Life as Clay

Performance of a free niche app in the Mac App Store

with 2 comments


I released the free Population Pyramid Generator in the Mac App Store at the end of last week. The tool is very simple. I tried to make sure that it was stable and that it does what it claims to do without trouble. I think that I succeeded on those fronts. There certainly is room for improvement, however, and I have plans to add several features in a forthcoming revision.

My expectations upon release of the application were that maybe 50-60 people would download it. Let’s be honest: it’s a niche tool, and while useful for people who need a population pyramid, it’s pretty useless to anybody else. Part of my motivation to create it was that my business website receives a lot of hits related to population pyramids because I wrote a blog post there about them. I thought that it would be nice to provide the tool and that it potentially could help me find additional clients.

What I didn’t expect is that aggregation sites like macupdate.com would pick up the app. It turns out that a lot of people are exposed to it through those sites. It’s appearance in Google rankings received a quick boost and traffic to my company’s website skyrocketed shortly after the app became available.

In the first 5 days, the Population Pyramid Generator was downloaded nearly 450 times — ten times my expectation. It went live around 4pm EST on 02/24.

Equally surprising was the breakdown by country. This view shows only the first 4 days (due to the week cutoff in the itunesconnect interface):

Considering that I did basically zero marketing of this app, what’s the lesson here? I think that simple free tools, especially ones that fill an unmet niche, can be relatively effective marketing tools for a business. All told, it took me ~ 1.5 weeks to build the Population Pyramid Generator. As people with need for such a tool find and download it, perhaps I’ll gain an additional client or two. That would be worth the time investment alone. In fact, the increase in Google rankings following the release of the app probably make it worth the time investment.

The Population Pyramid Generator is a fun experiment for me and I look forward to adding additional features to it, as time allows. I also plan to create a similar tool for Windows (and use it as a project to teach myself .NET and C#).

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Written by Clay

March 1, 2011 at 08:40

2 Responses

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  1. nice job! I did one myself.. got 200 downloads every week for the first 3 weeks
    contact me pls!

    Mark

    July 12, 2012 at 16:41

    • Good to hear! It was more of an experiment for me. Unfortunately, in a catastrophic series of hard drive failures, I lost all of my source code and had to pull the app from the app store. What app did you make?

      Clay

      July 13, 2012 at 09:55


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