You’ve Built an App: Now What? Part 1: User Acquisition

user acquisition

Developers are makers. They solve pains, entertain, enlighten, and enhance productivity. Building an app can be an exhilarating experience and the joys of shipping can linger for… about ten seconds. Then comes the question, “I’ve built an app, now what?”

“Building an app is incredibly hard,” said Brenden Mulligan, former LaunchKit founder, which was recently acquired by Google. “But getting people to use it is an even bigger challenge. Once an app is released you start getting so many signals of how it’s doing, and it’s important to have the right infrastructure set up to receive and learn from those signals. Things like user activity, app store reviews, churn… In addition, devs have to be thinking of the next feature, or bugs they need to fix.”

Earlier this year, Ægir Thor Steinarsson and Anne-Marthe Lorck built an app to resolve what they were seeing as a common pain point.

“I am a fairly introverted person, and I am a bit disconnected from social groups: I’m studying with people much younger than me, I live in a foreign country. I mostly felt content in my day to day life, but also that I was missing out: I would end up repeatedly cancelling stuff I did want to do, like go to a concert or even a museum, because I didn’t know who to invite,” said Steinarsson.

“We did interviews with about 40 people and found others were experiencing social isolation as well,  we asked people to give it a pain grade on a scale of 1 to 5 and we started seeing everyone giving it a high pain point (3 and above). That turned out to be the main theme rather than the exception.”

Steinarsson and Lorck created BudUp as an app to solve that: users can register an event (a concert, movie, dinner party or other activity), and specify the number of people they hope to attend with.

The app was released on the Google Play Store. Android is the main mobile platform for professional developers, according to VisionMobile’s State of the Developer Nation quarterly report, which found that Android accounted for 79% of mobile developer mindshare.

For the BudUp team, while they have plans for an iOS app, for now their focus is all about traction: to get user downloads. As they ramp up their user acquisition, Steinarsson wants to make sure he has data systems in place to know what is happening and to monitor the user experience.

Knowing what to measure and using the free tools that can help developers do that quickly is crucial, said Caroline Ragot, Co-founder of Women in Mobile and Mobile Strategist at InfoJobs, a company of Schibsted Spain.

Ragot says there are two tasks to focus on after building an app: the first is acquisition, which is really about marketing an app.

The second task for a new app is to focus on retention. Ragot says retention is about marketing and the product working together. Analytics underpins an understanding of both these tasks.

Focusing on Acquisition: App Store Optimization (ASO)

Increasing user acquisition for your app starts with app store optimization. 30% of downloads occur after someone has searched by keywords in Google Play. So getting noticed within the app marketplace can already drive up user downloads before looking at any other type of promotion.

Ragot says there are three components in app store optimization:

  • text
  • icons
  • Screenshots
  • Review and rating.

Building off the experience of websites in getting noticed, app store optimization makes an impact. Ragot suggests thinking what people will search for when looking for your app, and making sure that those keywords are included in the application title text. “Put the keyword close to your brand,” said Ragot. “When I have done that for app projects, within about two hours I have seen apps move from a ranking of 30-something to a ranking of 8.”

After ASO, the next task is to make sure your icon looks appealing. Don’t believe this is important? Ragot suggests doing a simple app search for something like ‘clock’: “You will see that there will be some you don’t want to download just by looking at them.” In the Google Play console, there is a function to allow developers to A/B test their icons. Ragot suggests testing several and seeing which icon design drives more downloads for your app.

Screenshots are also important. “It’s like the landing page for your app. When visitors arrive, they need to understand what your app is about and it should inspire them to download. It is your first touchpoint with a user,” Ragot explained.

Finally, reviews and ratings make an impact. App stores like Google Play use metrics of downloads and active users as part of their search ranking algorithm, and reviews of apps makes a significant impact on helping encourage searchers to download.

