Oz Weather Xmas Sales – Is the App Store Broken?
You may already have heard from some other sources that iPhone app sales were very strong over the Christmas period, possibly enhanced by many new iPod Touch devices being delivered from Santa’s sleigh.
I can certainly confirm that it was a strong sales period for Oz Weather – although the picture is complicated by the fact that I temporarily dropped the price for the Christmas period. Here are the daily sales figures to date – from 1st November to 29th December.
The red and yellow colors show units sold at the normal price of AUD$2.49 (US$1.99). The purple and orange colors show units sold at the discounted price of AUD$1.19 (US$0.99) – a sale which started on 24th December (day 54) and finished on 28th December (day 58).
- The break-even point for the Oz Weather project was reached on 19th December (day 49) – ie. cumulative net revenue of AUD$15,500 (US$10,850).
- After ranking as high as #2 in Paid Apps category of the Australian app store from 5th to 9th December, ranking fell gradually to #9 on 23rd December. Hence my decision to run a price sale over the Christmas period.
- Christmas Day had the highest ever sales of 451 units – followed by similar levels on 26th and 27th December. The app ranking rose to #2 again. This is the celebratory part of this article.
- The last item on the graph (item 59 = 29th December) shows daily sales of just 17 units. This is not an error, and not just a partial day’s sales. It was the actual full day’s sales! Ranking has fallen to less than #10 – but to exactly what level is not possible to ascertain, due to problems in the app store. This is the disappointing part of this article.
Major App Store Technical Problems
Did people suddenly stop wanting to buy Oz Weather because the price discount had ended? Did Oz Weather suddenly become unpopular? Did a competitor suddenly release a much better app?
The answer to all these question is no. Many people are still wanting to buy Oz Weather, but are unable to do so, due to problems in the app store. On the 29th and 30th December I received 7 emails from potential customers wanting to know why they couldn’t purchase it. This is very likely the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of customers simply wouldn’t bother trying to contact the app publisher when they receive a message like the following (sent to me by a customer).
So what is going on here, Apple? I have tried contacting Apple support, and so far have only managed to get an automated reply saying:
Please plan for a delayed response time from the iTunes Connect Support team from December 23rd through January 5th as we will be short-staffed over the holiday break.
It is apparent that the app store problems go beyond just the Oz Weather app. The Australian store paid app rankings were “stuck” for several days, and showed widely different results depending on exactly where you look at the rankings.
- iTunes home page – showed Oz Weather #6 – this morning dropped off the table
- iTunes app store main page – showed Oz Weather #4 – this morning dropped off the table
- iTunes top 100 paid app rankings – showed Oz Weather #2 this morning – this afternoon had dropped to #23
- iPhone top 25 rankings – showed Oz Weather #6 – still now at #6
I am not generally one to jump on the hindsight bandwagon – but in this case I am very tempted to say to Apple that “you should have realised that Christmas was going to be your busiest period, and employed extra staff instead of sending them all on vacation”. Now I am in a position where, due to this Apple glitch, I am probably losing several hundred dollars per day in sales, and my app ranking has artificially fallen from #2 to way off the radar - and I can’t find any way to get any response from Apple.
My questions to other app developers
- Am I the only one having such serious app store problems?
- If not, then do these problems affect only apps which are undergoing price changes?
- Do these problems affect only the Australian app store?