Apple's Developer Insights offer new resources for App Store success

Gold iPad Pro with an iPhone SE
Gold iPad Pro with an iPhone SE (Image credit: iMore)

Since being introduced in 2008, Apple's App Store has grown to encompass over 1.5 million apps, in 155 countries, serving hundreds of millions of customers around the world. But as apps have gone mainstream and become part of popular culture, developers need to take a more mainstream approach and to be successful. They need to work smarter, not just harder.

Enter Apple's new developer resources.

Going live today, these new resources include a host of articles and videos all designed to help developers engage iPhone, iPad, Watch, TV, and Mac customers to grow their businesses and, ultimately, make better apps for everyone.

Areas of focus include everything from discovery to business models, customer engagement to best practices. Apple has even created a set of case studies called Developer Insights, to show — rather than just tell — how to better achieve success on the App Store.

App Store discovery

If an app can't be found, does it really exist? Every developer absolutely has to treat marketing as seriously as they do code and design. There are sites like iMore that can help, but one of the best boosts an app can get is an App Store feature.

App Store features are carefully curated by App Store Editorial, and so Apple is featuring an article on how curation works, which collections are available, and what characteristics are common to the apps that earn spots in them. There's even a form for developers to use if they want to reach out to the App Store team and tell them about their apps.

Again, being featured can't make up for the lack of a marketing plan, but it can be a powerful accelerator at launch or on update.

Specifically for updates, there's a case study involving Slack, Smule, and BuzzFeed, showing how those companies used new features as an opportunity to not only reengage with existing customers but attract new ones.

Categories are explained in detail as well, and there's a tool developers can use to compare the category definitions and choose right on for their apps.

Business models

The App Store has evolved to support four distinct pricing approaches:

  1. Free as in free, where an app costs nothing to download and nothing to use. Ever.
  2. Freemium, where an app is free to download and use, but customers can pay for additional features or content within the app.
  3. Paid as in paid, where an app costs money up front but once you pay for it, you don't have to pay for any add-ons. At least until a new version is launched.
  4. Paymium, which is a mix off paid and freemium. You pay a little up front, and you can pay for more as you go.

Apple wants to help developers better understand these models so they can better choose the right one for their apps and their business.

As part of that, there's a case study showing how three very different apps, VSCO, SGN, and Originator, approached using the freemium model.

The topic of App Analytics is addressed as well, showing developers how they can discover the top sources of downloads, which site coverage and marketing campaigns have been most successful, and even track where paid customer conversion is happening and how well.

Case studies

In addition to the case studies mentioned above, the Developer Insight videos will be offering highly focused profiles of companies like Seriously. They created Best Friends and, thanks to their creative marketing and community building, it passed 1.5 million daily users and over a million social followers in its first year.

There's also a video on how Evernote localized for Japan (and other countries) early on, and how that led to the app's initial, international growth and made it one of the most well-known productivity tools around.

Developer Insights is an ongoing series, so there'll be lots more to come.

The path ahead

Before the App Store and before that one little icon on your phone and tablet that opened the door to millions more, almost no one bought software. It was hard to get, hard to install, and expensive.

Now, thanks to the App Store, everyone buys software, and for phones, tablets, computers, watches, and TV sets. It's become ubiquitous — easier than ever to get and use.

Making and distributing apps has become easier than ever as well. Thanks to Apple's developer tools and infrastructure, almost anyone with drive, determination, and vision can learn Objective-C or Swift and get started.

But "if you build it, they will come" was never true. Developers who've achieved success have done it through skill, savvy, timing, and experience. It takes a lot of time and effort to build up that experience, though.

With these new developer resources, Apple is hoping to share what Apple itself, and some of the most successful companies on the App Store, have already expended an incredible amount of time and effort to discover.

No one is calling it App Store University, but that's not a bad analogy. Sharing knowledge is what lets everyone move forward better and faster.

And that's what Apple's new App Store developer resources are for.

You can access them now via

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.