Reviews for iOS & TestNest: A Pair of New Apps to Help Developers With App Releases

It’s not getting any easier for app developers. We’ve cited some of the more sobering statistics previously: app store revenue disparities, consumers’ unwillingness to give new apps a shot etc. Some folks, however, are trying to help their fellow app developers gain more insight into their apps in order to try and break through the discovery bottleneck. Two such apps debuted on Product Hunt today: Reviews for iOS and TestNest.

Reviews for iOS allows developers, marketers or anyone curious to compile all of an app’s reviews, filter them by various metrics (e.g. number of stars) and translate reviews in a single language. This can provide insight into how a particular app is performing, whether you’re a developer looking for actionable information on how your app is doing or whether you’re simply looking at competitors across a particular category or segment. While iOS provides this information already in iTunes Connect, one of the co-founders, Patrick Balestra, argued in the ensuing discussion that the information provided isn’t as valuable as it could be:

We used iTC for a lot of time and we thought that it wasn’t good enough. Reviews are one of the most important place to get user feedback. There is no way to see all the territories reviews all in once. You can filter by number of stars too. Translating reviews is a tap away and you don’t need to copy and paste multiple times. And one of the most important thing, you’re not notified at all when a new review is published.

The founders are currently selling the app directly for $2.99 rather than going the freemium route….at least for now. We’ll see if they change their mind in the near future.

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The other app, TestNest, allows app developers to split-test landing pages with different images, copy & pricing to see which combinations might appeal to the widest audience. The biggest hurdle is that these are landing pages only, as opposed to actual App Store listings. This is because neither Google or Apple allow developers the ability to do formal split testing in their respective app stores. So testing a landing page with traffic garnered from a paid acquisition program like Google Adwords or Facebook Ads may yield a different set of results than if you were able to test that same copy on the app store itself. Still, if you’re targeting folks who regularly download apps, it’s a way to get at least some idea on what kind of headlines and/or copy might be enticing to people and what may ultimately induce a download. Founder Neek Kurat posted a screenshot in the discussion below of what a potential landing page would look like using Angry Birds as an example:

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TestNest is currently in beta and you can sign up for an invite on their landing page.

h/t Product Hunt

Yahoo Poised to Buy Mobile Analytics and Ad Network Flurry (@recode)

Kara Swisher:

Yahoo is buying mobile and app analytics company Flurry, according to sources close to the situation. The deal is expected to be announced later today, said those sources, with a price in the “hundreds of millions” said one person, for the San Francisco-based startup.

Postmodern Computing (@asymco)

What will the smartphone do for us? Does smartphone ubiquity change anything? Besides increasing ARPU slightly in a $1.2 trillion industry? Besides doubling the size of the device business? Besides creating a $20 billion app industry? How do we assess the impact of having a connected computer in one’s pocket? In everyone’s pockets? With us all day. Every day.

It’s a fascinating question and one that has proven remarkably tough to ascertain given the limitations of our traditional economic measurements. Coincidentally, I’m finishing up the latter part of The Second Machine Age: a great book that gets into the rapid exponential growth & technological progress over the last decade or so and what its implications are for the economy and really all of society at a global level. One of the chapters hones in on GDP as an antiquated measurement of economic progress and human welfare as a whole: that because of the digitization of so many traditionally physical goods and services, we need different markers and metrics to really assess our happiness and well-being.

I think smartphones are a corollary of that idea. We see physical devices being produced en masse and it’s easy to say ‘well Samsung and Apple are getting richer at our expense.’ But what about the fact that those devices now make owning a cacophony of other devices (GPSs etc.) a thing of the past? What are the tangible benefits of that? What are the benefits to consumers as a whole that the majority of apps are now freemium and have no barrier to entry on price?

We’re also aware of the significant network effects that accompany these mobile services and how quickly they can scale. I think it’s safe to assume that universal smartphone ubiquity will accelerate those trends in local markets, leading to greater innovation and greater levels of competition at the top of the stack.

Anyway, make sure you read the whole piece. Some great charts.

Apps Solidify Leadership Six Years into the Mobile Revolution (@flurry)

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. Catching up on news after a busy week. Via Flurry:

Time spent on a mobile device by the average US consumer has risen to 2 hrs and 42 minutes per day from 2 hrs and 38 minutes per day in March of 2013. Apps continued to cement their lead, and commanded 86% of the average US mobile consumer’s time, or 2 hrs and 19 minutes per day. Time spent on the mobile web continued to decline and averaged just 14% of the US mobile consumer’s time, or 22 minutes per day. The data tells a clear story that apps, which were considered a mere fad a few years ago, are completely dominating mobile, and the browser has become a single application swimming in a sea of apps.

Actually not that huge of an increase re: time in app. Not as big as last year compared to 2012.

while productivity apps saw their share double from 2% to 4% of the overall time spent.

This is a good sign and I expect this to double (maybe even triple) next year as well, particularly with the release of Office for iPad.

Also YouTube has, in this year’s analysis, been added as its own category. It was 50% of last year’s entertainment category, which isn’t surprising.

A Statistical Analysis of the App Store (@ColinEberhardt)

Interesting data points via Colin Eberhardt:

There is a big difference between the average price for each category with Business apps costing six times more than Games on average. Most of the Categories that have a lower average price are those which we associated with casual use, apps which are used for fun and pleasure. Whereas the high cost categories contain apps that are intended to deliver valuable services, where you might expect to get a return on your $12 investment.

Games are also stickier, on average, than most business apps. More opens, longer in-app time = easier to monetize via ads. Combine this with games appealing to a younger audience (less likely to shell out money for apps) and it’s not surprise games are at the bottom rung of direct pricing on average, whereas business customers and enterprises traditionally don’t have as much aversion to price.

