iPhone App Entrepreneur by fujzi

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       iPhone App Entrepreneur is an independent publication
       and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise
       approved by Apple Inc.


       © Rockable Press 2010

       All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
       reproduced or redistributed in any form without
       the prior written permission of the publishers.

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    Foreword                                          3
    Meet the Developers                               5
    And the Developers are...                          6

    Perfecting a Killer Idea                          11
    Brainstorming Techniques                          12
    Be the First                                      14
    Be Better, or Different                           16
    Building Your App Around a Service                18

    The App Store                                     23
    Getting Started                                   24
    Your Product Definition Statement                 24
    Choosing an Application Style                     25
    The Approval Process                              28
    How to Craft an Effective App Store Listing       30
    Dealing with Crashes, Errors, and Bugs            36
    The Benefits                                      39
    The Challenges                                    42

    Making a Development Decision                     47
    Developing Your Own Native App                    48
    Hiring a Developer                                52
    Developing a Web Application                      58
    Quick Guide: Creating an iPhone Optimized Site    64

    The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design   66
    Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines                67
    Why Is Sexy Interface Design So Important?        69
    The Interface Design Process                      72
    Crafting an Irresistible Icon                     77
    Design Kits, Interfaces and Icons                 80

    Learning to Keep it Simple and Iterate            83
    Iteration in Action                               84

    Pricing Your App Right                            87
    Breaking Down Your Revenue                        88
    The Pricing Dilemma                               89
    Advertising Options                               93

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    The Perfect Promotion Mix                    97
    Perfecting Your Website                       98
    Quick Guide: Creating a Video Demo            101
    Generating Launch “Buzz”                      102
    Reaching Apple’s Top Lists                    106
    Go Social With Your App                       109
    Connecting With Users                         111
    Advertising vs. Word of Mouth                 113
    Top Notch Support and Regular Updates         115
    Conquer Your Stage Fright                     117

    Useful Resources                             120
    Apple’s Documentation                         121
    Books                                         121
    Screencasts                                   124
    Podcasts                                      125
    Blogs and Websites                            126
    Forums                                        127
    Conferences                                   128
    Development Libraries, APIs and Frameworks    130

    One Piece of Advice                          134
    Words of Wisdom                               135

    The iPhone Developer Survey                  141
    Part 1 – Business and Company                 142
    Part 2 – Developing Apps                      148

    The iPhone User Survey                       158

    Conclusion                                   165

    Credits                                      166

    About the Author                             168

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    The iTunes® App StoreSM launched on July 10th, 2008 to much fanfare and
    drama. Opening up a marketplace for software developers to target the
    iPhone®, iPod touch® and iPad™, it has rocketed to success over the past
    two years. At the time of writing this, over three billion applications have
    been downloaded.

    The potential for success has proven to be phenomenal. Developers have
    the ability to easily reach millions of users through a central marketplace,
    and many are leveraging that opportunity to make thousands of dollars
    every day.

    Unfortunately, despite the occasional success story, the fact remains
    that becoming an overnight App Store phenomenon is difficult. Many
    developers struggle to achieve great success with their application, and
    it’s a tough market to succeed in. If you’re wanting to strike it big as an
    app entrepreneur, it isn’t enough just to have a decent idea and some
    programming knowledge.

    This book won’t give you a killer idea, nor will it teach you the ins and outs
    of programming for the iPhone. What it will do is provide you with all the
    knowledge and technique you need to spot a great opportunity, get the
    most from the App Store, make smart decisions about development, craft a
    stunning interface, and promote your app successfully.

    Drawing on survey responses from over 1,000 iPhone users, and
    in-depth insight from a handful of incredibly talented iPhone developers,
    this guide will equip you with everything you need to successfully become
    an iPhone app entrepreneur.

    Good luck, and I hope you enjoy the journey!

    David Appleyard
    AppStorm Editor

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       MEET THE
       Before we get started, I want to offer a special thank you to the
       developers, designers, and App Store entrepreneurs who helped
       to make this guide possible.

       Throughout the book, you’ll encounter interviews with sixteen
       people who have an intimate knowledge of developing for the
       iPhone. Their insight is remarkably helpful for starting out on the
       right track when developing your own application.

       Over the next few pages I’d like to introduce you to a handful of
       the most talented and successful people working in the industry,
       who generously gave up their time and expertise to contribute to
       this book.

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      6                                           Meet the Developers

                 And the Developers
                 Graham Clarke – Glasshouse Apps
                 Glasshouse Apps started out with Barista and Cellar, two
                 unique applications to help you make a great cup of coffee,
                 and to manage your wine library. Graham has seen recent
                 success with the release of The Early Edition for the iPad, a
                 brilliantly unique RSS reader.

                 Michael Johnston & Fred Cheng – Simplenote
                 Simplenote is, as the name suggests, a wonderful way to
                 take simple notes and keep them synchronized between
                 multiple apps and services. By far and away the best note
                 taking application for the iPhone.

                 Dave Verwer – Shiny Development
                 Dave has years of Mac development experience under his
                 belt, and developed the popular iPhone game “Balloons”.
                 He runs a number of different Mac user groups, and
                 knows everything there is to know about programming and

                 Sarah Parmenter – You Know Who
                 Sarah is the talented designer behind You Know Who, a
                 web design and development studio based in Leigh-on-Sea,
                 Essex. An expert in iPhone UI design, she has worked on a
                 number of beautiful iPhone applications.

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      7                                           Meet the Developers

                 Marc Edwards – Bjango
                 Bjango create wonderfully designed apps both for the Mac,
                 iPad, and iPhone, including iStat Menus and the incredibly
                 useful “Consume”.
                 Their unique illustration style and interface design sets them
                 apart from many other developers, and they seem to have
                 an endless stream of fantastic ideas.

                 Joshua Tessier, Tariq Zaid & Adam McNamara – Select
                 Start Studios
                 Select Start Studios are the developers behind
                 Headquarters, a popular Basecamp application for the
                 iPhone. Another of their applications, AppNotify, provides
                 an additional way to add push notification support to your

                 David Heinemeier Hansson & Jason Fried – 37signals
                 Developers of a range of online business productivity
                 software, 37signals have over three million users and a
                 passion for keeping things simple. An expanding ecosystem
                 of companion iPhone apps have sprung up over the past
                 few years, and 37signals have recently taken the plunge into
                 the App Store themselves.

                 Devin Ross – Attic
                 Attic is a slick music controller for all those unplayed albums
                 that are collecting dust sitting in your iTunes library. Devin
                 has some interesting information to share about promoting
                 your app, collaborating with other developers, and working
                 with the App Store.

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      8                                           Meet the Developers

                 Sebastiaan de With
                 Sebastiaan runs Cocoia, a company that creates novel,
                 beautiful products and innovative projects. These include
                 Icon Designer, an icon design service responsible for some
                 of the best Mac app icons, and Icon Resource, a site for
                 learning how to design icons yourself.

                 Garrett Murray
                 Garrett Murray is a developer, filmmaker, podcaster, blogger,
                 and general all-rounder. His creation for the iPhone, Ego, is
                 any web designer’s best friend, offering beautiful stats for a
                 range of web services.

                 Dustin MacDonald
                 Dustin is the developer behind the delightfully designed
                 “Wallet” for Mac and iPhone. Wallet offers a central place to
                 store your personal information, seamlessly sync it with your
                 Mac, and automatically login to your favorite websites.

                 Gedeon Maheux – The Iconfactory
                 Gedeon works for The Iconfactory, the company behind
                 apps such as Twitteriffic, Ramp Champ, and Frenzic. They’re
                 renowned for gorgeous interface design, stunning icons, and
                 addictive user experience. If you’ve never tried any of their
                 apps, you should.

                 Lee Mallabone – Broadersheet
                 Lee Mallabone is one of the developers behind
                 Broadersheet, a personalised newspaper for your iPhone. It

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      9                                            Meet the Developers

                 provides news from around the world that you care about,
                 from the sources that you trust, and Broadersheet learns
                 what topics you’re interested in.

                 Sophia Teutschler – Sophiestication Software
                 Sophiestication Software is a small software design and
                 development company, which is run by Sophia Teutschler.
                 Sophia loves to create simple, yet easy to use, human
                 interfaces by striving to achieve the perfect balance
                 between form and function.

                 David Kaneda – Sencha
                 David Kaneda has nine years of experience designing in a
                 variety of fields, from architecture and fashion to education
                 and software. Recently, David created jQTouch, a Javascript
                 framework for iPhone development. He currently works as
                 the creative director at Sencha.

                 Dave Howell – Avatron
                 Dave Howell is a six-year veteran Apple engineering
                 manager, and the founder of Avatron – a leading developer
                 of popular applications for the iPhone and iPod touch.
                 Avatron’s Air Sharing application, downloaded by over one
                 million users in its first two weeks, raised the bar for iPhone
                 application design and software quality.

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       So you want to launch your first application. Often the first hurdle
       met by developers is how to come up with a successful idea. With
       hundreds of thousands of applications available on the App Store,
       how do you come up with something original? Or how you can you
       execute an idea better than everyone else?

       I’ve heard many people say that ideas are ten-a-penny, and that
       it’s the execution and persistence that makes an application
       successful. I don’t think this theory holds a great deal of weight.
       Most of the really successful applications available today either
       offer something completely unique, or solve an existing problem in
       a really fantastic manner.

       A well thought through idea is everything. Solve someone’s problem
       in a simple fashion, or entertain a user in a completely novel way,
       and you’re on the road to success.

       In this chapter, we’ll explore the tips and techniques you can
       employ to craft the perfect iPhone app idea.

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         12                                           Perfecting a Killer Idea

    Brainstorming Techniques
    I’ve often wondered how developers with a huge repertoire of applications
    constantly come up with new ideas. As it turns out, they have a few tricks
    up their sleeve.

    Although you may find that an idea just “comes to you” at the time you
    least expect it, brainstorming and proactively considering new ideas can be
    a worthwhile task. Perhaps begin by listing the challenges, problems and
    annoyances you face on a daily basis, then consider how they could be
    solved with a suitable iPhone app.

    Here are a few examples:

    •	    I	always	struggle	to	calculate	a	suitable	tip	to	leave	at	a	restaurant.	I	
          wish there was an easier way to do this automatically.
    •	    Price	comparison	websites	are	great,	but	they	aren’t	much	use	when	I’m	
          out at the store. It would be great to have a way to check prices online
          using my iPhone.
    •	    Logging	into	a	number	of	different	services	to	check	all	my	website	
          statistics takes ages. It would be good to have one central place where
          all this information is automatically downloaded.

    These ideas are not just odd concepts chosen at random. Each is a real
    problem faced by many people, and various iPhone apps are now available
    to help solve them (Tipulator1, RedLaser2, and Ego3 respectively). This is the
    type of thought process many developers go through.

    I asked Bjango: As a company with several different applications, how do
    you come up with new ideas?


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      13                                            Perfecting a Killer Idea

            Most of our ideas are born from necessity—the result of a
        lightbulb moment while trying to do something the hard way. It’s the
        simple notion that if there’s something we need ourselves, hopefully
        others will too.

        We keep a long list of possible app ideas. It’s important to have a
        big list to work from, so you don’t end up working on a dud idea, as
        even a small app can take a month to develop. It’s critical the best
        ideas are the only apps you produce.

    Glasshouse Apps have three successful applications in the App Store,
    including Barista and Cellar for the iPhone, and The Early Edition for the
    iPad. The former offers advice on how to craft the perfect coffee, and the
    latter gives you a virtual “wine cellar” in the palm of your hand.

    I asked the developer how they chose which of their ideas to take forward
    for development, and which to drop after the brainstorming stage:

           I try to start by thinking of ideas that inspire me personally. If I’m not
        inspired by an idea, and I’m only pursuing it because I think it might sell
        well, it’s going to be harder to stay motivated down the track.

        Once I’ve established a few initial ideas that I think have merit, it’s
        time to do some research and make sure there’s a market for it. You
        might be passionate about the wing span of a mosquito, but if no
        one else is, then you’re fighting an uphill battle!

        Even if you think you have a brilliant idea and a solid market, success
        certainly isn’t guaranteed. There are notable examples of developers
        ticking all the boxes and then falling dramatically short of their own

    It’s also important to remember that you don’t necessarily need to focus on
    solving a problem faced by every iPhone user. Concentrating all your energy
    on a specific niche and offering a valuable service for a select few people
    can be equally successful.

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      14                                           Perfecting a Killer Idea

    Don’t assume that the first idea you take forward to development will be
    your main success as an App Store entrepreneur. It takes time to understand
    what works and what doesn’t, so be prepared to experiment with a few
    different projects before you stumble upon one that really takes off.

    Be the First
    Being “first” gives you a huge advantage on the App Store – whether you’re
    the first person to release a particular type of app, or the first to utilize a new
    platform or hardware feature.

    The Early Edition was one of the first RSS readers available for the iPad,
    and early adopters were downloading it from the day the iPad App Store
    opened. I asked the developer how important it is to be the first to market
    with a particular type of app:

            We saw it as quite significant to have The Early Edition ready for
        sale on the launch day of the iPad. Aside from the unprecedented
        opportunity of offering our own application on the very first day of an
        entirely new category of device (which was incredible), having The
        Early Edition there on Day One meant that we were on a level playing
        field right from the start.

    This type of thinking is important, as the opportunity to have your
    application available to coincide with the launch of a new device is an
    incredibly rare one. With the iPhone and iPad now available, it could be a
    while before a completely new physical piece of hardware is released
    by Apple.

    Launching on Day 1 gives your application a huge advantage, as there
    are far fewer competitors crowding your niche, and generally less “clutter”
    available for that particular device. Fortunately, you don’t always need to
    wait for a completely new product to take advantage of this. Hardware
    and software upgrades often introduce new features that give developers
    an opportunity.

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        15                                                Perfecting a Killer Idea

    One such new feature in iPhone OS 3 was the ability to access the iPhone’s
    iTunes library. Attic developer, Devin Ross, saw this as a great opportunity:

            When iPhone OS 3.0 came out, I spent a lot of time looking into
         the new additions to the SDK. I investigated the new APIs like maps
         and mail composition. The music API was appealing because the
         data was already there. People already have music on their iPhones.
         With something like maps, you need your own map information.

         I initially made a simple application to explore not only the music
         API, but the multi-touch gestures and the shake notifications. That
         application turned into something similar to the photo flicking apps on
         the App Store where you can throw around and rotate album covers.
         Writing that application helped me learn a lot in many different areas.

         I then set my mind on creating something that could be a
         worthwhile application.

         I watched the Apple developer videos on the ingredients of a good
         iPhone application. Apple had already made a great player for your
         entire collection, so I knew I had to make my app achieve a specific goal.
         After looking further into the API, I came up with the concept of Attic.

         My product definition statement read as such: “an easy to use
         application to find albums in your library that aren’t played often”.
         For people like me that like to listen to entire albums at a time, this
         concept was exciting.

    Apple regularly adds new hardware and software features, or opens up new
    functionality for developers to exploit. Documentation is always available
    well in advance of a new software update or device being released, so it’s
    worth taking the time to see whether you can spot a new opportunity.

    Here’s an example of the new API features available in iOS 4 (formerly
    known as iPhone OS4):4


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      16                                          Perfecting a Killer Idea

    Whenever a new software release is announced, you can look for a page
    such as this and brainstorm a list of application ideas that weren’t possible
    previously. It’s a regular opportunity to be “first” with a completely new type
    of app.

    Be Better, or Different
    While important, being first certainly isn’t everything. Many developers
    have had huge success in well-established niches simply by solving a
    problem better.

    The iPhone itself is a wonderful example of this. The first version offered, if
    anything, less functionality than many competing devices. It was all about
    the style and execution of the concept. The same is true for application

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      17                                          Perfecting a Killer Idea

    Tweetie wasn’t the first Twitter client for the iPhone, but it quickly
    established itself as the best-in-class due to the thought that went into its
    design. It’s phenomenally difficult to develop an application that includes all
    the necessary features, retains a simple interface, works reliably, and is a
    pleasure to use.
    Another application that executes a small piece of functionality in a
    wonderful way is Birdhouse. Rather than offer a full Twitter experience,
    Birdhouse is simply a place to work on draft messages and publish (or
    unpublish) them. This functionality works because it places emphasis on
    only one task. It’s designed for people who like to put thought and care into
    their use of Twitter, and has seen great success in this simple niche.
    One company that has epitomized this simple approach in the web
    applications space is 37signals, choosing simplicity over new features
    time and time again in their software. I asked them whether they thought a
    successful iPhone app needs to be a unique, “killer idea”:

            If killer idea means something awfully clever, then no. Most “killer”
        ideas are simple solutions to simple problems. Most people don’t
        have problems all that complex and if you can just make some part
        of their day better, or more efficient, or more fun, you’ve probably
        got something.

    Focusing strongly on the user experience can be a great way to ensure your
    app stands out from the crowd. Dustin MacDonald, the developer of Wallet,
    takes this approach to differentiate his application in a very crowded niche:

           One obvious thing that I think a lot of developers miss is putting
        time into crafting a great user experience. Most people buy Apple
        products because of the fantastic user experiences they provide.
        Although there are now hundreds of thousands of third-party apps
        on the App Store, very few are of the same level of quality as Apple’s
        own bundled software.
        Something we’ve always tried to do, whether on the Mac or iPhone,
        is to reach for that same quality experience in our own apps. With

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      18                                           Perfecting a Killer Idea

        Wallet for iPhone, this meant simplifying our app down to the core
        features, offering a familiar structure and feel (in this case with the
        Contacts app), and polishing the app with great looking icons,
        elements, and animations.

    Sophia Teutschler, the developer behind Articles, Groceries, Tipulator, and
    a several other great iPhone apps, feels that the approach of “being better”
    can be enough to give you a successful app:

           I make Apps that cover functionality that I miss on my iPhone or
        iPad. Often there is already “an app for that”, but most of the time
        these apps offer such a terrible experience that I’d rather put time
        and money into making my own version of that idea.

        I don’t force myself to come up with new ideas. I never do any
        brainstorming – ideas just appear to me out of the blue.

        Quality always makes the difference. Articles will never be the
        Wikipedia App with the most features or the lowest price, that’s just not
        the point. Articles is about retaining focus on the actual article content.
        It’s not an app to “manage” Wikipedia, it’s about reading articles and
        consuming knowledge. No other app does that in my opinion.

