I’m pretty sure I launched a paid app.

But I’m the only one to know.


You know how it goes:

As my previous app has not been as successful as it should have, this time I’ll make something different. No free apps anymore… Let’s do paid apps!

Yeah… Good one.

I’ve done my research on the App Store. Thoroughly. I’ve looked into all the categories, dissected the top download and paid apps and I paid extra attention to the grossing ranks.

One of the ideas I had was developing a “multitimer”, an app that will let me add a new timer to my phone screen even if I already have one running… because I can make pasta and bake a cake at the same time. (My cooking skills are amazing, right?)

As always, a bunch of guys already had the idea. A few even made it for free. Yet, none of their apps looked nice in my opinion and none of them was nearly as easy to use as what I had in mind. None of them was as strongly kitchen-oriented either, and I thought the App Store lacked this. Thus, even if launching a paid app when there are free alternatives is quite a challenge, I figured timers are so widely used by almost every mobile phone user that it could be worth a shot.

So I went for it. It took me a day to develop a running prototype and have my wife trying it. The end of the week was used to have a nice beta to share to my friends, and a week later I had the translations, the metadata (pics and text) for iTunes, so I submitted the app for review by Apple team. It was approved 11 days later without any change. It was a first for me so I took it as an auspicious presage (I found out that you tend to give sense to a lot of meaningless things when working alone).

Before I pushed the Release this version button, I’ve done all the PR I could think of, sending press releases to magazines, app review sites and food blogs, giving away promo codes as widely as I could. (I know we are in 2015 and we are supposed to user Twitter or Product Hunt when launching an app, but having an influential twitter account or getting noticed by a Product Hunt power user is unfortunately a full-time job.)

Release this version

Then I pushed it. Release this version. Kitchen Timer(s) was live on the App Store, out in the open. Releasing an app is exactly like when you bought this lottery ticket. You know that it is almost impossible that your app is going to get noticed on its own, impossible that Apple features it on the US App Store main page, impossible that Mashable writes an article about it, but you can’t help it. As long as you don’t have the result in front of you, the ticket in your hand is the winner. You hope that even if it’s clearly not the best idea you’ve had in this century, this time you’ll get lucky and you’ll make just a little money to keep the business running and keep trying. Entrepreneurship is kind of an addiction. As I already told you here, It’s very rewarding so you keep asking for more. Yet, to keep you going you have to start making real money at some point, and that’s what I thought about when I released this app.

As I told you, I only launched free apps before, so I was used to the usual hundreds of downloads you get the two first days after the release. Other developers, app reviewers in various countries… Stickiness and retention suck, but hey, at least someone’s using your app.

Except when you launch a paid app… well, nobody buys it just for a try. So I just said I launched a paid app, but actually I don’t really know: the app is not in my App Annie reports, not in iTunes Connect sales tool… It is here, live on the App store, but as far as I know, the buy button could be disabled: not a single person has purchased it. Out of 700 or 800 million people using the App Store, not one human being has thought it could be a good idea to give Kitchen Timer(s) a try in the last week.

Well, let’s not lie about it: that’s a bummer. Trying to make a living as an indie developer is an emotional rollercoaster, and today is not the most exciting part of it. Anyways, I have a ton of ideas of what I could do to make my numbers better, starting by making this app free and go back to the business model I know with ads and in-app purchases. But I will start by waiting a few weeks, see what happens. Not much to loose here. And in the meantime, I shared this story so that you guys, the indie developers who give blood, sweat and tears to the App Store every day, know what you’re about to face if you’re not prepared when giving the paid app model a chance.

If my English is weird at times, please feel free to comment the article so that I can improve my writing. It will be much appreciated.

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