What I’d really like to see mapped out is the correlation between ratings and app store rankings across each category. In other words, trying to quantify how much weight Apple (and Google too, of course) is giving average ratings as part of their overall App Store algorithm.

700m smartphones & tablets in China (@BenedictEvans)

Umeng’s 2013 report has just come out, and it’s full of fascinating data. (Umeng is an app analytics firm, much like Flurry, and has its code in a very large share of apps in use in China.)

Premium handset market still a minority in China but growing fast. A lot of interesting stuff here.

Brief Thoughts On Trends In Mobile App Investing (@semil)

When kinks are ironed out in the product, and if the founders feel good about it, they are faced with a curious choice: Option (A), put the product into a slightly wider but still small beta and quickly put the app into the general market but be subject to scrutiny on metrics; or Option (B) use their network of connected product advisors, investors, bloggers, and insiders to release a wider beta where a controlled group will use and hopefully talk about the app — so much so it triggers pre-emptive financing discussions, as investors don’t want to miss out on a great app right at the point of inflection.

Option B does reek of inside baseball. But I understand the reasoning behind it, particularly when the general market opens yourself up to bad reviews, which can kill an app before it can even get out of the gate. If you’re funded and you have a cache of noteworthy investors, it makes a lot of sense.

Windows Phone is NOT Gaining Market Share: In Fact, They’ve Lost Ground Since 2010. (@tomiahonen)

Great post/rant on how some analysts are using genuine statistics to paint a false picture about Windows Phone’s “growth” in relation to iOS and Android. In fact, since the company bought Nokia they’ve actually lost market share since 2010 despite last year’s “bump,” which was really just adding what remained of Nokia’s market share to Microsoft’s overall number .  The lesson: always read between the lines and never use growth percentage as a barometer for anything without context (e.g. actual units sold).

Developer Economics: Ecosystem wars drawing to a close (@VisionMobile)

Developer Mindshare tells just one side of the story. In a multi-platform race, mindshare is nice to have but what matters most is getting developers to prioritise your platform against the others. This means more, better-quality apps and faster updates, keeping users happy. Android is now the priority platform for 37% of developers, with iOS at 32%.

These are global figures, encompassing a lot of developing markets where the iPhone is more or less an afterthought because of price. iOS remains the priority platform in North America and Western Europe.

A few other interesting figures from the full report (you can download from the link above):

-Out of what they project as a global mobile development community of 2.3 million people, 32.9% are from Asia versus 29.9% from Europe and 29.4% from North America

-60% of developers are below the “app poverty line,” meaning they earn less than $500 per app, per month

-83% of developers develop on tablets; only 12% of developers target them as their primary development screen

-Contract development was responsible for 56% of the app economy in 2013

The Death Of iPhone. The Death Of Android. The Rebirth Of Facebook. (@techpinions)

I’m on board with the idea that the mobile ecosystem is, as of now, in a state of flux. Ben Evans posited the same idea last week. However, some of this I disagree with:

The persistent belief among analysts that  as much as 90% of the current mobile phone market (nearly 5 billion users) will transition to smartphones is a religious ideal, nothing more. Repeat after me: There is no total addressable market (TAM) for smartphones. The very concept is a fiction. Indeed, we may already be within months of Peak iPhone, a year or two from Peak Smartphone.

Peak iPhone is one thing. Peak smartphone is not nearly as likely to happen, at least not for the next several years. When an Android handset can be sold off contract for as much as the prototypical dumb phone, there doesn’t leave much incentive to remain with the latter. Will there still be clamshell phones here and there? Sure. And the laggards that do end up trading in their dumb phones for a basic smart phone model probably aren’t going to do anything with it in terms of apps. Indeed, they’ll probably just look at it as getting a new phone. But I can’t see a scenario where the vast majority of the dumb phone market isn’t going to disappear globally.

Then there’s this:

I carry my smartphone with me all the time and use it for far more than I can list here. For the majority of that time, however, I don’t actually need a “smartphone”. What I really need is something like a credit card-sized piece of glass that supports rare but necessary voice calling, possibly video calling, can display a virtual keyboard for texting, and includes a mag-stripe (and/or chip) for payments. Create this and the smartphone market is gone, reduced to the equivalent of the dusty home desktop PC. Given the rapidity of innovation in this market, I should reasonably expect to have my (truly) smart card by no later than mid 2016. No iPhone necessary — in barely two years.

Essentially, an enhanced Coin that can do more than just facilitate payments. I could see that as a new device category, perhaps. But not one that would replace smartphones for the vast majority of people.

Why cohort analysis is a game-changer for mobile app businesses

Cohort analysis removes the confusion that can arise from running simultaneous improvements and campaigns, so you can get a better sense of what is yielding the best results and is therefore worth investing in. It is a tool that enables you to look at lifespans in isolation — aggregating users at similar points in their lifespans. From there it enables you to form ambitions about how they should play out and ideas about how to accomplish that.

 

Apple’s App Store has best year ever in 2013; tops $10 billion in sales (@gigaom)

Not surprising.

The strong year was pushed over the top in December, when users downloaded nearly three billion apps, accounting for over $1 billion in sales. Apple also announced that, to date, developers have earned $15 billion in profits from the App Store.

 

Mobile App Marketing Costs Hit Record Highs In 2013 (@techcrunch)

However, as app marketing platform makers Fiksu point out, while the percentage slowdown may be accurate this year, it’s based on a larger and ever-increasing raw number of total downloads. In December 2013, for example, the company has been predicting somewhere between 6.6 million and 7 million daily downloads on its own Competitive Index.