        I’m sure I’ll add new and clever features in the future, but only those
        that fit into my vision for the app.

    Building Your App Around
    a Service
    With the huge surge in web applications offering high quality APIs in recent
    years, many iPhone developers are seeing success from building an app
    around an existing service. Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon,
    Google Maps, PayPal – the possibilities are endless.

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      19                                            Perfecting a Killer Idea

    37signals makes a range of productivity tools for businesses; software that
    is perfectly suited for use on the iPhone. They’ve encouraged developers
    to create applications around their software, and regularly promote these
    iPhone apps to their users.

    Headquarters is one such iPhone app built around the 37signals API that
    provides a mobile interface to Basecamp. I asked the developer, Select Start
    Studios, whether there are any unique challenges to building an application
    that offers an iPhone front end to an existing online service:

             Building on top of an existing platform is always a challenge. I could
        talk about how the underlying API may one day change or disappear
        all together, or I could talk about all of the small implementation details.
        But I think the most difficult challenge is to provide additional value to
        your users without overwhelming them with pointless features.

        When we were building Headquarters, we had to make the tough
        decision as to what goes in and what does not. This is mainly
        because Basecamp has an extremely rich API that provides access
        to a wealth of information. Although all of that information is
        valuable, it’s simply not enough to take that information and put a
        pretty face on it. Nor is it very appropriate on a mobile device.

        It was obvious that we needed to clamp down on a small set of
        features and make those features as close to perfect as possible.
        Rather than building another Basecamp application that simply
        exposed all of its data on the iPhone, we decided to focus the
        application on users who want to “get things done” and cut out
        anything that was superfluous.

        To accomplish our goal, we focused on three (and only three) major
        features: a dashboard that combines data from all of your projects,
        a dashboard for a single project and the ability to manage multiple
        accounts within the application.

        The results speak for themselves. Rather than having an
        overwhelming application, you have a simple, easy to use launchpad
        to help you get to work, remain in the loop and stay focused. As a

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      20                                           Perfecting a Killer Idea

        result, we left out a lot of features from our initial release but each
        feature we left out only improved the final product by making it
        easier to use.

    Relying on another third party for the ongoing success of your application
    always involves some risk, but the associated benefits could certainly
    make this risk worthwhile. You’ll have an existing user base with their data
    immediately available to them, fewer issues with how to handle storing a
    user’s information locally, and a potential avenue to help promote your app
    (developers are often happy to help spread the word about apps that use
    their API).

    Another possibility is to build an application that interacts with the desktop
    in some way. A few apps do this through a local Wi-Fi connection, others
    though a cloud synchronization system.

    One application in particular that takes this approach is iStat. Bjango’s
    flagship app can connect to the desktop to provide real time statistical and
    performance information.

    I asked them how they feel that this gives iStat an “edge” over other

             iStat for iPhone is fairly unique, in that there’s not a lot of direct
        competition. I guess that could be seen as an edge. And rightly so,
        it’s taken us years to develop iStat Menus and iStat Pro on Mac OS®
        X, the apps that formed the core of iStat Server. It was such a big
        project that I’m not sure we’d want to start from scratch again.

    Developing to connect to the desktop is nothing to be taken lightly. It comes
    with a new set of challenges, and is bound to increase development time
    and cost. The advantage is a unique pair of applications that are far harder
    for others to clone.

    Synchronization is another important aspect of your application to consider,
    especially when interacting with several different devices. I asked the

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      21                                           Perfecting a Killer Idea

    developer of Simplenote, an app with particularly robust synchronization,
    how challenging this is to implement:

            The basic idea of synchronizing data among different clients and
        services is not that complicated, but in practice there are lots of little
        things that can go wrong. I’m not sure how much time has gone into
        that part of our service, as we are always making improvements.

        It’s hard to say why other apps might not seamlessly synchronize
        as effectively as Simplenote. I suppose we’ve been doing this for
        a while, and we’ve learned a lot. We also have the advantage of
        simplicity. We can focus on improving speed and reliability rather
        than adding and maintaining long lists of new features.

        Having said that, I think Simplenote’s synchronization can still be
        improved quite a bit. It’s by no means perfect.

    Synchronization, when done well, should be as transparent as possible. If
    the user needs to initiate a sync or watch a progress bar as it occurs, then
    it hasn’t been implemented as well as it could have been. Simplenote and
    Dropbox set a high standard for how well this process can work, and it’s
    worth aiming to emulate their seamless process.

    If you manage to succeed in creating an app that turns a user’s iPhone or
    iPad into a useful companion to another service, you’re far more likely to
    have a unique position in the market. Whether you’re connecting to another
    web or desktop app, it’s an avenue worth considering when generating your
    killer idea.

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       Before we move ahead to the specifics of interface design, pricing,
       development, and promotion, it’s worth taking a broader look
       at the App Store platform and how you can start the process of
       developing your creation.

       The App Store has been the subject of much discussion over the
       past few years. Some see the closed marketplace as restrictive,
       controlling, and a difficult entity to deal with. Others feel that the
       opportunity to list and showcase their app in a central location
       makes it far easier to reach their user base, and a closed store is
       but a small price to pay.

       Whichever camp you fall into, there’s certainly a strong argument
       for fully understanding how the App Store works before diving in
       and launching your application. In this chapter we’ll be discussing
       this whole process with developers, in order to help you avoid a
       few potential pitfalls, and to make the most of what the App Store
       has to offer!

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        24                                                                    The App Store

    Getting Started
    To start developing for the App Store you’ll need a Mac running OS X, and
    you will need to register for the iPhone Developer Program with Apple.
    This allows you to download the SDK to build your apps, test them on your
    iPhone, and submit them to the App Store.

    Registration is free for those just wanting to experiment with development.
    You can access all the guides and videos from Apple, but testing your app is
    restricted to an iPhone simulator on your Mac. If you’d like to to test on your
    physical iPhone and move ahead to officially release your app, you will need
    to enroll in the standard program which costs $99 a year.

    Once you’ve registered for the Developer Program, you are given access to all
    of the information Apple has produced to help you develop iPhone applications.
    Download the iPhone SDK and Xcode, then you’re ready to get started.

    Apple has an extensive set of “Getting Started Documents”5, which are vital
    reading if you’re going to be developing an application yourself. These are
    the best place to start when learning about the technical details of iPhone
    OS development – something we won’t be going into at length in this book.

    Another important document to read is Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines6,
    which walk through the different requirements of the user interface design of
    your application.

    Your Product Definition
    Before you dive in and start designing, it’s important to take a step back
    and come up with a product definition statement. Apple defines this as a

        Getting Started Documents: http://developer.apple.com/iphone/library/navigation/.
       iPhone Human Interface Guidelines: http://developer.apple.com/iphone/library/documentation/

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        25                                                      The App Store

    “concise declaration of your application’s main purpose and its intended

    Consider the list of your app’s features, and what makes this set of features
    stand out. Also think about who your users are, when and how they would
    use your application, and in what way your interface can reflect this.

    Your product definition statement should take all these elements, and
    combine them into one simple sentence. For instance, a statement for
    GarageBand could be “an easy-to-use music composition application for
    amateur musicians”. It’s also important to include a picture of the person
    you envisage using the app – in this case, “amateur musicians”.

    When you’ve nailed a product definition statement, you’re ready to start
    investigating some of the other requirements and demands of the App Store.

    Choosing an Application
    Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines for developers talk a great deal about
    the importance of selecting and sticking with a particular “application
    style”.8 These dictate the type of software you’d like to create, and fall into
    three categories:

    1. Productivity Applications
    2. Utility Applications
    3. Immersive Applications

    We asked Sarah Parmenter about the importance of “positioning” your
    app into one of these categories, and whether it should be something that
    developers consider from an early stage:

        Three Application Styles: http://bit.ly/9okLIx.

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      26                                                      The App Store

           It is hugely important. By positioning your app in the appropriate
        category from the start it will make it easier for you to define and
        establish user interface decisions right from the off. Each different
        “type” of app has some clearly defined user interface guidelines,
        and so getting this right from the start has to be a very simple but
        necessary rule.

    This is a great place to start when defining what type of market your
    application is aiming to reach, and the three different styles each come with
    certain recommendations:

    Productivity Applications
    This type of app is focused on the process of organizing and manipulating
    detailed information. They’re generally used for fairly important tasks, and
    organize their interface and data through a hierarchy.

    Although the purpose of these apps is usually fairly serious, it doesn’t mean
    that Apple wants you to design a boring piece of software. Their interface
    guidelines state:

           Seriousness of purpose does not mean that productivity
        applications should attempt to appear serious by providing a dry,
        uninspiring user experience, but it does mean that users appreciate
        a streamlined approach that does not hinder them.

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      27                                                          The App Store

    Mail and Photos are examples of this type of software. A useful tip is also
    provided relating to settings, namely that anything that needs to be changed
    often should be located within the app itself. Anything not changed regularly
    can be moved to the iPhone’s “Settings” panel.

    Utility Applications
    The second category of applications are utilities; software that provides
    a single purpose, and requires a minimum of user input. The example
    provided is that of the Weather application. This can be used “at a glance”,
    and shows another characteristic of utilities – a set of preferences being
    displayed on the “reverse” of an information panel.

    Information in a utility application is generally fairly linear, letting you swipe
    between different items to access them. It’s unusual to “drill down” through
    a hierarchy as you would in a productivity app.

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      28                                                        The App Store

    Immersive Applications
    The third and final category contains applications that immerse you in their
    content. This could be a game, or a utility that has a full screen interface.
    Apple uses the example of a virtual spirit-level:

            An application that replicates the experience of using a bubble
        level works well in a graphics-rich, full-screen environment, even
        though it doesn’t fit the definition of a game. In such an application,
        as in a game, the user’s focus is on the visual content and the
        experience, not on the data behind the experience.

    Immersive applications give you the greatest freedom to explore an original
    and innovative application design, but are also usually the most complex
    type of application to develop.

    The Approval Process
    Discussion surrounding the App Store approval process is always ongoing,
    with many developers frustrated at the lack of clarity Apple provides over
    why certain applications make the cut, while others do not.

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         29                                                                  The App Store

    The best way to ensure that your application makes it through this process
    is to ensure you stick by every guideline given in Apple’s documentation.
    This will no doubt require plenty of reading (and likely restrict or modify a
    few of the grand ideas you had for your app), but will avoid frustration when
    you come to submit it.

    Reviewers look for a variety of different things when assessing your
    application, with the main factors being bugs or regular crashes, use
    of unauthorized APIs, inappropriate content, privacy infringement, and
    “avoiding applications that degrade the core experience of the iPhone”9.

    This is where a good understanding and application of the Human Interface
    Guidelines will serve you well. Aiming to uphold and improve the core
    experience of the iPhone certainly puts you in Apple’s “good books”, and is
    a solid step towards having your application approved.

    Ultimately, it’s best to accept that the approval process is a necessary
    frustration. Make sure that you submit the absolute best standard of
    application you can, and take on board any advice received from Apple’s
    team of reviewers.

    How Long Does It Take?
    The entire process of application review seems to be shrouded in secrecy.
    A few things Apple has released are that (a) at least two different reviewers
    study each application so that the review process is applied uniformly, and
    (b) an App Store executive review board exists that determines procedures
    and sets policy for the review process, as well as reviewing applications that
    are escalated to a higher level.

    In theory, Apple is fairly efficient at approving applications. At the time of
    writing this, 85% of new apps and 95% of app updates are approved (or
    rejected) within 7 days.10 Be prepared to wait a little while, and use the time
    wisely to start working on different promotion methods.

         App Store Review Status: http://developer.apple.com/iphone/news/appstoretips/.

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         30                                                   The App Store

    How to Craft an Effective
    App Store Listing
    The way in which you put together your listing in the App Store can have a
    huge impact on the success of your application. Most developers aren’t also
    skilled in writing sales copy and producing a compelling pitch, so we’ll offer
    a few tips that should help you craft an effective listing.

    Your listing is made up of several parts:

    1.   Title & Description         5. Price
    2.   Icon                        6. Screenshots
    3.   Links                       7. Rating
    4.   What’s New

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      31                                                         The App Store

    Title and Description
    Aim for a title that contains your application name, rather than trying to pad
    it out with related keywords. That said, incorporating these keywords into
    your application name itself can’t hurt.

    A quick search on the App Store for “camera”, for instance, brings back
    plenty of relevant applications with “camera” in their application name. A
    few equally excellent applications (such as “Hipstamatic”) appear lower
    down the results chart, possibly because they don’t have the specific
    keyword of “camera” in the title.

    Trying to aggressively optimize your title or description to achieve a good
    search ranking is predominantly a waste of time. Focus on creating a brilliant
    app, and crafting a relevant listing rather than over-including certain keywords.

    Bjango have a few interesting tips to share on this topic:

           In the current App Store, only the first paragraph of your
        description is shown, so be short and straight to the point. In fact,
        you should do that with all your copy. You simply can’t expect that
        anyone will read all your text.

        In iTunes, I think your app’s images are more important than your
        description, so make sure you pick the 5 best hero shots.

    With this in mind, it’s worth making the first paragraph an accurate
    description of your app’s core functionality, rather than a quick summary of
    what’s new in the latest update. It’s your one chance to craft a compelling
    one paragraph sales pitch.

    Here’s a great example of this in the official Twitter for iPhone app:

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      32                                                       The App Store

    The copy used here is simple, to the point, and makes it very clear what to
    expect when using the application.

    Your application icon is arguably one of the most
    important marketing elements to get right. People
    choose apps based on their visual appeal, and
    the icon is your only piece of graphical branding
    visible in search results.

    We’ll be offering plenty of tips on how to design
    bold, attractive icons in Chapter 5.

    iTunes only shows three prominent links in your app listing. One to your
    company or product website, one to a page offering support for your app,
    and one to a license agreement (shown within iTunes itself).

    The obvious advice would be to ensure these are correct, and go to the
    appropriate pages. It’s also worth thinking carefully about support. An easy-
    to-use support system can ensure you’re able to help our users in a timely
    fashion, and so avoid receiving negative reviews and bad publicity.

    What’s New
    This is your opportunity to draw attention to the new features and fixes
    in the latest release of your app. Write concisely, and focus on the main
    changes with a particular release. Users aren’t going to read a technical, in-
    depth change log of every technical alteration since the previous version.

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      33                                                       The App Store

    Pricing decisions are important. Too low, and you’ll struggle to break even
    on development. Too high, and you might put off potential buyers. This is
    another topic we’ll be covering in more depth in Chapter 7.

    There’s no way to offer a video demo of software on the App Store, so a
    selection of (up to) five screenshots is your one chance to impress users
    with the design and functionality of your application.

    Pick screenshots that clearly illustrate the main features you offer, and don’t
    be afraid to edit them with annotations to show what exactly is going on.
    Take a look at some bestselling apps to see a few different examples of how
    you can approach them.

    One option is to stick with simple, static images of your app:

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      34                                                     The App Store

    Another is to incorporate more than one screenshot to show more

    The final element of your App Store listing is one that you have little to no
    control over, and often acts as a huge influence upon potential buyers – your
    rating and reviews:

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      35                                                       The App Store

    The best way to earn a good rating is to create a bug-free, high quality
    application, and ensure that time is dedicated to offering support and
    assistance to users (however frustrating they may be!) Obviously this
    becomes considerably harder as your application grows in success – it’s
    impossible to please everyone, all the time.

    There have been various examples of people trying to game the system,
    post fake reviews, and bump up their rating artificially. While it’s no doubt
    possible to an extent, do everyone a favour and don’t bother. If you find that
    your application is receiving a high proportion of negative reviews, it’s a sign
    that you need to go back and take another look at why people are struggling
    to use (or not enjoying) your software.

    The notion of App Store ratings can be a challenging one, and something
    that you need to get right in order to persuade iPhone users to pay for your
    application. That said, Devin Ross isn’t quite sure just how important ratings
    are in the big picture:

           Ratings certainly have some role in whether customers will
        purchase the application. How much is hard to tell. Who knows if the
        majority of customers even read the description or just look at the

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      36                                                        The App Store

        A few things developers can do to get higher ratings is to educate
        customers better before and even after they purchase the

        A higher price can mean higher reviews too, because customers are
        more likely to inform themselves of the product before purchasing. If
        they know what the application does before they purchase it, you’ll
        more likely meet their expectations. Application bugs are obvious
        reasons for getting lower ratings too.

        How Important Are Ratings?

        We asked our readers how important ratings are when deciding
        whether to purchase an application. It turns out that they are
        fairly important!

        48% of people classed them as “very important”, 43% found them
        “a little important”, and only 9% of people either said they were “not
        very important”, or never used them.

    If you truly believe that your application is good enough to succeed and sell
    well, then promoting it through official channels – blogs, competitions, word
    of mouth – is far better than investing all your energy into a perfect rating.

    Treat your customers incredibly well, offer a great level of support, and you’ll
    reap the benefits in the form of positive ratings and reviews.

    Dealing with Crashes,
    Errors, and Bugs
    The first way to avoid a buggy, crash-prone application is obvious. Test,
    test, test. Make the most of Apple’s “ad hoc” distribution network to gather

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      37                                                       The App Store

    a group of beta testers who are happy to push your app to the limit (and,
    crucially, report back to you).

    That nature of the App Store means that it takes time to fix bugs, file an
    update, and wait for approval. Even after that process has completed, a
    user still needs to login and download the update you’ve provided.

        How Often Do Users Update?

        In our iPhone user survey, we found that 34% of users update their
        iPhone apps to the latest version every day, 40% complete the
        process a few times per week, and 16% just once per week.

        This is undoubtedly skewed by our “iPhone enthusiast” reader base,
        but even with that considered, it’s interesting to note that over a
        quarter of your users might not install your crucial update for over
        a week!

                        Less than once
                        per week (11%)

        Once per week
            (16%)                                                 Every day (34%)

                        A few times per
                          week (39%)
                                          Chart 1 P. 34

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      38                                                       The App Store

    If your application relies on third party services, you may find yourself
    dependent on the uptime and stability of another web application to keep
    your users happy. This is always a risk, as errors that are not your fault may
    be attributed to your application, and give it negative reviews and ratings.

    Garrett Murray implemented a fascinating new feature called the “System
    Status Indicator” in a recent release of Ego, to notify people when a problem
    beyond his control was occurring:

             The biggest hurdle with
        Ego is that it relies on 3rd-
        party services. Often, when
        your application deals with
        other companies’ APIs, there
        will inevitably be problems
        you cannot control. Twitter
        has an outage, Google
        changes their API, et cetera.
        I can’t protect against those
        issues, and when they happen
        I can’t fix them immediately
        due to how the App Store
        approval system works. It
        takes at least a week to get a
        new version released just in
        approvals alone.

