Broken App Store – Update
Since my last post about app store re-pricing problems over Christmas, I’ve found evidence that the problem has affected quite a few others too – some publishers losing sales of many thousands of dollars.
There is a thread in the Apple Developer Forums (only accessible via login to registered developers) in which many publishers are venting their frustrations – with one quantifying their losses so far at over $10,000.
As for Oz Weather, the strategy of reverting the app price back to the discounted level seems to have worked. Sales started again almost immediately – purchases were no longer being blocked. Yesterday 415 units were sold, up from the low of 17 units after I attempted to change the price, and the app ranking rose back to #2 paid app in the Australian app store, up from its low of #23. But of course now the app price is stuck at the discounted level – if I want to have any sales at all that is!
Key dates on this graph are as follows.
- 23rd December – ranking #9 – after gradual decline over past week, introduced short-term sale pricing
- 28th December – ranking #2 – short-term sale finished, reverted to normal pricing
- 30th December – ranking #23 – after numerous customer complaints about being unable to purchase, re-introduced sale pricing
- 1st January – ranking #2 – but stuck with sale pricing
It seems likely to me that the reason users were being blocked from buying was due to mismatch between the price cached on the user’s machine/iphone and the price on the purchase server. So when I re-lowered the price, the mismatch no longer occured. It seems that a major de-synchronisation has occured between different components in Apple’s app store system.
Right now, the Oz Weather app description that users are seeing is still the one I had with an Xmas Sale message in it. Once this decription gets updated to the correct, more recent one, I might be willing to risk raising the price again. Also, the number of reviews has been static for about 10 days, despite high sales over Xmas. So watching for when the number of reviews suddenly jumps up with all those missing reviews may be another sign to look for to show that the problem is being resolved.
My advice to other publishers? Don’t make any app changes via iTunes Connect until this problem is resolved – unless it is perhaps to try some harmless subtle text change to your app’s description so that you can test whether or not the update actually filters through the system to the app store.