In summary, 2016 revenues are still super profitable for a one guy company :-). However, sales in parents market continue to decline. On the other hand, sales in educational market are growing but don’t compensate the loss in parents market. It is of course mainly due to the fact that I didn’t release a new app since end of 2013. I released a lot of updates but it’s not enough, you really need new products to get featured and have some visibility (since the only way to get a real visibility is to be featured, unfortunately). I believe my portfolio is strong but it’s difficult to keep the same revenue if updates are free and you don’t have subscriptions.
This year, Esa Helttula the developer of AppSalesTrends Mac app (as well as great Math apps) helped me analyzing my iOS revenue since 2010 using the great tools included in his terrific app. I can’t recommend enough his app if you need to analyze your iOS sales. Here is his sharp analysis:
When we look at L’Escapadou iOS app sales the big picture is 2 years of declining sales due to no new apps for three years. But that big picture hides the undercurrents that are formed by individual apps and two separate iOS app stores; consumer (parents) and education.
Consumer sales are still declining as you can see in figure 1.
When we look at how individual apps perform in the consumer market, we notice that after initial high sales all apps settle for a long term declining sales pattern. Let’s compare all consumer app sales with 365-day moving averages to remove seasonal effects. For overall sales to keep on increasing there have to be new app releases to compensate for the sales declines in old apps (figure 2).
Next let’s compare all apps as if they were launched the same day and use compound sales graphs (figure 3). All of the graphs can be defined by logarithmic functions meaning that their rate of growth gets lower and lower the more time elapses since launch.
If we look at all consumer sales as 365-day moving average compared to previous year we see that the last time sales were this low was over 5 years ago (figure 4).
What about educational sales? In figure 5 we see that edu sales are still growing:
To see why they are still growing we will see that compound launch graphs for edu sales can be defined with linear, or very low exponential functions. Sales do not decline over time.
Outside Europe edu sales have been flat for the past three years but in Europe sales growth has been following an exponential graph for 5 years and has at least doubled every year, with the only edu sales day of over $1,000 outside US in Finland in 2016. The biggest sales in Europe are in northern European countries with localized apps.
So you see how AppSalesTrends can be useful. Thanks Esa Helttula!
So it’s no secret that I need new apps to keep my revenue stable in the parents/consumer market. I’ve almost finish my new app that I started in 2014 (!), so I hope consumer revenue will grow a little bit after the release of this new app, which scheduled for back to school.
I should also try to release freemium version of apps for consumer market (as I said since 2 or 3 years…). I think people are less and less OK to buy app without testing them first especially if it costs more than $1 (it is not a new thing but it may be even more pronounced nowadays). However, I fear that the discoverability of new apps might be a problem. Note that I believe words of mouth is the way I sell most of my apps, and in this case people are OK to pay upfront.
Pricing is also something I should revisit. Three years ago, I moved from $3 to $5 and it was pretty successful, but the market has evolved with even more apps, and people that don’t know my apps may not want to spend “so much money” upfront (perhaps the solution is just to keep the price and do freemium versions…)
A lot of successful apps, from a revenue point of view, are subscriptions based. However, I don’t think the subscription based app is a good fit for me because what I love is working on one subject and creating an innovative activity for this subject, which takes a lot of times. The subscription model is more based on a lot of small activities.
Another solution is to make a sequel to a good app. Should I release a Writing Wizard 2 ? It could be fun if I’ve got a good idea.
Anyway, thanks to good revenue, I still can do what I want, but it seems that what I want to do is not exactly what is good for my business… My goal is not keep the revenue as high as possible but to stabilize them so I can have a good life and continue to work on things that I love (release updates to make my apps even better, and create new innovative apps). We will see what’s happening this year with the new app (and some updates!). For the moment, I’m still the lucky guy that did find the iOS gold mine :-)
I made partnership with my cousin to port my most successful apps. Only half of the iOS apps are available on Android. Thanks to his huge efforts (and some featuring), 2016 sales are progressing on Google Play (Amazon is another story). It’s 35% of the iOS sales if we compare apples to apples (meaning: I compare only with iOS revenue of apps existing on Android and I exclude educational sales)
There was no new port released in 2016, but a lot of work has been done to allow apps to run smoothly on more devices (so better rating…). We also moved to freemium model and it worked pretty well. I think it’s really important for Google Play users to be able to test the app first for free (OK it’s not new for people that know the Android market)
We have almost no educational sales on Android, and it makes a great difference with the iOS market. However, we will soon work on making our apps run smoothly on the new touch Chromebooks which may help us reach schools that are more and more using Chromebooks.
My cousin is working on porting Word Wizard which has sold a lot of units on iOS, so it should be a good Android year (actually it’s already a good year on Android because…we’ve been featured recently).