Why the new App Store is good for indie devs

Getting your game discovered has its challenges in any marketplace, but on Apple’s App Store, some would say it’s downright impossible.  With the recent release of iOS 6, Apple’s App Store has been given a makeover that might help to alleviate some of these problems for developers.  Gamezebo has reached out to a number of iOS developers and key industry players to get their take on the changes.  In today’s feature, we hear Tomasz Kolinko’s thoughts on the subject.  Tomasz is the developer behind the App Store SEO product AppCod.es.

The new iOS is available, and it already has over 100 million installs. What does the new system, and the revamped App Store mean for independent developers?

The three main changes in the App Store are:

  • Users can now “like” and share apps from within the store


  • “Categories” were moved into the “Top 25” tab, and we can now see “Genius” in their former place


  • Probably the most important – the search results show app cards, with app title + icon + first screenshot


All of this you have probably seen or heard about already. But what you might not have seen are the actual numbers, and the reaction of indie devs to those changes. We have a couple of apps in the store, so we can tell you right now how these changes have influenced us:


Those are the download numbers behind one of our game/entertainment apps (Blow up The Frog + free). You can see a clear spike after the update day, but it may be just an accident, or just an effect of 5 million new iPhone 5s on the market.

But, games are games – people judge them by the screenshots mostly, how about a more serious app?


Those are the results for one of our productivity tools – . Here again you can see a slight increase in sales. This one surprised me actually, because we’re close to position 10 for our main phrase in the App Store, and the main screenshot is not too appealing. (Goal-Setting Workshop). My theory is that whatever was lost due to a new display of results on iPhone, we gained back on iPad, which shows all the apps on one screen.

Having said all that, the results don’t show a drastic change, and it will still take a couple of weeks to be certain that we benefitted from the changes. We also need to improve the screenshots.

What about other developers? I took a look at the iPhoneDevSDK forum. Some of them say they lost sales, some of them say that they gained. There is no clear trend one way or another.

So, does it mean that we can forget any change has happened? Not necessarily – there are now a couple of new ways developers can promote their apps.

  • The app’s first screenshot can be utilized as an advertisement – clearly describing what the app does.
  • It probably is a good idea to look for other keywords if an app doesn’t get to the first 5-10 results in the list (compared to 25 in the iOS5).
  • App name can now take 30% less space. It is basically just two words. To give you an example – one of our apps is called “Goal Setting Workshop”, in iOS it showed up as “Goal Setting Worksh…”, now it shows up as “Goal Setting”.
  • It’s easier to share app with friends, thanks to “share” and “like” buttons. Smart devs will probably leverage this when doing occasional sales.

All in all, I think the changes will prove to be positive for independent developers once they learn to use the new tools. The users will rely less on the Top lists, and more on Genius, and Search. The poorly designed apps will be even harder to promote, the well-designed apps will gain traction.

There is also a slideshare available, outlining the core principles here.

Tomasz Kolinko is an independent iOS developer who built a tool for App Store SEO – AppCod.es. Using AppCod.es developers can track their position in the store, find out the keywords used by competitors, predict their chance of successful positioning and distribute app promo codes easily.


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