The heat is on! You’ve got your great idea, you know there’s no other iPhone app in the App Store like it, and you need to get your app out fast before someone else steals your thunder. This is the scenario that thousands of iPhone app developers find themselves in these days. To compensate, many developers decide to take calculated risks to ensure their app hits the App Store first. Some decide to hold off on including complicated features until a future update, some release partially completed apps and call them “Lite” versions, and some decide to release fairly unsophisticated versions more or less as a test to see what the appetite in the market place is for a particular type of app. Regardless of the method you choose, there is a huge risk to rushing into the App Store that nobody really talks about. It’s the type of risk that can make or break your app the moment it launches!
In today’s competitive app market, stumbling out of the blocks isn’t something that’s difficult to do. You’re working under tight time-lines, with limited resources, and every waking hour you’re obsessively monitoring the App Store to see if anyone beat you to the punch. Forgetting to dot one “I” or cross one “T” is par for the course, but the problem is bad decisions and little mistakes can equal big problems.
Apple employs 40 or more dedicated app reviewers who process more than 8,500 apps per week. Each app is reviewed by at least 2 reviewers who spend somewhere in the ballpark of 6 minutes each reviewing your app. It’s logical to think that in 12 minutes two people can’t simulate every possible user scenario. It’s highly probable that your app will make it through the review process even with objectionable content and major bugs. If your app is rejected you instantly lose critical timing and momentum, but in many cases it’s actually better to be rejected than to go live with a buggy app!
How could this be? Well, when an iPhone app is first released into the App Store it’s listed under “New Releases”, which is visible from the App Store homepage. New apps remain fairly visible on this page for 1-3 days. In that time-frame apps typically gain somewhere between several hundred and a few thousand downloads. This sudden surge of downloads can spell disaster if you’re app isn’t buttoned down. Customers who download your app are doing so because it’s new and there’s no pre-existing impression on the quality of your app. After a thousand downloads, even if just a small percentage of consumers (5-10%) experience major bugs and crashes, it’ll result in an onslaught of deletions and low ratings that’ll be hard to recover from.
We’ve heard horror stories from developers who’ve gone through this very scenario. One example that comes to mind is a small app develpment company that poured their entire heart, sole, and bank account into the development of their app. They knew they had a unique idea and worked day and night to get it done. You can imagine their excitement when their app was approved first time through, in only one week. They thought they were only months away from realizing their dream of becoming millionaires. In the first 2 days of being live, their app had 3,000 downloads, and by the 3rd day the ratings started showing up. They expected nothing but 5 star ratings, but instead they were met with a barrage of 1 star ratings. They scrambled to check their crash logs, identified the issue within a few hours, quickly made their code changes, and swiftly resubmitted their app.
Two frustrating weeks passed before they were notified by iTunes Connect that their app update had been rejected. Rejected? For what…bug fixes? iTunes Connect told them their app had been rejected because it contained “objectionable content”. Objectionable content? How could this be? iTunes Connect approved the exact same app, only with more bugs, just 2 weeks ago!
Well, this goes back to Apple’s app approval process. Remember how each reviewer only spends 6 minutes reviewing an app. Well, apparently the first two reviewers didn’t find something objectionable that the next round of reviewers did. In case you’re not familiar with Apple’s approval process, each reviewer has the autonomy and authority to decide whether or not to approve or reject an app. If you’re rejected, that’s it! There’s no one to talk to about it. Not to mention it’s like pulling teeth to get an actual explanation as to what needs to be fixed in order for the app to be approved.
In this case, the developers immediately replied with an email (you can’t call) to iTunes Connect asking what exactly was objectionable, and had to wait an entire week to receive a response. Keep in mind, throughout all of this, the original app was still live in the App Store! People continued to download and submit negative ratings while the developer stood helpless. By the time they received clarity from iTunes Connect, made the required changes, and had the new version approved and released, more than a month had passed. By this time their app had accumulated hundreds of one star ratings and had become buried deep within the App Store. Unfortunately for them, they never recovered.
All of this happened when there were only 30,000 apps in the App Store. Now, with 100,000 apps and counting you can imagine how much this issue has been magnified. Just wait until Verizon comes into the picture! Will you want to be the one that makes this same mistake? I sure wouldn’t!
So what can developers do to help prevent themselves from ending up in the same boat? Well, unless you employ a team of 3,000 testers, it’s not likely you’ll be able to catch every bug. However, what you can do is run your app through an independant external review process prior to submitting. Having your app tested and reviewed in advance by independant 3rd party iPhone app experts that are familiar with the doe’s and and don’ts of the App Store can make all the difference!
To help address this particular issue, SlapApp.com has begun offering pre-release testing and review services for developers. All services are performed under an NDA to ensure your app’s privacy is kept. As a developer, you simply add our testing team’s iPhone’s and iPod’s into your developer account and submit us a compiled version of your app. We test and review the app and return a detailed report of our findings and recommendations within a couple days. We don’t currently advertise this service, but will begin doing so within the next few weeks. In the meantime if you’d like to learn more about our pre-release testing and review services please feel free to contact us.
Additionally, if you’re currently in the process of developing the next great app, you’d better start gettin the wheels in motion on your app marketing campaign. Success doesn’t come overnight and it certainly doesn’t come to those that don’t do what’s required to achieve it! Appency, a cutting edge app marketing firm out of California is a great place to look for professional marketing assistance. In addition to far reaching and comprehensive app marketing solutions, they’ve also started offering a pannel like review and focus group service called RateMyApp!
RateMyApp provides a team of consumers and app experts with the paid download of your app (the short term boost in sales is a great unintentional side effect of the service) in exchange for providing unbiased app reviews in iTunes. Nowadays, with push button ratings it’s hard to compell consumers to write detailed reviews about your app. RateMyApp provides you with the opportunity to have quality unbiased reviews in the App Store on day 1 so perspective buyers have something relevant to base their purchase decision on.
While Appency are not the only fish in the sea providing panel style review services, they’re the only one’s that we have found that:
a) Allow you as a developer to communicate back to the reviewer (in case you fix an issue a reviewer found and does not like), and;
b) Give you a detailed demographics report on the reviewers so you can find out how your app rates with parents, men vs women, various age ranges, etc, and;
c) Allow developers to choose a targeted demographic to perform the reviews (for example if you have an app targeted towards kids, they can provide a team of reviewers that are all parents).
Beware – like our reviews, Appency’s are unbiased – if you submit a crap app, the reviews will surely show it…perhaps another reason for running your app through SlapApp.com’s pre-release testing/recommendations service prior to releasing your app to consumers!
To get your app reviewed by Appency’s RateMyApp service, click here – or if you simply want to be a reviewer and get free apps for yourself, click here. Appency is always looking for more app enthusiasts to participate on their review panels!
SlapApp.com Reviews – Don’t forget! Once your app is tuned to perfection and ready for prime time, we encourage you to have it reviewed by the experts here at SlapApp.com. Click here to request a review.
You must be logged in to post a comment.