Blog Posts

6 Tips for Developing a Successful iPhone App

September 15, 2010

What makes an iPhone app popular?

That was the question I was asking myself when I started my research on the topic a couple of weeks ago. To answer my question I compared a group of the top paid apps (in the US App Store) with a control group of randomly chosen paid apps from the same categories – business, finance, medical, navigation, news, productivity, reference and travel.

I compared the two groups using the following app characteristics: number of reviews, average rating, vendor type (one-man show, VC-funded startup, etc), vendor popularity, vendor country, app release PR campaign (number of related press releases, activity on social networks), price, availability of a free edition, update frequency and app name specifics. My objective was to find how strong the correlation between any of these app characteristics and the app’s success/popularity is.

So here are the 6 elements I found related to the popularity of the applications at the Apple App Store:

1. Free edition

It is quite interesting that the software companies that have developed successful paid iPhone apps offer free entry editions of the same product.  Free versions are a very practical marketing tool. They offer consumers the opportunity to “touch” the product and make sure of its value before deciding to pay for the more advanced features.

2. Frequent updates

The analysis shows that most of the top selling apps have multiple updates. Regular updates bring the product into focus again and again, and bring attention to the application. Each update adds new value to the app which is very important for consumers.  The updates also provoke an increased number of reviews. And here comes my next point.

3. Push to review submission

Each application presented in the top sellers table has a significant number of reviews and comments posted on the app store. Comparing the top sellers with the control group shows significantly more user reviews for the successful apps. Besides the obvious fact that more popular apps have more reviews, it’s worth mentioning that the winning apps often push users to leave comments and reviews. This helps to both improve the app and built credibility with potential users. One way to do it effectively is the in-app “please, rate” pop-up which is usually displayed after the app has been started a particular number of times, indicating the user actually likes it ;)

4. Promotion

It is not enough just to upload your app to the store. The rest of the world needs to hear about it. Take your time and prepare a press release, blog post, a tweet, a pitch to bloggers and get the net working for your app’s promotion. More than 70% of the top sellers have conducted a relevant promotional campaign – a percentage much lower in the control group.

5. First letter counts

The following characteristic is not the most important, though it is my favorite one. It is the importance of the first letter of the app name. You can view the apps at iTunes by best sellers, released date and name. The last one logically comes in alphabetical order. This means that an app name starting with letters A, B or C provides a better visibility. (By the way we’ve already mentioned this when discussing how to choose iPhone app keywords.) The analysis shows that most of the best sellers are released with some of the first seven letters of the alphabet.

6. Price

It always matters! I am sure you will not be surprised that there are almost no expensive apps amongst the top sellers. Most are in the price range $0.99–$1.99.

In conclusion I would like to say that there is no math formula ensuring you will develop a successful iPhone app. However if you follow the FFPPFP formula above your chances for success might be better :)

And never forget – a great idea is the first step!

P.S. Do not hesitate to contact me at if you happen to be interested in learning more about my research findings.

Author: Atanas Georgiev

One comment

  • January 28, 2011 3:35 pm | Tips to Develop Successful iPhone Apps » Winifred Newman

    [...] 6 Tips for Developing 6 Tips for Developing a Successful iPhone App … that have developed successful paid iPhone apps offer … formula ensuring you will develop a successful iPhone app. [...]

Back to top
Have a question? Contact us
Bianor tweets See all tweets
Sitemap | Privacy policy | Copyright notice
©1998-2018, Bianor. All rights reserved.