The Top iPhone Apps – What’s the Secret of Their Success?

Earlier this yr, Apple released its listing of pinnacle iPhone apps at the only billion download mark. Downloads just hit billion, making Apple’s “All-Time” Top Apps label even sillier than it changed into on time — however that aside, it is an inspiring listing, and there are lots of good training to be learned from it.

We recognize that developers of some top apps have earned from $350,000 (Pocket God) to $800,000 (iShoot). Some have, in all likelihood, earned a great deal greater. It’s hard to estimate earnings even though the quantity of downloads is understood because app pricing bounces around plenty. Koi Pond has been downloaded about 900,000 times, and Enigmo over 800,000. Even at, say, a dollar a time, it’s excellent cash.

How do you get admission to this large cash cow? Here are some tips, based totally on our analysis of Apple’s twenty pinnacle paid apps:

Get in early

The iPhone 3G came out in July 2008. Almost half of the pinnacle apps had been launched via August. The relaxation had been all out via the give-up of 2008, besides one that got here out in January 2009.

Timing is the entirety. Of path, some of this is just a remember of physical truth — if you sell 5,000 apps an afternoon for a hundred days, it is 500,000 sales; if you most effective have 5 days, you may only attain 25,000. But there is more to it than that. There are truly so many apps now (over 50,000) that it is tough to be seen. Apps that came out early and gained traction had a large advantage over the competition, and that form of gain is often maintained long-time.

Entertain the loads


If you need to store the planet, enlighten humanity or enhance people’s health, you may get your reward in heaven. However, you may not have a prevailing iPhone app. Every one of the pinnacle paid apps is a toy of some kind. Fourteen are in the Games class, four Entertainment and a pair of Music.

Interestingly, this leisure is commonly not senseless. Most of the video games are complex, requiring ability and awareness, and quite some have many permutations or consistent updates (Pocket God). Complex video games include Pocket God, Fieldrunners, Texas Hold’em Poker, and Monopoly. Like the memory matching recreation Bejeweled 2 or the skateboard app Touchgrind, the simpler video games still require ability and concentration.

Only a few, like Koi Pond, require little mental attempt. However, even this one has many options and constant movement. Nearly all of the apps have terrific snapshots and plenty of motion. There were the best 2 idiotic and pointless apps, namely the simulated beer app, iBeer, and the self-explanatory iFart Mobile.

There’s a marvel in each package deal.

Ocarina, the historical flute simulation, is an actual surprise. Who could have the idea an obscure musical tool might have ranked so excessive? The app builders are interesting — an excessive-flying crowd of musicians and laptop scientists from locations like Stanford and Princeton. Could it be that there is nevertheless an area for really excellent and innovation on the Internet? Happy idea.

Develop for the tool

Using the accelerometer appears to increase an app’s possibilities of achievement. Most of the top paid apps are accelerometer-intensive or use different novel or specific iPhone features.

The message right here is that successful app builders take advantage of the tool’s novel or unique capability. The iPhone is a cell; it has a touchscreen, it has an accelerometer. Develop the tool! Apps that act as although they may be on an everyday computing device laptop are likely to be less a success.

Have the right background


It absolutely enables me to be a skilled software program developer, preferably with a historical past in Internet games. Most of the businesses and folks who prominent themselves have an extended track record in this marketplace. In some instances, it changed into only a rely on taking a current commercial enterprise model and making the logical soar to iPhone apps. In others, the app becomes the beginning of the commercial enterprise, and in a few cases, it can additionally be the end of the street.

Don’t be a one-hit marvel.

Four of the top paid apps were orphans or close, with the simplest 1 to two apps in step with the developer. Far more common, although, were developers with stables of 3 to 10 apps. Only 1 developer had greater than 10 apps. Successful developers leveraged present products and apps, building on one to create others – but adapting an app to make very similar spin-offs (iBeer, iMilk, iSoda, Magic Wallet), at the same time as smart, seems a little too opportunistic. The app developers that have developed several precise, compelling video games are much more likely to have more than one success.

In reality, three companies (Freeverse, Pangea Software, Electronic Arts) every had 2 top-twenty apps. All 3 are large or biggish businesses, implying that it takes giant assets to produce a winning app.

Don’t be too hung up on the fee.