Organic and Paid Acquisition

“The two big acquisition buckets are organic and paid,” said Mulligan, who recently talked about how to optimize app launches with First Round. “Ideally, an app can attract users organically. To do this, there are a lot of ways to optimize a launch to be more successful in initially attracting users. You need to make sure your product name is short and your tagline is clear and concise. You need to figure out what good acquisition looks like for your product and track it from the beginning. You need to bake in marketing hooks that let users share with others how they’re using your app and invite their friends to join them. When the time is right, you need to target the relevant reporters to cover your product and post it to sites with good lead generation like Product Hunt. And the whole time, make sure your line of communication with your early community is very open so you know what’s working, what’s not, and how to change your product to boost your acquisition.”

Other acquisition ideas include Facebook ad campaigns, which Ragot cautions can be expensive, but suggests it is still a good idea to dedicate a small budget of a few thousands dollars to encourage initial traction. Ragot also suggests focusing on social media by encouraging downloaders to share that they have downloaded your app and encourage their networks to do the same.

Steinarsson and Lorck will next focus on content marketing: getting featured in blogs, in particular. They believe when starting to acquire users it is important to do things that don’t necessarily scale in order to maintain an initial personal contact with potential users. They will target several content domains and see in which ones they get traction and focus on those segments to start.

When starting with acquiring users, it can feel like everything is an opportunity cost: choosing one strategy means not investing in another. Setting up analytics to quickly identify what is working is crucial to being able to do more of what works and quickly identify where effort is wasted. Ragot, Mulligan, Steinarsson and Lorck all agree: setting up analytics for acquisition and retention is essential.

And while their strategies are universal across mobile platforms, all three have focused on how to build acquisition with an Android app, reflecting the dominant position of Android in the mobile app developer’s mindshare. According to VisionMobile’s State of the Developer Nation report, 80% of those building apps professionally target Android.

In our next part, we will look at how to retain users once they have started using your app and in part three, we examine what analytics techniques for acquisition and retention to have in place and what free tools to use.

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Mobile Advertising versus App Store Promotion: a tale of woes and wins

As an independent developer, I ‘ve had my fair amount of successes and failures – examples of the former are TVPyx (Symbian, Windows Phone, Web) and TubeBusBike (Symbian).

Having developed apps on iOS, Android, WP, Symbian, Bada and Web – my experiences of all stores  has been mixed. As an independent developer it is increasingly difficult to get noticed in the sea of apps that are available on the various stores. I have had a fair amount of trial and error experiences with both advertising and merchandising across those stores. I ‘m here to share my experiences with both.

 There are a number of techniques available to developers that can be used to promote your app and increase downloads. Some of these you will need to pay for, some of which are just down to hard work and slick execution. Of course there is always an element of luck and right place right time usually built upon previous failures, think Rovio. I am going to concentrate on two methods of promotion.

 Advertising  and cross promotion – The method of promoting an app either through paid in-app advertising i.e. in someone else’s app/website or cross promotion through apps developed by the same publisher.

 App store promotion – The practice of promoting an app via app stores. Merchandisers (app store owner staffers) select apps by country/region to appear as featured or promoted apps on the store. Various ‘slots’ have different success rates where ‘featured’ is usually the Holy Grail in terms of maximizing eyeballs and downloads.


Advertising using one of the mobile ad networks like Admob or an ad exchange like Inneractive is a paid-for activity i.e. you would pay for a campaign of ad impressions to promote your application in the usual advertising model. While someone like Admob may be excellent in a market like the Germany, they may lack in a specific region like Vietnam. This is where an ad exchange comes in. If you have a truly global application or specific regional needs that no one ad network can provide the required local content, an ad exchange barters on your behalf with local inventory and then serves the ad that gives you the most return.

Not all ad mechanisms are created equal, so you should take care whilst selecting one. While the fill rate may be excellent compared to a single network, the downside is that you may not be getting premium content that would be served by a truly local provider i.e. lower CPM. So while a fixed ad network can provide targeted delivery in terms of locale, an ad exchange can level the playing field especially in those maybe hard to reach areas of the globe. You need to understand your market and choose accordingly.

