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Posts tagged with "app store"

Phil Schiller on App Store Upgrade Pricing

Gadgets 360's Kunal Dua interviewed Apple's Phil Schiller last month and, among questions about voice-only assistants, he also asked about upgrade pricing on the App Store.

Gadgets 360: With all the recent changes in the App Store, can developers expect to see upgrade pricing next?

Phil Schiller: The reason we haven’t done it is that it's much more complex than people know, and that's okay, it's our job to think about complex problems, but the App Store has reached so many successful milestones without it because the business model makes sense to customers. And the upgrade model, which I know very well from my days of running many large software programmes, is a model from the shrink-wrapped software days that for some developers is still very important, for most, it’s not really a part of the future we are going.

I think for many developers, subscription model is a better way to, go than try to come up with a list of features, and different pricing for upgrade, versus for new customers. I am not saying it doesn't have value for some developers but for most it doesn’t, so that's the challenge. And if you look at the App Store it would take a lot of engineering to do that and so would be at the expense of other features we can deliver.

For example, the App Store has one price for an app, when you see it, you see if there's a price on it, that's the price. It doesn't have multiple prices for multiple tiers of customers so to engineer that in, it's not impossible, but a lot of work for a small segment of software that we hope for many of them, subscription pricing is a better model, the one where the customers are comfortable with. So we’ll keep talking to developers about what's most important on their list, we want them to keep telling is if that [upgrade pricing] is high on the list or not, and we’ll keep an open mind to it, but it's harder than people realise.

Schiller's point makes sense – rather than retrofitting the App Store for old software pricing systems, Apple has found success with a new, simpler model. It's also true, however, that upgrade pricing has worked successfully for developers that have never sold "shrink-wrapped software" – companies that want to retain their most loyal customers without forcing them to sign up for a subscription. You don't need to sell software on physical discs for upgrade pricing to make sense.

It'll be interesting to see how developers – especially on iOS and the iPad (if WWDC brings new incentives to the platform) – will continue to adapt and try different strategies. We've seen some signs of this over the past year, with The Omni Group shifting to In-App Purchases and productivity apps relying on subscriptions, and I hope Apple will add even more flexibility to these new models at WWDC.

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iTunes Connect’s App Analytics Adds Source and Referrer Data

Two years ago, Apple rolled out App Analytics on its iTunes Connect developer portal. Originally announced at WWDC in 2014, App Analytics gave developers a better understanding of how and when their apps were used, how many views their app’s page on the App Store received, and more. However, the original version of App Analytics did not report how customers got to the App Store.

Yesterday Apple announced an expansion to App Analytics that adds source and referral data. According to Apple’s developer news website:

App Analytics in iTunes Connect now provides insight on where customers discover your app, including App Store browsing and search, within other apps, or on the web. With key metrics based on source types, you can see your top referring apps and websites, making it easier to optimize your marketing campaigns.

Apple’s App Analytics page elaborates:

With App Analytics, you can see how many users discover your app while searching or browsing the App Store — including tapping on Search Ads for your app — to gain insight into how your marketing and metadata impact downloads.

App Analytics counts users who visit your app’s product page from a link within another app.

Blogs, websites, and other online sources that link to your app’s product page, are critical in driving user acquisition through word-of-mouth marketing and PR. With App Analytics, you can see which organic marketing channels drive the highest traffic, downloads, usage, and revenue for your app.

There is a lot of interesting new data for developers to digest in App Analytics that should help them market their apps more effectively. I particularly appreciate the ability to drill down into any source of App Store traffic to see how it has performed over time and from which countries those customers are coming.


Dispelling the Apple Services Myth

Apple is known for its quality hardware and software, but services are another story.

Cloud-based services are the future – there's no denying that. And Apple historically has struggled with its cloud offerings. From MobileMe, to the early growing pains of iCloud, to the Apple Maps fiasco, the company gained a poor reputation in the area of services.

Only in the last two years has Apple publicly touted services as a core part of its business. Company press releases as recent as May 2015 ended with the following self-definition:

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

There's a lot that feels outdated here, including the fact that both Mac and iPod are highlighted before the iPhone. But one major way this paragraph fails to describe the Apple of today is that the word 'services' is nowhere to be found.

Amid a variety of other changes, Apple's current self-definition includes the following:

Apple’s four software platforms — iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud.

Services are a key component of modern Apple. The way the company defines itself, along with the numerous services shoutouts in quarterly earnings calls, prove that.

Despite Apple's increased focus on services, the common narrative that the company "can't do services" still hangs around – in online tech circles at least.

But is that narrative still true, or has it grown outdated?

I want to share how I use Apple services in my everyday life across three important contexts of life:

  • As I work,
  • On the go, and
  • Around the house.

My aim is not to perform an in-depth comparison of Apple's cloud offerings and competing products. Though competitors and their features will come up occasionally, the focus here is on my experiences in everyday living – my experiences, not yours. I understand that just because something does or doesn't work for me, the same isn't necessarily true for you. The point of this piece is not to try proving anything; instead, I simply want to assess and share my current experiences with Apple's services.

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Apple Cuts Affiliate Commissions on Apps and In-App Purchases

Today, Apple announced that it is reducing the commissions it pays on apps and In-App Purchases from 7% to 2.5% effective May 1st. The iTunes Affiliate Program pays a commission from Apple's portion of the sale of apps and other media when a purchase is made with a link that contains the affiliate credentials of a member of the program. Anyone can join, but the Affiliate Program is used heavily by websites that cover media sold by Apple and app developers. The announcement, which was made in the May Affiliate News email that Apple sends to participants in the program says:

Starting on May 1st 2017, commissions for all app and in-app content will be reduced from 7% to 2.5% globally. All other content types (music, movies, books, and TV) will remain at the current 7% commission rate in all markets. We will also continue to pay affiliate commissions on Apple Music memberships so there are many ways to earn commissions with the program.

