Developing Perspective

#27: 53 Weeks In The App Store


00:00:00   developing perspective.

00:00:01   If you were a regional listener to developing perspective,

00:00:04   you'll realize that it's been quite some time since I

00:00:06   recorded an episode.

00:00:08   It's just been not one of those things that I can get to.

00:00:10   Something that I'm hoping to get into more and more as time

00:00:13   goes on.

00:00:13   But anyway, that's the past, and this is now.

00:00:18   I think developing perspective, when it started,

00:00:20   was a daily thing that I'd do, sort of every weekday,

00:00:22   walking through links, articles, just various things

00:00:26   that I found interesting that an iOS developer might find

00:00:28   interesting, someone who kind of does what I do.

00:00:32   I think I'm going to be shifting that sort of more and more away

00:00:35   from probably that model in terms of it's just a bit too much

00:00:37   to keep up with it for the daily schedule, having all those links,

00:00:41   all that content.

00:00:42   It's a bit too much of a fire hose.

00:00:44   I think of moving a little bit farther back.

00:00:47   And rather than doing that kind of an approach,

00:00:50   we're talking a little bit more analysis, a little bit more

00:00:53   of a director's commentary, if you will,

00:00:56   on the content I put together and do for my website.

00:01:00   If you're not familiar with, I recently relaunched or changed.

00:01:04   It's now david-schmidt.org.

00:01:08   It's D-A-V-I-D-S-M-I-T-H dot org.

00:01:12   It's my new site.

00:01:14   Hopefully you'll like it.

00:01:15   It's built on Octopress, which if you are starting a new site,

00:01:18   I'd highly recommend if you're a bit of a hacker,

00:01:20   if you don't mind running around in some Ruby scripts and things.

00:01:23   it does just this really nice environment,

00:01:28   means that you enter up with a static HTML site

00:01:31   that you can just host in anything.

00:01:35   I host it on Linode with Apache,

00:01:36   which is a delightfully fast

00:01:39   and super low-maintenance way to do it.

00:01:42   I was recently entering Fireball,

00:01:45   and the Fireball traffic just barely even

00:01:46   made the server stand up and take note.

00:01:48   I think at its peak, when hundreds and hundreds of

00:01:52   during-file-bar readers were hitting the site constantly,

00:01:56   I think the server peaked at like 3 or 4% CPU.

00:02:00   It just was kind of irrelevant.

00:02:04   But anyway, so that's kind of what I've been doing and what I've been changing.

00:02:08   I'm going to be talking a little bit about, sort of on the post podcast going forward,

00:02:12   I'll probably keep roughly a similar format where she'll probably be fairly short,

00:02:16   maybe 10, 15, 20 minutes, probably still just me talking rather than other people or things

00:02:23   going on.

00:02:24   And mostly I'm just going to be talking about articles I've written.

00:02:27   And if you read the site, this will be somewhat a little bit less interesting, I guess, but

00:02:33   hopefully it's good to get the extra depth and perspective on what I'm writing about,

00:02:38   as well as just another way of getting that content.

00:02:41   So if you don't like reading it, you can hopefully get it in the podcast, and that'd be helpful.

00:02:45   All right, so I'm going to first off start by talking about an article I wrote yesterday

00:02:51   talking about the App Store Christmas bump.

00:02:55   So if you're not familiar with it, every year, on December 25th, Christmas Day, the App Store

00:03:02   experiences a dramatic increase in software sales.

00:03:07   This is well above and beyond normal sales.

00:03:10   It varies from year to year, but it seems to have kind of stabilized a bit.

00:03:14   And you can kind of see this amazing thing where everyone gets new iTunes gift cards,

00:03:19   new devices, new iPads, new iPod touches, new iPhones, who knows, whatever it is.

00:03:26   On December 25th and for roughly maybe the week, two weeks after, you see a massive spike

00:03:31   in sales.

00:03:34   As a result, it's been kind of an interesting thing because it creates this tremendous stress

00:03:38   in the developer community about making sure that everything's perfect for Christmas Day.

