Freitag, 4. Januar 2013

A retroperspective on the first year in the Windows Phone Store

In the beginning of 2012 we were all exciting about the improvements Microsoft made to the Windows Phone story, the development and the marketplace. The devices were getting pretty good with the Nokia Lumia 900 being a pretty good flag ship device. Developing for Windows Phone seemed pretty straightforward and the marketplace seemed to get some traction finally.
So it was time to make a foot into the market. We started scratching our heads about app ideas. After a couple of weeks we came out with the idea for a travel and business expense app that lets you keep track of your expenses and gives you a simple and fast process already built in. It also supports sharing expenses via email and uploading them to SkyDrive. An interesting new way of thinking about your expenses is when you give them a location. So we added that as well. A feature to break away from all the other expense tracking apps is our nice chart.


In September of 2012 we released version 1.0 of traXs. Our initial Business plan was to position traXs as a high premium application along the lines of apps like 1Password. The app used to be priced at $2,99. Unfortunately we did not see enough downloads to support further development so we reduced the price over the course of 2 months in steps down to $0,99. As you can see in the chart below, there is absolute no correlation between downloads and price.


The charts includes all application types including paid, trial and beta downloads. It gets really frustrating when you look at the chart below that only includes paid downloads.


It seems no one is willing to pay any money for an expense tracking app or the trial features are sufficient for most people.

How are the financial details about building an app for the windows phone store

From a financial point of view the development tools are free with Visual Studio for Windows Phone being free. Microsoft restricts submissions to the Windows Phone Store to only approved Windows Phone Store Developers. To become one of those you need to pay a license fee of $99 per year. As we wanted to get the app out to door fast and rely on controls that have been built with high quality to reduce the risk of having a buggy or sluggish app, we decided to buy the Telerik RadControls for WIndows Phone. The control suite is another $99 per year. Apart from our time we invested a total of roughly $200 in the app. The revenue after 3 months is 0 though.

Updates to push the market

Over the course of the last 2 months we had 2 significant releases.
Version 1.1 included an improved About page and several bug fixes.
In Version 1.2 we added the ability to search for expenses, added an autocomplete box for the notes and fixed several bugs as well.
In retrospective the new features did not push any app downloads.

Dude, you need marketing

Most of the responses we get from people talking about those problems are to invest in marketing, having paid adds on relevant portals or in add markets.
First we created a Facebook fanpage that is suppose to be a single home for all the fans of the app. Apart from some friends of us not a lot of actual customer are ready to like our page. Does it look that bad? We have regular updates and try to be as reachable as possible.


Besides Facebook we took the opportunity to get a nice introduction video shot that shows most of the features in an entertaining way. Its up on youtube.


Another channel was Telerik – a provider for Controls for the Windows Phone stack, which we use in our app. Telerik featured our app on their page as well.


As a result we can clearly say that the Windows Phone Story so far did not work for us. One reason might be that our app idea just isn’t working, the app itself does not fulfil the needs for a larger audience or people never found the app itself.
In the next post we are going to dig a bit deeper into the consequences we choose going forward.


  1. I just wrote a blog entry that talks about your experience.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful response!
      You made some good points in your blog post that we identified as well over the course of the last couple of months and I was trying to make that clear my blog post:

      #1 App Stores promise you kind of a marketing support by creating you an app store page. It doesn't help much though.
      #2 Discoverability in all of the app stores just doesn't work. The search engines don't help you much either.
      #3 Traditional marketing is still needed. It's not enough to just create an App Store Page, a Facebook Page and a normal web site.

      I'll dig deeper into those problems in my next post and will explain how we are going to change our business model for the future.

      BTW, our app has reviews, but they only show you the reviews from your region - the US. There are reviews from Europe, which you can not see - for some reason.

  2. I'm not a guru in marketing by any measure, but I find it frustrating and naive that people don't bother creating a good old website for an application and just settle for whatever appstore description page and FB profile. Hal makes a great point about the amount of search engine juice it gets you - none.

    Another naive thing is to view Telerik's showcase as any sort of promotion at all. I'm developer and I could care less about their news - why do you think your target audience would?

    And who is your target audience anyway? How can you make sure you're in their faces with AdSense, AdWords and what-else-have-you?

    1. In addition to the appstore page, a facebook fan page and a page on, we've got a normal web page as well. So we've got that.

      The Telerik showcase is an easy way to just get another news out the door. It doesn't cost anything, nor does it take long to put up.

      Our target audience consists of people who travel often and create a lot of expenses that they may need to charge to somebody. Some examples might be executives, managers, consultants and freelancer.