I did indeed listen again The Bottom Line about 'Appreneurs'. (Yes, using an app. On my TV as it happens, of which more another time.) Sadly, the programme has now expired from iPlayer, so you'll have to take my word on this. The three panelists, I didn't note their names unfortunately, were from Chirp (who I hadn't heard of), Fireproof Games (who I had heard of, but hadn't played their game), and TouchPress (who I didn't know by name but knew of their Elements iPad app).
A few things stuck me while I was listening. First was the huge element of luck involved. Chirp are 'pre-revenue' and attempting to 'build their user base'. Fireproof and TouchPress are making decent money, but they were very candid about the impact of being 'Featured' in the Apple app store. By the sound of it, being featured made Fireproof's The Room an overnight international success and without it, we can infer, they might be in a rather different position. None of the panelists had a marketing strategy as such. They relied on word of mouth, hoping to catch Apple and/or Google's eye, and crossing their fingers. That was the phrase used - hope to catch Apple's eye - and you do have to hope; they all found Apple entirely opaque.
TouchPress apps are at the premium end - £10 or the local equivalent. While I'm not an advocate of pricing at the bargain basement, I think that's a little heavy, because it puts it beyond impulse. TouchPress argued their apps are very good, which certainly seems to be case, and cost a lot to develop, which I don't doubt. However, I think they'd sell more at a lower price point. The TouchPress chap described an experiment they'd run in Japan, when they had made their Elements app free for 24 hours. They had half a million downloads as a result. In response, for their new Beethoven's 9th Symphony app they're producing a free taster version with two minutes of the symphony. That's good, but I think it should also tell them they would shift a load more by dropping their price a little. Of course all my apps have been free so I have no experience to lean on, but it's an experiment worth running.
Two, possibly all three, panelists bemoaned how 'difficult' it was to test on Android, because there was no one Android platform so you needed so many different phones, it took a lot of time, and so on and so on. As someone with an Android app live now, albeit with a somewhat smaller installed base than The Room, this smells rather strongly to me of fear or bullshit. Unless your app is doing something particularly special and, frankly, odd I can't see why it would be an issue. The market for Windows software has managed to somehow struggle through for the last quarter of a century in spite of no two Windows PC being identical. I've just had a look - the CycleStreets apps runs all five of the various Android devices I have at the moment, while The Room is only willing to install on three of them. The three it likes are the Nexus 10, the Nexus 7, and a Galaxy SII phone. It doesn't want to touch the two no-name (or rather not-big-name) tablets. It can't be that they don't have the grunt - they'll both happily play 1080p HD video for instance, both run iPlayer, YouTube, Chrome and so and so on. Fireproof have a background in console development, and one console does look like another, so maybe that makes them a bit twitchy. I doubt they need to be. The Android market is already bigger than iOS, will continue to get bigger amd will, I believe, become even more fragmented that it already is (even if that fragmentation is largely illusory). At the moment, a handful of devices constitute a majority of the installed base - right now for me, it's the various Samsung Galaxys, high end HTC phones, and the Google tablets. It won't be long, maybe only months, until that's no longer true. If you're Android app developer who's not relaxed about no-name Android devices now, you'll have to loosen up or ship out.
Another part of the discussion, about one star reviews, made me laugh. Out loud! They had a little moan about the injustice of the one star review. TouchPress mentioned a one star review they'd received because someone's credit card had been declined - nothing to do with them, but there they were having their average pulled down. There were other similar examples. I, too, have one stars reviews I think are undeserved. I'm fairly sure a couple of my bad reviews actually about other apps. Others mark the CycleStreets app down for, the reviewers allege, not having a feature which it does actually have. Some mark it down for not having a feature the reviewer, for some reason, thinks it does have. Others still mark it down for not being a dessert topping and floor wax. But, you know what? It doesn't really matter. People can spot a rogue bad review at twenty paces. If all your reviews are bad THEN you need to worry. It means you've really ballsed it up and your app is a stinker.
The programme had no real conclusions, other than nobody really knows what they're doing, but I enjoyed the anecdotes and the conversation.