Graham Spencer

712 posts on MacStories since January 2011

Graham is a regular contributor to MacStories, a law and economics student at university and connoisseur of great TV shows. With a particular passion for telling stories with the aid of data and visualizations, there is a high likelihood that he wrote a story if you see a graph on MacStories.

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A Candid Look at Unread’s First Year

Unread for iPhone has earned a total of $32K in App Store sales. Unread for iPad has earned $10K. After subtracting 40 percent in self-employment taxes and $350/month for health care premiums (times 12 months), the actual take-home pay from the combined sales of both apps is: $21,000, or $1,750/month.

Considering the enormous amount of effort I have put into these apps over the past year, that’s a depressing figure. I try not to think about the salary I could earn if I worked for another company, with my skills and qualifications. It’s also a solid piece of evidence that shows that paid-up-front app sales are not a sustainable way to make money on the App Store.

The story of Unread is not one of failure, we were big fans of the app and it has made money. But for the creator of Unread, Jared Sinclair, it has not been a success either. The income that Unread has generated just isn't sustainable on a long-term basis. The story about Unread's first year is fascinating thanks to Sinclair's transparency and I'd highly recommend you read it, particularly if you are developer considering to go 'indie' on the App Store.

Sinclair's story clearly hit a nerve because since his post earlier today, there have been a number of others who have written about the situation with their own perspectives. For example, Benjamin Mayo makes some perhaps obvious points that I think deserve reinforcement:

Betting on apps of incredibly large scale means you bear proportionately more risk, with the possibility of no return whatsoever. If you want to maximise your profitability, make small apps that do a few things well. The amount of effort you put into an app has very little to do with how much of the market will buy it. This means that making big apps exposes you to substantially more risk, which is not fairly counterbalanced by significantly higher earnings potential.

At this point, you may be despairing at the reality of the situation and Cezar Carvalho Pereira offers some commentary on that, in a sense giving a reality check on what it means to go indie on the App Store:

So, while I believe the mythical indie is far from dead, I think the path to going indie is a lot less glamorous than what most have come to expect. A beautiful idea followed by a great execution doesn’t necessarily guarantee success.

If you want even more, Stephen Hackett, Tyler Hall, Ben Brooks, and Brent Simmons have all also posted stories on a similar theme today.

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What Makes a Name in the App Store?

I looked at the top 200 apps in each category for both paid and free iPhone apps, 8400 apps in total. Although some developers use up to 49 words (and all 255 characters), the majority are around 4-5 words (24-35 characters). Around one third of apps use a delimiter / separator like 'Flipboard: Your Social News Magazine'.

Stuart Hall takes a brief but interesting look at what exactly makes a name for apps in the App Store. Specifically, he is talking about the full app store name such as 'Wish - Shopping Made Fun'. Whilst Apple allows a name with as many as 255 characters (remember a tweet is only 140 characters), a big chunk of developers stay under 30 characters - which is about as long as it can be on an iPhone before the App Store cuts the name.

Hall also offers some suggestions for coming up with an app name, which are fairly straightforward and make a lot of sense. But one thing missing from the post (through no real fault of Hall's) is some anecdotal evidence from App developers who may have experimented with different length or style of App names - I'd love to hear how it affected their sales (if at all).

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FiftyThree Releases SDK for Their Pencil Stylus

The FiftyThree SDK has been implemented by Procreate, allowing it to fully support the Pencil Stylus

The FiftyThree SDK has been implemented by Procreate, allowing it to fully support the Pencil Stylus

FiftyThree, the company behind the popular 'Paper' sketching app, have today released an SDK for their 'Pencil' stylus which is now available internationally. The SDK incorporates advanced features enabled by the Pencil that were previously limited to FiftyThree's own Paper app. In preparation for today's release, FiftyThree has worked with the developers of Procreate, Noteshelf, and Squiggle which will offer full support for the FiftyThree SDK.

With the FiftyThree SDK, developers worldwide can now tap into Pencil’s industry­leading technologies and find support from a team that values true partnerships. Developers are already discovering new ways of using Pencil to bring the power of natural creativity to their apps, from professional drawing to making music, starting with our partners Procreate, Noteshelf, and Squiggle.

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Apple Q3 2014 Results: $37.4 Billion Revenue, 35.2 Million iPhones, 13.3 Million iPads Sold

Apple has published their Q3 2014 financial results for the quarter that ended June 28. The company posted revenue of $37.4 billion. The company sold 13.3 million iPads, 35.2 million iPhones, and 4.4 million Macs, earning a quarterly net profit of $6.9 billion.

“Our record June quarter revenue was fueled by strong sales of iPhone and Mac and the continued growth of revenue from the Apple ecosystem, driving our highest EPS growth rate in seven quarters,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We are incredibly excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, as well as other new products and services that we can’t wait to introduce.”

