Luck, Quality, and Marketing: Tweetie's Loren Brichter Talks Development and Success on iTunes U
A short time ago we mentioned that Standford's iPhone Application Programming course was being made available as a video podcast via iTunes U. In addition to two lectures a week, the course offers special Friday sessions, one of which recently featured Atebits' Loren Brichter (iTunes link), the developer behind popular iPhone (and now Mac) Twitter client, Tweetie (see our review).
Brichter, though he worked for Apple on the first generation iPhone, had no actual app development experience when he set out to make Tweetie, yet the app has become the most successful iPhone -- and mobile -- paid Twitter client in terms of both revenue and user base, hitting the #6 position in the App Store at one point. How'd that happen?
At the beginning of the lecture, Brichter shares his App Store daily revenue graph (sans actual dollar amounts) for Tweetie, which he says he made simply because he wasn't satisfied with any of the existing clients. Focusing on a mix of functionality and simplicity, and an Apple-like experience, Brichter credits luck, quality, and marketing for Tweetie's success. Part of that marketing, after a small initial sales spike due to friends and family, was the semi-facetious introduction of PEE ("popularity enhancers" like a flashlight and fart sounds) that garnered a lot of media attention and quintupled growth for a while.
Other growth occurred when Apple featured Tweetie on their main page, but the biggest growth-booster -- also thanks to Apple -- was when Tweetie 1.3 was rejected by the App Store due to the term f**kitlist just happening to be a trend on Twitter's search results that day. Press jumped on it and users bought it up. (Apple reversed their decision later that same day).
The final two growth spikes occurred after Twitter itself began highlighting Tweetie as part of their sidebar factoid promotion, and after the press surrounding the recent introduction of Tweetie for Mac.
Being part of the Application Development course, Brichter also touches on some of the things he did from a programming standpoint to boost Tweetie's performance.
Looks behind the app development curtain, especially in academic settings with some back-and-forth questions and answers, are rare enough in the iPhone world that anyone interested should definitely consider checking out the whole session.