My personal experience of using paid-for app promotion was very disappointing. For £1000 one of my apps was involved in a campaign that consisted of a carousel with 4 ads shown in succession. The campaign as a whole  garnered 260,000 impressions. My ad was the 4th on the carousel meaning that it would be the 4th ad served once the app the ad was in was invoked. Quite far down the pecking order. From this campaign there were 82 clicks of which it is unclear whether any of these actually resulted in any downloads. No spike, no step change, just noise. The ad was targeted at UK mainly but a few other countries were involved. So quite a high customer acquisition rate!

Anecdotal evidence suggests that in some markets, advertising in apps might even have an adverse effect on downloads, as they use data which comes at a cost to the user.

App Store Promotion

Being a ‘featured’ app on any store will dramatically increase downloads. Naturally being featured in a store is likely the result of one of the following; it’s a great app, it’s a great experience, great PR, a relationship with a journalist on a national newspaper, major marketing budget, lots of hard work and maybe a bit of luck to name a few.

To get noticed by a store owner – especially an OEM – you need to consider what they as the builder of the devices are currently trying to push. For Nokia it may be imaging or mapping i.e. you are more likely to be promoted if you are harnessing one of the strengths of the business, what makes them unique. For Samsung it may be an app that integrates with their TV solutions. Segmentation considerations also work e.g. apps for a demographic that are being targeted by a particular device or devices. Building a relationship with an app store owner is a means to get promoted but this is likely to be the result of an app that meets the needs of a campaign or some quid quo pro between the developer and the likely OEM. A strong relationship or understanding of needs is required regardless of approach. I am privileged enough to have been involved a number of OEM programmes and have some close relationships with a number of OEM’s and platform providers so this approach has very much worked for me.

There are a number different areas on a store where you can be promoted; featured, staff picks etc. Some OEM’s have mini stores that usually link to their platform stores like Windows Marketplace or Play. This gives the OEM the ability to merchandise their partner apps without seeking the permission of the platform owner. Nokia has the App Highlights app shipped with all their phones, other OEM’s have their own offering.

My experience of being featured on Windows Marketplace was great for downloads as I suspect being featured would be on other stores. App Highlights worked well until Nokia changed the app due to having to try to promote more apps themselves. This meant my app started to get lost in the sheer number of apps being promoted. The latter being the inherent problem of managing app promotion on store.

Below is a graph of my own experience of being featured on Windows Marketplace and being promoted through App Highlights. There is no halo effect, as soon as the promotion stops the graph returns to the usual run rate. The implication is that you have to continue to promote and market the app to get downloads. As you can see the experience is far more positive than paid-for app advertising. Being featured represented a 1000% increase (800 downloads/day) in downloads whilst being included in App Highlights represented a 200% (160 downloads/day) increase in downloads.

Continuous promotion is crucial

There are other spikes on the graph that are not either Featured or App Highlights. The honest answer is I don’t know what caused them. I only know that my app was featured or highlighted because a) someone told me or b) I happened to know the right people. The other spikes could have been caused by promotion on other parts of the store that I was unaware of or a blog picked up on the app etc. It is usually the case that the developer is not told that their app is being promoted which seems a shame for the developer and the store owner not to be able to capitalize on the promotion.


To get downloads, you need to continuously promote and market your app. I experienced no halo effect, as soon as the promotion stops the graph returns to the usual run rate. For me, getting featured and highlighted was a far more effective solution than paid-for advertising. The key is to build close relationships with multiple OEM’s and platform providers and use it to deeply understand their marketing needs.

Business Community

The state of App Search Optimization (ASO)

The reason why ASO is getting so much attention right now is because in today’s charts-driven app stores 10% of apps gets 90% of downloads. For developers, the only effective mechanism to catch attention is buying large amounts of app installs to catapult their app into the top 25 charts where people look for inspiration. But this approach has become very expensive as app install prices soar.

Indie developers who have limited resources struggle to compete and get their app in front of users’ eyes. At XYO, our goal is to change this and enable long-tail app discovery by helping users discover what they want even though they can’t express it. To build our site we looked into search behavior to understand how people find apps. What we learned is that the majority of users has no real concept of how to search for apps and no idea about the vast supply of great apps out there, because they can’t see them.

