You might remember my earlier post on how I managed to miss the grand Mac App Store opening. Some weeks later I was ready to go for it and submitted my first two apps to the store. Read on to learn what happened…

Submission of the apps (by the way: Recent Redux and Recent Menu) went fine, I was waiting around quite some time for review, but review itself was a matter of only a few hours. Then my apps went online and I didn’t have any (and still don’t have any) marketing strategy, meaning that actually I doesn’t do any marketing, besides having the descriptions in the App Store and this website.

Launch Date

As my two apps were both launched in the Utilities category of the App Store, which seems to be the busiest spot there with the most new apps per day, they moved to the bottom of the list of new apps rather quick. After less than a week they were gone from this prominent place. As long as my apps were either still on the first page of all Utilities apps (that was the case for around 3 to 4 weeks) or in the charts of national App Stores (this is quite easy for countries with a low overall Mac App Store turnover and most difficult for the US app store), sales were quite ok when taking into account that nobody knows me, I didn’t have any trial versions ready and there was no external coverage of my apps. I managed to sell licenses from the first day on, though my sales haven’t been anywhere near those of this success story, but more in the one-digit branch. However, I don’t think this could have been done before the Mac App Store. Thanks to everybody reading this who supported and supports me!

Restoring Order

While my apps where moving first up and then down the various charts, I noticed some trends which are quite interesting. In several App Store categories, there are obvious trends of app genres selling far better than other app genres. For example, in the Utilities category everything connected to ‘restoring order on your Mac’ is running extremely well. This may be getting rid of files not needed anymore, cleaning your Mac’s preferences, claiming back disk space or arranging windows on the screen in an orderly way. Another big hit there are zip/unzip apps of all colors and varieties. It may be true also for other App Store categories that there are some underlying genre trends. It tells something about the ‘average’ Mac App Store user and his or her preferences, I think. Too bad that my apps don’t seem to meet these preferences, at least for the moment…

Lessons learned

What I’ve learned from my first (combined two-app) launch and from monitoring the performance of apps launched around the same time:

  • Don’t expect the quick success. Surely, there are stories of quick and initial success at the Mac App Store, but they are scarce (Update 16 May 2011: for some different experiences, just like mine, see Hunter’s story of what having the 6# app in a Mac App Store category gets you) and seem to depend on so many factors. Get used to the idea that it takes time to build a user base and to get known, this . This is also a question of attitude, I think, and is quite by coincidence discussed in these weeks: see Slow Company and Success, and Farming vs. Mining (Update 14 April 2011: Also don’t miss Farmers, miners and investors).
  • If your app’s idea is cool and if its implementation by you rocks, it will sell, even if nobody knows you or your app. There are many many apps on the Mac App Store which don’t really rock, perhaps including my own. You can test your app ideas before investing time and start coding. Do it.
  • Do some marketing. This doesn’t necessarily mean to follow any classical way of marketing, buying ads or so. Anything that gets people interested in your apps is fine. Don’t be afraid to publish your app ideas early and to spread the word.
  • You don’t need an especially fancy app icon to be successful, you don’t even need a decent website, a minimalistic wordpress blog is enough. While your app’s user interface doesn’t need to be astonishing and extra-polished, many successful apps doesn’t stick to Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines too strict. A touch of iOSification may give your app ‘the look’.
  • Have patience. Try and improve.