The de facto widespread iPhone app charge is $0.99. This level became quickly established in the App Store as the location wherein maximum shoppers regarded glad. Possibly it’s due to the standard cost of iTunes tune.

In any case, most of the prevailing apps command higher charges, with thirteen of the 20 priced from $1.99 up and four of them commanding the majestic (for iPhone apps) price of $4.99 on the day we did the evaluation.

You do not need Lite or Free teaser apps.

Here’s a fascinating factoid. Only 2 of the pinnacle twenty apps (iHunt and iShoot) have a loose or lite version, as a minimum on the time of writing. Both developers are individuals in place of businesses, and it is exciting that the bigger clothing does not see the want for teasers. The implication is if it’s well worth buying, people will pay for it.

The freebie iShoot Lite had 2.4 million downloads in January, and there had been 320,000 paid downloads. So it is pretty viable that the free app drove income of the paid app — but it is also viable that there could have been extra paid downloads had the free app now not been to be had.

It would help if you were not a big corporation (even though it facilitates)


Could it’s that fulfillment in iPhone apps relies upon having huge, sophisticated, costly advertising techniques? Not always. There’s no doubt that it allows being Internet-savvy and features a deep wallet, but the winning app developers were an encouraging blend of sizes and types.

Four of the 17 builders are huge multinational companies — Apple itself (Texas Hold’em), Electronic Arts (TETRIS, Monopoly), Activision (Crash Bandicoot), and SEGA (Super Monkey Ball). Then there is a gaggle of mid-sized groups and, thankfully, additionally 7 small companies and four individuals.

Suppose Mobile is an exciting story. It became advanced by an Internet advertising guru who understood how to work the machine and get awesome exposure using producing a useless app that he must have known could without difficulty generate controversy, laughter, and hobby.

The Internet mythology of clever guys working evenings or weekends, or out of the garage, and hitting the jackpot, lives on. The little men in this group are John Moffett (iHunt), Ethan Nicholas (iShoot), and, to date, as we can tell, Shinya Kasatani (Pocket Guitar). These men might not be the following Steve Jobs, but they have been a success to the tune of loads of lots of dollars, just a dollar or at a time. Pretty spectacular.

Controversy is useful, however never crucial

iFart Mobile specifically, and to a lesser quantity, iBeer and iHunt, are quite arguable and nearly, in reality, gained a variety of publicity because of this. You can almost view the debate inside the scores — whilst a maximum of the 20 pinnacle apps have a dominant rating of 5 stars, regularly losing down, these 3 arguable apps had large numbers of scores for every five stars and 1 superstar. So this distribution of score won’t hurt an app and can show a developer that the app has a variety of potential to create buzz. The other top apps did not seem designed to draw controversy, which obviously did not hurt them.

Five-star ratings are neither critical nor feasible for top apps

You can not please all humans all the time — so the extra scores there are, the lower the chances of a five or maybe 4.5 celebrity common. None of the pinnacle apps had 5 stars, and most had three to four stars. IHunt had best 2.Five stars because lots of humans hated it.

It takes a LOT of downloads to develop quite a few rankings

Although tens of millions of human beings collectively downloaded the 20 top apps, the best number of scores (Fieldrunners) became 1,479, and the bottom (Pocket God) was 226. Most users do not provide ratings, and even fewer write evaluations.

Given that humans want to be a part of a happy herd, it’s almost sure that savvy builders actively sell fantastic rankings and critiques.

The theme does not need to be conventional or acquainted.

Classics like Texas Hold’em, Monopoly, and TETRIS (all evolved by using public companies) function within the 20 pinnacle apps. The other apps were sometimes familiar, on occasion now not, but none of them surely adapted a massive-name, famous game. Pocket Guitar, of the route, used a well-cherished device with remarkable success. But to stability that, Ocarina catapulted a difficult to understand ancient flute to reputation.

Quality Counts

There are many, many, many iPhone games with issues now not diverse to the top video games. There are dozens of guitar simulations. There are 5 different iFart apps. So just having a good idea is not sufficient.

The iFart apps are an interesting illustration. Almost uniformly, they have not advanced a following, and the remarks are deplorable — no longer because they’re vulgar and silly, however, because they’re not very well done and users do not like them.

Now you understand some of the secrets and techniques. Happy programming! Find an app is an easy, searchable database of all the iPhone apps we will lay our palms on. Our site has information on over 59,690 apps and counting.

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