00:03:43   You want to be as highly ranked.

00:03:45   You want to have no lingering bugs that

00:03:46   are going to cause bad ratings, bad reviews to show up

00:03:49   in the app store for you.

00:03:50   You want to make sure your server can handle the load

00:03:53   that's going to be generated by, say, 7, 10 times, who knows,

00:03:57   users for that one day.

00:04:01   If you have a new app, it's very, very helpful

00:04:03   to get it in right before.

00:04:05   Because if it's going to take off

00:04:06   and if it's going to go anywhere,

00:04:08   it's a great jump start from a revenue perspective

00:04:10   to get that app in by Christmas Day.

00:04:13   then you'll see this massive jump the next day.

00:04:17   So anyway, that's kind of enough--

00:04:20   it's sort of the history of what's going on there.

00:04:22   And something that's been kind of interesting, too,

00:04:24   is Apple also shuts down iTunes Connect,

00:04:26   which is sort of the developer portal for managing

00:04:30   the business side of being in the App Store during this period.

00:04:34   There's a variety of things going on there.

00:04:36   I think it's both to give the people who run it a break,

00:04:39   probably also to make sure everything's locked down,

00:04:41   So it's easier for them to administer and manage

00:04:43   during the actual iTunes, during the Christmas period,

00:04:47   where they're dealing with so much traffic on their end

00:04:49   as well.

00:04:51   And so it's just kind of an interesting period, where

00:04:53   at least it's on Christmas Day, developers

00:04:56   can't be in there tweaking, and adjusting, and playing

00:04:58   because it's just shut down.

00:05:00   So anyway, they published sales for this year's--

00:05:03   this is Christmas Day 2011.

00:05:07   And their results were actually pretty impressive.

00:05:10   So for one of my main apps, My Recipe Book,

00:05:15   which is an iPad-only app that lets you organize recipes,

00:05:20   I looked at the sales for it, both for 2010 and 2011,

00:05:25   and kind of just saw how large that bump was.

00:05:28   And specifically what I did is I compared daily sales

00:05:32   to the year-to-date average for both years-- so in 2010,

00:05:35   the year-to-date average in 2011.

00:05:38   And in both cases, Christmas Day roughly had about a 700%

00:05:43   increase, which put another way means

00:05:45   that I sold about seven times the normal volume of my recipe

00:05:49   book on Christmas Day than I normally do.

00:05:52   So it takes an entire week, essentially,

00:05:54   and adds it to the end.

00:05:55   So it's almost like there's 53 weeks in the app store,

00:06:00   because you get that extra sort of week sales into one day.

00:06:05   And especially interesting now, this

00:06:07   is a couple days after Christmas and recording on December 28th. That seems to be still continuing

00:06:14   to some degree. It's not quite seven times at this point. It's probably, I think it's

00:06:18   probably more like five and six, maybe in at four and a half. It's kind of sort of gradually

00:06:24   tapering off. There's still a lot, a lot of increase and then it'll kind of diminish down

00:06:29   and if history is a guide, we'll become kind of into a steady, steady state at some point.

00:06:35   So just something interesting to look at.

00:06:38   If you're a developer, as of now, it's probably, what,

00:06:40   362 days until next Christmas.

00:06:45   So if you're a developer at the hearing this,

00:06:47   you've got plenty of time to sort things out for next year.

00:06:51   But definitely something that's kind of fun.

00:06:53   Good way to think about sales in terms of, OK,

00:06:57   so I'm getting everything queued up for Christmas,

00:07:01   knock it off, and you can do a week's sales in a day.

00:07:04   So definitely nothing bad there.

00:07:07   All right, next is I'm going to talk about iTunes affiliate

00:07:12   links.

00:07:13   And this is kind of an interesting topic.

00:07:15   It's just a nice little way to make extra revenue.

00:07:17   And so if you're not familiar with it,

00:07:20   the affiliate links are a way that you

00:07:22   can create links to things in various Apple iTunes stores.

00:07:25   So that's for music, videos, podcasts, audio books, apps,

00:07:28   in the iOS and Mac app stores, as well as iBooks.

