App Not Doing So Well? Here’s Some Solace.

I am assuming that most of the readers of this blog are iPhone app developers, but if you are not, can I perhaps just invite you to imagine for a few moments what it would be like if you were…? Great! Here we go.

As an app developer, have you ever found yourself saying anything along the following lines?

  • I’ve just dropped out of  the top 100 list.
  • I didn’t do so well today – my downloads were down 25% from the weekend.
  • My sales have decreased for 3 days in a row.
  • My review ratings have been dragged down by those pesky uninstall review prompts.

If so (and I suspect this would be especially so for many independent developers), then you may well be suffering from over-identification with your app or apps – because if you examine those statements, you will see that the “I” and “My” parts should really be “My app”, or even less personally “The app I have created”, or “The app called <insert_name_here>”.

Obviously, the simple fact of the matter is that we are not our apps. Rather, apps are abstract entities that we have created. And even then we have only been responsible for part of the act of creating them – especially bearing in mind the whole infrastructure that was built by Apple and others over the years which provided the basis from which apps such as these could emerge at all.

But a basic human emotional tendency is to mistakenly attach a significant portion of our self-worth to what we have created anyway, and then suffer a mental and emotional roller coaster as our creation rises or falls within the metrics that we apply for judging its success or failure in the marketplace.

Perhaps you are thinking “as an app developer, I’m not an especially emotional person”, but the truth of the matter becomes evident if you can stand back a little and examine your own use of language. You might be surprised to see what it reveals about what you identify yourself with! And along a similar line, do you exhibit any of the following behaviours?

  • Attempting to obtain the most recent app sales data only moments after it becomes available each day
  • Keeping detailed daily statistics of all aspects of your app sales, reviews, ratings and performance
  • Being moody or distracted whenever your app sales or reviews have been worse than the day before
  • Being jubilant or cocky whenever your app sales or reviews have been better than the day before

Again, although there may sometimes be sound business reasons for doing some of things, they are potentially also signs that you are over-anxious about your app’s performance, and hence somewhat a victim of the highly impersonal and generally uncontrollable characteristics of the app store ecosystem.

So what can you do to ease this over-attachment, lessen irrational anxiety, and generally find a greater sense of peace? Here are some tested and proven things to try:

  • Meditate – even taking just 10 to 20 minutes a day of quiet time during which you allow your mind to settle can have an effect which endures throughout the day.
  • Spend some time in nature – nature is generally peaceful and timeless, and inspires a similar feeling in those who spend time in it.
  • Exercise energetically – quite apart from taking your mind off work, this has major physiological and psychological benefits as well, including a greater sense of peace and well-being, and an enhanced ability both to focus and to think more holistically.

In addition to the above – you could also try using the “Solace and Courage” app as needed (iTunes link). I am giving away 10 free copies (promotional codes) to the first 10 people to email me at gpdawson on the domain or follow me and then message me on twitter @gpdawson (so I can direct message you back with the code).

I’ll leave a note here when I run out – if you are reading this, you still have a good chance. Sorry! No longer available – but it still only costs US$0.99. 🙂

But please note these promotional codes work only in the US iTunes store!

For those who don’t have US iTunes accounts, here is an extract from “Solace and Courage”, which it might be helpful to ponder, instead.

Greatness arises not from what you do externally, but from who you are internally.

When you get in touch with your inner core of stillness, whatever action ensues is imbued with the special qualities of that space.

You become more powerful, more creative, more compassionate.

Even your smallest acts become subtly more profound and meaningful, and their effects penetrate far beyond their immediate sphere of expression.

I must admit here that, somewhat ironically (or is it fittingly?!), the “Solace & Courage” app that I launched about 10 days ago seems to have peaked and is now declining in sales. After peaking at 33 sales in a day, and reaching 46th in Australia in the Lifestyle category and 61st in the US, it has since declined to about 10 sales per day and dropped out of the Australian and US rankings.

On the other hand, it is still currently ranked 44th in the UK (although this obviously is only on the basis of very few sales), and all three app reviews it has received from users other than myself gave it 5 stars. I suppose they may actually be people who know me, and wanted to help, but I don’t know this for sure and prefer to imagine they are from genuinely appreciative users.

So I will (and have already) been pondering the above text from “Solace & Courage”, and am glad to say that my self-esteem remains unperturbed. Although of course I hoped, I never expected this app to be a big seller. Of course giving away some copies may possibly lead to some extra sales if people like it and spread the word, but whether or not it does, it won’t be bothering me too much. 🙂


A New App – Solace And Courage

My new app has just arrived in the iTunes store! It is called Solace & Courage and appears in the Lifestyle section of the app store. View or Buy it in iTunes here.

It provides advice, comfort and inspiration for all types of life situations, via carefully prepared text and photos.

Solace & Courage Screenshot 2

You may be thinking that this is rather different to Oz Weather – and it is! However, if there were to be a connection it might be that Oz Weather deals with atmospheric weather, whereas Solace & Courage deals with psychological weather. Is that too contrived? In any case, psychology and spirituality have been a special interest for me almost as long as the weather has – and creating an iPhone app along these lines seemed like an ideal outlet for this.

The app may best be used as follows:

  • Helpful advice for times of stress
  • Encouragement for any time
  • Use for centering or meditation
  • Use as a thought of the day to ponder

The categories of text it contains:

  • Choose For Me (a random selection)
  • Receive Encouragement
  • For Disappointment
  • For Sadness / Depression
  • For Anxiety / Fear
  • For Irritation / Anger
  • About Solace (explanation and instructions)

The Main MenuYou may either choose text by category, or allow a random selection especially for you. Optionally you can have the app open immediately to a random selection, as a “thought of day”, and the text may be either autoscrolled or allow you to scroll manually.

The app contains a collection of original passages of text composed especially for this application, inspired by Eckhart Tolle, Torkom Saraydarian, J.Krishnamurti and other teachers of the Ageless Wisdom. There is no religious content, but it is intended to be spiritually refreshing and stimulating. The text is non-trivial – it encourages you to explore deeply, inspires you to overcome your limitations, and provides comfort and self-empowerment in times of need.

The background pictures of nature are beautiful, peaceful and inspiring, complementing the tone and mood of the text. Users are encouraged to take the time to absorb the meaning of the text and apply it to their own lives.

The app has deliberately slow and elegant transitions from item to item – to encourage the user to become more still and focused, and thus become more receptive to the deeper meaning of the words.

The Development Side of the Story

I only had the idea for this app about a month ago, and worked on it in bits and pieces between my other projects. Despite the relative simplicity of the app’s structure, I spent around four to five days effort in creating, experimenting with and tweaking the interface. I felt that it was important that the interface created the right mood for the user. I composed the text myself, writing only when I felt adequately inspired.

The background photos were licensed from – about 60 photos for AUD$133 (US$86), although I eventually discarded about 10 of them for not having quite the right level of appeal.

The app submission process was smooth – it took about 4 1/2 working days from submission to approval by Apple.

Of course it is far too early to tell how well this app will go in the very competitive app store environment, but I’m not holding my breath. I may be lucky just to make back the photo licensing fees!

I suppose another trait that this app has in common with Oz Weather is that it is has serious intentions. So many of the apps currently available are very light, frivolous and faddish, though to a large degree this is due to the way the app store is structured. It favours the cheapest apps (by putting the highest volume of sales to the top of its rankings rather than highest revenue), and the one-off payment system means that developers have no incentive to develop apps that will be used on an ongoing basis.

Of course iPhone OS 3.0 will change this to some degree, making it possible for developers to charge for premium or onging content. But we still have a few months to go with the existing model before those new possiblities will actually eventuate!