Back in August AT&T sent out a customer satisfaction survey to all iPhone owners. Well now it seems a new survey is being sent out to all of us on the AT&T network asking how the 2.1 firmware is working for us and what we want to see next on your iPhone 3G.
James Thomson is the acclaimed developer behind DragThing for Mac OS X and PCalc RPN Calculator for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Following up on his recent blog postings about the challenges involved navigating the still-nascent App Store business model for developers, and TiPb's own look at whether or not there's a "long tail" potential for the market, James was gracious enough to sit down (virtually) and share his thoughts with us about the issues facing 3rd party iPhone developers going forward.
TiPb: James, you recently blogged about PCalc in the context of a "postmortem". What was the reaction like to that article, and did it bring about any changes in your current thinking or how you plan to proceed with PCalc going forward?
James Thomson: Reaction was interesting. Many iPhone developers contacted me privately, and via the blog, to say they had encountered similar problems with sales after the recent changes to the App Store.
Some pointed out the "Availability Trick" to change the App Store release date for your software when you do an update, to make it sort higher up in the listings. I talked about that a bit in a follow-up post here. It's unclear whether it really is a trick, or just what you are supposed to do, but it does seem to work.
I've also tried a few other suggestions, like renaming the app to "PCalc RPN Calculator" to make sure it appears during searches for the word "calculator" which it didn't before. So far, there has been a relatively small boost to sales, but I'm not sure how much of that is due to my changes, and how much is just down to the overall publicity that the article generated.
I'm working on a small 1.1.1 update at the moment to fix a few things, and I'll likely add some more layouts and themes. The real question is what will happen to sales then. If they remain flat, with all the other changes, then I'm going to have to try some more traditional marketing beyond the Google AdWords adverts we are already running. To a certain extent, the blog itself /is/ a form of marketing - I don't think I can really deny that, given it is raising the profile of our software.
iPhone 2.2 style Google Maps Street-view, Transit, Walking Directions, and Location Sharing still not enough Google love for the iPhone? Want just that much more proof of affection? How about this: Google Earth is coming to the iPhone!
You may not realize it, but the site you're reading right now is a part of one of the premier networks of smartphone news and review sites. We call it the 'Smartphone Experts Network' and if you haven't heard, we've recently added a new member to our family, Android Central. That brings the number of our smartphone communities up to five sites. You can find links to these sites and to their latest stories either in the sidebar or footer of every SPE site.
I thought now would be a good time to introduce a new weekly blog post I'll be putting up at each of our sites called 'Around SPE,' which will give you a very quick roundup of the biggest stories at each of our sites. Now, 'big stories' are just a tiny part of what we offer, as each of our sites also feature vibrant communities, engaging podcasts, and also accessory stores if you're looking to make your smartphone a little better.
In addition to our new sister site, there's also some other SPE Network news to share, so follow me after the break to learn more!
TiPb loves answering your emails, but we also love sharing our answers with the community in hopes that more people will benefit, and even better answers will present themselves (hey, that's why we have them forums!). Today's question comes from Chris:
"Why doesn't the iPhone have real GPS?! Even the [redacted] Samsung Instinct has turn by turn! Why does Apple add [redacted] like street view [but] not the things users really want?"
Dieter's been saying for a long time that Google hearts the iPhone -- and why wouldn't it, it delivers an incredible amount of mobile eyeballs for advertising. We've also said that the ultimate edge the iPhone enjoys over Android is that while Google produces great service for both Android and the iPhone, Apple only produces for the iPhone. The iPhone gets the best of both worlds. Latest case in point, iPhoneYap (via Apple Insider) has posted extensive screenshots of the new Google Maps 2.2, and it looks like we're getting:
Public transit directions (including schedule info)
Since Google pimped out Street View for Android already, it's no big surprise that the iPhone (and other mobile platforms) are getting it as well. Same thing happened with cell tower location services last year. Still, we're hoping Apple's usual UI expertise will make this a particularly good implementation. No word yet, however, if we'll be getting Android-style real-time rotation...
Sampling of images after the jump, see the full gallery at iPhoneYap