Sorry for the recent hiatus. We've been busy working on our new iPhone applications, plus we took a vacation (via train!) in November for two weeks, and then the holidays hit, which requires a lot of personal attention. I have several posts in mind and hope to crank them out in the near future.
It looks like everyone is joining the wave of application stores on-device after the success of Apple's iPhone AppStore. Hopefully this new trend will help promote mobile applications as a whole. I'm still waiting for those 2 million Centro users to discover software on the Palm OS platform. ;-)
Google recently announced on their blog how they intend to promote Apps for the Android operating system. The "store" will be referred to as the "Android Market" which will be more of a repository, or archive, of applications available for the platform. They did not spell out how commerce will be accomplished--just that free apps (and maybe free demos?) will expect support for now, with more decisions to be made later. This news is welcomed by developers who are frustrated with the semi-closed nature of the AppStore, but does pose some critical issues in its deployment. In this post, I will compare and contrast some of the positives and negatives of the Android Market (as it has been announced), the AppStore, and the current existing smartphone application distribution system.
Many blogs and websites use Google Adwords to advertise their product and/or use Adsense to bring in ad revenue. The Adwords model is strongly based on HTML content of the landing page to drive its mysterious "Quality Score" for keywords. The Adsense model uses the HTML content of the website to serve applicable ads. However, as non-HTML-based web applications become increasingly popular, can this current model survive? Or will Google have to rethink their algorithm to support this type of website? We've tried to use Adwords to drive traffic to our new web applications, but Google's current model is completely incompatible. In addition, we had to sacrifice some functionality in order to support the sites with Adsense. This post will describe our experience, layout our frustrations, and challenge the keyword marketing crowd to find a solution.
As the AppStore fills up, and reviews are not properly moderated, finding the right app is becoming more and more difficult. The reviews range from valuable, to helpful, to outdated, to shameless plugs (for the app or its competition), to commentaries on any pricing that isn't free, to absolute gibberish. Since you cannot try before you buy (in most cases), and the star rating has little relevance, a user must wade through (in some cases) hundreds of the reviews to get an idea of what to download or buy. In many cases, these reviews are not even made by people who have purchased the app, so again their relevance is questionable. A few enterprising websites have decided to take action by providing a Digg-like experience for finding apps.
The Chicago Tribune ran a story this week about local Chicago developers who are selling iPhone apps. Notable were Scott Corley of Red Mercury, who has a highly rated solitaire application, AcidSolitaire Collection, and Jim Brady, of Earthcomber, who will be coming out with a native app soon. Both Scott and Jim are a part of a local group of Chicago mobile (recently expanded from just Palm OS) developers who gather for food, drink, and conversation on a regular basis.
This week we released our Date Wheel web application. We moved the desktop version out of beta and released the iPhone formatted web app version. You can access both versions at datewheel.net. The website will detect if you are coming from an iPhone or iPod touch or desktop/laptop computer and render accordingly.
Price selection can be the most difficult and elusive part of marketing. How do you know if your selection is right? What happens if it is too low? What happens if it is too high? What if you need to change it? Is it possible to market to all types of customers—those who want cheap, those who will pay more, or those who won't buy if the price is too low? Sometimes pricing feels like a shot in the dark, but it really doesn't have to be that way. This post will explore different ways of pricing software applications, how to modify them if needed, and approaches for setting pricing tiers to ideally attract as many customers as possible.
This past week we finally experienced the opening of the much touted Apple AppStore for the Apple iPhone and iPod touch. The AppStore does a lot of things right that developers have been clamoring for: it puts software right in front of every iPhone consumer, it makes it super easy to purchase and install apps, and it makes the whole process accessible for the majority of developers (no more carrier intervention, for example). However, the AppStore is like any piece of 1.0 software—it has it's 'bugs' and exploitations that can only be discovered by massive usage and adoption. This post will note a few areas of needed improvement.
We recently conducted a poll as to why Palm software sales were down drastically in 2007. Here's a synopsis and editorial of the results:
The recent poll we conducted resulted in a two-way tie, with two very close second place finishers. Two additional third place selections followed very closely behind, nearly resulting in a six-way tie. These results are not surprising--too many factors have played a part in this story. I suspect it was difficult for one to choose just one main factor. All the results tell a story of how things went awry with the Palm OS.