I certainly think of that would be nice.

00:26:50   I think I would look forward to,

00:26:52   and it's like, I'm trying to think of other,

00:26:53   like things that I would love.

00:26:55   I love when iOS 12 and watchOS 5 come out

00:26:57   for them to drop support for some old devices,

00:27:00   'cause there's a couple of older devices

00:27:02   that make development a bit more clumsy and awkward

00:27:06   than I would love, and so I'd love to see that,

00:27:08   them to be slightly more aggressive,

00:27:09   and who knows, the way that the recent battery scandal

00:27:13   shenanigans situation has happened,

00:27:16   maybe they will be more apt to do that,

00:27:17   so that'll make my life easier and their life easier.

00:27:20   But those are the sort of the two that come to mind.

00:27:22   What about you?

00:27:23   - I think within the realm of things

00:27:26   that are actually realistic, like yeah,

00:27:28   I would love for them to drop that 70% commission

00:27:30   and give us more like 85% all the time.

00:27:33   Like that'd be nice, but they're not gonna do it.

00:27:34   - Sure.

00:27:35   - So like within the realm of what's actually likely

00:27:38   and not counting things like API and SDK changes,

00:27:42   for the actual store itself,

00:27:44   the biggest thing I want is better search.

00:27:48   And I don't just mean like different layout

00:27:51   of search results.

00:27:52   The biggest thing I wanna see is improvements

00:27:55   to their relevancy ranking.

00:27:57   That is the hardest part of search.

00:28:00   The hard part of search is not finding results,

00:28:02   it's sorting the results in a reasonable and useful way.

00:28:06   And that's the area in which Apple has so badly fallen down

00:28:09   in the App Store so much of the time,

00:28:11   and that affects both the search results themselves,

00:28:15   and as previously discussed in previous episodes,

00:28:16   that affects the relevance, pricing,

00:28:19   and ranking of search ads as well.

00:28:21   So number one for me, that's I think what the App Store

00:28:25   needs the most is better search, and more specifically,

00:28:28   better relevancy ranking of search results.

00:28:30   - Yeah, I certainly would love that.

00:28:33   I mean, there's some things that is always so frustrating,

00:28:36   and I know this is partly because I have most of my apps

00:28:38   have fairly generic names, which is an intentional thing,

00:28:40   but is also sometimes a problematic thing,

00:28:42   is where someone does a literal search

00:28:44   for the name of my app.

00:28:46   So they type in Workouts++, that's their search term,

00:28:50   and it doesn't show up anywhere in the search results.

00:28:53   It's just very frustrating where I understand why,

00:28:58   I'm sure they're just excluding the plus plus characters,

00:29:00   and then they're doing a general search and so on,

00:29:03   but it's just one of those things where anytime that happens,

00:29:05   it is certainly very frustrating.

00:29:07   And so I would love for that system to be improved.

00:29:10   But honestly, also both as a user.

00:29:12   I always kind of hate when I do a search for an app

00:29:16   or a type of app, and most of the initial results

00:29:19   clearly are apps that haven't been updated in a while,

00:29:21   or are lower quality or whatever,

00:29:25   or just apps that have been in the store for a long time.

00:29:27   - Or are totally irrelevant to what you searched for.

00:29:30   - Sure, so definitely an improvement to that

00:29:32   would be very much appreciated.

00:29:34   - All right, well, here's hoping to a great 2018,

00:29:37   and here's some thanks for a good 2017

00:29:39   to the App Store people.

00:29:41   Thanks everyone for listening,

00:29:42   and we'll talk to you next week.

00:29:43   - Bye.

00:29:44   [