Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Interlude 12 - MineSweeper "Sales"

It has been ten days since MineSweeper was released into the wilds of the App Store so I thought I would provide an update on how downloads are going. In summary, downloads are better than I expected, given it is a clone and there are a bunch of established clones already in the store. Figure 1 shows downloads per day (you will probably have to click on the image to see a version big enough to read). 
  
Figure 1. MineSweeper Downloads By Day.
   
It shows the usual trend with a large hump on the day after release followed by a rapid fall over the next four days. You then enter a gentle oscillating phase which will gradually decline if you do nothing else. The small bump on the far right is the weekend kick which I see on most of my App sales. There is many a developer who saw their second day sales, multiplied this by their App price and then by 365 and thought they were on the road to retirement. Alas, my experience is that the post ten day average is a better indicator of long term sales.
   
Figure 2. MineSweeper Download Detail.
    
My guess is that sales will settle down around 50-100 per day, which if I was making any money from them would be fantastic. It does suggest that it would be worth adding iAds to try and extract some return from the effort of writing the App (apart from the educational benefit of course).
  
Figure 3. Early Ranking Data.
  
Looking at how the App ranks is very interesting and illustrates the mysterious Apple ranking algorithm at work. You can see that rank roughly follows downloads (with a slight lag). However, if we look over the ten day period we see a curious result.
  
Figure 4. Ranking Data at the end of the 10 day period.
      
Figure 4 shows that even though sales are not as high as day 2, the rank has continued to climb suggesting that there is some sort of cumulative effect. There is definitely a feedback mechanism whereby the higher you rank, the higher your downloads, which means the higher you rank, etc. The other observation is that it is easy to make progress when you are ranking between 200-300. Getting sub 100 is tougher and top 10 is virtually impossible (unless you call your App Angry Birds).
    
Figure 5. Downloads by Country.
   
Downloads by country contain a couple of surprises. I always expect to do best in America given it is the biggest English speaking market and the UK at number 3 and Australia at number 5 are equally predictable. Germany at number 2 is unexpected and Russia at number 4 is also a pleasant surprise. So thank you to all the German and Russian downloaders. France and China are normally up there and I don't tend to have a lot of luck with the Canadians. Where this sort of information is useful is in deciding what countries to localise your App for. There isn't a lot of text in MineSweeper so localisation would be a fairly simple matter. I have read that localisation can have a dramatic effect on downloads in that market but I havent tried it myself.
    
Figure 6. Reefwing Software Downloads by Product.
     
Figure 6 graphs downloads by product for all of my Apps over a one month period. You can see that the free Apps (MIneSweeper, Personality, LifeAudit, and Number Converter) dominate downloads, however the majority of my revenue comes from LifeGoals. Note that MineSweeper has only been available for 10 days of the month reported on in Figure 6. I will give another update after MineSweeper has been out for a month.
   
Figure 7. Early MineSweeper Reviews.
    
A factor in driving sales is review comments and the number of stars people rate your App at. Trying to bootstrap these by getting your Mum to write a review is always a strategy but in reality unless you have a LOT of friends in MANY countries, real reviews and ratings will swamp any attempt to game the system. BTW - thanks to all the folks from the Codea forum for their positive reviews!
  
Figure 8. Reefwing Software iAds Revenue.
     
The next step in this grand experiment will be to attempt to convert the MineSweeper downloads into cash. Theoretically, iAds should be a fairly good mechanism for this. However, looking at Figure 8 you will see that my current revenue from iAds in the Personality App can only be called pathetic. 
       
Let's see what MineSweeper can do...