The tale of how to make a million in Belarusian
Meet: Glory and Sergey. Citizens of the Republic of Belarus. They have heads on their shoulders, in connection with which they periodically read Paul Graham , 37 signals , Nassim Taleb , etc. Over the past year, they were able to break the linear relationship between the time spent on work and the result. In the sense of earned a million. Rubles. Not Belarusian. On one program for Android. In a year.
Our heroes did not have experience, strategy, advertising and special hopes for success. However, we will give them the opportunity to tell everything ourselves ...
Sergey:a few years ago, watching the growth of the smartphone and mobile Internet markets, we decided to try to implement one idea on the then widespread j2me, but quickly realized that this platform has a number of conceptual limitations. In general, users would not be very happy with what we did and we did not see the potential. In addition, the fall crisis of 2008 that came with leaf fall made us forget about dreams for a very long time.
Glory: in the spring of 2009 we returned to our plans, since a new interest appeared: Android Dev Phone 1 and SDK. Now we can say that the most correct decision was to abandon the pre-crisis global plans. We decided to write something small - a thing in ourselves - and go through a full cycle from an idea to a Market.
This is how Setting Profiles were born- an application that can store a set of settings in profiles and switch between them depending on time, location, events in the calendar, etc. Choosing from what could be useful for ourselves would be quite generic (i.e. not related to a particular culture) and have a large potential audience.
We were so engaged in the development that we did not even analyze the competitors. Now it looks ridiculous, but at that time we did not know that a similar application ( Locale ) won the Android Developer Challenge I in 2008, and its authors received $ 275K as a prize.
Sergei:then there was about six months of writing code that took up midnight hours and weekends - family and work still demanded our weekdays as before. Finally, on December 2, 2009, we released a free copy of SP on the Market, and five days later, a paid copy.
The development was exhausting, it was protracted. If we wrote our program together, full time, we would meet two months.
So, what is the result for the year:
- 40 thousand downloads of the free version and 10 thousand downloads of a paid one;
- getting into the Top Paid on the Android Market in the Tools category;
- total sales for the year about $ 32,000 (of which 30% google takes, and 70% goes to us);
- at the peak of popularity (July 2010), AppBrain placed Setting Profiles Full at 63th place among all paid applications on the Market (and 13th in the Tools category).
Glory: we did not wear pink glasses and did not expect that our brainchild would find a sale in Belarus, therefore we made an English version of SP with an eye on the western market. By the way, we were not mistaken - out of 10,000 buyers, it seems, we have only two Belarusians.
Sergey: it’s said loudly about the “sight”. In fact, we had a modest hobby project, what kind of startup is there. Look, what was the bar in our correspondence about a month before the publication of SP:
Sergey: did you think about the number of copies sold?
Slava: I thought - 10
Sergey: 10 thousand or 10 pieces? :)
Slava: just to pay back the icon and domain. HZ about the copies, it would be easy to finish it, and then we'll see
Sergey: I still thought about the phone itself and the registration on the Market ($ 25 - approx. dikud ), so 300 copies should be at least :)
So all that was after three hundred copies - "Heated" us to continue the entire experiment.
Glory: it was very difficult to determine the price of the paid version. The first price was chosen like this: $ 1 is too cheap, and $ 5 is too expensive. Stopped at $ 2.95. Later, adding a lot of new features, they increased the price to $ 3.99. On sales, as can be seen from the graph, this did not affect for the worse.
In general, audience loyalty depends on the price of the product very much. For example, at the beginning of 2010, Localeclosed their beta and started selling version 1.0 with a price of $ 10 per base, plus making paid plugins. Naturally, people began to actively seek cheaper alternatives and write about their findings on the forums. That is, I switched to SP as well.
Sergey: we did not associate peaks on the chart with anything and their appearance remains a mystery to us. Probably in the reviews, someone mentioned the popular. But I can definitely say that the dynamics of sales depends on which country the Market displays the application in Featured Apps (in different countries - according to different schedules, we don’t know the algorithm). But the pace of sales of Android phones with sales somehow does not correlate at all. Although the market is obviously where the devices are.
