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BOOK: The Business of iPhone App Development

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away … I think around the beginning of the year actually, Michael Schneider asked me to read this book that he collaborated on with Dave Wooldrige.

At this time and until this date this book remains the biggest and most comprehensive guide on what traps there are in the iPhone app business. It took me some time to read the book from cover to cover and then I also was simply to busy and lazy to do this review. And actually there was another reason, that I din’t want to admit to.

I’m by nature an iPhone app creator, not a business person. I had my first app in the store about 2 months after downloading the SDK back in 2008. Making apps is what I love, but marketing them… yuck! Now if this book really was as good as the table of contents looks then this would mean that I had found – rather by accident on twitter – the ultimate guide to everything that I needed to know about transforming my app workshop into a viable business.


It was long before I read the book that I set out to do iOS development full time. And so I formed my strategy to be running in multiple streams. I did that in part because the income from my apps would only be a fraction of what I needed for living. And here comes the reason: This book is a manifestation of my failure to make apps and market them such that them alone could provide my upkeep.

The reality of the matter is that you don’t just make an app, get it past Apple’s defenses and then the dollars come rolling in. Rather the process begins way before making the app and ends quite a bit after successful submission. These are the chapters in the book, giving you an overview of all the steps that are necessary for success:

  1. Seeing the Big Picture in a Crowded App Store Marketplace
  2. Doing Your Homework: Analyzing iPhone App Ideas and Performing Competitive Research
  3. Protecting Your Intellectual Property
  4. Your iPhone App is Your Most Powerful Marketing Tool
  5. Money for Nothing: When It Pays To Be Free
  6. Exploring New Business Models with In-App Purchase and Affiliate Programs
  7. Testing and Usability: Putting Your Best Foot Forward
  8. Get the Party Started! Creating a Prerelease Buzz
  9. Keys to the Kingdom: The App Store Submission Process
  10. Increasing Awareness for Your iPhone App

So you can see that the marketing itself is only a tenth of the whole process from idea to riches. I can safely say that I skipped all but the ninth step. No wonder I’m only making so little money. 🙂

The book is not just a good read, it also has an enormous amount of links and places to look at on the Internet. For this feature you would want to also get the eBook version to put on your iBooks. A link in a paper book is hard to be clicked. That’s actually where my first smile came from. There on page 363 in the section on analyzing app store sales statistics, the authors mention My App Sales as “feature packed”. 🙂

I think this book is roughly equivalent to making a Bachelor of iPhone App Marketing. The reading itself can be done in maybe two weeks, but there is so much to ponder, so much to actually do, that it will keep you busy for probably a whole semester if not years.

So after having read it through once, you’ll keep it next to your desk for frequent reference. Even though I got my paperback copy for free, I still purchased the eBook version for $10 as reference. To qualify for this 50% off offer you have to state on which page a certain graphic is in the paperback. Much to my unpleasant surprise, APRESS apparently protects eBook PDFs you purchase from them with your e-mail as password! They say that this is their way of dealing with piracy. Oh, well.

Hawk-eyed that I am for “bugs” I immediately found that page 392 of the PDF is corrupt, let’s hope that APRESS fixes that. And I found that you can remove the password by simply re-saving the PDF from Preview, so I CAN put it on my iPad, even if iBooks 1.1 does not open protected PDFs (or does it?).

To give one example of practical stuff in there. For our most recent commercial app WC Betting Pools I used the press release template and instructions to furnish our own professional grade release, the first he had created ever. And I used the list of app review sites provided to get the word out. And I’m happy to say, even though we did not score more than one review, we stirred up sufficient buzz to have our app generate more profit per day than any of our previous apps.

The book makes you a bachelor, to become a master you need to work it for some time. There where a few short sections that I was actually able to skip because I had trained the certificate madness and submission parkour for the past 2 years non stop. But I’d say 90% of the book is was mostly new and inspiring to me as well. And that’s saying something!

What really astounded me was the amount of advice on online-communication that these guys put into their book. It even covers how to communicate best via app website, twitter and facebook. Especially communication I had found to be one of my major problems when getting the word out on apps. Even seasoned app partners I am working with prove daily that they could really use reading this book. Not just will it keep you from making many of the same mistakes I made. It will also enable you to approach iPhone app development as a viable business.

In the least it might show you why you need a partner to take care of the marketing if you want to concentrate on developing yourself. Because if you approach it seriously then you need to invest just as much time before and after the app creation to actually sell it. And if you DO get a partner to do your market communication, then make sure he has read this book before anything else.

Purchase your copy of this book today, APRESS.COM has both versions for sale.

Categories: Education

1 Comment »

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