Yay, today is my 2 Year App Anniversary!
It has been an incredible year for my app business. Since my first anniversary my downloads, active users and revenues have been growing steadily. I learned a lot in the process. At this point, I managed to accumulate 2 million downloads since April 2013. Wow! Based on my current numbers, however, this seems to be only the beginning of a far bigger app adventure.
The Year in Retrospect
2014 was the year when my apps really started to take off. My business finally reached a point where I made enough money to make a living and then some. It never stopped growing from there which is the best part.
I only launched two new apps in 2014, which was intentional, because I started focusing more on good, incremental updates. There were surprisingly few lows and failures. To name some, the first would be my Power Nap App. Although featuring a super cute cat, the Power Nap App was not a big hit. Whatever, I don’t know what’s wrong with people…
Another big fail was my series of disastrous app updates in October leading to crashes at app launch for a significant number of users. To make it worse, these failed app updates happened while I was on holiday in the Dominican Republic which forced me to fix my apps at night from the hotel room. Not fun, but a great learning experience and warning for the future.
A major milestone has been the launch of the iPhone in September 2014. I was not aware of the huge download volume in this period, something I will be more prepared for next time. Pushing out app updates that support the new abilities of the iPhone 6 were crucial to my app network and paid off nicely.
For the end of the year, I had something big planned: a 2-day sale of my paid WeightDrop PRO app supported by a marketing campaign. Man, did that work out well! I had download numbers that I have never seen before. The app got press on several big blogs in their “Free App of the Day” posts and ranked #1 in health & fitness in a lot of countries all over the world. Very nice!
This gave my apps the push I needed for a great January. This is the best time for fitness apps and everything was ready and worked just as planned. Additionally, Relax Sounds got featured in Germany and some other countries except the US. This was a little bit unexpected, because I have not pitched the app to Apple, but it seems they liked the quality update I made. Paradoxically, I spent January programming killer bots for the Battlecode 2015 competition and didn’t touch Xcode for several weeks, because why not #indielife 😉
Fast forward to the beginning of April 2015, just right up this week Stepz got featured on the App Store home page in Germany and some other countries except the US. I’m very happy about that because it proves that my hard work pays off and that I’m on the right path.
A Switch in Strategy
My original hypothesis about an app network in the fitness & health niche totally worked out. Delivering value with quality apps seems to be one way to make it in the App Store.
Benefiting from this network effect works and it is nice, but in early 2015, an opportunity presented itself to me. My Stepz app really started to gain some serious traction. Originally started as a quick experiment to test the market, it grew to an app that is now used by thousands of happy users every day. Because of it’s potential, I decided to concentrate my focus solemnly on Stepz for the foreseeable future.
This switch in strategy from a network approach to a solo-app approach comes with new challenges. One of them is app marketing, an area of expertise that I have yet to master, but I’m willing to learn, invest money and try new stuff. I honestly think that Stepz is a great app and should be installed on every iPhone with a motion coprocessor, because it really helps people live a more healthy life.
The cool thing now is that I have options. I can do whatever the fuck I want with my time and this is a great feeling. It has always been the goal. I’m quite happy with my one-man show app shop at the moment. Of course, the possibility to take it a step further and create a real company with employees and an office is there and I’m playing with it in my head. I think, I could pull it off and the infrastructure here in Munich would certainly be able to support such an endeavor.
However, there are pros and cons and my own business & life values that I have to consider before jumping into something this big, so we will see.
Either way, I think the year until my next app anniversary in 2016 will be quite exciting with a lot of challenges and opportunities. Stay tuned!