        After a while, it becomes a
        support nightmare. People
        don’t realize (or willfully
        ignore) how Ego works and when something happens with a 3rd-
        party, it can make things difficult.

        The system status indicator was a way for me to more easily report
        issues to users, which I was aware of and working on (or which I
        couldn’t do anything about at the moment), so that users felt less
        abandoned if something went wrong.

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      39                                                       The App Store

        In fact, I ended up having to use it only a few days after it was
        released in Ego 2.0. People were immediately gracious about the
        feature via Twitter because they suddenly knew what was happening
        and when it would be fixed.

    Although implementing something along these lines will certainly take
    a little longer to develop, it’s a great safeguard. You have a method to
    communicate with users, letting them know about problems beyond
    your control.

    The Benefits
    Despite many people complaining about the constraints and challenges of
    working within the App Store, there’s no doubt that it brings a whole range
    of benefits.

    The possibility of featuring your app within an active ecosystem of users and
    developers is very appealing, and it can make supporting and promoting
    your application far easier. Let’s explore a few of these benefits further:

    A Single Point of Distribution
    Dave Verwer is clear on what he sees as the main advantage of the App
    Store for developers:

            The main benefit of the native App Store is the complete ease of
        distribution. I absolutely love that I can tell someone about my app
        and they can do a quick search for it and have it installed in a minute
        or two. That process was an incredible step forward from apps on
        previous mobile platforms.

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      40                                                        The App Store

    The App Store takes away any
    ambiguity of where and how to
    download your application. After
    purchasing their first app, the user
    knows that the process for any
    other software will be exactly
    the same.

    One way you can help to make this even more obvious is by including an
    “Available on the App Store” graphic on your application website. This
    has become the universal indicator that your app is available through
    Apple’s marketplace, and people know exactly where they’ll be taken after
    clicking it.

    Garrett Murray also appreciates the infrastructure of the App Store:

             The App Store created an entire market overnight. In the past,
        if you wanted to sell applications for mobile phones (and, let’s face
        it, before the iPhone the urge to do so was much lower), you had to
        deal with carriers and other nonsense.

        The App Store is a fantastic infrastructure for getting your
        application out to users, it’s fast and you don’t have to deal with
        any of the payment nonsense. You submit your app, it sells, you
        get paid.

    A Fair Commission Rate
    As a developer, you receive 70% of the selling price of your application. The
    other 30% cut is taken by Apple in exchange for hosting and distributing
    your application, handling payment, and promoting it through the App Store.
    Developers seem to have widely accepted this as a fair rate – and rightly
    so. Dave Howell feels that this is the major benefit of working with the
    App Store:

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         41                                                          The App Store

              The App Store removes all of the transactional costs of selling
          software to consumers. For only 30%, no more than traditional
          software distribution margins, Apple takes on a lot, including:
          credit card transactions, returns, some testing, localized sales in
          over ninety countries, VAT, import duties, Japanese withholding,
          international administrative overhead, direct deposit, downloads,
          and a shopping storefront.

          And compared to other mobile app marketplaces, the primary
          advantage of Apple’s App Store is that people actually buy apps in it!
          Five billion of them so far.

    As a software developer, the last thing you’ll likely want to do after
    perfecting your application is to start working on a payment and licensing
    system. Having all this managed centrally takes away an unnecessary
    burden, for a reasonable cost.

    Free Promotion
    Another benefit of the App Store is the possibility of free promotion from
    Apple. With such a large audience of users, having your app featured on the
    iTunes homepage (or in some cases, in TV advertising campaigns) can be a
    great boost for sales.

    One great way to help increase your chances of being featured is to
    integrate new software API features as soon as they become available.11
    Apple recently showcased a handful of apps that had resized their display
    controls for the “Retina Display” and implemented iOS 4 features early, no
    doubt boosting their sales to owners of the latest iPhone.

    Garrett Murray had a little insight to share into how important this promotion
    can be:


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      42                                                        The App Store

           Ego was recently featured in the “What’s Hot” section of iTunes.
        During the week it was featured I sold about four times as many
        copies each day. That’s not too bad, considering Ego is a very
        niche application and during the time it was featured the only iPad
        available was the non-3G US-only version.

        I think if I had been featured after international or 3G release, it
        would have been even higher. But when Apple features you, you
        take what you can get.

    The Challenges
    There are, of course, challenges when working within a large, closed
    ecosystem such as the App Store. It’s best to be aware of these at the
    outset, as having a strong knowledge of the difficulties you may face will
    allow you to tackle them head on.

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      43                                                         The App Store

    Standing Out from the Crowd
    As you’d expect, one of the main challenges is how to ensure your app
    becomes, and remains, visible amongst thousands of others. Bjango echo
    this as the main difficulty they find when working with the App Store:

           The main challenge would have to be visibility. It’s no secret that
        there are hundreds of thousands of apps on the store. With so many
        apps released each week, it’s difficult to ensure your app has time
        in the spotlight. If you’re not charting or being talked about, your
        chance of survival is slim.

    There’s no one way to do this. It’s a combination of a great idea, an
    attractive interface and icon, good ratings at the outset, and igniting word-
    of-mouth promotion. All these come together to produce an application
    that people download, talk about, and gradually push up through
    Apple’s rankings.

    Frustrating Approval Process
    As we mentioned previously, one of the main criticisms often leveraged
    towards the App Store centers around the approval process. Dave Verwer,
    however, feels that much of this is hype, and the problem isn’t as rife as you
    may think:

          There have been a handful of ridiculous decisions made by Apple
        with apps being unfairly rejected, but the vast majority are approved
        with no issues at all.

        If your application is rejected, it is very rarely a terminal situation,
        and rejections usually happen for justifiable reasons. Apple explains
        what they are, along with what you need to do to fix the problem.
        Apple recently gave some statistics on this and the most common
        reasons for rejection are:

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      44                                                        The App Store

       1. Your application doesn’t work as advertised. When submitting
          an app to the store you are asked to describe what the app does
          for the iTunes store listing. Be as accurate as possible here and
          do not make your app sound like it can do more than it actually

       2. Your application uses private APIs. This is really easy to avoid.
          While the private functionality may be very tempting to use
          during development, Apple can easily check for these APIs
          and will reject your app for using them. It is fairly difficult to use
          these APIs by accident but, just in case, there are now tools
          built into Xcode that will do a preliminary check for them before
          submission to Apple.

       3. Your application crashes! This sounds really obvious, but is one
          of the top reasons for app rejection. Common problems here
          include things like not testing the application without an internet
          connection, and not testing with access to location services
          being denied by the system settings app. Do beta test your
          applications before submitting to Apple.

       None of these are actually going to be a permanent barrier to your
       application approval. Crashing bugs can (and should!) be fixed,
       private APIs can be removed and worked around using standard
       functionality, and your application description can be easily edited to
       be accurate.

    Tracking How People Use Your App
    Lee Mallabone, the developer of Broadersheet, believes that the biggest
    challenge on the App Store centres around tracking app usage. On the

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         45                                                     The App Store

    web, this is an incredibly simple task with various services offering in-depth
    analysis. Not so on the App Store:

             The biggest challenge is probably the way that the store’s closed
          nature acts as a black box when it comes to marketing analytics.

          Many of the best tricks for online marketing are hard to achieve with
          the App Store as you can’t add your own tracking code to pages,
          you don’t see referrers, and you have no data relating to how many
          people have looked at your app’s page.

          You can’t know for certain what people are searching for, so you
          have to make your best guesses for the first release and gradually
          refine your app’s keywords and listing over time.

    Apple recently took a hard line on a few companies that inserted tracking
    code into various applications to monitor usage. They were collecting user
    information without consent, and Apple moved to block this with a change
    to their terms and conditions.

    A few solutions are available if you’re willing to take the time to integrate
    them. Google Analytics, the popular website statistic tool, offers a set of
    APIs that you can integrate into your iPhone application.12 This is certainly
    worth doing if you think it will provide valuable feedback.


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       MAKING A
       As I mentioned in the introduction, the aim of this book isn’t to
       make you a technical coding wizard overnight. There are countless
       other resources, books and websites for learning Cocoa Touch /
       Objective C and understanding the process of programming for the
       iPhone (we cover plenty of them in the last chapter).

       Whether or not you’re a programming guru, you have three routes
       to consider when launching your application. You can program and
       develop the application yourself, outsource the development to
       another company, or choose to bypass the App Store altogether
       and launch a web application that’s viewable through Mobile Safari
       (the iPhone’s web browser).

       Before you dismiss any of these, it’s worth hearing what our
       experienced developers have to say on the matter - the choice isn’t
       as clear-cut as you may think!

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      48                              Making a Development Decision

    Developing Your Own
    Native App
    Let’s start by clarifying that this option isn’t for everyone. If you’ve never
    heard of Cocoa, don’t know what Object-Oriented Programming is, and
    feel uncomfortable with the acronym “API”, developing your own iPhone
    application would probably be a bad decision.

    The best case scenario would be that you’d invest a week of time into
    understanding how iPhone development works, before giving up and
    hiring a developer. The worst case scenario would be to struggle through a
    frustrating development process for six months, only to launch with a bug-
    ridden piece of software.

    If you do have a basic understanding of programming, making the transition
    to iPhone development is likely to be a very pleasant experience. Dustin
    MacDonald has been developing using Cocoa for over seven years. We
    asked him whether the expansion into iPhone development was a steep
    learning curve, or something that seemed fairly straight-forward?

            Starting development for the iPhone with Cocoa Touch felt right
        at home. There are a few differences in the iPhone SDK that take
        some time to get acquainted with, but nothing exceptionally steep.

        Coming from a desktop world, I think the biggest overall challenge
        is learning to fine tune your app for a device with significantly less
        resources and horsepower than a Mac or PC. Many developers
        have become accustomed to sacrificing performance for easier-
        to-use APIs, but good optimization matters much more on mobile

        As powerful as the iPhone is, it’s about ten years behind modern
        desktop machines in terms of processing power and available

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      49                             Making a Development Decision

    This is an important consideration, and if you do decide to develop your
    own application, performance will be a huge consideration. I also asked
    Dave Verwer about this transition, and he agreed that the experience can be
    a fairly straight-forward if you’re used to developing for the desktop:

           The basics of moving from Mac development to iPhone are very
        easy. Everything I had learned about Mac development made iPhone
        development seem very familiar. Even better, a significant amount
        of my code just worked without any changes when I took it to the
        iPhone platform.

        What was not so easy at the outset was finding documentation on
        iPhone specific subjects. During the first few months after the initial
        SDK release, we all had a very steep learning curve, because no-
        one really knew how everything was supposed to work. This was not
        helped by the tools having a few bugs in them!

        Luckily that has completely changed over the last two years, as –
        the documentation and tools are now excellent and getting better all
        the time.

        Really if you have experience with any modern, object-oriented
        language like C#, Ruby, Python, Java, or anything similar, then you
        are going to have a head start learning your way around Objective C
        and the iPhone SDK.

    The main lesson to take away is that if you already have experience
    programming, this option could well be very straight-forward. If not, it’s
    going to be a steep learning curve.

    Play to your strengths – if you’re brilliant at designing in Photoshop, craft a
    beautiful interface and hire a developer to implement it. If you’re a marketing
    whizz, consider focusing on promotion and contracting out the whole
    process of app development.

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      50                            Making a Development Decision

       Is Developing an iPhone App Going to be Fun?

       This depends upon how much you love development, and how
       passionate you are about your idea. That said, a huge 75% of the
       developers we surveyed said that iPhone development was more
       fun than their previous job. It certainly looks promising!

    If you do decide to develop a native application, there are several
    advantages to be realised over a web app. I asked Dave Verwer about how a
    native app excels over a web app:

          It all comes down to look and feel, really. Using the native user
       interface elements is going to make your app feel much more like the
       standard apps that come with the phone. This is important because
       consistency is going to help people know instinctively how to use
       your application. They have already been trained by using all of the
       standard apps that came with the phone.

       There are web frameworks that emulate the standard iPhone user
       interfaces in HTML and CSS such as Phone Gap or jQuery Touch. I
       approach these with caution. They are generally very good, but they
       are unfortunately unable to get all of the details right in terms of the
       standard user interactions expected of apps.

       Where embedded WebKit and HTML5/CSS really shine in iPhone
       applications is within the content areas inside a native application.
       Using the standard iPhone controls from the iPhone SDK for
       navigation and combining this with an embedded browser for the
       content area can often be a good compromise between native and
       web apps.

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      51                                   Making a Development Decision

        How Long Does it Take?

        Our developer survey asked people how long it typically takes
        them to develop an application. The results were varied, but most
        respondents said that it takes between 100 and 250 hours:
                                   1,000+ (4%)
                                                                 Less than 100
                  500–1,000 (9%)                                     (19%)

       250–500 (22%)

                                                                  100–250 (46%)

                                                 Chart 1 P. 46

    Whichever approach you take to development – but particularly if you
    develop an application yourself – testing is vitally important. You need to
    take the time to iron out bugs and perfect functionality before publishing
    your software. Dave Howell from Avatron offered a little insight into how they
    approach this process:

           We employ your garden-variety development cycle. As three of
        our employees are ex-Apple, we borrow some best practices from
        Cupertino. We have a full-time quality assurance manager, a tester,
        occasional interns, and an army of external beta testers.

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      52                             Making a Development Decision

        We rely heavily on source code control and bug database tools
        to manage our tasks. Our full-time tech support technician runs
        our external beta program. And of course our engineers do a lot
        of testing before submitting code changes. Near a release, we
        implement code reviews.

        For our beta testers, we seek a mix of technically adept power users
        as well as smart novices.

    If you have the expertise to develop your own application, go for it. You’ll
    save a great deal on development costs, and have invaluable knowledge
    about how your application is put together.

    If the thought of opening up Xcode makes your stomach churn, don’t
    worry. You can still enjoy the benefits of a native application without any
    programming knowledge whatsoever.

    Hiring a Developer
    The second route is to hire your own developer. There are plenty of
    incredibly talented programmers out there who could do a fantastic job of
    taking your idea, sketches, and graphical mockups and turning them into a
    finished application.

    You’ll need to gradually build up a good working relationship with a
    developer. You could look at this process as a one-off transaction, but in
    reality you’ll want to continue working with the same person in the future for
    feature additions, upgrades, and bug fixes. Spend time getting to know the
    work and personality of a developer before embarking on a new project.

    I asked Dave Verwer for the advice he would give to people looking to hire a
    developer for their app:

           The best advice I can give here is to put as much thought as
        possible into what your app will do and how it might do it before
        asking a developer for a quote. When a developer considers a new

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      53                            Making a Development Decision

       app from a client, ambiguity in the description of what the app needs
       to do makes the estimation process much more difficult.

       Sometimes the developer will add on time (and therefore budget) for
       the inevitable unseen features and problems that will be uncovered,
       or they will underestimate the effort and subsequently find
       themselves trying to squeeze your development into an unrealistic

       The best way to avoid problems like these is to remove ambiguity
       from the outset. If I could split the ideal preparation for planning
       an iPhone project into a couple of key points, I would suggest the

       Become Familiar with the iPhone

       The first step towards designing a great app is to be as familiar as
       possible with how the iPhone itself works. User interface consistency
       is very important across the iPhone platform and being familiar with
       the standard conventions and behaviours that are used by other
       apps will let you think in the correct terms.

       Using these standard behaviours is also a great way to get a
       vast amount of functionality for free, as there are quick ways for
       developers to implement standardised user interfaces within an app.

       Also look at some of your favourite other apps – not specifically with
       the same or similar functionality to the app you are intending to
       build – but just think about software that you enjoy using and get
       inspired by how it works.

       Draw and Prototype

       The second step is to start to plan out your app on paper. Just start
       drawing out screens on separate pieces of paper and laying them
       out on a large table. You don’t need to have a degree in art to do
       this – just a pencil and some imagination.

       As you draw the screens, place them in order on the table and start
       to think about how the user will navigate through your application.

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         54                                 Making a Development Decision

          Also, try and fit the data that needs to be input onto a screen using
          an iPhone design template (mine is freely available13).

          Mobile apps are very different to web apps or desktop apps,
          and thinking about them in this way is a really useful exercise to
          understand user perspective.

          Obviously the developer will work with you to do actual designs
          for the app, but putting time into thinking about how your own app
          might function will let you plan all the little features that don’t appear
          when thinking about an idea at a high level. Take pictures of all of
          your pieces of paper and use them as part of the information you
          provide to the developer.

          If you do these things before contacting a developer, it will give them
          far greater confidence that you have thought through the app, and
          that there will be fewer unseen expectations or hidden features. This
          will lead to them being better equipped to give you a significantly
          more accurate (and probably cheaper) quote.

    The key aspect to understand is that the interface comes first. You need to
    spend time and effort considering exactly how you’d like your idea to be
    realized on the iPhone – right down to each individual screen. This might
    seem like a daunting task, but it’s the only way to ensure your vision is
    created exactly as you want it to be.

    Even if you’re a competent developer, there’s no reason approaching
    someone else for advice should be a bad thing. Devin Ross worked
    alongside Taptivate when developing Attic, and he feels that it pushed the
    application into a different league:

             I had Attic at a point where I could have released it to customers,
          but I wasn’t happy with how everything worked. I saw Taptivate had


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         55                           Making a Development Decision

          a hit with Postman and Voices, so it made sense to reach out to
          them to see what they could bring to the table in any regard.

          They helped change the way the application functioned in a way I
          had imagined but never realized until they came along.

    This type of collaboration can work well if you’re happy to bring in some
    advice and expertise from other people who have succeeded on the App
    Store. This could be a particularly good idea if the process is completely
    new to you.

    The same can be true if you’re a developer with experience in a certain
    language that’s unrelated to iPhone development. Despite being a software
    company themselves, 37signals worked with Overcommitted on the
    development of a companion iPhone app for their Highrise web application:

            Our core competency is building web applications. Building
          Objective-C powered iPhone apps is a different ballgame.

          Sure, any programmer can learn anything, but the Highrise app was
          separate enough that we could source it out and get it done. We still
          had our design team specify what we wanted and how it should work.