With ad revenue in decline, affiliate commissions are one way that many websites that write about apps generate revenue, MacStories included. Many developers also use affiliate links in their apps and on their websites to supplement their app income. This change will put additional financial pressure on both groups, which is why it’s especially unfortunate that the changes are being made on just one week’s notice.


Curtis Herbert on App Store Review Replies

Curtis Herbert, creator of the excellent Slopes for iOS (I wish I was a skier or snowboarder to use his app), has some great tips for developers on dealing with replies to App Store reviews:

I'd recommend every app owner do the following, today. Head into the review section in iTunes Connect and sort by "Most Helpful." These are reviews that customers have voted should be floated to the top, and that's what Apple does. Take a quick look through there and see which ones you can address.

Future customers are most likely to see your replies to these reviews, so that's the best bang-for-the-buck you can do right now. I went further than that, personally, and re-read a ton of my negative reviews and replied to the ones that met the above goals, but you don't have to rush it.

If you're a developer, you'll want to start engaging with customers right away and work through your existing backlog of reviews. I have a feeling the new ability for developers to reply to customers will fundamentally change the tone and utility of App Store reviews.

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Details on App Store Developer Responses

Following yesterday's release of iOS 10.3, which introduced the ability for developers to respond to App Store reviews, Apple has released official guidelines for how developer's can best craft responses.

The ideal response is concise and clearly addresses your customer's feedback. Communicate in the tone of your brand, and use terminology your target audience will appreciate and understand. If multiple people in your company can reply to reviews for your app, they should use a similar voice and style. Make sure your replies follow Apple’s Terms and Conditions, which prohibits using profanity, posting users’ personal information, and spamming.

The guidelines also recommend:

  • Always providing individualized responses, even if only by pairing a personalized introduction with a more generic response.
  • Soliciting feedback from users regarding what they'd like to see in future updates.
  • Replying to reviews in a timely, consistent manner.
  • Prioritizing responses based on a review's apparent level of importance.
  • Writing release notes for app updates that specifically address issues mentioned in past reviews, and letting those past reviewers know of the update.
  • Staying on topic with the issue raised by a review; no using replies as a means of advertisement.

Besides these guidelines from Apple, as App Store responses have gone live for the first time, more details have come out concerning how those reviews will work.

It appears that every reply submitted by a developer goes through some sort of review process before it is posted to the App Store. In the following tweet's screenshot, you can see a 'Pending' tag on the developer's review.

It was previously unknown how users would be notified when a developer responds to their App Store review. Although a notification from the App Store app seemed a possibility, Apple has instead chosen to go the route of email notifications. Those emails include a link with the option for reviewers to update their original review.


Apple Highlights Indie Games in New Permanent Storefront

In a continuation of its current promotion of indie games, the App Store has now added a new section dedicated to featuring indie titles.

Chelsea Stark of Polygon adds:

The section kicked off today and will run indefinitely, according to Apple, featuring new games daily, along with highlighting older titles. The games are a mix of free-to-play and paid titles, all selected by the same editorial team that has been highlighting games through the App Store’s history.

The indie games section can be accessed by tapping the 'Celebrating Indie Games' banner at the top of the App Store. Currently it includes featured columns like:

  • Our 25 favorite indie games
  • Indie game debuts
  • Newly discovered indies
  • Indie greats: 99¢ for a limited time
  • Indie games celebrate innovation...

This new dedicated hub for indie games is available on the tvOS App Store as well, highlighting the kind of quality games that are available not only on Apple's mobile devices, but also its television platform.

Though Apple has stated that the indie games section will be a permanent fixture, it's unclear at this point in what location it will live on. After the current indie promotion ends, will it remain as the top featured banner a while? Or in another featured banner further down on the App Store page? We'll have to wait and see. In any case though, in an App Store that's often dominated by big players, it's exciting to see extra attention pointed toward indies.


Indie Game Promotion Takes Over App Store

The App Store looks a little different today. If you opened it and thought you accidentally landed on the Games category page, it would be understandable. But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, Apple has launched a major promotion of the finest indie games available on iOS. According to the App Store Games Twitter account, the promotion is running for the next twelve days.

There are many classics featured: Super Hexagon, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery, Monument Valley, Severed, Her Story, and Space Age to name just a few standouts. In addition to indie classics, the banner across the top of the App Store is promoting Mushroom 11 a new game by Untame that looks great, though I haven’t had a chance to try it yet.

The sheer volume of games on the App Store can make the choices feel overwhelming at times. That’s why it’s great to see Apple spotlighting the very best indie games available on iOS. With 12 days to go in the promotion, I expect it will be worth revisiting Apple’s picks. There are currently some gaps in some of the categories highlighted that I expect will fill in with more games as the promotion continues.


iOS 10.3 to Standardize In-App Review Prompts, Developers to Gain Ability to Respond to Customer Reviews

With today's release of the first iOS 10.3 beta for developers, Apple announced two changes that have been highly requested by iOS users and the developer community. iOS 10.3 will offer a developer API to standardize how apps can ask users to rate an app or write a review on the App Store, and developers will get the ability to directly respond to customer reviews on both the iOS and Mac App Store.

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