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To Universal or Not

Daniel Wood asked:

Considering making a Blockees universal. What are people’s thoughts on universal apps? Good for users, but splits sales between devices.

My first gut response was, that IMHO users love universal apps, whereas marketeers and financiers hate them. HD or “for iPad” versions can generally be sold for a higher price.

Daniel then voiced his fear that if you have an universal app you might “dilute” your download rank on iTunes. Again I responded from my feeling that I don’t think that this is right. Daniel challenged me to prove it. And so I will.

I went to Applyzer and copy/pasted the top 100 free US apps from category “top overall” from iPhone and iPad into a graphic. Applyzer has the top 1000 for for the following categories:

  • Paid (iPhone/iPod)
  • Free (iPhone/iPod)
  • Grossing (iPhone/iPod)
  • Paid (iPad)
  • Free (iPad)
  • Grossing (iPad)
  • Paid (Mac)
  • Free (Mac)
  • Grossing (Mac)

Then I went through the list and marked all apps that are showing as universal in iTunes. Then I searched where the same app would be in both ranks. Finally I made a quick survey if I could spot apps that had a separate iPhone and iPad version.

Note that this was done from hand and I might have missed a couple of connections. But even then I think the picture is rather obvious.

There were 27 universal apps in the free overall US top 100 and 33 in the iPad chart. Of these I could find 16 universal apps that where ranking similarily high in both charts. 11 universal iPhone apps did not show in the top 100 iPad chart. 14 universal iPad apps did not show in the top 100 iPhone/iPod chart. Possibly they were only slightly outside the top 100, I did not check.

The percentage of successful universal apps is an order of magnitude higher than dedicated versions. Amongst the top 100 (again only quickly looking visually) I could only find 4 apps that both had separate versions.

I invite your scrutiny of this casual analysis of mine, however I think that this graphic can only lead to this answer to Daniel’s question:

Make your free app universal, if you are NOT Rovio. I think this analysis debunks the myth that making a free app universal is bad for it’s ranking.


Categories: Q&A

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