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.
Read the rest of the interview after the jump...