The Super Early Days of ASO - A SImple Model To Compare SEO  and ASO

To optimize for search it’s important to understand how users are searching. On the web, there is SEO as a proven tool for which countless SEO companies provide rich insights, and tracking success is easy. For mobile apps however, it’s mostly guesswork. “These are the super early days of ASO”, said Tomasz Kolinko founder of ASO specialist App Store Optimization (ASO) at the moment boils down to optimizing a list of keywords for queries that users are likely to type.

So how do users search? Based on our data on and by looking at the publicly available studies by Chomp (acquired by Apple last year), we have identified four types of users in app search.

Our main findings conclude that app search is dominated by vaguely expressed intents and very generic queries. Users are inexperienced in how to find apps and have difficulties navigating cluttered app stores.

80% of user searches are generic category or interest searches

XYO Insights - types of search queries

Most app searches happen with only a generally expressed intent. The majority of users (around 75%-80%) type general app categories into the search box. Examples of such categories are ‘social networking’, ‘education’ or ‘racing games’. Our findings are consistent with what app search company Chomp was publishing in its Monthly App Search Analytics study.

Around 10%-15% of all search queries look for simple inspiration: These users either type ‘games’ or ‘apps’ into the search box or add adjectives like ‘new’, ‘free’ or ‘fun’. Examples of such queries are: ‘addictive games’, ‘fun games’, ‘free apps’, ‘new apps’.

Only 5% of all users seek specific app brands or titles. Our data and other sources indicate that while some users are aware of mainstream brands like Angry Birds or Facebook, other mobile brands are mostly unknown.

For apps there is another category: functional app searches where the query describes what the user wishes to achieve. Examples of such searches are ‘crop photos’, ‘block calls’, ‘view movies’. Those functional queries are super important for classic web-based SEO – in mobile app search they are marginal at around 5% of searches.


Optimizing search for users who don’t know how to search

App Store search is based on app title and a keyword list. For Google Play the app description also counts, which opens up more opportunities for developers to add seasonal or trending keywords (e.g. ‘easter’ or ‘gangnam style’).

In general, it’s advised to use a keyword tool such as, MobileDevHQ, SearchMan , and These tools give an idea of keywords competitors are using and where the sweet spot of high search volume and low competition lies for a specific app.

[sectors slugs=’app-store-optimization’]

“Longer phrases are 70% of search volume on the web (indicator), they’re less competitive, and probably see higher post-click conversion (download) rates because the user explicitly searched for ‘free video poker game’, Niren Hiro, CEO at SearchMan told us. His conclusion: Developers can take steps to get the No. 1 rank under each of their ‘long tail’ keywords. That is, developers can optimize their rankings for keywords that will give them better results on the App Store when users go searching for certain kinds of apps. Optimizing for the long tail is key, because generic keywords will have high search volumes but a lot of competition and often lower conversion.

“We go from low(er)-volume, high-conversion keywords (such as ‘golfcoaching’), all the way to what we call secondary and tertiary market keywords, like ‘coaching’ or ‘sports’. Conversion for branded and function searches are likely to have higher conversion rates than inspiration or interest searches – and interest searches may have even better conversion rates than inspiration searches,“ explained Patrick Haig, VP, Customer Success  at MobileDevHQ. If history from the web will repeat itself, then it will become cumbersome for users to browse results, and they will start entering more descriptive phrases to get relevant results fast.

Apart from optimizing the keyword list, an app’s title is of utmost importance. We recommend including the most important keywords in the title to get found.

Showtime: App description and screenshots increase conversion

When users browse search results, two things matter most to increase conversion: app descriptions and screenshots. Over and over again we see the first three lines of description wasted by developers babbling about achievements that are meaningless to new users. Sure, a “Game of the Year” award is great news – but it’s secondary information as long as users don’t have a clue what the game is about. That’s why the app description should explain what the app does in the first 2-3 lines. Bullet points can be used if necessary, as well as precise and short copy. Later in the text authoritative reviews can make sense to build trust, especially for Android where this text is also indexed for search. “For Google Play, it’s even better if you can include reviews that include targeted keywords,” said Patrick Haig.

