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The Art of the App Store: The Business of Apple Development

ISBN: 978-0-470-95278-8
304 pages
December 2011
The Art of the App Store: The Business of Apple Development (0470952784) cover image
A unique behind-the-scenes look at what makes an application succeed in the App Store

With this invaluable book, Tyson McCann offers a non-technical look at all aspects of the iPhone application development landscape and gets to the core of what makes a popular—and profitable—application. From knowing your customer to to launching a successful app, and everything in between, this must-have guide navigates such topics as developing a concept, analyzing the competition, considerations before the launch, marketing, building a community, and maintaining market share… to name a few.

Coverage includes:

  • Setting Your Goals, Costs, and Expectations
  • Researching the App Store Market
  • Knowing Your Customer
  • Plotting the Stages of Development
  • Guidelines and Expectations for Developing Your App
  • Creating Free and Freemium Apps
  • Creating Paid and Premium Apps
  • Adopting Apple's Approach
  • Riding the Social Networking Wave
  • Feedback, Maintaining, and Scaling

Open the vault to App Store success with this indispensable guide!

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Introduction xv

Chapter 1: A Brief History of Time in the App Store 1

Time in a Table 1

The Early App Store 5

Novel Uses of the Touch Screen 6

Simplicity Succeeds While Complexity Fails 8

The Modern App Store 9

The Slow March Toward Complex Apps 10

How Niches Have Changed from the Early App Store 10

Summary 11

Chapter 2: Setting Your Goals, Costs, and Expectations 13

Confronting the “Hero Inventor” Syndrome 13

Benefitting by Doing It Yourself 14

Outsourcing 15

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Going It Alone 20

Considering Your Fundamental Costs 23

Programming 24

Factoring in UI/UX for Game/App Design 25

Factoring in Art Design 26

Considering Your Optional Costs 26

Audio Costs 26

Special Effects Costs 27

Localization for Foreign Markets 27

Quality Assurance/Testing 28

Public Relations and Marketing 29

Advertising Costs 30

Managing Your Expectations 31

The App Store as a Crowded Zoo 31

Planning for Cost Overruns 32

Scheduling with an Iron Fist 32

Summary 32

Chapter 3: Researching the App Store Market 33

Examining the Numbers and Trends 33

Making Decisions Based on Research 36

Opportunity Size: Is There a Hole in the Market? 37

Choosing Your Niche 38

Perform Due Diligence Early 39

Summary Decisions 40

Analyzing Successful Apps 41

Exploring Popular Features 48

Exploring Visual Styles 49

Exploring Social Integration 50

Exploring the iPhone Hall of Fame 51

Avoiding Pesky Ego Traps 51

Game Concepts: Old versus New 53

Analyzing Unsuccessful Apps 55

Learning from Other People's Mistakes 57

Learning from Other People's Complaints 58

Mixing and Matching 59

Borrowing Style and Functionality from Mainstream

Applications/Games (the Picasso Way) 59

Pulling Out Successful Features for a Twist 60

Summary 60

Chapter 4: Knowing Your Customer 63

Understanding App Store Demographics 64

Casual and Traditional Gaming Pillars 65

iPhone Casual versus Traditional Casual 68

Meeting Your Customer’s Expectations 68

Visual and Graphical Expectations 69

Gameplay and Feature Set Expectations 69

Competitive Feedback Research 91

Summary 91

Chapter 5: Plotting the Stages of Development 93

Leadership and Your Team 94

Assumptions about Your Role 95

Your Starting Lineup 95

A Controlling Idea to Kick Things Off 98

Concept through Release 100

Maximizing Your App through Agile Development 101

Planning — Envisioning Your Vision 104

Scheduling 107

Production and Stages of Development 115

Coordinating Marketing 119

Summary 121

Chapter 6: Guidelines and Expectations for Developing Your App 123

Potential Risk and Reward 124

Paid Apps Are Seen as WYSIWYG 124

What Incentives Can You Provide When Sales Dwindle? 124

Are You Planning on In-App Purchases? 124

Can You Go Free? 125

Like Winning the Lottery 125

Revenue Like a Rollercoaster 126

App Store Business Models 127

Free Apps 127

Paid App Revenue Models and Price Expectations 129

Creating for a Multitasking World 132

Understanding the Effects of Multitasking on the Brain 133

Seeing the Phone as the Ultimate Multitasking Tool 133

The Half-Second Window 133

Understanding Typical User Tendencies with Touch Screens 134

Building Initial Interactions That Meet the

“Half-Second Window” 134

Depicting the Physical World 136

Using Physical Metaphors to Delight Your Audience 136

Designer/Branding Exercise:

