Pcalc

App Experiments: From PCalc to TwitKitteh and Where it All Went Wrong

The App Store, even with 25,000 applications, is still a new market and one we're all, developers, users, and media alike, trying to figure out. Developer James Thomson recently did an experiment to see how Twitkitteh, a fun little app, would compare in terms of sales and earnings, to his acclaimed PCalc in the App Store.

The results? Thomson talks about them in a blog post entitled Where Did it All Go Wrong?

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State of the Apps: PCalc Hits 1.2, Dirty Tactics, and a Warning to Developers: Charge More for Apps!

TiPb has been exploring issues surrounding the App Store, especially how developers can earn a living, the various attempts to market apps in a sporting manner, as well the gaming and foul play going on.

In the bright lights category, developer James Thomson (ha! spelled it right that time!) has taken a decidedly humorous approach with the launch of his updated PCalc 1.2 (iTunes link) calculator app:

I think we got off to a bad start last time with version 1.1. It was my fault entirely. I came out with this big release I'd spent months on, sent out my press releases, and not a soul ran a story with the exception of that nice Mr Gruber fellow [Although TiPb did run an interview -- thanks again, James!]. Sales were quite poor and we both said some things we regretted in the morning.

But I understand, don't worry. You're tired of the deluge of iPhone press releases, and everything you see just starts to look the same after a while. I didn't do anything to make it an interesting read and, let's face it, I'm kind of fighting a losing battle with a calculator which - I'll be the first to admit - is next to the flashlights and to-do list apps in terms of reaching saturation point on the store.

Not quite. I rock PCalc on my iPhone, with narry a flashlight in sight!

While PCalc chose humor, some others have gone decidedly darker...

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TiPb Interview: PCalc Developer James Thomson Talks iPhone App Store and "Postmortems"

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...

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"Long Tail" Redux: App Store Boom a Bust for Store Apps?


("Unique" by Hamed Masoumi, licensed under Creative Commons)

On Monday, TiPb Senior Editor Dieter Bohn debuted his new bi-weekly feature, TiPb of the Avalanche, by asking about the iPhone App Store and the "Long Tail" business model.

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