    If you do decide to go ahead and hire someone to develop your application
    for you, there are a huge range of resources to help you find the right
    person. There are two general approaches to take: (1) look for developers
    already advertising their services, or (2) post up an advertisement for your
    job, and let developers apply.

    If you’re going to take the former route, one of the best websites we
    recommend is TheyMakeApps.14 This is a directory of different companies
    that design and develop iPhone apps, fully sortable by location, fee, and
    numerous other factors. It’s a simple website to navigate, and well worth
    taking a look at.


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      56                            Making a Development Decision

    For the latter route, there are a number of different job boards where you
    can post a position. Some are free, and others charge you to list the project:

    37signals Job Board

    37signals have a dedicated section for posting iPhone developer jobs. It
    currently costs $300 for a 30 day advert.


    With 2,000 unique visitors a day and adverts priced at just $99 for 30 days,
    you can reach a large number of developers for a small payment.


    There are always quite a few jobs on offer at GetAppsDone. Listings you
    post are also shared via their iPhone app.

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      57                            Making a Development Decision


    The Unofficial Apple Weblog have their own job board, with both iPhone and
    Mac OS X development jobs.


    Although derided by many, Craigslist is still a valuable resource for those
    looking to find work and is a great place to post adverts.


    A marketplace for finding a freelancer to work on the development of your
    project, eLance is a cost effective way to source a developer, and also helps
    you manage the project as it goes along.


    Similar to eLance, Guru is another widely used place to find a freelancer.
    Used by developers across the world.

        How Much Does it Cost?

        When asked how much it costs to develop an iPhone application,
        many respondents noted that it’s simply an investment of time.
        These people are obviously doing everything themselves – interface
        design, development, and promotion.

        For those that pay for their app development, the total cost was
        centered around the lower end. Relatively few people paid upwards
        of $10,000 for their application development.

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      58                              Making a Development Decision

                                         Series 1


      $25,000 – $50,000

      $10,000 – $25,000

       $5,000 – $10,000

         $1,000 – $5,000

             $500 – $1,000

                 $1 – $500

       Just my own time

                             0    5             10      15         20        25
                                        Chart 1 P. 53
                                           Series 1

        Because our survey was targeted at developers, we expected to
        see that many people would be able to produce iPhone apps for a
        relatively low cost – investing only their own time.

        It’s clear that you have a choice of approaching development
        in a thrifty fashion, or investing more into a better polished and
        functional application.

    Developing a Web
    The third and final option is to develop a web application – an app that is
    hosted on the internet, is not distributed through the App Store, and runs in
    the iPhone’s Mobile Safari browser.

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      59                              Making a Development Decision

    Mobile Safari is a very capable web browser, supporting an array of
    emerging web technologies such as CSS3 and HTML5. This makes it far
    easier than you may expect to create a web application that looks and feels
    great on the iPhone. You’ll never quite recreate the responsiveness of a
    native app, but it could be a great option for some projects.

    David Kaneda offered some insight into the circumstances when a web
    application can be more suitable than creating a native app for the iPhone:

          A great deal of the apps currently on the App Store could be
        recreated using web technology, barring most games. There are a
        variety of benefits that go along with doing so, like the ability to also
        serve your app on Android, which I believe will be the largest rival to
        the iPhone for near future.

        Likewise, the biggest gain is just that it’s a web app. If you choose
        to host it, you can deploy your app with no approval process, make
        live updates, and be available to a rapidly-growing majority of
        mobile traffic.

        Lastly, HTML/CSS/Javascript is a more common skill-set than
        Objective-C is. There’s a massive range of web developers out there
        which can help in finding talent and getting a job done quickly and

    One example of an iPhone optimized web app executed particularly well
    is Gmail. Although the iPhone has a built-in Mail client, many people still
    prefer the web interface of Gmail and its custom interface. It’s also possible
    to save a web page to your home screen, and access it as you would a
    normal application:

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         60                               Making a Development Decision

    It’s worth mentioning that Apple maintain a regularly updated directory15 of
    iPhone optimized web applications that can provide plenty of inspiration for
    ideas and techniques.

          Do People Use Web Apps?

          Although the iPhone is perfectly capable of running web apps
          to an almost-native standard, how many users actually use this

          We found that 34% of people questioned had more than one
          web app on their home screen. 21% had just one, and 42% of
          people didn’t have one at all. Awareness (at least among our
          readers) seemed high, with only 4% of people answering “What’s a
          Web App?”


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         61                             Making a Development Decision


                               What's a web
                                app? (4%)

                                                                       Yes – More than
                                                                          one (33%)

         No (42%)

                                                              Yes – Just one
                                              Chart 1 P. 56

    Obviously the main hurdle to overcome when taking this approach is your
    application interface. The goal is usually to mimic the iPhone’s native
    interface as closely as possible, so the user feels that they’re actually using
    a local application.

    David Kaneda highlights a number of other inherent difficulties in making
    your app with web technology:

            One big one is monetization: Web app developers need to wrap
          their app in something like PhoneGap16 to get on the App Store, or
          create an entire payment system within their app.


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         62                                 Making a Development Decision

          Another big stumbling point in web technology is the unavailability
          of cross-domain requests. Developers are forced to either stick with
          JSON-based web services, or again, wrap their app in something
          like PhoneGap.

          YQL17 also provides a fantastic service for this, providing a robust
          tool for making JSON requests to normally REST/XML-based APIs.
          At any rate, beyond some of these stumbling points, it’s quite
          impressive what is possible with web technology; 3D animations,
          offline storage, and cross-device compatibility.

    It’s easy to get the impression that Apple doesn’t value web apps as highly
    as they do native software on the App Store. David feels that this isn’t
    necessarily the case:

             I think Apple has done a great job guiding WebKit and also
          creating the most powerful mobile browser in the world. That
          said, they obviously put more marketing focus behind native app
          development, as it brings them revenue.

          There are lots of features I’d love to see in Mobile Safari:
          accelerometer access, more robust touch events, camera or
          contacts access etc. But Apple has a limited team and they do make
          great strides with the browser on a regular basis.

          Luckily, as it is providing one of their key arguments against allowing
          Flash on the iPhone, they’ve been forced to put a renewed interest
          in the web standards recently, with a lot of emphasis on HTML5/
          CSS3. This is doing great things to move the web forward altogether.

    It’s worth re-iterating the downside of this development approach: your
    application is not listed in the App Store, and Apple does not handle the
    payment processing and distribution for you. This is a fairly important


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      63                              Making a Development Decision

    factor to consider, as it would be difficult – if not impossible – to reach the
    profitability and popularity of some of the bestselling App Store software.

    If you want to create an application for an existing user base (if you already
    run a successful web application, for instance), this approach could be a
    good one. For targeting new users, it’s likely to be a greater challenge than
    the native route.

    A number of different Javascript libraries have sprung up for helping with
    the development of web applications, and they are worth taking a look at for
    help when putting together your application front-end:


    Spice up your iPhone websites using JQTouch, the JQuery plugin for mobile
    web development.


    iUI is a Javascript and CSS framework for creating web apps which look
    and act like standard iPhone apps.

    iPhone Web Developer Toolbar

    An ingenious bookmarklet from Manifest Interactive helping you to build and
    debug iPhone websites.


    As David highlighted, PhoneGap is also an excellent solution for turning your
    web application easily into a native app.

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         64                                    Making a Development Decision

    Quick Guide: Creating an
    iPhone Optimized Site
    Although we aren’t delving too deeply into development in this book, I
    thought it would be useful to quickly go over what you need to include in a
    webpage, to ensure that it will function correctly on the iPhone.

    It’s simply a case of including the following three declarations in your HTML
    page, somewhere between the <head></head> tags:

          <meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-capable" content="yes" />
          <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, user-
          <link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="iphoneicon.png"/>

    •	    The	first	of	these	removes	the	standard	Safari	navigation	bar,	and	the	
          controls that are usually present across the top of the window. These
          needn’t be present if you’re designing a web app that has its own set of
          controls for navigating around.

    •	    The	second	prevents	the	user	from	being	able	to	zoom	and	scale	the	
          interface – usually the case in websites – which makes the page feel far
          more like a native application.

    •	    The	third	and	final	declaration	tells	the	iPhone	where	you’ve	located	
          an icon file that will display when the user saves the app to their home
          screen. This will have Apple’s glossy overlay placed on top of it, but if
          you’d prefer for this not to happen, you can change the name of this
          declaration to apple-touch-icon-precomposed.

    In addition to these, you’ll also need to consider producing a stylesheet that
    accommodates the iPhone’s screen size, and ensure that everything is well
    optimized for a touch interface. Nettuts+ published an article18 that offers a
    great insight into this, and is well worth taking the time to read.


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       OF SIMPLE,
       As I’ve already mentioned, interface design is all-important, and
       there are plenty of developers to profile in this section who are
       doing a great job. We’ll also be talking to Sarah Parmenter, a highly
       talented interface designer with plenty of experience to share.

       Apple exerts a surprising level of control over the style that your
       application should adhere to – it isn’t just a case of opening
       Photoshop and creating something pretty. Depending upon the
       type of app you’re creating, you may have less control over the
       interface than you’d think.

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         67          The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design

    Apple’s Human Interface
    We’ve already dipped into the Human Interface Guidelines19 when looking
    at different “types” of iPhone application, and it’s the most important guide
    to read before you get started thinking about your application’s interface
    and functionality. These walk you through the process of planning your
    application at the outset, and move on to offer recommendations for the
    style of interface you should design.

          Just How Important is Interface Design?

          In our developer survey, we asked people how important they feel
          each of these four characteristics is for an application to be a success.

          The results speak for themselves, and it’s clear to see what an
          enormous role interface design plays in the success of failure of
          your project:

             Perfectly Crafted App
                 Store Listing

                        Low Price

            Great Interface Design

                      Unique Idea

                                     0      10          20          30   40    50       60      70

                     Irrelevant      Not So Important        Quite Important   Very Important
                                                    Chart 1 P. 61


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         68           The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design

    You’ll learn about the use of metaphors, direct manipulation, gestures,
    accessibility, and different elements of the iPhone user interface.

    One point worth highlighting relates to aesthetic integrity, and what this
    means. Apple has a great explanation:20

             Aesthetic integrity is not a measure of how beautiful your
          application is. It’s a measure of how well the appearance of your
          application integrates with its function. For example, a productivity
          application should keep decorative elements subtle and in the
          background, while giving prominence to the task by providing
          standard controls and behaviors.

          An immersive application is at the other end of the spectrum,
          and users expect a beautiful appearance that promises fun and
          encourages discovery. Although an immersive application tends
          to be focused on providing diversion, its appearance still needs
          to integrate with the task. Be sure you design the user interface
          elements of such an application carefully, so that they provide an
          internally consistent experience.

    When placing focus upon “sexy interface design”, it’s incredibly important
    not to make the interface design itself the end goal. Your application is
    designed to serve a purpose and help the user complete a task. An interface
    should, first and foremost, make this task simple and enjoyable to achieve.
    Gorgeous interface design supports this process.

    Apple’s guidelines also explain clearly how you should use gestures in an
    appropriate manner. Steve Jobs was recently questioned about handwriting
    recognition systems using a stylus.21 His response? “If you need a stylus you
    have already failed.” Apple are strongly committed to the idea of a user’s
    finger being the only pointing device they need:


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      69        The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design

          There are real advantages to using fingers to operate a device:
        They are always available, they are capable of many different
        movements, and they give users a sense of immediacy and
        connection to the device that’s impossible to achieve with an
        external input device, such as a mouse.

        However, fingers have one major disadvantage: They are much
        bigger than a mouse pointer, regardless of their size, their shape,
        or the dexterity of their owner. In the context of a display screen,
        fingers can never be as precise as a mouse pointer.

    When designing your interface, it’s important to remember this fact. Apple
    specifies different size requirements for areas of the interface a user can tap
    on, and you’ll want to follow these to ensure your app is usable.

    I can’t overstate how useful the Human Interface Guidelines are to read
    through, and fully understand before you begin designing the functionality
    and layout of your app. Read it cover to cover, read it again, then
    get started.

    Why Is Sexy Interface
    Design So Important?
    Let’s move on to consider why interface design is actually so important.
    Why are we drawn to attractive application design, and how can you, as a
    developer, use this to your advantage?

    Headquarters steers clear of the standard iPhone interface elements, and
    creates a thoroughly unique look and feel. I asked the developer if this
    involved a great deal more work than using the standard iPhone UI controls,
    and whether the extra effort paid off:

            With Headquarters, we actually went through about three or four
        different designs before settling on the one you see in the app today.

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      70         The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design

        In the end, we found that the
        application simply looked more
        polished and pleasing to the
        eye with the dark, sleek design.

        But more importantly, with the
        high level of customization
        we were able to integrate
        completely custom controls
        that wouldn’t stick out. Two
        great examples of this are the
        tabs on the dashboard and the
        custom navigation bar we use.
        Despite these two controls
        being completely alien to the
        iPhone platform, they fit in really
        nicely and they open up the
        ways a user can interact with
        the screen.

        We received a lot of great feedback on the interface – not only
        because it looked good, but because people liked how the screens
        were laid out. Although developing these custom controls extended
        both our design and development cycles, they were definitely worth
        the risk and the effort.

    Glasshouse Apps, the developers of The Early Edition, took the approach of
    crafting an interface that mimicked a real-life newspaper. This makes perfect
    sense on the large iPad screen, but I asked Graham whether he thought it
    could work equally well on the iPhone:

           My gut feeling is that real life metaphors can work well at any
        size. It just depends on the suitability of the object you’re alluding to
        and how seamlessly you can integrate it with your app.

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      71        The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design

    Many applications use this idea of metaphor – designing something on
    screen that closely resembles a physical item. Apple’s Notes application
    is a good example of this, as are the sticky notes found on the Dashboard
    of OS X.

    Any interface design that makes you stop and say “wow” usually uses some
    form of metaphor in one way or another. It could be something as obvious
    as the newspaper above, or it could be more subtle – a gorgeous, realistic
    texture, for instance.

    It is, of course, important to remember that “design” is far more than just
    how your application looks. It’s also crucially about how it works. Marc, from
    Bjango, had something really interesting to say in this regard:

           I think a great interface and app workflow is crucial. After all, it’s
        the only thing a user sees. You may have a world class app backend
        (which is also important), but the user can’t actually see that. They
        only see your user interface.

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      72        The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design

       Now might be a good time to mention that we consider design to
       be the way something works, as well as the way it looks. They go
       hand in hand. When we’re mocking and testing different layouts,
       everyone’s involved.

       Design certainly isn’t just the role of one person. It’s more about
       structure than colouring in pixels.

    The Interface Design
    You have a few different options available when approaching the interface
    design of your application. If you expect the layout to include mainly
    standard iPhone controls, then you’ll probably be able to work on the
    positioning and layout of these yourself.

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      73        The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design

    If, on the other hand, you want a more customized user interface, you’ll
    need to think about hiring a designer. If you have experience in this area, by
    all means explore how you could design the interface yourself. If not, there
    are plenty of great interface designers who specialize in working with iPhone

    Though the cost of hiring an interface designer will vary depending upon the
    experience of the designer you hire, someone fairly talented may well charge
    a few hundred dollars per day.

    Although this sounds expensive, it is a choice that’s worth spending some
    time on, and carefully considering. If you want your application to really
    stand out from the crowd but have no design experience yourself, an
    interface designer could go a long way towards turning your app into
    a success.

    One such designer, Sarah Parmenter, walked us through the process
    she takes when designing iPhone applications. This offers a good insight
    into how the process could work if you approach this task yourself, or
    what to expect when hiring an interface designer to craft your application’s
    UI for you.

            I generally get sent a beta of the app to test drive and make
        notes on. I nearly always go through a wireframe stage, even if
        I haven’t been commissioned to do so, as there may be tweaks
        and adjustments that could be made to benefit the user that the
        developer has not thought about.

        I produce this as a Keynote presentation and design screens
        with notes and annotations on each document so that the
        client has something to either pass on to their developer or use
        as reference.

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      74      The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design

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      75        The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design

        I almost always start on paper and then move into Photoshop for
        the actual design elements. Once I have crafted the UI, I then move
        these back into a Keynote document and annotate the screens again
        so that the client understands why things may have been designed
        in a certain way.

        I find that explaining design decisions rather than just sending them
        a screenshot is always a better way to communicate.

    Designing an iPhone interface isn’t simple. There are unique challenges
    associated with the interfaces of mobile devices – even if you feel
    comfortable in Photoshop and Illustrator, it can be a bigger hurdle than
    you’d expect.

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      76        The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design

    It isn’t just a case of putting together a screen full of pretty graphics. You
    also need to consider how animation and movement should display, the way
    in which different pages interconnect, how the interface should adjust for
    different orientations, and spend time thinking about minimum hit size (and
    correspondingly, how large different interface elements need to be).

    The latest release of the iPhone has a far higher resolution screen (960x640
    pixels) at greater pixel density (326 ppl) than we’ve ever seen before on
    a mobile device. This means that graphics will use more pixels for the
    same effective artwork size – something your interface design should take
    advantage of.

    If you do decide to hire an interface designer, Sarah had some great tips to
    ensure that you approach the process as well-prepared as possible:

           I receive projects in all kinds of phases. I get clients who just have
        an idea for the app, I get sketches, full wireframes and then betas
        of apps which need some UI help. All of those mentioned require
        varying degrees of work and budget allocation, so a developer would
        need to be sensible when approaching a UI designer as to what their
        budget is and how they want to spend it.

        If you are unsure of what you are doing, and on a shoestring budget,
        then try to do as much of the groundwork yourself and simply hire
        a professional as a consultant for an hour or so to check over your
        work and suggest any changes.

    Whether or not you choose to hire an interface designer, it’s vitally important
    that you give this stage of the process the time and investment it deserves.
    You may have hired an incredibly talented developer, but this doesn’t mean
    that they can also design a beautiful interface (in fact, this is hardly ever
    the case).

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         77          The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design

    Crafting an Irresistible
    After you’ve perfected the design, functionality and interface of your
    application itself, you’ll need to start thinking about producing an irresistible
    icon. It’s impossible to overstate just how important your app icon is – it’s
    the one element of branding that appears everywhere, and needs to clearly
    convey what your application is all about.

    Achieving this in a 57 square pixels is no mean feat, and it can be a very
    challenging process to get right. Apple has a few suggestions surrounding
    icon design that they like developers to follow:22

              This is a place where branding and strong visual design should
          come together into a compact, instantly recognizable, attractive
          package. Try to balance eye appeal and clarity of meaning in your
          icon so that it’s rich and beautiful, and clearly conveys the essence
          of your application’s purpose.