Creating Metaphors for Your App 139

Utilizing Physical Forces: Gravity, Weather, Objects 143

The Importance of Sound in Physical Metaphors 144

Summary 144

Chapter 7: Creating Free and Freemium Apps 145

App Revenue Terminology 146

Microtransaction 146

Downloadable Content (DLC) 146

Free App 148

Freemium App 148

In-App Purchase 149

Free-to-Play App (F2P) 149

Lite App 149

Long Tail Strategy 150

Business Reasons behind Revenue Models 150

Free App Considerations 150

Freemium App Considerations 151

Lite App Considerations 153

Considering Risks and Rewards 155

Free Apps 155

'Freemium Apps 156

Lite Apps 156

Minimizing Risk for Any App 157

How to Succeed with a Free App 157

Free Apps 157

Lite Apps 160

Supporting Your App with Ads 165

How to Succeed with a Freemium App 168

Microtransactions and the Long Tail 169

Viable Ways to Monetize 170

Implementing a Virtual Currency System 172

Succeeding with the Freemium Model 176

Summary 176

Chapter 8: Creating Paid and Premium Apps 177

Business Reasons behind Revenue Models 178

Two Types of Paid Apps 178

Entertainment versus Practicality or Education in

Price Point Determination 179

Non-Premium Paid App Considerations 180

Premium Paid App Considerations 181

Considering Risks and Rewards 183

Non-Premium Paid Apps 183

Premium Paid Apps 184

How to Succeed with Paid Apps 184

The Paid App Mentality 184

Integrating Your Lite Version 187

Adding In-App Purchases 192

Summary 193

Chapter 9: Adopting Apple's Approach 195

Infusing an Insane Amount of Care 196

Treating User Experience as King 197

The Little Things Matter… More Than You Think 200

Value-Added Benefits (Go Farther Than You Think You Should) 202

Customer as King 203

Adapting Apps to iPad 204

Case Study: Tapbots 206

High-Contrast Branding 206

Refined, Responsive, Simplistic Interface 207

No Transitions 208

Standard Conventions 208

Summary 209

Chapter 10: Riding the Social Networking Wave 211

Fostering the Ultimate Viral Marketing: Social Networks 212

Integrating In-App Networks 212

Building Achievements, Medals, Badges, and Other Rewards 218

Taking Cues from Facebook 219

Everything Is More Fun with Friends 220

It’s All about Metrics — Tweak Values Early and Often 220

Ignoring Facebook Conventions 222

Waiting Is Not Fun 223

No Forced Friends, Please 223

Rewarding Users for Promoting Your App 224

Gifting with Virtual Objects, Free Stuff 224

Providing Users with a Sense of Community 227

Social Interaction as Features 227

Features versus Extras 228

Setting the Stage for Users to Compete 228

Providing the Tools for Users to Connect 232

Implementing Facebook Connect and Twitter 232

Fostering Your In-App User Community 234

Maximizing Viral Channels 235

Summary 240

Chapter 11: Feedback, Maintaining, and Sc aling 243

Evaluating Feedback 244

Soft Launch Preparation 244

Main Launch Feedback 245

Taking the Good and the Bad 246

Converting Data into Actionables 247

Maintenance Isn't Just Fixing, It's Marketing 250

Customer Support Is Key 250

Timely Updates 253

Scaling 253

Releasing New Content 253

Building for Other Platforms 254

The Future of Your App 254

Summary 256

Appendix A: Reading List of Recommended Books 257

App Development 257

Business and Project Management 257

iOS Programming 258

Design and Art 258

Marketing 258

Creativity and Inspiration 259

Appendix B: Online Resources 261

Research and Metrics 261

App Store Metrics and Rankings 261

App Usage and Engagement Metrics 262

Website Metrics and SEO 262

Planning and Communicating 263

Outsourcing 263

Project Management 263

E‑Mail, Video Conferencing, Chat, and Screen Sharing 265

Developing 265

iOS Development 265

Social Game Solutions 266

Brainstorming and Prototyping 267

Documentation 268

Cross-Platform Development 268

Royalty-Free Audio 269

Marketing 269

App News and Review Sites 269

Ad Networks and Affiliates 270

Award Sites 271

Press Release Submission 271

E‑Mail Marketing 272

Full-Featured Marketing Solutions 272

Social Media 272

Customer Support 274

Index 275

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Tyson McCann owns Nth Iterate, a game design and consulting company. As a freelance game design, social media, and user experience consultant, he has worked for major game companies including Sega, 3DO, the Tetris Company, Fisher-Price, and Funcom. His experience includes design and development on multiple iPhone apps, including a top-grossing, multiplayer game that can be found in the App Store Hall of Fame.
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