Here are statistics on the distribution of sales by country for the year:
- United States - 59.13%
- Germany - 9.14%
- United Kingdom - 8.21%
- Australia - 2.30%
- Netherlands 2.22%
- Other 19%
And over the past two months:
- United States 42.85%
- Germany 8.02%
- United Kingdom 5.98%
- Russian Federation 5.00%
- Spain 3.86%
- Other 34%
Glory: in general, for promotion and marketing we are more likely an anti-example, because practically did nothing in this direction. We did not spin at all. At the very beginning, a couple of English-language forums announced light and pro versions, answered questions about the SP functionality, and that’s all. I have the book " Android Apps Marketing - Secrets to Selling Your Android App ", but I didn’t even open it. We ourselves would be interested to know the difference between “gravity” and “active promotion”, but this, perhaps, is not what we feel the fan from.
Speaking of birds. We had been thinking about earning money on the share market for a long time, and therefore an account in an American bank registered with one of us turned out to be very useful. We did not think more about payment withdrawal methods. Honestly, the absence of this headache is very pleasing.
Sergey: despite the convenient withdrawal of money, news appeared in the form of a cunning feature of the Market. Here, unlike the AppStore, there is an opportunity to refuse the purchase within 24 hours (we have 17% of such failures). On the one hand - losses, on the other - those who do not really need SP are eliminated. Means, they will not write anything offensive about SP anywhere. No reason.
Glory:they decided not to fight with warez. Lack of leisure time. The program costs less than a cup of coffee in a decent place. Anyone who is ready to go to warez sites, download and install updates using pens does this for some other reason than to save money. At the very beginning, we noticed calls from w3bsit3-dns.com and found the Full version on it - politely asked to remove it and immediately removed it.
Yes, and it is inconvenient. For example, we have a license check ( Android License Verification Library , LVL), but it is active only in freely available beta. We do not use LVL in releases on the Market, as those who bought SP from a country without supporting paid apps through Market Enabler will lose it.
Sergei:a lot of time was spent on support at the beginning, more than on development. But we understood that without interaction with users, SP would have neither development nor sales.
Now the scheme is as follows: calls are collected via e-mail, published in the program card on the Market. We set up an answering machine that sends a requestor to uservoice.com (the Russian analogue is reformal.ru , dikud comment ), if there is an offer, or to support google group if there is a problem. Further, as far as possible, we respond to letters in the group. Sometimes the community helps to answer, which is very pleasing.
Glory: we do not fight and do not track competitors. Moreover, from the author Tasker, (and a little later from the authors of Locale) we received an invitation to develop a compatible plug-in architecture, but unfortunately we haven’t gotten our hands on it yet.
Sergey: it was in iOS when they once read criticism of the iPhone of some eminent comrade, where 50% of the points were easily solved by applications like ours ... At first they were surprised that no one had written it yet, but after talking with people who wrote under iOS, realized that it’s not possible to implement SP features on iOS in principle.
Prior to release 4.2.1, there was a problem not so much in the absence of multitasking as in the banal inability to change the phone settings with a third-party application.
So, until now, you can’t, for example, turn off the sound during a meeting, turn on WiFi only at home, enable GPS navigation if you got in the car and the device is connected to external power, etc.
Glory: in anticipation of possible questions from those who read news on the recent Habré competition about the recent Android developers contest, we answer. Did not participate, because it is not interesting. Yes, and once. In general, it’s positive when the mobile operator does not spend money on regular billboards, but conducts competitions on them and ignites developers. In our countries they are world-class, no doubt.
By the way, we can recommend the undeservedly unnoticed evangelist from the development of Derek Sivers . We often see in his blog very inspiring posts.
Perhaps this is the end of the story.
Oh, I almost forgot. About the moral of the story.
When I asked the guys what the message of history was, the answer was: “Our goal is not to promote, but to show our experience to those who want to program for mobile OS. Life in Russia is cheap (except for Moscow), winters are long - in this niche Western programmers have no chance against ours :) ”
PS This post continues the tradition of interviewing the authors of popular Android programs (I remind you that last time it was Titanium Backup )