    It’s best to stick with a bold image that conveys your application’s branding,
    rather than trying to include text within the icon.

    You also need to produce a 512x512 version of your app icon that Apple
    are able to use for promotion if they decide to. This can include a greater
    amount of detail than the smaller app icon, and it’s a good chance to inject
    some UI beauty and texture.

    Renowned icon designer Sebastiaan de With had three pieces of great
    advice to share on this topic:

            First off, look carefully at how Apple designs interfaces and icons.
          Redraw them, study them, and learn their style and the constraints


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      78        The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design

        the designers imposed on themselves to make designs fit in and
        achieve a consistent result. Always consider consistency with the
        OS; it can be the difference between ending up on some screen or
        on the home screen, front and center. Steal that spot.

        Second, go design. Done? Start taking stuff out. What can you
        remove? Even more? Take it down to the basics and then some. A
        gold star if you chose a concept that was delightfully simple and
        appropriate in your first swing at the icon.

        Lastly, have some fun. If you make sure your design is simple and
        feels ‘native’ to the iPhone or iPad, you can see how much fun
        you can have in those little rounded squares. There are a billion
        possibilities, and it’s fun to dive in and see what those are!

    Sebastiaan also had a few tips regarding whether it’s a good idea to attempt
    icon design yourself, or hire a professional from the outset:

            Generally, it’s a good idea to hire a designer. But don’t take that
        from the designer guy. If you’re capable and can be brutally honest
        in judging your own product, by all means design for yourself. If
        you’re unsure of the quality of your design work, let some designers
        take a look. You can always hire a designer if you feel the need.

    This sentiment is echoed by Bjango, who has a distinctive style across all
    their application icons:

           I find designing app icons difficult. It’s such a challenge to sum
        up everything your app does in a single, memorable and beautiful
        symbol. Something that is focused, descriptive, yet uniquely yours.

        I think my only tip would be to find someone who’s a great icon
        designer and pay them to do it for you. Although that’s advice that
        we haven’t taken ourselves.

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         79           The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design

          If you really have to design your icon yourself,
          then you will probably want to ensure you have a
          prominent colour, a recognizable silhouette and
          something that works very well at small sizes, but
          also plenty of detail when the icon is shown large.

          Make sure you fine tune for all sizes, too.
          You’ll definitely need to fix and tweak your final
          57x57 pixel (iPhone) or 72x72 pixel (iPad) home
          screen design.

    Apple specifies a number of different required sizes for
    icons, and you’ll need to provide various resolutions
    for their different devices (iPhone, iPad, and the high
    resolution iPhone 4). These are outlined in the following

    Apple’s Icon Size Requirements

                                     Size for iPhone
                                                                  Size for iPad
              Description            and iPod touch
                                                                   (in pixels)
                                        (in pixels)

     Application icon                      57x57                      72x72
                                      (high resolution)

     App Store icon                      512x512                     512x512

     Small icon for                        29x29                50x50 for Spotlight
     Spotlight search
     results and Settings                  58x58                29x29 for Settings
     (recommended)                    (high resolution)


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      80        The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design

     Document icon                       22x29                     64x64
     (recommended for
     custom document                    44x58                     320x320
     types)                        (high resolution)

     Web Clip icon                       57x57                     72x72
     (recommended for
     web applications                  114x114
     and websites)                 (high resolution)

     Toolbar and                 Approximately 20x20       Approximately 20x20
     Navigation bar icon
     (optional)                  Approximately 40x40
                                   (high resolution)

     Tab bar icon                Approximately 30x30       Approximately 30x30
                                 Approximately 60x60
                                   (high resolution)

     Launch image                      320x480                Both 768x1004
     (required)                                                  (portrait)
                                   (high resolution)           and 1024x748

    Design Kits, Interfaces
    and Icons
    In this short section, we’re going to share a series of links and resources to
    assist with your own interface design.

    Some of these are pre-built templates that you can use in Photoshop or
    Illustrator, others are great tools that can help with wireframing and getting
    your ideas down on paper!

    iPhone GUI Design

    This brilliant Photoshop GUI kit comes with all the different types of buttons,
    sliders and graphics you need to quickly create mockups of your apps.

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      81         The Importance of Simple, Sexy Interface Design

    iPhone PSD Vector Kit

    Smashing Magazine brings a much simpler iPhone GUI for those of you
    focusing on straightforward applications.

    iPhone Application Sketch Book

    For those of you who prefer to sketch out your applications, this book
    provides 150 templates at 1.5x zoom. Plenty of room to jot notes and
    wireframe in style.

    iPhone Stencil Kit

    A brilliant little stencil with all the major buttons and shapes you will need to
    create quick and sharp mockups of your iPhone apps.

    iPhone Sticky Pad

    Design your iPhone apps on this sticky pad that ties in with the above
    stencil. You can then stick your designs around the office and create
    flowcharts of your apps.

    Icon ‘Shine’ Kit

    Easily recreate the glossy icon shine using this clever kit. Simply drop
    your flat image into the kit and it layers the shine over the top. Saves time,
    looks great.

    App Sketchbook

    Quickly put your iPhone and iPad app designs on paper. These sketchbooks
    come in various different styles and sizes for different devices.

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        Most successful apps tend to approach a fairly simple concept,
        but execute it phenomenally well. Even if you have a huge,
        grandiose idea for your application, beginning with a basic feature
        set is certainly the best place to get started.

        Determine the bare minimum of what a user would be satisfied
        with, and consider producing just that. This cuts down on
        development costs and ensures people understand clearly what
        the core functionality of your application is.

        It’s easy to add new features as they’re requested, but you’ll
        encounter far more resistance if you try to remove something that a
        few dedicated users have become accustomed to having available.

        Apple actually advises this approach in their developer guidelines.
        They suggest that you should launch an application with minimal
        features, and then work on the basis that the most oft-requested
        features should probably be included.

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         84                          Learning to Keep it Simple and Iterate

    Iteration in Action
    This iterative process has been used by many of the most successful
    applications in the App Store. Select Start Studios completely understand
    the importance of starting simple, especially when building upon an API:

            When creating larger, more complex applications, it’s always
         important to remain focused on adding value. It’s easy to throw in a
         ton of little cool features, but it’s my personal belief that if there are
         features that are not helping the users accomplish their primary task
         then these features are in the way.
         If you look at Facebook’s iPhone application, it’s very limited in
         comparison to their website yet it’s a fantastic application. It allows
         users to make posts, see other posts, upload photos and a few other
         small things. It doesn’t let you access your games, your apps or any
         of the extra stuff that Facebook has added over the years; it focuses
         on what’s important to the platform and it does it remarkably well.

    37signals’ philosophy seems to be that keeping a product simple at
    launch – building half a product, rather than a half-assed product – is a good
    way to develop. They took this approach when developing their iPhone
    application for Highrise, and feel it’s particularly important when developing
    for a mobile device:

            The Highrise application we built for the iPhone omits a fair amount
         of stuff, so that we could wrap it up and get it out quickly. We’re
         working on another app at the moment that’ll go even simpler still24.
         I think if anything, it’s even more true on a mobile device that the
         app has to be simple. When you have three minutes of downtime
         to do something with your phone, you just don’t have the patience
         for complexity.

        This turned out to be “Sketch”, a straightforward sketching/drawing app for the iPad:

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         85                         Learning to Keep it Simple and Iterate

    In a similar vein, when launching Ego, Garrett Murray started out by only
    offering statistics for a handful of web applications and services. He’s
    gradually increased the scope of the application over time:

            There’s definitely a benefit to starting simple. As the old adage
         goes, release early, release often. This is especially the case when
         you take into account the volatility of the App Store – it’s much
         better to get a product to market and to add functionality than to sit
         on it for a year without a release. You’re not making any money if
         there’s no product out there earning income.

         With Ego, my initial focus was to cover the few services I wanted
         right off the bat (FeedBurner, Mint 2 and Twitter). I built the core app
         with growth in mind so it would be easy to add new services down
         the road, which is exactly what I’ve been doing over the last year. I
         started with three, now Ego supports eight. And there are several
         more to come over the next few months.

    The App Store is full of examples where this process has worked for a
    developer. Most successful projects focus on one simple task, helping the
    user complete it as easily as possible. Apple states that “an app must solve
    a user’s problem clearly and elegantly.”25 Stripping away all the unnecessary
    clutter is the absolute best way to achieve this.

         Eric Hope – User Experience Evangelist, Apple (via Sarah Parmenter, FOWD London 2010)

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       APP RIGHT
       Pricing is a tricky concept, and can be very difficult to nail the first
       time around. Different companies take wildly different approaches
       to pricing their apps, and have equal success aiming for a high
       price as compared to a lower price.

       If you believe that your application offers enough value, don’t be
       afraid to charge more than a couple of dollars – people will happily
       pay, and many examples exist that show this approach works. Just
       take a look at Apple’s “Top Grossing” list.

       Fortunately, the App Store has given developers the option of many
       different pricing models, each of which has its own advantages and
       disadvantages. In this chapter, we’ll investigate which choice might
       be right for you.

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      88                                             Pricing Your App Right

    Breaking Down Your
    In all likelihood, you’re getting into the App Store business to make money.
    Whether this is through direct sales of your app or advertising – the motive
    is usually the same. With this in mind, it’s important to understand Apple’s
    revenue breakdown clearly.

    As I’ve mentioned before, the way that revenue sharing works means that
    you receive 70% of all sales of your app, and Apple takes a 30% cut in
    exchange for handling downloads, bandwidth, credit card processing, and
    distributing your app.

    Apple pays you on a monthly basis, so be prepared to wait a little while
    before the revenue from your sales reaches your bank account. You’ll also
    need to generate at least $250 worth of sales before Apple will release
    a payment.

    Before you pick a pricing model, or decide to give away your application
    for free, it’s important to consider what the ongoing costs will be of running
    your app. Although Apple handles downloads, payment processing,
    etc., you may need to maintain a server that is capable of powering any
    community features you implement.

    As your application grows in popularity, so will the demand placed upon the
    hardware that you maintain yourself. Even if this is just a simple database,
    several thousand simultaneous users is still going to pose a problem. Be
    sure to factor this in, and plan carefully so you aren’t left with a huge hosting
    or bandwidth bill.

    For those of you considering the web app route, it’s worth mentioning that
    the process of deciding how to price and sell your app can be difficult.
    David Kaneda had the following to say:

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      89                                             Pricing Your App Right

        Pricing is a universal challenge, to web and native alike. Most web
        app developers are currently using PhoneGap to get their web
        apps sold in the App Store — they could obviously create an entire
        repeatable payment system to go along with their app (as most
        desktop web app makers do), but I’m not sure how comfortable
        people are with mobile web app subscriptions quite yet.

    The Pricing Dilemma
    Broadly speaking, there are two options available to you when deciding how
    to generate revenue from the App Store:

    1. Give your app away for free and generate revenue from advertising or in-
       app upgrades

    2. Charge for your application outright

    One of the predominant models on the App Store is to utilize both of these
    options – offer a free version of your application, and an ad-free commercial
    version with additional features. This approach is taken by The Iconfactory
    with Twitteriffic:

           We took this approach because we wanted to get Twitterrific into
        as many people’s hands as we could, and still get some return on
        our investment.

        Many people don’t have any problem with viewing advertisements
        and for them, Twitterrific is great. Those who do, or who want
        to directly support our development efforts, can purchase the ad-
        free version.

        It really is the best of both worlds.

    This is the iPhone equivalent of a “freemium” model – giving away a
    certain level of functionality for free and tempting users to pay for the full

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         90                                                   Pricing Your App Right

    experience. It works in all manner of different niches, but particularly well for
    games. Giving away one level lets people get a feel of how the game works,
    and draws them in to purchase the full application to play further.

    In this respect, pricing becomes something of a marketing technique to
    persuade people to “try before they buy”.

          Do Users Download Trials?

          We asked our readers whether they download these free application
          “trials” before purchasing the full version. 52% always download the
          freebie, 44% sometimes try before they buy, and only 4% “usually
          just purchase” the full version.

          This goes some way towards showing the power of this marketing
          method. If you’re confident enough that a free trial of your
          application is the best way to persuade users to buy, you should
          go for it.

    It’s important to understand that price alone doesn’t need to be the key
    motivator to persuade people to buy. Wallet, for instance, at $4.99, is priced
    slightly higher than the “baseline” standard for iPhone apps which is which
    is around $2.50 in North America.26


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      91                                            Pricing Your App Right

    I asked the developer what their main considerations are when deciding
    on a price, and whether people are happy to pay more for higher quality

            Pricing really depends on what your app
        does and who you’re trying to reach. With
        Wallet, our biggest immediate audience is
        those who use the Mac version of the software.
        For them, price isn’t too much of a concern.
        They’re happy to be able to buy an app that
        lets them sync over and access all of their
        important data on their phone – something
        they’re likely to use every day.

        Of course, there are also a significant number of people who buy
        Wallet for iPhone yet don’t use the Mac version. We didn’t want to
        scare these people away, so it was important to still price Wallet
        competitively with other standalone apps.

        In general, I think most reasonable people are willing to spend a little
        more for a higher quality application if it’s something they’re going to
        use a lot. That being said, people have also become accustomed to
        fairly low-priced apps in the App Store.

        If the price tag is higher than $10, they might not even take a look.

    The trick is to ensure you charge a price that considers both the functionality
    of your application, the type of person using it, and how often they will use
    it. Here’s a general idea of how you could think about these factors affecting

                                  App Used Rarely             App Used Often

     Older / Professional            Mid-Priced                  High Price
     User                            $1.99-$4.99                  $4.99+
     Young /                          Low Price                  Mid-Price
     Casual User                     $0.99-$1.99                $1.99-$4.99

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      92                                           Pricing Your App Right

    Avatron take the approach of putting themselves in the shoes of their

           We look at it as our customers would. What would we be
       willing to pay? And like good MBAs, we “maximize demand curve
       utilization” by experimenting with prices and studying price elasticity.

       People are absolutely willing to pay a premium for apps that provide
       value to them. If you take a look at the top grossing list, it isn’t
       packed with $0.99 apps.

       What Are Users Willing to Pay?

       One of the questions we asked in our iPhone user survey was “What
       is the most you’ve ever paid for an iPhone app?” The results were
       interesting. The overall average was $14.58. A few people had never
       paid for an app, and a few had paid up to $100.

       By far the most common response was around the $10 mark. One
       third of all our respondents had paid a maximum of exactly $9.99 or
       $10 for an application, suggesting that a large majority of people are
       happy to pay a respectable fee for software that really helps them
       solve a problem.

    There is, of course, the option to do something slightly different.
    Simplenote’s pricing model is particularly interesting, based around an
    advertising-supported free version, and a yearly subscription to remove
    advertisements and unlock premium features. This was done in an effort to
    move beyond a traditional pricing model:

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      93                                              Pricing Your App Right

           We were experiencing some measure of success with a more
        traditional pricing model, and could probably have maintained that
        as a profitable small business. But we’re thinking bigger. It’s very
        motivating to have an impact on people’s lives. The more people
        we can help, the more motivation we have to keep improving the
        service, and the more potential we have as a business.

        This was a risky move for us, the results of which aren’t entirely
        clear yet. We need to keep growing. We’re working hard on the next
        major version.

    On the surface, it might seem that the App Store has a fairly strict “paid or
    free” approach to generating revenue. This is far from the case, and you
    actually have a great deal of flexibility on how to charge for your application.

        What is the Usual Weekly Budget?

        One final question we wanted to ask our readers related to their
        weekly “app budget”. Just how much are people happy to spend on
        software each week?

        An overwhelming majority, over 80% of respondents, spend
        between $0 and $5 each week. Around 15% spent $5-10, and only
        a handful spend any more than $10 each week.

        Users don’t have a limitless budget, and you need to compete for
        their hard-earned cash!

    Advertising Options
    If you choose to take the approach of giving away your application for free
    (or at least offering a free version), you’ll want to consider the different types
    of advertising available.

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      94                                            Pricing Your App Right

    Mobile advertising has taken off in a huge way since the iPhone rose to
    popularity, and there are many different advertising companies competing
    for your business. Here are just a couple to consider, each taking a different

    iAdSM Advertising System – advertising.apple.com

    As this advertising platform is provided directly by
    Apple, we’ll take a look at it first. iAd debuted in
    the iPhone’s latest operating system update –
    iOS 4. Apple wanted a way to integrate
    advertisements within applications so that the
    user doesn’t need to leave a particular app and
    visit a website after clicking an ad.

    If you’re a developer, the iPhone SDK 4 lets you easily embed iAd rich
    media ads into your application that are dynamically delivered to the user’s
    device. You set the system up, and Apple handle filling the space with an

    The agreement and breakdown is fairly simple. As a developer, you receive
    60% of the advertising revenue generated. Apple keep the other 40% as a
    payment for finding advertisers and handling payment.

    You are, of course, not limited to using Apple’s advertising system. Various
    others still exist – some on traditional impression or click models, and others
    through different means.

    Google / AdMob – admob.com

    Another advertising network, recently acquired by Google, is AdMob. This is,
    in effect, a direct competitor to iAd. You can integrate the service into your
    app, and are paid on a monthly basis for any advertisements sold.

    Fusion Ads – fusionads.net

    One advertising platform that has found
    its way into a number of wonderful
    iPhone apps is Fusion Ads. They

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      95                                                Pricing Your App Right

    display their advertisements in applications such as Byline, Simplenote,
    Textie and Trackthepack.

    This is an “invite only” advertising network, and focuses mainly on design-
    centric services. It’s good to know about, though, and worth keeping an eye
    on if your application falls into this particular niche.

        What Do Users Think About Advertising?

        We asked our iPhone users how they feel about iPhone advertising;
        if they’d rather have a free app with advertising, pay for an ad-free
        app, or whether they didn’t mind:

                                                                       I'd rather have a
                                                                         free app with
                                                                       advertising (27%)

       I don't mind

                                                           I'd rather pay for
                                                             an ad-free app
                                        Chart 1 P. 88

        If you were hoping for an easy answer, sorry to disappoint! The
        results are incredibly evenly split, which re-enforces the choice of
        many developers to offer both routes. Offering an advertising funded
        app, with the ability to turn off advertisements for a fee, might be the
        best solution.

