Try, try again: two years selling Picky in the App Store
Last Friday marked the two year anniversary of the launch of my music app, Picky1, in the App Store. I started writing a big post reflecting on its development (which actually started way back in January of 2011) and various milestones along the way, but I wasn’t happy with how that was turning out. So here are Picky’s sales figures2 and update history, which tell nearly the whole story:
As you can see, sales were very slow up until quite recently3. I think the update history is also quite telling:
|1.0||January 31, 2012|
|1.1||March 19, 2012|
|1.2||May 30, 2012|
|1.2.1||June 13, 2012|
|2.0||July 31, 2012|
|2.0.1||September 11, 2012|
|2.0.2||September 19, 2012|
|2.0.3||April 15, 2013|
|2.1||September 26, 2013|
|2.1.1||October 8, 2013|
|2.2||October 23, 2013|
|2.2.1||October 30, 2013|
|2.3||November 25, 2013|
|2.4||December 17, 2013|
|2.4.1||January 17, 2014|
After relaunching the app as Picky, I went over a year without releasing another major update, and even the work on that minor update in April 2013 was almost all done a few months prior (I don’t know why I waited so long to submit it – apathy?).
* * *
As of today, Picky has been downloaded a total of 1,708 times and earned me $1,370 in revenue (that’s after subtracting Apple’s 30%4). The interesting thing is that just about 90% of those sales were made in the last four months or so since the release of my big update for iOS 7.
Up until I actually started using iOS 7 on my phone (when the GM was released), I hadn’t planned on updating Picky again. But I found the updated Music app to be even less usable than before (at least for my listening habits), and I was suddenly incredibly motivated to get Picky in a state where I’d still be happy to use it. This meant fixing several new bugs that had popped up, as well as completely overhauling the UI to match the new (and improved!) aesthetic of iOS 7.
It seems that I wasn’t the only one unhappy with the changes Apple had made to the system Music app, and for the first time Picky began to gain a small but steady stream of new customers. Along with these new customers came some great feedback and feature suggestions, which I’ve found to be very rewarding, and really fuelling my work on the app. I’ve released six additional updates since, which have been really well-received by my customers. My mid-December update, featuring a colourful version of the playback screen, even lead to a burst of interest from Reddit’s iPhone community.
Fast-forward a month or so later and sales have started to slow down; there’s probably only so far word-of-mouth can take you. I’ve tried reaching out to several app-centric websites, but there’s yet to be a single one to review Picky, which can be frustrating. But I’m going to keep at it, and I’ve got plans for several big feature enhancements (one of which is currently in progress): features I really want for myself, as well as some others that I’ve been getting a lot of requests for.
Earning around $1000 (after expenses) for hours and hours of work over three years is hardly profitable, but I now think of Picky as a successful hobby. Working on it is fun, hearing from satisfied customers is rewarding, and at the end of the day I’m scratching my own itch and building an app that I really want to use. Plus, there’s something to be said for having complete creative and business control over something – especially when you’re picky5.
- Though for its first six months it was known as Pod+ (a name I was never happy with). ↩
- I hope that my sales data is useful. As far as I know, there aren’t very many developers sharing that kind of information (probably for good reason), and I think Picky’s rebound is kind of an interesting case. ↩
- That one small spike in September of 2012 was from when TUAW ran an interview that they had filmed with me back in WWDC of that year. Those five days represented half of Picky’s downloads to date. ↩
- I launched the app at $1.99, and have changed the price to $0.99 and back a few times since. The majority of my sales have been at $0.99. ↩
- Cue groans from anyone reading this. ↩