00:07:31   And you create a little link.

00:07:32   And if anyone ever clicks on that,

00:07:34   and then if they buy anything in the app store,

00:07:37   after clicking your link, the next three days,

00:07:39   you get 5% of whatever they bought.

00:07:41   So they click on a link on my site for my recipe book,

00:07:44   for example.

00:07:45   They click on that.

00:07:47   It's a $3 app.

00:07:48   They buy it, I would get an extra $0.15

00:07:50   on top of my normal actual sale.

00:07:52   And then say two days later, they bought something else.

00:07:54   Say they bought a copy of Instapaper, which is a $5 app,

00:07:58   I'd get a $0.25 commission on that,

00:08:00   even though I didn't link to that directly.

00:08:02   So it's just a nice thing that you can do to boost your revenue.

00:08:06   It's not never going to be a huge revenue maker for you

00:08:08   unless you have a huge amount of traffic that you're driving to the iTunes store.

00:08:11   But what it does is lets you really clean up your--

00:08:16   it's almost like cleaning up the scraps.

00:08:18   You're reaching around and saying, well, there's

00:08:20   just a little extra money on the table here.

00:08:22   Apple's providing this extra 5% of sales.

00:08:26   Why wouldn't you take advantage of that?

00:08:28   Especially as a developer, it's a nice thing when you're linking to your own stuff to increase

00:08:34   the percentage that you're getting back.

00:08:35   So rather than getting 70% of the sale price, you're more, in many ways, you're getting

00:08:41   75% of the sale price, which is great.

00:08:46   So the process of getting set up is pretty straightforward.

00:08:49   Basically if you go to my site, or there's a link in the show notes, you just click the

00:08:53   link in there, you click it, you can register for the Linkshare program, you apply for the

00:08:58   iTunes affiliate program, steps and turns and conditions, sign a few things, then you

00:09:03   wait a little bit and you'll be approved for the program.

00:09:06   At that point you can create links.

00:09:09   Linkshare pays out your money back to you on a monthly basis, you can get it as a check,

00:09:14   direct deposit, and they've always been great with that.

00:09:16   I've had some affiliate programs and advertising things, it's a nightmare to actually get your

00:09:20   money at Linkshare, and Apple's iTunes affiliate program I've always had nothing but success

00:09:25   with.

00:09:27   And so that's kind of at a high level.

00:09:29   And you can go into Linkshare, which

00:09:30   is the system that runs it, and you

00:09:32   can manage the process of making all these links.

00:09:35   And you can do all these crazy things,

00:09:36   these big gaudy banners, like Glee, Now Out on iTunes.

00:09:41   That's kind of awful.

00:09:42   And you can also do things that are simpler,

00:09:46   say you want to just make a link to a single product

00:09:49   and you get a nice little text link.

00:09:51   But the ones that they give you out of the system, I find,

00:09:53   are just terrible for two main reasons.

00:09:55   one, they're kind of inscrutable and opaque.

00:09:58   You end up with this thing that starts, you know,

00:10:00   "http://click.linksynergy.com/fsbin/stat?"

00:10:07   Question mark, ID, blah, blah, blah.

00:10:09   And you're ending up with something that's just,

00:10:10   a user doesn't really know what to do with that.

00:10:12   And in my experience, if I want to have someone

00:10:14   click on something, I want them to be able to mouse over it,

00:10:18   and what pops up next to it, you know,

00:10:19   kind of in the status bar, is something

00:10:20   that they can understand, that that looks normal.

00:10:23   I want it to be what they're used to.

00:10:25   So if you have any experience in the App Store,

00:10:28   you're used to it if it says itunes.apple.com/app/myrecipebook.

00:10:33   You kind of know what that is.

00:10:35   You kind of know what to do with that.

00:10:37   And so I want those.

00:10:39   And then two, if you use the normal proxy links, where

00:10:42   it goes to click.linksynergy.com first,

00:10:45   it'll hit to that site.

00:10:47   And then it will redirect to iTunes,

00:10:48   and then it will open in the iTunes store.

