All of this is based on a quick and simple Mac App that I built over the course of a few days off. Idea to release in
less then a month three months. Work Journal is now in the app store, here are the costs involved in developing it. There are some assumptions being made here. Costs are rated at £300 a day. PHP contact rates are a little less, iOS are more local to me. So this is a reasonable middle ground. The final project value is also less as there is no feedback to process, no designs to produce for client approval, and no sign off needed. It means I can build the UI from a mental image and sketches without the need for intermediate PSDs. This app was developed prior to NimbleWorks LLP forming, all of the out-sourced work would now be in house.
- idea, UI sketches, basic market analysis. 0.5 days
- initial basic ugly proof of concept 0.5 days
- boilerplate app code, like preferences, help etc 1.5 days
- app beautification 1 day
- app bug fixing and polish 1 day
- app submission 1 day
- app icon (mates rates) £250
- simple website design and setup £512
- domain name: £13
The total break down of cost is as follows:
Development Time : 5.5 days £1650
Website and logo : £775
Total Cost: £2425
Idea to working app only took one day. The app worked, had 80% of the final features but was completely ugly and non-intuitive. I wouldn’t have been able to make any money from it in the app store. In ratios it took 4 times longer to go from working prototype to functioning app. There is still a lot within the app that I could do.
The costs above also don’t take into account the time taken to manage the website and logo. With anything creative there is some to-ing and fro-ing. You can make this easier on yourself by producing a tight specification and trusting the people you are dealing with.
Pricing of the Application
Now the application has launched, I’m waiting for the first days sales figures. I’m £775 out of pocket, I need to earn £2425 or more from the application for it to become a profitable venture, so I’m posed with an interesting problem on pricing.
So lets look at some numbers.
Work Journal sells for £8.99($15) - I get £6 a sale I need to sell 130 copies to not have lost out, 375 copies or more to be profitable.
A sale price of £6.99($10) - I get £4.25 I need to sell 183 and 530 copies respectively.
Selling the app for £2.99($5) - I get £1.82 suddenly I need to sell 426 and 1236 copies.
A sale price of £0.69($1) - I get a paltry 42pence and need to sell 1845 and 5357 copies.
I have very little data or experience to go off from the Mac App store. For my pervious software TrackTime there was very little influence of price on sales numbers when it ranged from $17.50 to $29.99. Given the plans I have for this application I think it should eventually be selling for £6.99($10). Selling at a higher price off the bat means several things:
- I’m more motivated to develop the application
- I’ll have a lower support cost
- I can offer heavy discounts and sales of the application
Offering sales and discount is a great way to raise awareness of your application and can provide a good cash boost.
This is an area of weakness for me, and one where you can sink a lot of time and money. Previously I’ve tried banner ads and pay per click, but neither has really paid for it’s self. I’m looking into some more niche sponsorships like podcasts with very specific topics. I also fear I’m going to have to start doing some cold, hard emailing, straight into bloggers inboxes.
Paid marketing also increases the number of copies that I need to sell to become profitable, enough cash has been sunk on this at the moment, that I’m going to be really picky about what I spend money on. For me that means no more banners or PPC. I did pay for an expedited press release through prMac costing £14.50, money I could have saved with a little planning.
Whether or not the application breaks even it is a good learning process that we’ll be able to share with customers. However, with some future development I don’t see why it shouldn’t turn a profit.