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       There are two important stages when promoting your
       application – at launch, and on an ongoing basis.

       Spending time and effort (not necessarily money) in the run up
       to your application launch can be a brilliant way to get noticed
       immediately. Many successful applications are adopted very
       quickly, and make their way into Apple’s top listings within a
       few days. Unless you’re incredibly lucky (or have a completely
       outstanding idea), this type of response won’t come easily.

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      98                                       The Perfect Promotion Mix

    Perfecting Your Website
    The bottom line is that it’s down to you to be the ambassador for your
    app. You can’t just hit submit, and expect to be an overnight success
    purely because you’re in the mystical “App Store”. Dave Verwer feels the
    same way:

           The most important thing here is to not depend on the App
        Store to be your marketing. It’s only really an effective marketing
        mechanism for the apps in the top charts (less than 0.05% of the
        apps in the store are currently in the US Top 100 chart). Realistically,
        you are not going to get there without alternative methods of

        So once the App Store as a marketing mechanism has been
        discounted, you are left with traditional marketing methods. The
        most important of these is also the simplest! Talk to people about
        your application. Tell everyone you can find about it, write to
        bloggers and people who are influential in the area that you want
        your application to sell. Go to conferences and Apple events, tell
        everyone who will listen about it!

    As we mentioned previously, there are various techniques you can employ to
    make sure that your App Store listing is as clear and compelling as possible.
    That’s one route to perfect, but the other is your application’s website.

    This is your chance to give a far greater amount of information to a
    potential buyer, and really impress them with your app’s functionality right
    from day one.

    Dave Verwer outlines two options for your website:

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         99                                    The Perfect Promotion Mix

            It is very important to have a web site for your application –
          something that people who are interested can visit and find out more
          about you and your app.

          For smaller apps, this could be a page on your existing company site
          or for larger apps it could be a dedicated web site like we produced
          for our app, Balloons!27

    Generally speaking, both of these techniques can work well. The important
    thing to remember is that simply tacking another page onto your existing
    site isn’t enough. You need to create something that carries the style and
    branding of your application onto the web.

    Sophia Teutschler has a few interesting thoughts to share:

             In my opinion, a product website should go beyond what the App
          Store page offers. Most important are ways to show what the app
          does without relying on a demo version. More screenshots than on
          the App Store page are a must, but several tutorial videos work best.
          I always liked the way Apple does these kind of videos by coupling
          the tutorial with emotion.


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      100                                  The Perfect Promotion Mix

    Here are just a few examples of iPhone app websites that are executed
    extremely well:



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         101                                            The Perfect Promotion Mix


    It’s obvious that the same care and attention went into these websites as did
    the applications themselves. For some more great examples, take a look at
    one of our recent posts on iPhone.AppStorm.28

    Quick Guide: Creating a
    Video Demo
    One important element to get right is the video demonstration. There’s no
    easy way to record video from your iPhone directly, but there are a few
    clever tools to achieve something similar using the iPhone Simulator on your

    You’ll need three things:

    1. Your favorite screen recording application – Screenflow, Camtasia, Jing,
       or any other similar app.

    2. A piece of software that changes your mouse cursor into something
       more useful for a demo video, and makes the iPhone Simulator more


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         102                                       The Perfect Promotion Mix

          realistic. SimFinger29 is a great
          solution, but PhoneFinger30 also does
          the trick.

    3. I’d recommend SimFinger in
       particular, as it has the ability to
       add other application icons to your
       iPhone home screen, change the
       carrier to something more realistic
       than “Carrier”, and add a layer of
       gloss over the simulator display.

    4. Your compiled app, running in
       Xcode’s iPhone Simulator

    It’s then just a case of recording the
    portion of your screen containing the iPhone Simulator, running through a
    few of the app’s features (keep it short and snappy), and adding any final
    extras in a piece of video editing software such as iMovie.

    You can overlay your own audio commentary later if you decide to, though
    ideally your app should be designed in a way that doesn’t require a
    voiceover to describe what’s going on!

    Export the video to your favorite video sharing website, and embed it into
    your website for everyone to see. Far more people will be likely to pay for
    your app if they can see it in action before they buy.

    Generating Launch “Buzz”
    “Buzz” is a vague concept. It’s easy to see when another application has
    it – the Internet lights up with mentions of a particular app, developer, or
    website. But how do you start this process in motion for your own creation?


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    First and foremost, you need to create something brilliant. It either needs to
    look visually stunning, or offer a completely immersive and addictive user
    experience. People should want to talk about your app.

    Bjango had some fascinating thoughts to share on generating buzz, and
    how to handle a successful launch. They feel that you can take one of two

           Option 1: Ultimate secrecy

        Anyone who’s familiar with Apple will know how this one works.
        Prepare well, and hide every last detail. Then, when the time is right,
        prep the press and launch at full velocity. It’s a gamble, but means
        you’ll hit everywhere at once. It typically only works if you’re well

        Option 2: Slowly building momentum

        A carefully placed trail of hints, teasers and full blown video demos.
        The idea is to spread as much information about your product before
        launch as possible, so that when it’s finally released, everyone buys
        at once, giving you momentum and a decent chance of success.

        It also means you can gain feedback about your app before release.
        But beware, you’ll also be held accountable for any features you’ve
        said you were going to include, and the competition will know what
        you’re up to.

        We’ve tried both. We’ve also seen both methods work for other
        companies. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure which is best. I think
        the most important part of the entire process is having an app that’s
        worthy of discussion. Something so incredible that people have to
        tell their friends about it.

    One application that launched with great success was Attic, an iPhone app
    for finding hidden gems within your iPhone’s music library. Devin Ross found
    press releases sparked quite a bit of interest, as bloggers and users picked
    up on the app:

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             I released Attic on March 1st, and stayed up all night just to make
          sure everything went smoothly. I sent out press releases with promo
          codes to a list of blog sites that morning.

          I started to see a bunch of mentions on Twitter and I knew
          something organic was happening. I was surprised how fast it was
          too. John Gruber picked up on the application and linked to it on
          his site. That brought tons of traffic. I never sent a press release to
          him either.

          In retrospect, I wasn’t aware of how fast people picked up on the

    Sending out promotional codes to blogs can be a good solution, as can
    offering them to sites that would like to run a giveaway. It’s important that
    you don’t rely completely on a traditional press release. Dave Verwer has
    some more thoughts to share on this topic:

              Press releases are useful to help get the word out once you
          release your app. You can use a service such as PRMac31 to get a
          broad distribution of your release to hundreds of sites, but do not
          rely too heavily on this as bloggers and journalists can get hundreds
          of press releases a day.

          Do make a press page on your web site, though (like we did for
          Balloons!) and have all of your artwork, videos, and everything else
          that reviewers might need if they do decide to talk about your app.

    These are great points to take note of. iPhone.AppStorm receives several
    requests every day from developers looking to have their application
    reviewed or covered on the site. I go through a three question process when
    deciding whether to commission a review of a particular application:


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    1. Is the email personally directed to me, or the site? If it’s a generic press
       release sent out in bulk to hundreds of people, it doesn’t reflect well on
       the developer. It’s worth taking the time and care to send someone a
       personal message.

    2. Does the idea sound interesting? If the application is just another clone
       of something remarkably mundane, I’ll likely pass over it in favor of
       something else that’s different and unique.

    3. How much care and attention has been put into screenshots, branding,
       and the app’s website? If the interface looks logical, clear and well-
       designed, it’s always a positive sign.

    If all three of those conditions are met, then I’m likely to download the
    application, give it a try, and write a review if I feel that our readers will find
    it useful.

    A final application to profile that got all of these pointers completely correct
    is Ramp Champ – a game that had a phenomenally successful launch. I
    asked Gedeon from The Iconfactory what their main promotion techniques
    were, and which factors held importance in its surge to popularity:

             We used many of the most popular methods available today,
          Facebook, Twitter and, of course, blogging about Ramp Champ on
          our main website.32

          What probably helped the most, however, were the tiny sneak peaks
          of some of the artwork from the game that we posted and leaked
          a month or so prior to launch. This really helped build anticipation
          for the game so when the actual launch rolled around, many people
          already knew about it.

          Traditional advertising such as web and print were used only
          sparingly. These old ways of advertising are not nearly as effective
          any longer.


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    The idea of building up a community during development, offering “sneak
    peaks”, and keeping people informed can be a great technique. It means
    that when you do come to flip the switch, you have an established base of
    people ready to buy your application.

    Reaching Apple’s Top Lists
    If you’re able to gather enough promotion to push your application into one
    of Apple’s Top Lists, then you are on the path to a really successful launch.
    Many iPhone users browse these as a guide to what’s new and popular on
    the App Store, so being featured here is a great way to fuel sales and ignite
    a catalyst effect.

    I asked The Iconfactory to share a few statistics about how many sales
    it takes to reach the Top 10 rankings in the App Store, and how being a
    “Featured” app affects interest:

            As the App Store grows and more apps are added, it takes more
        and more effort or “push” to reach the top lists. Generally speaking,
        if your app is selling 300-800 copies a day, then you’re probably
        in the Top 100 somewhere. If you’re app is selling over 1,000 then
        you’re probably in the Top 50.

        Being a featured app definitely helps. Typically this will at least
        double your sales, if not triple them, at least for a short while.
        However, being featured isn’t nearly as good as being in that Top 25.
        Once you’re there, the increased visibility serves to increase sales,
        and maintain your position. You can sit in the list for a while if you
        have a good product.

    Dave Verwer also had a few statistics to share on this subject, based on one
    of his recent projects:

          Sales requirements vary wildly depending on the category of
        application and whether your app is free or paid. I can give a recent

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       example though; we have a free application which has been in the
       Top 100 free photography apps charts in several countries around
       the world since it launched a couple of weeks ago.

       When we were in the top half of the Top 100 charts, we were getting
       between 1300 and 1600 downloads per day, and now we are in the
       bottom half of those charts we are getting between 600 and 800
       downloads per day.

       Obviously the numbers will be smaller in the paid photography app
       charts and those numbers would need to be significantly bigger to
       get into the top 100 charts in a very popular category like Games or

       What better way to find out how users find new applications
       than just to ask them? That’s what we did, and the results were
       as follows:

               from Websites

               from Friends

        Searching the App Store

          Browsing by Category

               Apple's Top Lists

                                   0       100         200       300      400        500   600

                           Never       Not So Often       Quite Often   Very Often
                                                 Chart 1 P. 98

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        A large proportion of readers find recommendations from websites
        useful, along with Apple’s Top Lists. Far fewer browse through the
        different categories within the App Store.

        Interestingly, no one method had a particularly high number of
        people “never” using it. Users tend to utilize all these methods to
        some extent, even if a few are explored more regularly than others.

        This suggests that it’s certainly worth promoting your application
        through all these avenues – particularly approaching blogs and
        websites. Admittedly, this outcome could be slightly biased as
        most respondents found the survey through AppStorm – an iPhone
        software website!

    Finally, we spoke to Dave Howell from Avatron:

            We’ve had good luck with the rankings. So far, three of our apps
        (Air Sharing, Air Sharing HD, and Air Display) have reached the
        position of #1 top grossing third-party app. The number of sales
        required to hit that mark has changed over time, but generally has
        been over $15,000 per day.

        Do I Have Any Chance of Reaching the Top 100?

        With so many different applications in the App Store, it can often feel
        that reaching any form of “Top List” is impossible. In our developer
        survey, we asked respondents whether they’d ever reached Apple’s
        Top 100:

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                                                                     Yes (24%)

             No, not yet! (76%)

                                         Chart 2 P. 139

        If almost a quarter of our 80 survey participants were able to make
        it, so can you!

    Unfortunately, there’s no secret formula to pushing yourself into the realms
    of a Top 10 iPhone application. You’ll need a great idea, a well designed
    interface, and plenty of launch promotion to give yourself a chance.

    You’ll also be more likely to reach this level if you already have a track record
    on the App Store. If iPhone users have enjoyed your software before, they’ll
    be far more likely to spend money on your latest release.

    Go Social With Your App
    The power of social media is something that cannot be overlooked. It’s
    almost a certainty that everyone in your user base will use some form of
    online social service, be that Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, or any other
    website around the world.

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    You can use this fact to your advantage when designing an application.
    Many successful apps have a way to link your Facebook/Twitter account
    with the software, for sharing statistics and achievements, or playing along
    with your friends.

    In its most basic form, this could take on the idea implemented by the
    developers of Canabalt.33 This allows you to send out a tweet letting people
    know how far you progressed in a particular game:

    Other games take this to a more in-depth level, and require that a user
    connects to their social media account in order to use it.

    Whichever method you use, this type of social integration can mean than
    your users help to promote your application for you. Posting out tweets and
    updates from the app (providing they have specifically given their consent to
    do so) is a great way to easily find new users.

    The power of word-of-mouth shouldn’t be overlooked. People’s
    recommendation of your application – whether done explicitly, or through


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    allowing the software to let their online “friends” know that they are using
    the app – is very important. Simplenote relies on this to a large degree, and
    have found it to lead to reliable, organic growth:

           We experimented with hiring a marketing company for a short
        period of time, but the results were very difficult to track precisely.
        For now we’re happy with solid organic growth. The vast majority of
        people hear about Simplenote from a friend, co-worker or blogger.

    Use social media to your advantage, and make sure that it’s at the forefront
    of your mind right from the start of the development process

    Connecting With Users
    Social media is not only a great way to have users promote your application
    for you, but also offers a channel to enter into a conversation with them. Set
    up a Twitter and Facebook account for your app, and keep track of what
    people are saying about you. It will give you the opportunity to help people
    out who are having problems, and thank people when they say something
    positive about your app.

    Bjango couldn’t have put this better:

           In terms of connecting with users and building a following, you’ll
        need to find where your users are, and join in the discussion. If that’s
        on Twitter, then make sure you’re there to answer any questions they
        have. Be honest and sincere.

    As well as this, building up a gradual following on these different services
    will be an invaluable asset when you come to launch your next killer
    application. An existing base of engaged customers are very likely to
    purchase your work in the future, and they are also a fantastic resource for
    gaining feedback on app ideas, mockups, and betas.

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    I asked the developers of Headquarters about the techniques they use to
    keep users interested in their application, and whether an email mailing list
    worked particularly well:

           We actually use a few techniques to keep people interested
        in Headquarters. We post updates on Twitter, our mailing list and
        spread the news via word of mouth. On top of all that, we also ran
        some advertising on Fusions Ads. Out of all of the different methods
        we use to generate interest in Headquarters, I think the most
        important and most effective way was to generate buzz via word
        of mouth.

        Since ours is not a mass-appeal application that everyone can
        use (as opposed to a $1.99 game) it was very important that we
        established a reputation within the community. I would, along
        with the rest of the team, personally message people who were
        praising (or criticizing) the application. Basically I wanted to let them
        know that I actually care about what I built and I am dedicated to
        improving Headquarters. This seems to have struck home with a lot
        of people because many of them turned around and recommended
        Headquarters to their friends.

        The mailing list, in my opinion, wasn’t as effective as I wanted it
        to be. I don’t think we’ll drop it, but I consider a message from
        a mailing list to be roughly equivalent to a simple press release.
        Sometimes they’re very interesting and everyone picks up on it, but
        most of the time they’re just ignored.

    There’s certainly no harm in having a traditional email newsletter on your
    website, but this isn’t likely to be as effective as deliberately going out to
    find your users where they are already. Don’t expect them to come directly
    to you with feedback – seek it out.

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    Advertising vs. Word of
    In addition to focusing on social media, blogs, and word of mouth, you also
    have the option of advertising your application in a more traditional sense.
    The most effective place to do this is wherever your users spend a great
    deal of time. If it’s a design-related app, consider an advertisement on a
    series of design blogs. If it’s a mass appeal application, a website related to
    iPhone apps themselves might be a good option.

    The traditional rules of marketing apply here, and it’s important to connect
    with the greatest number of relevant people possible for your money.

    We asked Glasshouse Apps about the different types of promotion they’ve
    tried for their apps, and how effective have they been:

           We’ve tried a few: in-app banner ads, website banner ads,
        sending out promo codes, forums, and of course Twitter.

        All of these have been worthwhile simply from a learning point of
        view, but I’d recommend not throwing too much money or resources
        into any one avenue of promotion until you’ve tested it on a small
        scale first.

        The best type of promotion is when Apple do it for you for free, but
        that’s out of your hands.

    Interestingly, many developers took the approach that advertising is more or
    less a “break even” game. It certainly wasn’t hailed as a great way to reach
    potential users. A word of caution against running straight towards the idea
    of advertising comes from Garrett Murray, who feels that word of mouth can
    be just as important:

          Initially, I only promoted Ego via word of mouth. I announced it on
        my site and people linked it around in the community. This worked

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        very well. A few friends with big audiences linked to it (people like
        John Gruber), and word of mouth spread.

        About six months after I launched the app I played with some
        advertising, but in the long run it wasn’t entirely beneficial. I ended
        up mostly breaking even. Ego is a very niche app, and word of
        mouth seems to work best.

    And finally, yet another developer who sees word of mouth as vital is Dustin
    MacDonald, the developer of Wallet:

           These days, I think word of mouth is far more powerful than your
        average marketing campaign. If you have an exciting, compelling
        app, users will find out about it.

        You can accelerate this process by taking advantage of social
        networking sites. Set up a Facebook page, start a Twitter account,
        and otherwise make it easier for people to spread the word about
        your app.

    It’s no surprise that a general theme started to emerge. Word of mouth is a
    remarkably effective marketing tool, and paying for advertising shouldn’t be
    considered a necessity. Although it’s undoubtedly worth experimenting with,
    advertising is not used as the core promotion method by any developers

    Of course, the best thing to do is the all-encompassing approach to
    promotion taken by Avatron:

           We do everything. We employ a good PR firm, buy banner ads,
        reach out to bloggers and journalists, attend conferences, use social
        networks, design our icons and screen shots to appeal to Apple’s
        Developer Relations staff, give t-shirts to prominent influencers, run
        sales and free promotions, issue updates as frequently as practical,
        and provide quotes for books such as this one!

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    Top Notch Support and
    Regular Updates
    The process of selling your application doesn’t end as soon as the user
    clicks “Buy App”. We’ve mentioned the importance of your App Store rating
    before, and the level of post-sales support you give can have a big impact
    on this.

