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iTunes Release Dates

Mingleboy asked Apple via E-Mail:

“Why does my updated app not appear amongst the new apps even though I changed the release date on iTunes Connect?”

We all remember that previously it was possible to hop to the first pages of iTunes by changing this date. And of course this “feature” was exploited quite a bit by developers hoping to achieve additional attention for their apps and thus additional sales.

Apple recently fixed this to match what they originally intended, it appears now that it was a bug in the system anyway that Apple willingly ignored for some time until the gaming of release dates overboarded. I reported about this change in Episode 1 of the Dr. Touch Podcast.

What’s interesting in this special case is that Apple Developer Relations actually responded with the official explanation which Mingleboy posted on the iphonedevsdk forum.

“The released date displayed on an application page is the date the latest version of that application went live on the App Store. This date will allow customers to be aware of the date this version was released.

On category pages on the App Store, when you choose to sort by Release Date, applications are sorted according to the date the first version of the app went live on the App Store. Sorting by the original app released date creates a list where customers can easily find the most recent additions to the App Store.

Both of these dates are automatically set in the iTunes system and cannot be edited in iTunes Connect.

Clear as mud. Works as designed … originally … a year ago.

The date you can set on iTunes Connect was only ever meant to prevent availability of your app TOO EARLY, for example if you want the release to coincide with a marketing campaign or other date. Though nobody I know of ever actually used this date because of the long time (2 weeks average) it takes to get approved. If I have to wait for 2 weeks until I can sell something, why would I want to wait artificially longer?

This date still does that, delay the release even though it has already been approved. But now it does not modify the release date on the store any more.

As of now you no longer have any means by which you can boost your app’s visibility on the app store. The only stroke of luck would be to get featured by Apple but the chances of that are relatively slim unless your app does something really great or comes from a big development house.

So the date order on app store categories really DOES show you apps that where approved just now. Really fresh apps, not old stinking fish that where taken from the back and relabeled as “brand spanking new”.

That leaves the question how to grab more attention and thus more sales? Here are some ideas:

  • Have the best possible key words. Don’t use other apps names though, because this will get your app rejected. Use terms that are highly relevant to your app.
  • Post a video of your app in action on YouTube where you show off features that you are especially proud of.
  • Blog and tweet about updates and if you drop the price for a limited period of time. Take part in activities like one of those advent calendars I keep reporting about on the Dr. Touch Podcast.
  • Sponsor an ad on the Dr. Touch Podcast. ;-)
  • Continue to do updates to at least show people who arrive at the app page that the app is constantly improving, meaning more and more value for their money.
  • Take what you learned and make a NEW APP. Once your app sales are on the long tail you can forget about affecting this course in any serious way. During the day that your new app is legitimately in front, use all means at your disposal to get people to notice it. Get bloggers to review, twitter about it, do all sorts of attention grabbing stunts on the regular Internet.
  • Think of something new. You where creative enough to publish an app. Why not be really creative in how to get people to purchase it?

Categories: Q&A

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