Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

Introducing Flights – A Flight Tracking App for iPhone

There has been one application we have been eagerly waiting to launch – Flights. We are very glad to see it now available on AppStore.

Flights application is one of our early applications that has been submitted to Apple and has been rejected for several (valid) reasons. Finally, after many iterations, the application is now available in AppStore.

When we launched our Flight Status application, many users asked us to create a tracking application with maps. We have been working on it for a while and now we are happy with the result. The application has some great interface with good looking maps. Check out some of the screenshots.

I am not going to talk about all the cool features in this blog post. Instead, let me direct you to this page and the screenshot tour page which will give you good idea about this application.

The app is currently on sale and is available for $0.99. This price is not permanent. So make sure you grab your copy now.

We hope you like out new app. We are looking forward to your feedback.

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Video: Every Flight on Earth and their movement

If you haven’t watched this video, you should. This video shows movement for every flight on earth. The data is provided from FlightStats, the data source we use for our Flight Status and other flight related applications.

AppStore’s Refund Problem

When we purchase a camera at BestBuy and are not happy with it, we return it to BestBuy and not Nikon/Canon right? I think this direct return policy has to be defined well for AppStore which currently doesn’t seem to exist. I have used ‘Report Problem’ option in iTunes, but despite clicking that button, nothing happens. There has to be a ‘Refund’ option for AppStore.

AppStore is a great distribution platform and it has helped us reach users from all around the globe (Interestingly, Russia was the second best selling country, following US, for some of the apps earlier this month). AppStore helped us reach tens of thousands of customers so far and there are some handful users who had different expectations on our apps due to several reasons. They contact us directly asking for a refund.

When users contact us directly, I provide refund. In some cases, it was $0.99 and in some cases $6.99. In all cases, I used PayPal to refund the amount to our users (luckily, all users who asked for a refund had a PayPal account). But this process/transaction is outside of the AppStore. It has to be part of the AppStore which is convenient to both developers and users. The current approach of providing refund externally (through PayPal, for example) has the following issues…

Here are the problems I see with a refund process that is outside the AppStore…

  • When a user requests a refund from a developer, the developers have no idea if the user actually purchased the app (Apple doesn’t share info of customers with Developers, which is fine)
  • If a refund is provided using an external process (like PayPal), the developer has to refund the entire amount including Apple’s 30% commission . This means, the developer is at a 30% loss for every refund he provides with an external process
  • After the refund is provided with an external process, the user still has access to the app.

I wish Apple comes up with a formal refund policy. Given Apple’s speedy enhancements to AppStore, I have no doubt this will come. Its a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.

Apple informed developers that iTunes Connect will be down for maintenance during Christmas. Should we expect new functionality such as Refund in their new update? I sure do.

If you are a developer, how do you issue refunds? As a user, did you receive refunds from Apple for AppStore purchases?

Apple improves AppStore on iTunes

Just today Apple made a significant change to AppStore on iTunes. This is not entirely unexpected. I predicted this after they enhanced the AppStore on the iPhone on Nov 22nd. The changes made today are very much welcome. As I see it, they accomplished three important things with this update…

  • Highlight the most popular applications in the category home page (This is important to boost sales for better apps)
  • Separate the Free Apps and Paid Apps as Free Apps were dominating the most popular list in the previous design
  • Consistency in design with the AppStore on the iPhone

These changes took effect across all categories (except Games, as this category has this for long time as this is the most popular category in AppStore). This is an important change for AppStore as it matures every week. I think Apple now truly understands the software as a service model and is enhancing the app every week (in some cases, multiple times a week). I am very glad to see these enhancements coming to AppStore.

appstoreituneschanges

This update also came with an issue. When you try to sort the applications by ‘Most Popular’, it doesn’t work. The apps are instead sorted alphabetically. This is a bug which I am sure they’ll fix it soon. May be they have plans to add ‘Alphabetically’ as another sorting option.

appstoreissue

I am excited to see the change. My Apps are listed under the top paid apps for the Travel category. Flight Status is at No 3 and Currency Exchange is at No 9. Two out of top 10 is not bad, I guess for this category. AppStore is getting better and the focus is now shifting more towards better apps. Keep it coming Apple.

AppStore Experiences

In the last 5 months we have rolled out 8 applications (to be 9 soon) on AppStore and we think we got some decent understanding on the market and the opportunity. We have had very succesful applications, decently succesful apps and not so succesful ones, but we are proud of all the apps we put out.

Here is a quick summary of my experiences on AppStore. You may not agree with these, but I just wanted to share.

  • If you think you can quit your job and make your living on AppStore sales, don’t do that yet.
  • If you think you can build a business on AppStore, it is going to be one hell of a road. For now, I don’t think you can runĀ  a 10 people business selling apps on AppStore.
  • Don’t be fooled by first weeks or first months sales. What really matters is the average sales every month and the trend
  • Play for the longer term. Better apps evolve over time and bad apps eventually die. If you play for the long term, your might be one of the better ones and the sales will eventually go up
  • Expect competition, and lots of them. You’ll find competition offer it cheaper and you’ll find their sales exceed your sales many times. Remember the basic rule, in the longer term, the best app wins
  • You sure can sell your app just for looks, but longer term, the app has to be useful. If not, it’ll be forgotten soon
  • AppStore is improving very rapidly (every week) and expect it to get only better. I see only one goal for AppStore – better apps bubbling app. I see AppStore being enhanced towards this goal
  • Once you have an app out there, listen to your users. Let them drive the roadmap for your app
  • Analyze your sales daily and observe your trends. They’ll leave some interesting clues
  • Let the app do the talking. Build a great app and keep it improving and the rest will follow.

These are just a few points on top on my mind I wanted to share. More later…

Video: Flight Status App Review in AppleiPhoneApps.com

AppleiPhoneApps.com did a great review of our Flight Status application. The review goes in depth and talks about each and every functionality in the application. Glad to see them do a detailed review. Here is the video.

videoss

Please do visit their website to check out their other reviews or even better if you subscribe to their podcast on iTunes.

Flight Status in Apple’s iPhone Ad in NYT & WSJ

Last week when apple reached 300 Million downloads for AppStore, Apple & AT&T did a full page ad in New York Times and Wall Street Journal featuring some of the key apps and we were excited to see our Flight Status app listed in the ad as one of the useful apps. Here is the description…

Flight Status

$4.99 – Not sure when your plane is leaving? Stay up to date on thousands of flights and airports from all corners of the globe with the touch of your finger

We obviously are excited to see app get attention. Thank you Apple. Here is the ad (courtesy CNet).

nytappstoread