A list of top iPhone apps that had made the billion download mark was released by Apple. Of course, there are now apps with up to two billion downloads, but barring that, the list is quite interesting and offers us a good number of lessons to learn. It is public knowledge that developers of top apps have earned big bucks from their work. I say "big bucks" because it is not easy to make an exact estimate even if the number of downloads is known. The simple reason is that app pricing changes a lot. An app like Koi Pond has more Ryan 900,000 downloads. Even at a dollar per download, that's a substantial amount. Are you interested in being among these top earners? Well, after analyzing Apple's twenty top paid apps, we have some tips you can try.
GET IN EARLY
July 2008 gave us the iPhone 3G and by August, about half of the top apps had been released with the others coming out by the year's end with the exception of one that came out January 2009. Timing is beyond important. Selling your apps is a bit more complex these days because there are so many apps now and getting noticed is significantly more difficult. Those apps that were released earlier and were popular, had some advantage over others, an advantage they held on to long term.
ENTERTAIN THE MASSES
Now, if your plan is to bring knowledge to humanity or say, save the planet, what you'll get is a reward...in heaven. What you won't have, however, is a highly sought-after iPhone app. All the top paid apps had some entertainment factor attached. Fourteen being games, four entertainment-based and 2 music oriented apps. Of course when we say 'entertain', we are not talking about mindless thrills. A lot of the top paid gaming apps are complicated and need a certain level of concentration and skill. Some have a good number of permutations and constant updates. In essence, complex games like Pocket God, Monopoly, Fieldrunners and even simpler games like Touchgrind need a level of skill and concentration. Some, such as Koi Pond, is not as mentally tasking, but even then these ones involve constant movement and have a lot of options. Most of the apps have wonderful graphics. Of course, they are not all serious and 2 games, in particular, namely, iBeer and iFart are just pointless. Find more information on great article written about this.
THERE IS A SURPRISE IN EVERY PACKAGE
The success of the game Ocarina, featuring an ancient flute simulation, is particularly surprising as one wouldn't have expected a relatively unknown musical instrument to rank so high. The developers of the apps are talented musicians and computer scientists from notable places like Stanford. Wouldn't it be nice to think that there is space for quality and innovation online?
DEVELOP FOR THE DEVICE
Apps using the accelerometer seem to succeed more as most of these top paid apps use this feature or other iPhone specific features. What this shows is that successful app developers make use of the phone's unique functionality. Make it an app made specifically for the iPhone. Apps that functions as though on a normal desktop computer don't usually gain much traction.
HAVE THE RIGHT BACKGROUND
This one is a no-brainer, to be honest. Being an experienced software developer helps, especially one with experience in Internet games. A lot of the top paid app developers have this experience and some of them even simply took an existing business model and ventured into iPhone apps. For some, the app signaled the beginning of the business, and for others yet, the end.
DON'T BE A ONE-HIT WONDER
Out of these top paid apps, four had about 1 to 2 apps per developer. More commonly, however, were those developers with about 3 to about 10 apps. One developer even had more than 10. Some successful app developers simply built on existing apps in order to create new ones - an act that may be seen as a tad opportunistic. Those app developers who created a string of unique, captivating games usually succeeded more often. Three companies specifically (Freeverse, Pangea Software, and Electronic Arts) had 2 top paid apps each. These companies are well known which just tells us that at times, it takes considerable resources to create a successful app.
DON'T BE TOO HUNG UP ON PRICE
iPhone prices usually start at $0.99 as a default. This price which seemed to satisfy most buyers may have been as a result of the cost of songs on iTunes. A lot of winning apps though, cost more with about 13 out of the 20 apps costing upwards of $1.99 and 4 of them, costing an impressive $4.99 as at the time of analysis.
YOU DON'T NEED LITE OR FREE TEASER APPS
It is worthy of note that only 2 of these apps (iHunt and iShoot) offer a lite or free version as at the time this article was written. Even more interesting is that both developers are individuals are not companies, making it seem like companies don't bother with making teasers. Meaning, if the app is worth buying, it will be bought. Examining this strategy, it is possible that these lite or free versions can actually boost sales, but conversely, there's also a good possibility that the inability to get the apps for free, even as a trial, would boost sales quite well.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A HUGE COMPANY (ALTHOUGH IT HELPS) The success of these apps does not necessarily depend on the implementation of complex or sophisticated marketing strategies. Of course, it helps to have extensive resources and online presence, but top app developers were an inspiring mix of different sizes and types.
Out of 17 developers, four are big multinational companies namely Apple, Electronic Arts, Activision, and SEGA. There are also some upcoming companies as well as 7 small groups and then 4 individuals.
Take iFart for example. The developer was an Internet marketing guru who possibly understood how to take advantage of people's interest in things that generate controversy as well as spark laughter and interest.
Of course, the popular trope of smart guys struggling in garages until they have a eureka moment comes to play here. The individuals, John Moffett, Ethan Nicholas and possibly, Shinya Kasatani, may not be the next Steve Jobs, but still, they have succeeded in raking in big bucks reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars, a dollar or two at a time.
CONTROVERSY IS USEFUL, BUT BY NO MEANS ESSENTIAL
Some apps like iFart, iBeer and iHunt gained from the controversy that they generated. The controversy managed to reflect in the ratings, with these apps, rather than the dominant 5-star rating of the other apps, having large numbers of 5-stars and 1-star ratings. In essence, this rating distribution may not hamper an app's success and instead may indicate a potential to spark interest. Other top paid apps were not particularly involved in controversy and they did equally well.
Not everyone is going to like your app and the more ratings there are, the lower the odds of a 5-star average. But then, it takes a lot of downloads, to develop a lot of ratings.
We can assume that millions of people downloaded these top twenty top paid apps, but the highest number of ratings was 1,479 with 226 being the lowest.
THE THEME DOESN'T HAVE TO BE CLASSIC OR FAMILIAR
There were classics like Monopoly and TETRIS among the 20 top paid apps. Other apps were, at times, familiar, and at other times, not. Notably, none of them really adapted a big or well-known game. While pocket guitar may have used a popular instrument, Ocarina used a relatively unknown one.
A large number of iPhone games are quite similar to the top game apps. Guitar simulations number in the dozens, and there are about 5 other iFart apps. A good idea isn't always enough. Take the other iFart apps for example.
Majority of them are hated almost equally and feature negative comments, not by virtue of being vulgar or silly, but as a result of bad execution causing users to dislike them. Hope these tips prove helpful in your venture.