    Select Start Studios shared their advice on offering support for iPhone

           It’s very important that you make it easy for users to get in touch
        with you. Don’t be afraid to put your name and other information
        next to your product. You built it, be proud of it. For Headquarters
        specifically, we offer support in many ways: we have a support forum
        and we’re always reachable by direct e-mail and Twitter.

        It’s almost guaranteed that people will try to get in touch with you
        for whatever reason; don’t make it hard on them. It’s incredible how
        appreciative people are when they can easily contact a real person
        and get a direct and honest response. It may consume a little more
        of your time handling these things personally, but it’s well worth it.

        As a result, we divide support requests throughout the entire team.
        We all take turns answering e-mails, talking to people on Twitter and
        even taking phone calls. We may spend a considerable amount of
        time per week on support but it’s definitely not time wasted.

    As you invest time talking to users about your application and helping them
    with problems, you’ll build up a greater understanding about which areas
    of your application are in need of refinement. It will become obvious when
    certain functionality isn’t clear, or that users want to be able to do something
    extra that your app isn’t capable of.

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    The developers of Simplenote understand this completely:

             Customer support is extremely important to us. Simplenote
          synchronizes people’s thoughts, ideas and dreams. That’s a huge
          responsibility. We do our best to be transparent and responsive
          whenever there’s a problem. This is an area where simplicity helps
          us. Since there’s less that people are able to do with our app, there’s
          less that can go wrong, and when something does go wrong we can
          afford the time to address it properly.

          Our beloved customer support tool is Assistly,34 which is a new service.
          They’re our window into all support emails and tweets. We’ll eventually
          launch a self-service portal that is powered by them as well.

    Finding the right tool for offering support is important, and can save a great
    deal of time down the road. Email is great, but it might not be the medium
    that suits you best. Another website that many iPhone developers use is Get
    Satisfaction35, a community driven support site that allows people to easily
    ask questions and submit requests.

          How Long Does Support Take?

          Based on the results of our survey, on average, developers spend
          two hours each day on support. Of course, this varies depending
          upon the size of your application and the range of functionality
          on offer.

          The important thing to remember is that if you’re going to invest 2-3
          hours per day supporting your users, the application needs to be
          bringing in enough revenue to account for that time!


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    In addition to offering support, users like to see your application updated
    on a fairly regular basis. This isn’t a requirement – many successful apps
    are updated very infrequently after any initial bugs are ironed out. Updates
    could be used to fix any pending issues, or add requested features. Sophie
    Teutschler feels that this is a necessity:

             Keeping the updates coming is the best thing you can do. There’s
          no need to update your app every month, but steady quality updates
          throughout the year keeps the app fresh and your customers happy.

    Conquer Your Stage Fright
    One final possibility for ongoing promotion that shouldn’t be overlooked is
    the idea of presenting your app at a conference or meet-up. This doesn’t
    need to be a huge event, but any opportunity to talk to a group of people
    about your new creation is a great one.

    A few years ago, I watched the developers of Broadersheet pitch to a
    panel at a Carsonified36 “Future of Web Apps” event, and it was very well
    received. I asked them how this process worked, and whether they’d
    recommend it to other developers:

              I’d recommend pitching your app in all the places you can
          find people with iPhones! The guys at Carsonified are especially
          supportive when it comes to UK-based startups.

          The one thing to pay close attention to with big events is the lead
          time – because large events often require firm commitments months
          in advance, you need to make sure your app is submitted and
          approved well ahead of schedule in order to best capitalize on
          the exposure.


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    It needn’t necessarily be a conference for hundreds of people. Many cities
    have local iPhone/OS X user and developer groups, and are always looking
    for new people to come and talk about their latest creation. This can also be
    a good place to meet likeminded developers and share advice.

        Which Promotion Methods Do Developers Find Most Beneficial?

        One of the questions in our developer survey asked which
        promotion methods they have found to be most effective in the past.
        The results tied in closely with the interview responses throughout
        this chapter:

                 Word of Mouth

               Giving Away Free
               Promotion Codes

         An Ongoing Relationship
             with Bloggers

            A Well-Written Press

             Spending Money on

                                   0        10           20         30       40        50     60

                    Irrelevant     Not So Effective        Quite Effective   Very Effective
                                                 Chart 1 P. 110

        Word of mouth is – by far – the most effective method of promotion.
        This is followed by an ongoing relationship with bloggers. The least
        effective method was a “well written press release”, so don’t invest
        too much energy into this route!

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       Now that you’ve received insight from so many successful iPhone
       developers, it’s time to get started! But, where’s the best place
       to begin? We’d be remiss not to give you a helping hand into the
       (often confusing) world of iPhone development.

       The rest of this chapter will walk you through a huge spectrum
       of useful resources, websites, podcasts, books and conferences
       that offer a helping hand with getting started in the App Store.
       Hopefully you’ll feel well equipped to get the process started,
       and step confidently onto the path towards becoming an iPhone
       app entrepreneur!

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    Apple’s Documentation
    Apple makes plenty of their own documentation available, and this is the
    best place to go for official information. Their Getting Started guides are
    particularly good.

    Introduction to Objective-C

    Apple’s hefty introduction to Objective-C doesn’t specifically refer to
    iPhone development, or to any practical applications, but it has just about
    everything you need to know in plenty of detail.

    iPhone Application Programming Guide

    Quite simply an overview of everything to do with iPhone programming,
    including windows, event handling, drawing, files and multimedia support.

    Getting Started Guides

    Not just getting started with programming for the iPhone, but also getting
    started with Audio, Data Management, Security and much more.

    Human Interface Guidelines

    We’ve mentioned this document throughout the book, but it’s worth
    reiterating its importance again here. This is Apple’s style guide – both to
    your application interface, and also to how it works. Read it twice.

    If reading books is the best way for you to enjoy learning, this selection
    covers pretty much everything you will need to know about iPhone
    development. From the basics of learning Objective-C and Cocoa, to

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    interface design and 3D Games Development, you will get a good grounding
    in designing and programming for the iPhone interface.
    There are many other books out there, but this selection, I think, offers a
    good range.

    Objective-C for Dummies

    The majority of iPhone apps are written in Objective-C so you need to
    know the language before getting started. Neil Goldstein takes you through
    an introduction to the language relating both to iPhone and Mac OS X
    development. No programming experience is required before you pick up
    this book, and it also comes with a CD of source code as well.

    Learn Cocoa on the Mac

    After successfully coming to grips with Objective-C, the next step would be
    to learn how to utilize the Cocoa Frameworks in your development of both
    Mac OS X and iPhone applications. This book gives you a good grounding
    into what you should code yourself, and what you should let Cocoa do for
    you, enabling you to go on to create high quality apps for the iPhone.

    Beginning iPhone 3 Development: Exploring the iPhone SDK

    Dave Mark and Jeff LaMarche take you through the beginning stages of
    iPhone development. Previous programming experience is necessary,
    especially in
    Objective-C or at least in a C-related language, and some Cocoa experience
    would be beneficial.

    iPhone User Interface Design Projects

    Designing for the iPhone is probably unlike anything else you have
    previously designed for, as certain aspects are standardized and the screen
    is much smaller than any desktop or laptop.

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    This book introduces you to designing for the iPhone, including how best to
    use the limited screen real estate, how to present data intensive apps, and
    what to consider when migrating desktop applications down to the iPhone.
    Contributions come from a number of different app developers giving you a
    broad range of opinions and plenty of good advice.

    iPhone for Programmers – An App Driven Approach

    Deitel and Deitel write some of the best programming books around,
    such as the “How to Program” series, but this book takes an entirely
    different approach to programming. Introducing you to all the main iPhone
    programming concepts and libraries using 14 complete apps, you’ll learn
    how to integrate Cocoa Touch, Map Kit, Core Location and many other

    The book also gives you a brief introduction to getting your app approved
    by Apple, though this requires some previous programming knowledge to
    understand the example source code given.

    3D for iPhone Apps with Blender and SIO2

    Programming apps for the iPhone is one thing, but I’m sure there are a few
    wannabe iPhone game developers out there. The next step on from learning
    the iPhone basics would be to start creating 3D apps. Using Blender as
    the 3D content creator, you are introduced to the concepts of graphics
    programming using OpenGL along with collision detection, animation and
    interacting with the environment. The book gives you a good introduction to
    creating 3D games that utilize the iPhone’s touchscreen capabilities and is a
    great next step up from programming basic apps.

    iPhone Advanced Projects

    For those developers looking to take their iPhone apps to the next level, this
    book is for you. Taking you through topics such as optimizing performance
    and streamlining your interface, the book also introduces different writers to

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      124                                                   Useful Resources

    talk about a variety of advanced topics. Learn about networking with other
    iPhones, integrating SQLite and Push Notifications, streaming audio and
    debugging errors in your code.

    There are a lot of great screencasts out there for learning iPhone
    development – some are free, and others come at a price. Before you pay
    for a screencast, be sure to check that it’s for a recent version of the Xcode
    and the iPhone/IOS SDK.

    Apple’s Getting Started Tutorials

    Once you have registered for the free iPhone Developer Program you
    get nine introductory videos to help you to get started with iPhone app
    development. Everything from introducing the iPhone SDK to fundamentals
    of Cocoa, integrating iPhone features and interface design is covered in
    these detailed videos.

    iPhone Tech Talk World Tour

    Also from Apple through the Developer Program, and slightly newer than
    the above tutorials, comes this 13 video series, covering all the tools and
    technologies needed to develop killer iPhone applications. Topics include
    game development, UI and web applications over the 13 hour course of
    video tutorials.

    iPhone Application Development

    One of the most popular series on iTunes U, Stanford University’s iPhone
    Application Development is updated for the Winter 2010 semester. Featuring
    the full lectures along with PDFs of the lecture slides and all the supporting
    code, it’s almost as good as being there… just without the pressure of

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      125                                                    Useful Resources

    Highly recommended to all those with some knowledge of a C language and
    Object Oriented Programming concepts.

    iPhone Application Programming

    Similar to Stanford’s course above, RWTH Aachen in Germany also
    uploaded their course to iTunes U. Don’t worry if you can’t speak German,
    the course is fully in English and covers everything from interface building
    and debugging to audio, video, drawing and networking. Lecture slides are
    available as PDFs although you cannot get hold of any of the source code or

    PeepCode Screencasts

    Priced at around $10 each, these screencasts come highly recommended
    for learning about specific aspects of iPhone development.

    Pragmatic Screencasts

    The series entitled “Writing Your First iPhone Application” is a particularly
    good introduction, with five episodes priced at $5 each.

    Inspiration need not come in a purely visual format – there are plenty of
    podcasts that can be really helpful for picking up the basics and gaining
    insight from other developers. A few of these include:

    Mobile Orchard

    An iPhone Developer podcast talking to some of the people behind the most
    popular apps in the store. Gain some insight into what goes into producing
    an app and the different technologies utilized.

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      126                                                    Useful Resources

    The MDN Show

    A “one stop shop” show for Mac and iPhone developers, the Mac Developer
    Network show takes on a magazine style format and is very easy to listen to.
    Not too technical, but a useful resource.


    Conversations and tutorials on development for Mac and iPhone software,
    with leading authors and experts on topics such as Snow Leopard, the
    iPhone SDK, and Cocoa.

    Blogs and Websites

    Mobiletuts+ is all about quality tutorials for mobile developers – all mobile
    developers. Topics include native development with the iPhone, Android,
    Windows and Blackberry platforms, cross-platform development with
    tools like Appcelerator and Phone Gap, and techniques for building mobile
    accessible web sites with HTML 5.

    Whether you want to create the next killer app or become a pioneer of the
    mobile frontier, they’ve got you covered!


    Obviously I have to recommend our own website as a brilliant place to find
    out about new applications, gain inspiration from other developers, and
    connect with a huge base of iPhone users!

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      127                                                  Useful Resources


    Updated about once a week, iCodeBlog provides some very useful and
    detailed tutorials.


    One of the best blogs out there regularly updated with quality tutorials and

    iPhone Flow

    A community blog where users post links to items they feel will be of interest
    to other developers. You can pick up some neat tips here.

    Ray Wenderlich

    Some great iPhone tutorials and tips from developer Ray Wenderlich. A vital
    read for those wishing to develop in Cocoa2D.

    If you want to exchange ideas with other developers and seek help, there’s
    no replacement for an active forum filled with helpful members. Hopefully
    one of the following will fit the bill:

    Apple Developer Forums

    Apple’s official forums, where you will meet lots of like-minded developers.
    Requires a paid Developer Program account to access (but you’ll need one
    of these anyway to distribute your iPhone application in the App Store).

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         128                                                Useful Resources

    iPhone Dev Forums

    Get help with coding the iPhone SDK, web apps and also advice on app

    iPhone Dev SDK

    A massive forum with over 22,000 members. Covering everything from basic
    development to tutorials, game development, and the legal side of coding

    TiPb iPhone Developer Forum

    Get helpful advice from other developers and browse the informative blog
    for the latest iPhone and iPad news while you’re there.

    iPhone World

    A large forum with over 20,000 members, and topics centering around the
    App Store, technical iPhone development, and general Apple and iPhone

    There’s no replacement to sitting down and talking about your latest iPhone
    development project with other developers. If a few beers are involved as
    well, so much the better. These conferences are a great opportunity to hear
    some inspiring speakers, and chat with other developers.

    It’s also worth looking out for meet-ups in your local area. Apple have their
    own list of user groups,37 or you can just Google for local developers and set
    something going yourself!


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      129                                                   Useful Resources


    Occurring on a regular basis, 360iDev is the first and (supposedly) still
    the best iPhone developer conference in the world. You have to pay the
    registration fee in advance (approximately $499), but the four-day event
    features some of the top speakers in the industry.

    Voices That Matter

    This two-day conference occurred in April 2010, and it’s worth checking to
    see whether it will be repeated. The cost was $495 for early bird registration,
    and the schedule was split between a day of Best Practices/Game
    Development, and one of Core Competencies/Interface Development.

    Apple Worldwide Developers Conference

    Apple’s main conference seems to take on an increasingly mobile-centric
    approach every year. It features some excellent technical sessions on both
    iPhone and Mac OS X development.

    Register early, as in recent years the conference has sold out quickly. If you
    can’t make it though, don’t worry – Apple usually publishes their videos of
    conference sessions online soon after the event.

    iPhone Developer Summit

    Open to anyone with an interest in iPhone development, the iPhone
    Developer Summit is usually held in Santa Clara, California, USA.


    The iOSDevCamp (formerly known as the iPhoneDevCamp) is a not-for-
    profit organization that gathers regularly to develop applications for iPhone
    and iPod touch using both the native SDK and web standards. The event

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      130                                                    Useful Resources

    format is “unconference” or Barcamp-style, featuring content from the
    participants themselves.

    Development Libraries,
    APIs and Frameworks
    This section is for the technically adept, and aims to assist those of you
    embarking on your own native app development. If you’re looking for a few
    interesting pointers to get started with different open source libraries, these
    links may prove to be useful:

    Google API Client Library

    Google provides some brilliant Objective-C APIs for its services like Maps,
    Docs, YouTube and Analytics among others. This is the best way to connect
    your application up to Google’s services.

    Oolong Engine

    For those of you wanting to create games for the iPhone, the Oolong Engine
    provides a great starting point. 3D game creation becomes a whole lot
    simpler and it ties in with the Bullet Physics SDK.

    Facebook Connect

    Integrate Facebook Connect into your app to connect with your Facebook
    friends. This code provides a reliable method of authentication for Facebook


    ObjectiveFlickr is an API for connecting to a Flickr account through your iPhone
    or Mac app. It was built for iPhone 2.x but should work with current releases.

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      131                                                   Useful Resources


    Another game development framework, although this one is for 2D rather
    than 3D games. Based on Cocos2d for the Python language but converted
    to Objective-C for iPhone development.

    31 Example Applications

    Appsamuck provides source code for 31 example applications showing
    you how to achieve a number of different application programming tasks.
    Unfortunately these aren’t brilliantly commented so you will need to be fairly
    adept with Objective-C to work it out.

    Touch XML

    Touch XML is a lightweight replacement for NSXML allowing parsing of XML
    data on the iPhone.


    For those of you not interested in learning Objective-C, Phone Gap is a
    framework for building mobile apps using Javascript.

    Model Baker

    Point and click iPhone app development? Model Baker introduces the
    quickest way to make iPhone applications, without even having to code.


    Develop iPhone apps using Javascript and HTML. LiquidGear runs as the
    middle man and can integrate with databases, built-in accelerometer, maps,
    contacts and location services among a number of other features.

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      132                                                    Useful Resources


    Rhodes is an open source framework for developing mobile apps for all
    platforms. It’s based on the Ruby programming language and can compile
    apps for Android, Blackberry and iPhone.


    Three20 is an iPhone development library. It’s the code that powers the
    Facebook iPhone app and many other apps in the App Store. A solid
    starting point to avoid beginning from scratch.

    Obviously this only scratches the surface of the different resources, tutorials,
    frameworks and helpful APIs available for native app development. Before
    giving up on a particular piece of functionality, be sure to search around to
    see whether someone else has come up with a solution already!

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       We’ve already determined that constraint is a wonderful thing, and
       I thought the same would be true when asking developers for their
       advice. The following section highlights some concise wisdom from

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      135                                               One Piece of Advice

    Words of Wisdom
    I asked developers to offer a single piece of advice for aspiring iPhone
    entrepreneurs. Heed their wise words carefully!


           Scratch your own itch. There are a lot of guys just like you.
        Chances are that if you’re having a problem, others will too.
        So solve that.


           My advice isn’t earth-shattering. I’m fairly new at this myself.
        But make something people want, listen to their feedback, and
        persevere. This is fairly conventional wisdom and it works for us.

        Devin Ross – Attic

           I would suggest that if you want to make a profit as a developer
        (and who doesn’t), you have to look at the application development
        as a business. Coding the application is only half the battle. You
        need to invest in developing a product.

        Figuring out what customers want and creating awareness for the
        application is something that needs a lot of consideration. FInd
        people that can help achieve your goals. There are so many business
        models you can consider. The iPhone landscape is always changing
        so you have to work quickly and adapt.

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      136                                                One Piece of Advice

       Sarah Parmenter – You Know Who
         Aspire to develop the best of your category and not to settle for
       mediocrity in favor of revenue, i.e. don’t churn out a load of crappy
       apps – aspire for one great one!

       Dustin MacDonald – Wallet
          Don’t forget to innovate. Your app should always do something
       exceptionally new and exciting if you want to stand out.

