I'm Andreas Kambanis and I'm the founder of Nibble Apps. This blog is all about creating and launching successful apps.

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My app launch was a failure

There are a couple of quotes on failure that I like:

  • “I missed more than 90,000 shots in my career, I’ve lost almost 300 games, 26 times I’ve trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan
  • “Failure should be looked at as iteration. Learn to think scientifically. Scientists fail all the time. They have a hypothesis and then they test it. It fails all the time. That’s iteration” Tim Ferriss

They are particularly pertinent as my app launch has been a failure, relatively speaking.

Measuring failure

I invested many hours of my own time in to the London Cyclist app, as well as money (just under £3500). That includes a £200 investment to give away an iPod Touch to encourage people to review the app in the App Store and leave comments on Facebook. What are the results?

After day 3:

  • 4,518 people saw the post on Facebook (out of a following of 8,693)
  • 91 people liked the post, 45 shared it and there were 46 comments
  • The custom bit.ly link, linking to the App Store, received 1,049 clicks
  • 38% of my newsletter subscribers have read my email update which equates to 3,088 people
  • We’ve received eight five star reviews and two one star
  • AppFigures reports 794 free downloads
  • The Google Analytics for the app reports 363 people have used the app

Why is this a failure?

How many downloads would I need to call the app launch a success? Around 5,000, at least. That would be enough users to be able to sell bike shop advertising spots and enough users to click through to the various “up-sell” services the app links to, such as my eShop.

How I could turn the app in to a success and why I don’t want to

I could send out more updates and reminders to my audience, I could guest post on other sites about the app, I could send out a press release, I could contact bike magazines, bike blogs and work hard to get the app mentioned.

But I won’t.

There is a point of diminishing returns in your efforts. I’ve promoted this to a large audience, who know and trust me. This audience will get the most out of this app. If they haven’t downloaded it in large numbers, it means the app just doesn’t fulfil enough of a need for people. There simply isn’t enough of a desire out there for this app.

I could get 5,000 downloads but the hours of effort that would go in to that would not be worth my time, in comparison to other useful work I could be doing.

How this was a success

I’ve learned a lot. On a technical level, I’ve learned how to integrate Google Analytics, how to integrate Parse and how to send out push notifications. These are lessons I’ll carry forward to my next app.

On a deeper level, I’ve come to realise the London Cyclist app was a passion project. It’s great to follow your passions sometimes but it doesn’t necessarily make business sense. While I think this is an amazing app, that would be incredibly useful for me as a cyclist in London, there just isn’t a wide enough appeal out there for the app.

Long term, I’ve got a killer app “template” that I could use for future location based apps, without spending that much time and money. This means I could easily make a “London’s best burger” app or a bunch of other location based apps I’ve had ideas for. This is particularly useful as the iOS 7 app store points out “apps near you”.

For now, my focus is shifting to recipe apps.

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