Screenshots have gained relevance significantly and are a popular medium for developers. Users rely on screenshots to see if they like the look and feel of an app they’re about to download, and –again– to find out what this app actually does. Jai Jaisimha CEO at Appnique: “Moment of truth: iOS6 design increases importance of the screenshot because that is mostly what they see in the App Store client on the phone.” That’s why adding explanatory text is useful – and developers should get creative about it. Patrick Haig: “Treating screenshots like a stop-motion commercial can be powerful.”

Reviews turn users into app ambassadors

Once a user has downloaded an app, ratings become priority because they are crucial for ranking: “We have an article here from Inside Mobile Apps that illuminates how important ratings are, segmented by each store (Google Play and iTunes). Also, it’s becoming even more important for publishers to improve upon their current version rating, as that’s the only rating seen by a searcher in-device (i.e., searching on their iPhone or iPad). Users have to dig in order to see the All Versions rating, which just doesn’t happen,” Patrick Haig from mobiledevHQ told us.


Though important, ratings are not that meaningful to base a download decision on: The average rating is 3.8 making it difficult to see the nuances within the star rating system. To increase conversion, internal and external reviews are getting more and more significant. Being proactive in asking for reviews can save a lot of pain: Prompting users for feedback makes them convey a problem before they post a negative review, recommends Appnique.


At the moment, a big trend in app store optimization (ASO) is trying to overcome the obvious discovery problem by stuffing app’s titles with keywords, longer descriptions or almost complete sentences. The race for the best phrases keywords is in full swing. Obviously user experience will suffer in the process if keyword optimization will be used too excessively by a large number of developers. A backlash might be the result, similar to when Google punished some of the shadier SEO practices with their Panda update.

The ASO tips presented above are not meant to be a ‘silver bullet’ for app discovery. ASO is a useful set of techniques used to increase discoverability through keywords, complementary screenshots and –most importantly– understanding how users are looking for apps. But it’s just one of many approaches to attract attention in a crowded app store, the main one being: having a great app that’s worth discovering in the first place.


Kids’ Educational Apps – An Indie Dev’s Final Frontier


I am wondering if you know that there is an SXSWedu event. Well I can’t blame you if you don’t, it is the third year it is running and it sounds a bit off when you think of SXSW and “Keep Austin weird”. If you don’t then it will even come more as a surprise to learn that Bill Gates delivered the closing keynote to a standing-only room of 2,500 people.  On top of that, Apple revealed to TechCrunch a couple of weeks ago that they have sold more than 8 million iPads to educational institutions worldwide (4.5 million to U.S. schools).

You might have started thinking that putting together an educational app may not be such a bad idea, I mean how hard can it be? How about checking out the App Store’s top 200 paid list of iPad educational apps? Just by going through it, even if you don’t know who is who, you will see a lot of indie developers. Let me save you the trouble and give you the rundown. Of the top 200, 70% are kids’ educational apps. Out of these, roughly 80% are by independent developers, and only 20% from well-known publishers like Disney, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, etc. This is really impressive to say the least.

But before you team up with a teacher and start coding that idea, hold on. For every developer who is succeeding, there are 20 who are struggling to see noticeable sales. To make matters worse, only 20% of the developers present in 2009 were still active in 2012 (iLearn II – “An Analysis of the Education Category of Apple’s App Store”).

All of this translates to the indication that there are still great opportunities in kids’ educational apps right now, but there is also a lot of risk. That is why the kids’ educational apps market is an indie dev’s “final frontier”. So before you set off to “boldly go where no man has gone before”, here is a survivor kit to keep in mind when navigating those treacherous waters:

1)    App stores lack specific categorizations

No single app store has a separate category of kids’ educational apps. So kids’ educational apps are all scattered in a number of categories. In the Apple App Store they are scattered across Education, Games/Educational, Games/Kids, Books, etc., and in the Windows Phone Marketplace between Education and Kids + Family. Keep that in mind as you pick your category and since there is no right or wrong,  don’t be afraid to experiment.