00:10:50   Which on desktop is kind of annoying.

00:10:52   you'll have this two or three seconds of the browser just

00:10:57   twitching.

00:10:58   On an iPad or iPhone, this is just drives you nuts.

00:11:01   Because say you're in an application, you click, hey,

00:11:04   get an app store.

00:11:05   You click it.

00:11:06   It'll launch Safari.

00:11:07   Safari will open a new page, redirect, show nothing,

00:11:11   and then open the App Store, and then find the app

00:11:15   and show it to you.

00:11:16   It's just a horrible experience.

00:11:18   The phone was just going nuts for three seconds.

00:11:21   And I imagine most users just think they broke something.

00:11:24   So there's an alternate method.

00:11:25   It's called the short link method in Apple's Advanced

00:11:28   Affiliate Linking Reference.

00:11:30   And basically, it's a way of instead

00:11:32   of doing these nice, big, fancy links that have link tracking

00:11:35   and all kinds of stuff in them, instead what you do

00:11:37   is you just append two values to any standard iTunes link.

00:11:42   So itunes.apple.com/us/app/myrecipebooks.

00:11:47   The standard link you'd get out of iTunes,

00:11:49   If you right click on any icon and say, copy link,

00:11:53   you just add two things.

00:11:54   One of them is a site ID.

00:11:56   This is unique to you.

00:11:58   And you get it by going through the link maker tool in Linkshare.

00:12:02   Eventually, you kind of work your way through,

00:12:04   and you'll get this 11-digit code.

00:12:06   And that's unique to you.

00:12:07   And that's the ID that you'll pass to Apple

00:12:09   that they then pass back to give you money.

00:12:11   And the second is the partner ID.

00:12:13   Now, I'm only familiar with doing this in the US,

00:12:16   or some with Linkshare.

00:12:17   There's all kinds of other people who do it in Europe, I think. There's one in Australia or Asia, something like that.

00:12:22   But in the United States, you do it with LinkShare, and LinkShare's partner ID is 30.

00:12:30   So in my case, I can take any link and add the following to it.

00:12:34   Ampersand partner ID equals 30. Ampersand site ID equals

00:12:40   IZE7M699RYO.

00:12:44   And I put that on anything, anything I ever linked to.

00:12:48   Super easy, super trivial.

00:12:49   And I make a little bit of extra money.

00:12:51   Like I said, these aren't huge sums of money

00:12:53   you'll make from it.

00:12:55   But it's not bad.

00:12:56   I've probably made maybe $1,000 or $2 this year

00:12:59   from it, from all the various things I've linked to.

00:13:02   And depends on what-- and the interesting thing is,

00:13:04   you can link to things you didn't make.

00:13:06   You can link to things that are free

00:13:07   and hope people will go to other things.

00:13:09   For example, I recently linked to Logic,

00:13:12   which was just announced in the Mac App Store,

00:13:14   just to kind of let people know, hey, logic came up.

00:13:17   It used to be $500, now it's $200.

00:13:19   And someone bought it through that link just on Twitter.

00:13:21   I just tweeted it out there.

00:13:23   And so I got $10 from that because it's

00:13:25   a $200 piece of software.

00:13:27   So it's definitely worth doing.

00:13:30   I think it's a good way to make a little extra money, which

00:13:33   as an indie developer, it definitely doesn't hurt.

00:13:36   All right, that's it for today's show.

00:13:38   Hope you like the new format.

00:13:39   If you do, if you have any thoughts, questions,

00:13:41   comments, concerns, I'd love for you to hit me up on Twitter.

00:13:44   That's the best way to reach me, which I'm @_davidsmith.

00:13:49   Or if you go to my website, davidsmith.org,

00:13:52   or just with a dash, so david-smith.org, you hit there.

00:13:57   And on the About screen, there's an email address there

00:14:00   if you need to get a hold of me that way if you prefer.

00:14:02   Otherwise, I look forward to kind of keeping this going,

00:14:05   starting this back up.

00:14:06   And I hope you enjoy it.

00:14:07   Thanks.