Notably, Apple's gross margin jumped back up to 39.4% this quarter, compared to 36.9% in the year-ago quarter. International sales also accounted for 59% of all Apple's revenue. You can see all our usual earnings call charts below.

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Stickers Are Front and Center in Apple’s New MacBook Air Ad

Apple today posted a new ad for the MacBook Air, and it has a very different style to what we've seen in recent MacBook ads. Titled 'Stickers', this short and simple ad, filmed mostly with stop-motion, focuses on the back of the MacBook Air's display where it is covered in dozens of different stickers. The ad features music from Hudson Mohawke and ends with the slogan "The notebook people love".

You can view the full advert below, on Apple's website or on their YouTube channel.

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The Eighth Annual iTunes Festival Returns to London This September

Apple today announced that their annual iTunes Festival will once again return to London's iconic Roundhouse for the eighth year. The month long festival will happen throughout September and will feature Maroon 5, David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Beck, Sam Smith, Blondie, Kylie, 5 Seconds of Summer, Chrissie Hynde and many more of the world’s biggest artists.

“The iTunes Festival in London is back with another stunning line-up of world class performers and tremendous new acts,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “These live shows capture the heart and soul of iTunes and we love bringing them to our customers in the Roundhouse, as well as to the millions of people watching all over the world for free.”

Apple will once again stream the festival live as well as offer the performances on demand to iOS, iTunes and Apple TV users - just as they have for previous iTunes Festivals, including earlier this year in their first SXSW iTunes Festival. For those looking to attend the festival, Apple will be giving tickets away through iTunes and select media partners including Global Radio and the London Evening Standard.

You can read more information in Apple's Press Release or keep an eye on the iTunes Festival website for more information in the coming weeks.


Sue Wagner Elected To Apple’s Board of Directors, Bill Campbell Retires

Apple's board of directors received a slight change yesterday when Sue Wagner was elected and Bill Campbell retired from the board. Apple's chairman, Art Levinson, says the election of Sue Wagner to Apple's board comes after an exhaustive search by the company, in which they sought to "further strengthen our board’s breadth of talent and background".

Sue is a pioneer in the financial industry and we are excited to welcome her to Apple’s board of directors,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We believe her strong experience, especially in M&A and building a global business across both developed and emerging markets, will be extremely valuable as Apple continues to grow around the world.

Wagner is the co-founder and director of BlackRock, one of the world's most successful asset-management companies, and also serves on the boards of BlackRock, DSP BlackRock (India), Swiss Re, Wellesley College and Hackley School.
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AppbotX Launches in an Effort to Help Developers Better Communicate with Users

Launched earlier today, AppbotX is a new open source support and communications solution for developers of iOS apps and soon for apps on other platforms including Android, Windows Phone and Unity. AppbotX is designed as a library that can be built into any app, allowing developers to easily provide inline notifications, smart feedback forms, FAQs, version updates and review prompts. It is the natural evolution of the Appbot service which launched in 2012 and enables developers to keep track of user reviews of their apps.

We’ve delivered over 15 million reviews for more than 34,000 apps with Appbot. We understand the pain points app developers have, complaints and bad reviews lead to fewer sales and poor rankings for apps. Now we're launching AppbotX to solve communication problems mobile developers have with customers.

AppbotX looks to be a huge time saver for developers who want to implement better support mechanisms within their apps but don't want to spend the time and expense of developing it themselves. I should caveat that statement by noting I'm not a developer, but even as a user the functions that AppbotX enables seem great. In particular I really like the idea of inline notifications that would allow a developer to send notifications to their users if there is a critical bug, server downtime or other important news. Because it runs on AppbotX's servers, those notifications will still get to the user even if the developer's servers are down.

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Apple and IBM Join Forces to Tackle the Mobile Enterprise

A few hours ago, Apple and IBM announced that they were partnering up with each other to "transform enterprise mobility". The partnership will bring new enterprise solutions to iOS including native apps developed by IBM, unique IBM cloud services for iOS, a new AppleCare for enterprise, and will allow IBM to sell iPhones and iPads packaged with "industry-specific solutions".

The new IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions will be built in an exclusive collaboration that draws on the distinct strengths of each company: IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities, with the power of more than 100,000 IBM industry and domain consultants and software developers behind it, fused with Apple’s legendary consumer experience, hardware and software integration and developer platform. The combination will create apps that can transform specific aspects of how businesses and employees work using iPhone and iPad, allowing companies to achieve new levels of efficiency, effectiveness and customer satisfaction—faster and easier than ever before.

The two companies are working together to bring more than 100 mobile solutions, including a number of apps that are designed and developed for the enterprise. These so-called mobile solutions will address specific industry needs including, but not limited to, those in retail, healthcare, banking, travel and transportation, telecommunications and insurance. They will be built from scratch with IBM's cloud software services for analytics, data security and data management native to iOS. The hope for both companies is that the partnership will "deliver a new level of value for businesses". These mobile solutions will start arriving later this year and into 2015.

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