2)    Never ever forget market segmentation

It is an easy assumption to make but it is one that you must always keep in mind. Education differs across countries considerably, it is not only the language and cultural barriers, but also that educational topics are approached in different angles. In the US the past three years the Common Core Standards initiative has been put together that provides a clear understanding of what students are expected to learn so teachers and parents now what to do to help them. CCS can be a very useful roadmap when you are thinking of your app. Lastly always factor in that localization will not be easy and it will cost more than it would normally do.

3)    You have limitations on your monetization strategy

With stories of a 5 year old spending $2.500 on iPad apps in 10 minutes hitting the news frequently be very careful of your monetization strategy. I am not arguing to exclude In App Purchases but be very cautious about your implementation and disclose this information to parents.

4)    Be wary of COPPA

Talking about disclosures you need to get up to speed with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. You need to have a privacy policy, provide disclosure about data practices and take responsibility for data practices of 3rd party code. Lorraine of Moms With Apps has put together a great reading list on the subject here, which is always updated.

If then you are up to being one of the risk-takers that Bill Gates mentioned in his speech, help change the face of education and make money on the way keep in mind his closing words “In this space, we either improve the quality of education or we stay flat, like we have for the last few decades”, put your soul into it and make great educational apps.

Business Platforms

The Darker Side of App Store Optimization

As long as there are algorithms impacting revenues there will be people trying to game them. In the world of mobile apps there are two sorts of algorithm that can be routes to success, chart rankings and search rankings. Chart rankings are very simple and typically just use some time-weighted download volume. Search rankings are much more complex, involving keywords, reviews and other social or similarity-based data as well as downloads. Developers can use a range of tactics to improve their ranking in these algorithms, some of them much more legitimate than others.

There’s no such thing as a bad download

Whilst there are very good practices for optimising search ranking, such as using tools that monitor competitors and analyse their keyword usage to suggest improvements to your own, the single most effective way to improve all rankings is to increase downloads. For paid apps, all downloads generate revenue, whether the app gets used or not – temporarily reducing the price or making the app free is an effective technique for boosting downloads, which boosts rankings and subsequent revenue when the price is returned to normal. For apps that are free anyway, it can similarly be worth spending some of the revenue earned through advertising or in-app purchases to increase downloads. On one level this is obvious, it’s worth spending money to market the app and try to reach new users. However, the winner takes all nature of app store discovery at present makes it worthwhile for some developers to chase downloads purely to enhance their rankings. Even users who will never open the app are worth attracting if they can be acquired for a low enough cost.

Paid placement

There are lots of advertising options available that drive users to your app in the store. The vast majority of them are pay-per-click and thus cannot be used cost effectively to inflate downloads of an app that doesn’t generate significant revenue per user anyway. Most of these are clearly advertising products, others look like app discovery tools to end users. Hooked is a good example of an app that blurs the line between discovery and advertising. They have a popular social discovery app for Android games where developers can pay to generate installs. For developers this is a very logical option because they have a fixed cost for installs which they can compare against average revenue per user. On the other hand, users may believe they’re getting a recommendation when in reality they are seeing an advert. It’s the same argument that surrounded paid placement for search results in the days before Google launched AdWords.

Cross Promotion

Another way to reach users is through similar apps. Apps promoting one another is a great way to reach a common user base. There are several cross-promotion networks with a variety of business models. Ironically the one with the name most suggestive of ranking manipulation, Chartboost, is at the most ethical end; they provide completely free technology for developers to organize their own cross-promotions and also a marketplace to connect developers where they take a cut of the transactions. At the same time, the most popular cross-promotion network (according to our latest survey), Tapjoy, plays much closer to the lines of acceptable conduct. One (and in fairness it should be emphasised only one of several) of Tapjoy’s services is incentivised downloads, a practice that Apple have repeatedly cracked down on – they pay users (in virtual rewards such as in-game currency) to download apps which have paid for that service (in cash). Clearly a large fraction of people who will download other apps to earn a bit of virtual currency are those unable or unwilling to pay for the same. These users almost by definition are unlikely to monetize, so the only obvious reason to seek them out is to increase rankings in order to be discovered by other paying users that would be more expensive to reach directly.


