At the end of June I made the decision that I would no longer be selling my current iOS apps, and that they would instead be free. Six months have now passed.
So, how are things looking now?
Since the end of June, my three apps have been downloaded a combined total of ‘approximately’ 2273 times — 1380 for Criclive (7.54 per day), 683 for Watched (3.73 per day), and 210 for NextGame (1.14 per day) — for a combined average of 12.4 downloads per day.
Quick side note, I say ‘approximately’ because annoyingly iTunes Connect abbreviates anything over a thousand, so the Criclive numbers aren’t 100% accurate, eg. 1,267 would be shown as 1.26k. There is no apparent easy way to get the exact number for a long time period without chunking it up in smaller pieces and adding it up manually. But, you know, screw that.
Compare that with the combined total of 1496 prior to going free — 1270 for Criclive (across two major versions, 1.37 per day since December 2011), 184 for Watched (0.32 per day since December 2012), and 42 for NextGame (0.27 per day since January 2014) — fair to say people prefer free. But we already knew that.
Averaged out over the entire 1105 days prior to the end of June it comes to a whopping, 1.35 downloads/purchases per day
In terms of money, I raked in 84c per app sale, or $1.14 per day. I won’t rerun those numbers adding in the free downloads, they’re already depressing enough.
Watched never caught on, partly because I never really promoted it, partly because people were already using competing, more fully featured, services that I somehow didn’t find myself when originally planning Watched. Whatever, shit happens.
You might look at the numbers above and see that downloads of Watched have jumped from 0.32 per day to 3.73 per day.
Fact is, in the 758 days since release, just 862 people have downloaded it, in total. I only made money from the first 184 of those, or about $130. Yay, that pays for, maybe, one of the hundreds of hours that went into it.
But it gets better.
Of those 862 downloads, only 527 signed up. Yep, 325 people downloaded it and that was it. Are there app-downloading bots? If so, could they not have downloaded it a few more times?
The sign-up rates also dropped significantly once the app was free. When it was paid the sign-up rate was 96%, since it became free that rate has dropped to 51%.
Ok, so I’ve got 527 users? No, not really.
Only 358 of those that signed up have ever used it to rate/like/track a show. Yep, 32% of users who signed up never used the app again. Was it too hard to use? Was it confusing? Was it not what they expected? Whatever it was, they didn’t come back.
Right, so 358 users then? No, keep trying.
Of that 358 that did use it, 128 only ever used it once. Just once. That was apparently enough for them, that’s ok I’ve stopped using an app after using it once as well, I’m sure we all have. 36% of my ‘active’ users decided never to return. Sweet.
Well, 230 users? Yea… nope.
For the 230 that used the app more than once, 180 used it less than 10 times, and just 13 have used it more than 100 times in the past two years. For those playing at home, that’s just 1.5% of downloaders have used the app more than 100 times. Fun.
But what about the past month?
So there have been 30 active users in the last month, most of them being one-and-done users. In total 38 signed up over the last month, only 24 of them have been active since signing up - 63%. However, Watched has been downloaded 64 times in the past month, meaning a sign-up rate of about 59%, which - looking for positives - is 8% up on the six-month average. Woot.
Ok, what now?
Well, I will be taking both NextGame and Watched out of the App Store in the coming days. Neither of them are being discontinued, if you’ve got them they will still continue to work.
Repeat, they are NOT being discontinued, just removed from the store.
It just doesn’t seem right to have people downloading apps that haven’t been updated for a year, and that I have no immediate plans to update.
Watched will continue just as it has for the past couple of years, nothing is changing, there just won’t be any new users. I still use it every day (which is why I built it to begin with), but hardly anyone else does. For the sake of repetition, for the dozen or so, semi-frequent users, there will be no change, you can continue using the app just as you have (or haven’t) been since you downloaded it.
NextGame will also continue to work, if you're among the handful of folk who downloaded it, but it probably won’t get any more content updates, unless I get super bored one weekend and can’t find anything else to do.
Neither of them are dead, and I could magically rediscover the desire to make them better at some point, but right now the only thing that will drive an update - at least for Watched - is if iOS 9 breaks it in some way.
Criclive, far and away still my most popular app, will remain in the store. There might be an update in its future, or there might not be. I’m not committing to anything.
When iOS 8 came out, I did fire up the new version of Xcode and start work on updating Criclive to make use of the bigger iPhone 6 screens.
After an hour I had about 30% of one of the simpler screens updated. There are about 15 or so screens in the app, most of which are more complex than the one I started with.
I quickly decided it wasn’t worth my time, and went back to watching TV.