       Gedeon Maheux – The Iconfactory
          Don’t get discouraged, keep at it. There are a lot of apps in the App
       Store and sometimes it can seem as if no one will ever notice your
       work. If you make a quality product, and it fills a badly needed niche,
       the App Store will notice, and you’ll probably see some success.

       That being said, don’t expect a gold rush. It takes hard work and
       more than a few attempts before you’ll probably have a moderate
       hit. Just don’t give up!

       Glasshouse Apps
          Firstly, find a great partner. I’ve been really fortunate to have had
       excellent partnerships on my apps.

       Secondly – listen to your customers. Feedback is so important when
       developing apps. Let your customers have a way of reaching you
       directly so they can let you know what they like and dislike and what
       they want to you to improve.

       Thirdly – as corny as it might sound – don’t give up. When I looked
       at the sales figures for Barista’s first day on the App Store, I almost
       threw in the towel right there. But 18 months later, I can say that

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      137                                               One Piece of Advice

       developing that one app has probably been the most influential
       business decision I’ve made in my entire working life.

       Dave Verwer – Shiny Development

          Get out there and try it! Don’t worry about making your first app
       an all singing, all dancing, mind blowing application. Get something
       simple coded and get it on the store.

       There is no experience better than actually going through the entire
       process of designing, building and shipping an app, and it will teach
       you an incredible amount about how to approach the process in the
       future. Take a simple idea, get it going and go for it. You can work on
       your masterpiece as your second application!

       Lee Mallabone – Broadersheet

          Be selective when choosing your beta testers. Try and find at
       least 5 or 10 people that you can count on to help you out on short
       notice. If you can find more that are willing to beta test, that’s great,
       but it’s important to have a few that you can call up and ask to install
       a new test version of your app today.

       Once your app is out, you’ll want to be able to turn out new releases
       quickly, and part of the quality assurance for that is making sure the
       app is installable from a machine other than your own development

       Sophia Teutschler – Sophiestication Software

          Make apps! It’s that simple. I always learned the most by doing,
       instead of reading about or planning. Just try to release something
       quality, it doesn’t have to be super unique or even big. Release
       something that starts to get you going.

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      138                                             One Piece of Advice

       Garrett Murray – Ego

          If I can only offer once piece, it would be that the App Store,
       despite what you may read from a minority of developers, is not a
       get-rich-quick system. 99% of people selling apps aren’t making
       untold sums of money.

       Like anything else, you need to work hard to make a decent income.
       You need to produce a quality application with wide appeal, you
       need to market and promote that app, and you need to make regular
       updates to it. Don’t go in expecting to be rich overnight.

       Oh, and grow a thick skin, because customer feedback can be
       extremely frustrating.

       David Kaneda – Sencha

          I’ll step down from my web app soapbox for a moment, and offer
       some general advice on this one: Price for value. I think there’s a
       trend of undervaluing apps right now, with a huge amount of apps
       between $1-$3.

       For simple utility apps, this may make sense, especially for those
       looking for mass adoption. But for a great majority of apps that
       apply to niche markets and business users, app developers are really
       doing themselves a disservice. If one browses the highest revenue
       apps in the app store, they will find a variety of apps sold at prices
       between $10-$50.

       Look at it this way: If you price your app at $4.99 instead of
       $2.99, will you lose 40% of your customers? In most cases, I
       think the answer is no: If you’re properly marketing your app on
       social networks and such, you might lose 10-20% of the potential
       customers, but by charging 40% more, you’re still making more

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      139                                             One Piece of Advice

       There are other reasons, too, like being associated with quality by
       being “premium.” Especially as more and more developers begin
       to look at iPad and Universal apps, they should simply be asking
       themselves, “What would I pay for this?”

       Dave Howell – Avatron

          Because the iPhone is small, it’s tempting to think of it as a
       platform for small apps. Many of the early apps in the store bore out
       that prejudice. But there’s no reason why iOS apps can’t be every bit
       as deep as desktop apps.

       When developing iOS apps, don’t skimp on the kind of process and
       diligence that you would commit to the development of desktop apps.

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       THE iPHONE
       It often feels as though there’s a mystical shroud hovering over
       developers operating in the App Store. Like we did, I’m sure
       you have all manner of questions running around your head. Is it
       possible to make a living developing for the iPhone? How long
       does it take to develop an app? How many hours will it take to
       offer support? Is this career really more enjoyable than my existing

       In the first ever extensive App Store developer survey, we aim to
       answer all your questions, concerns and doubts about embarking
       on this process. We’ve surveyed over 80 individual iPhone
       developers and companies to gather a comprehensive set of
       statistics that shed light on the App Store.

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      142                                                  The iPhone Developer Survey

    Part 1 – Business and
                          How many hours does it generally take to
                              develop an iPhone application?

                                            1,000+ (4%)
                         500 – 1,000 (9%)                              Less than 100 (19%)

       250 – 500 (22%)

                                                                        100 – 250 (46%)

                                                     Chart 1 P. 132

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      143                                         The iPhone Developer Survey

                    How many people are employed by your company?



           6 – 10


         Just me!

                    0      5     10    15        20          25   30   35   40     45
                                            Chart 2 P. 132

                        Are you aiming to grow your company’s staff,
                          or are you happy with your current size?

    We're happy as                                                          We're looking to
    we are! (50%)                                                            grow (50%)

                                            Chart 1 P. 133
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      144                                    The iPhone Developer Survey

                    In your experience, what is the financial cost
                            of developing an iPhone app?


       $25,000 – $50,000

       $10,000 – $25,000

        $5,000 – $10,000

         $1,000 – $5,000

           $500 – $1,000

               $1 – $500

       Just my own time

                           0      5            10       15      20   25
                                       Chart 2 P. 133

     What is your total monthly revenue from sales of iPhone apps in USD?

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      145                                           The iPhone Developer Survey

              How has iPhone development affected your personal
                        income or company revenue?

                              Reduced our
                              income (4%)

            Made no                                              Increased income
        difference (20%)                                         significantly (34%)

                     Increased income
                       slightly (42%)
                                             Chart 1 P. 134

       Could you make a living solely from your iPhone app’s revenue?

                                                                 Yes (19%)

             Not yet (81%)
                                            Chart 2 P. 134

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      146                                    The iPhone Developer Survey

         What’s the average age of those working at your company?

                      Is iPhone development your full-time job?

                                                                  Yes (26%)

              No – I do
           something else as
              well (74%)

                                        Chart 1 P. 135

             How many hours do you spend on support each day?

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      147                                           The iPhone Developer Survey

       Do you work from home, in a private office, or in a shared office?

                        I work in a shared
                           office (13%)

      I work in a private
         office (13%)

                                                                   I work from home

                                             Chart 1 P. 136

        Do you enjoy iPhone development more than your previous job?

             The same! (23%)

           No (3%)

                                                                      Yes (74%)

                                                 Chart 2 P. 136

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      148                                       The iPhone Developer Survey

    Part 2 – Developing Apps
                     How did you learn to develop for the iPhone?

       I'm not a programmer!

          I attended a course

              I taught myself

      I was already proficient
           in Objective C

                                 0   10         20         30   40   50   60
                                          Chart 1 P. 137

                 How many days, on average, does it take for your
                     iPhone app to be approved by Apple?

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      149                                                 The iPhone Developer Survey

    How important are these characteristics for your app to be a success?

          Perfectly Crafted App
              Store Listing

                     Low Price

         Great Interface Design

                   Unique Idea

                                  0      10          20           30        40   50       60      70

                  Irrelevant      Not So Important         Quite Important       Very Important
                                                 Chart 1 P. 138

     How would you rate the effectiveness of these promotion techniques?

             Word of Mouth

           Giving Away Free
           Promotion Codes

     An Ongoing Relationship
         with Bloggers

        A Well-Written Press

         Spending Money on

                                  0        10             20           30        40        50          60

                Irrelevant        Not So Effective         Quite Effective       Very Effective
                                                Chart 2 P. 138

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      150                                                      The iPhone Developer Survey

           Have you ever been featured in an iPhone TV advertisement?
                                                                  Yes! (3%)

                                 No, not yet (97%)
                                                     Chart 1 P. 139
                     Have you ever reached Apple’s Top 100 ranking?

                                                                               Yes (24%)

            No, not yet! (76%)

                                                 Chart 2 P. 139
    n.b. For this question, we didn’t specify the Top 100 in any particular country. Developers could
    have reached the Top 100 in their local App Store – not necessarily the US App Store.

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      151                                   The iPhone Developer Survey

                          What’s the highest you’ve ranked?

                 Have you considered developing for the iPad?

               No (16%)
                                                              Yes – I've released
                                                              an iPad app (29%)

         Yes – I'm working
         on one now (55%)
                                       Chart 1 P. 140

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      152                                  The iPhone Developer Survey

       Do you develop for any of the following other mobile platforms?



        Windows Mobile



                          0   5     10                15   20   25          30
                                    Chart 1 P. 141

       Do you offer both a free and paid-for version of your application?

                                                                Yes (25%)

              No (75%)

                                     Chart 2 P. 141

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      153                                                The iPhone Developer Survey

                          Will you be using Apple’s “iAd” system?

             Probably not

      I'm thinking about it


                              0     10           20             30   40   50      60
                                               Chart 1 P. 142

               Are you happy with the current state of the App Store?

                          I'm fairly unhappy
                             with the App
                              Store (6%)

                                                                               Everything's great

      It has a few
    problems (49%)

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      154                                  The iPhone Developer Survey

    What would our respondents like to see
    change on the App Store?
    We’ve collected a series of responses from our survey participants about
    what they’d like to see change on the App Store, what they like, and what
    they struggle with on a regular basis. Here are a few of the best pieces of
    insight we received:

            Reviews and star ratings are irrelevant. Usually people give a star
        when they remove an app, and usually when you remove an app, it’s
        because you don’t like it. People tend to share their opinion more
        often when they are frustrated rather than when they are happy.

        In the end, reviews and ratings can often be negative and do not
        reflect the general opinion.

            I’d give developers better analytics about App Store listing
        views, what they search for, and how they find your app. It’s a black
        box at the moment.

        I’d also make it easier for people who are looking at an app in
        iTunes to click buy (on their computer) and have it start downloading
        immediately over the air to their phone.

            It is a little bit scary, spending time and money on developing
        an app that might never get approved. Apps get rejected every
        day for what appear to be arbitrary reasons. If I could change one
        thing, it would be to make the approval process a lot more open and
        transparent. I would also formalize an appeal process for rejected

        I have to say something as a person who never even owned a Mac
        until three months before my first app was approved. Apple has done
        a very good job at making the entire development process work.

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      155                                  The iPhone Developer Survey

       First, the development software is extremely well done. And it is
       free (take that, Visual Studio). There is help available in Xcode, in the
       documentation, on the Apple Developer website, and even in the
       support forums. The process you have to take is straightforward, if
       sometimes tedious, and Apple walks you through every step.

       You make an app, get it approved, and everything but advertising
       is done for you – Apple sells your app worldwide, and sends you
       checks! Yes, there are legitimate complaints, but all in all, it is a
       beautiful system for developers of any level.

           The App Store is very unforgiving to indie developers; EA,
       Ubisoft and all of the other big titles are re-releasing their titles on
       the App Store to great fanfare and profit. This is great – it’s awesome
       to see large companies turn their focus on such a fun market.

       The downside is that the smaller development shops lose all of that
       “free press” that was attributed to the Top 100 sections because
       they’re crowded with large developers. The whole reason why so
       many developers flocked to this platform is because it was a indie
       developer friendly eco-system. This isn’t so much the case now, and
       it’s much harder to make it.

       My one proposed feature would be to include an additional
       subdivision in the top lists – highlight the small one to five people
       development shops. Give them the spotlight that they deserve; there
       are plenty of great applications out there that are simply ignored
       because they’re too small to market, and too small to be noticed.

           The review process needs to be more transparent and
       accessible. For example, if an app is rejected, I should be able to
       contact the reviewer for more information than that included in the
       rejection letter.

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      156                                  The iPhone Developer Survey

       I had a problem with my first iPad app where one bug seemed to
       occur over and over, and every time I fixed it and resubmitted it, it
       would be rejected again for the same bug. I finally discovered that
       the reviewer was continually reviewing the old version!

       Things like this could be prevented by allowing me to contact
       the reviewer, and also by pushing resubmissions to the front of
       the queue.

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       THE iPHONE
       As a developer, it’s vital to understand just how users experience
       your software. This could relate to how they find apps, how many
       they buy, the devices they use them on, how often they update
       them, or all manner of other information!

       In this final part of the survey, we’ve collected responses from
       over 1,000 iPhone users over the course of one week in July 2010.
       These participants were all readers of AppStorm.

       Hopefully this information will help you make decisions about
       promotion, targeting, and what aspects of your application to
       spend the most time on. We’re offering the data for you here, so
       feel free to use it as you see fit!

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      159                                                               The iPhone User Survey

                              What was the age of our participants?
                                       55 – 64 (1%)
                                  45 – 54 (4%)                          Under 18 (12%)

             35 – 44 (14%)

                                                                                         18 – 24 (33%)

              25 – 34 (36%)

                                                       Chart 1 P. 146

                              Which iPhone/iPod touch do you own?

           iPod Touch (3rd

           iPod Touch (2nd

           iPod Touch (1st

                  iPhone 4

               iPhone 3GS

                iPhone 3G


                              0        50        100           150       200      250    300      350

    n.b. If participants owned more than one of these 1devices, we asked them to select the one that
                                                  Chart P. 147

    they used most on a day-to-day basis.

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      160                                                      The iPhone User Survey

                    How many apps do you have on your iPhone?
                   (Those apps you have actually installed on your iPhone right now.)

                      How often do you download app updates?

                     Less than once
                     per week (11%)

   Once per week
       (16%)                                                                            Every day (34%)

                    A few times per
                      week (39%)
                                              Chart 1 P. 148

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      161                                                   The iPhone User Survey

                Do you use any of the following mobile platforms?



     Windows Mobile



                       0   20      40              60       80         100         120         140
                                        Chart 2 P. 148

           Do you have any web apps on your iPhone home screen?
                            What's a web
                             app? (4%)

                                                                             Yes – More than
                                                                                one (33%)

          No (42%)

                                                                 Yes – Just one
                                           Chart 1 P. 149

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      162                                                           The iPhone User Survey

     How much do you usually spend on iPhone applications each week?


         $20 – $50

         $10 – $20

          $5 – $10

           $0 – $5

                     0     100   200   300       400          500     600      700      800      900
                                             Chart 1 P. 150

                         How do you feel about iPhone advertising?

                                                                                        I'd rather have a
                                                                                          free app with
                                                                                        advertising (27%)

     I don't mind

                                                                            I'd rather pay for
                                                                              an ad-free app
                                             Chart 2 P. 150

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      163                                                  The iPhone User Survey

            What’s the most you have ever paid for an iPhone app?

               If one is available, do you download a free version
                          of an app before purchasing it?

                        I usually just
                       purchase it (4%)

  Sometimes (44%)                                                         Always (52%)

                                          Chart 1 P. 151

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      164                                                            The iPhone User Survey

          How often do you use the following to find a new iPhone app?

               from Websites

               from Friends

        Searching the App Store

          Browsing by Category

               Apple's Top Lists

                                   0       100         200          300     400        500       600

                           Never       Not So Often        Quite Often    Very Often
                                                 Chart 1 P. 152

       How important are ratings when deciding whether to buy an app?

                                        I don't pay
                                       attention to
                                       ratings (2%)
                            Not very
                         important (7%)

                                                                                             Very important

    A little important

                                                   Chart 1 P. 152
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    Embarking on the journey of developing an iPhone application is nothing to
    be taken lightly. Hopefully this book has provided you with knowledge you
    didn’t have before, and equipped you to take your first few steps in the right

    Spend time crafting your idea, understand the App Store guidelines, don’t
    be afraid to seek help from others, always put design first, keep it simple,
    and never stop promoting your app with an unrelenting passion.

    Most of all, don’t forget to enjoy the process from start to finish. It won’t be
    easy, but the satisfaction of watching your application shoot to fame will be
    worth every minute.

    Best of luck, and I’ll see you in the App Store!

    David Appleyard
    AppStorm Editor

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    This book couldn’t have come together without the help and contribution of
    many different developers, iPhone users, and writers. I’d like to re-iterate my
    thanks to the following people who helped in various ways:


    Graham Clarke                                            glasshouseapps.com

    Michael Johnston & Fred Cheng                             simplenoteapp.com

    Dave Verwer                                            shinydevelopment.com

    Sarah Parmenter                                      youknowwhodesign.com

    Marc Edwards                                                      bjango.com

    Joshua Tessier, Tariq Zaid & Adam McNamara             selectstartstudios.com

    David Heinemeier Hansson & Jason Fried                          37signals.com

    Devin Ross – Attic                                               atticapp.com

    Sebastiaan de With                                                 cocoia.com

    Garrett Murray                                                   ego-app.com

    Dustin MacDonald                                              acrylicapps.com

    Gedeon Maheux – The Iconfactory                               iconfactory.com

    Lee Mallabone – Broadersheet                        iphone.broadersheet.com

    Sophia Teutschler – Sophiestication Software              sophiestication.com

    David Kaneda – Sencha                                             sencha.com

    Dave Howell – Avatron                                             avatron.com

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    Survey Participants

    Thank you so much to the 80 iPhone developers and 1,072 iPhone users
    that completed our survey. I really appreciate you taking the time to
    contribute, and hope you enjoyed reading the resulting statistics!

    AppStorm Writers

    Finally, thank you to Mark Sinkinson who contributed an incredibly useful
    post to AppStorm entitled “The Complete iPhone Development Toolbox”38.
    Many of the fantastic links and resources collected by Mark are reproduced
    in the “Resources” chapter of this book.


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                                     David Appleyard is part of the Envato team
                                     and manager of the AppStorm network,
                                     a series of sites relating to Mac, iPhone,
                                     and Web apps with over 60,000 daily
                                     readers. He’s also the editor of Phototuts+,
                                     and manages a few other popular blogs
                                     including Design Shack.

                                    David lives in Manchester, UK, with his
                                    girlfriend Jen, loves playing with the latest
                                    gadgets from Cupertino, and is never
    without his trusty iPhone. He built his first website over ten years ago and is
    passionate about the Internet, blogging, and online business.

    Check out David’s personal website at http://davidappleyard.net, or follow
    him on Twitter: @davidappleyard.

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