At the extreme end of ranking manipulation, with no pretence of being anything else, is Shaubang. This manipulation is primarily practiced on Apple’s App Store, made possible by the fact that a credit card is not required for an iTunes account in China. Companies with millions of accounts make use of extremely cheap local labour to pay people to download and review apps. These services often guarantee to boost an app to a desired category ranking for a fixed fee. This practice is heavily frowned upon by store owners but also extremely hard to police, since it involves real users (sometimes bot-assisted for efficiency) with real accounts.

Where’s the harm?

Users are mostly getting what they want out of these deals and so are the developers involved. Store owners have higher download stats to boast about. Even at the extreme end we have job creation in China. The main people losing out are the developers not taking advantage of these strategies. However, if ranking manipulation becomes the norm rather than a fringe behaviour then two problems become very serious. First, the top ranked apps are simply the ones that paid the most to be there, rather than the best ones – this makes discovery of genuinely great apps harder and reduces the overall perception of app quality. Second, a feedback cycle further concentrates revenue at the top of rankings – only those who pay to be at the top can afford sufficient manipulation to stay there and the rankings will begin to stagnate. App store owners need to ensure their markets are as honest and fair as possible, or users and honest developers will suffer in the long run.


The yellow brick road of app store monetisation

[This post on App Store monetisation by Andreas Pappas, Senior Analyst at VisionMobile, first appeared on the VisionMobile blog on  31 July 2012.]

Apple and Google dominate the app store game – but only in terms of size. Senior Analyst Andreas Pappas discusses the key success factors for app stores, why Google is lagging behind and how Amazon fits in the whole picture.

With Amazon challenging Google’s app market and Apple allegedly offering the best monetisation potential, several developers and analysts have put these claims to the test by comparing monetisation data across the three app markets. Differences in monetisation potential can have a significant impact on developer mindshare: developers will seek to leverage platforms that will make them more money.


The changing landscape of app discovery

[The explosive growth of app ecosystems is creating serious bottlenecks in app discovery that only popular apps can overcome. Having 700,000 apps is great for platform vendors, but not so great for developers, whose apps are lost in the heap. Andreas Pappas takes a look at the app discovery problem and considers whether social discovery is a better solution than the alternatives available today. This post also appeared on the VisionMobile blog. Follow Andreas on Twitter: @pappasandreas]

Business Platforms Tips

App Promotion: make or break your app

With well over one million total apps available on Apple and Google app stores combined, plus hundreds of thousands on the other platforms, the competition to get on consumers’ handsets is fierce. As hundreds of apps are added each and every day, app discovery remains a largely unsolved challenge which is only getting worse. With a rapidly changing landscape of app store ranking algorithms, mobile advertising products, cross-promotion networks and specialist marketing services it’s very difficult to decide how to begin app promotion which is cost-effectively. The one very clear piece of advice we can give is what you shouldn’t do – nothing.


What do people search for when looking for new apps to install?

Bryson Meunier from Search Engine Land compiled a list of the 100 most searched for keywords in both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, for new apps. The data was gathered in June using Google’s keyword tool, so it isn’t exactly perfect, but it’s good enough to have a discussion about what works and what doesn’t. Surprisingly, only 22 keyboards appear on both lists, which suggests that Google and Apple uses different algorithms to display apps. It also implies that Android users and iOS users look for different things. Take the search query “games” for example: it’s the 5th most popular term for Apple’s App Store, but on the Google Play Store it’s 15th. The top result in both stores is, unsurprisingly, Facebook.


You knew? The App Store in iOS6 is new

Apple pushed out iOS6 to its customers earlier this month. According to Pocket, a popular service that lets you “bookmark” articles you might want to read at some point in the future, over 60% of their users have already updated to iOS 6. Chitika, an analytics company, reported similar adoption rates. Within 48 hours of iOS6 launching, they saw 25% of all iOS devices in the U.S. and Canada using the new version of the operating system. In other words, because Apple controls the software update experience, they’re able to migrate a significant portion of their customers to newer versions of their software practically overnight.