Apple

iOS developers, be competitive in the App Store

Get tips on how to make your iOS app stand out in the very crowded App Store.

According to MobileBurn.com, there are over 900,000 apps available for download in Apple's App Store (U.S.). The Games genre, which includes approximately153,000 apps, is by far the most populated category in the App Store, followed by the Education and Entertainment categories (Figure A). It is important to keep tabs on which genres are trending so your app has the best chance of being seen and, ultimately, downloaded. 

Whether you develop and publish iOS apps for fun or fortune, here are a few things to consider when planning your next great app.

Figure A

AppStoreAug2013stats_090913.png

Stand out from the crowd

Name

You should choose a name for your app that best describes its purpose. Remember, the app name influences search results. In the App Store, apps are selected for display by a combination of the name and keywords; the idea is to present relevance first and then popularity. 

Marketing

If you're considering developing a game for iOS, don't rely solely on the App Store for promotion -- plus, choosing a category in the App Store is an exercise in futility. This approach might result in only a few downloads.

I recommend creating a webpage describing your app, and leveraging Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to drive traffic to your site. Your site's product page should link to the App Store for purchase and download. 

Price

Should you charge for your app? The answer depends on whether you want to share in the predicted $46 billion in app sales revenue estimated by 2016.

Also, an app's price does not affect visibility, but it does affect ratings and reviews, which in turn affects acceptability. Charging for an app raises the perceived value; this only works if the app has features, functions, and aesthetics comparable to similar apps within the same price range.

Reviews and ratings

Reviews and ratings go a long way in promoting your app, because in the App Store, apps are listed in the order in which they are ranked. Your users are the best advocates of your app so encourage them to write a review and rate it on the App Store. 

Release schedule

It is especially important to maintain an aggressive release schedule for your iOS app. Between the never-ending iOS releases and the constant flurry of new devices from Apple, there is always a reason to refactor your code and keep a steady stream of versions flowing through the App Store. New apps and updated apps spend several days in the spotlight.

Social media presence

Even if your app does not include Facebook and Twitter functionality, make sure your app has a social media presence. Social media is a great way to introduce new apps or upcoming releases, while building anticipation for the release. Social media also offers you a quick way to receive and respond to concerns, suggestions, and constructive criticism. 

Persistence influences success

Many developers take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to developing and publishing apps, while others choose the equally ineffective Field of Dreams approach ("build it and they will come"). The top 10% of the current iOS apps has one consistent trait as it relates to positioning, publishing, and marketing: persistence by the developer. Be competitive by using every means available to market your app. Remain competitive by using social media, listening and responding to user feedback, and releasing updates often.

Yes, there are over 900,000 apps in the App Store, but you have more control than you think to influence success. It just takes persistence.

Also read on TechRepublic: Four marketing tips for application developers

About

Gregory Dean is the CTO for the Wilen Group. He has spent the past 25 years in C-level positions setting the tone and direction of technology-driven services organizations. Gregory is constantly researching technologies and developing capabilities to...

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