Buscouver Numbers after 1 month
The numbers for my iPhone app Buscouver, and some discussion about business models for locally focused apps.
- My own time: about $15K worth if I were billing it.
- Upfront costs of around ~$1000 for design work.
- So far, just over a month: $410
My reddit post got me to #2 in the Canada navigation charts. For one glorious day I made $100.
Feedback has been positive. The latest update (with Apple right now) addresses all the good suggestions.
The 99c model doesn’t work for local apps.
Vancouver is the transitiest place in Canada, but there are still only about 130,000 people / day who use it*. How many of them have iPhones? Maybe half at most.
The 99c model works for apps that appeal to a big percentage of iOS users. It will never be sustainable for local apps. This is why they generally all suck. There are a few alternatives to the 99c model:
- Make it free, make it great and have it be a wonderful portfolio piece to drive people to your consultancy.
My buddies in Dublin at Tapadoo are doing this right with “My Dublin Bus”. I have no interest in consultancy at the moment so this doesn’t work for me.
- Make a more general app (or a series of basically-the-same apps) that cover lots of cities.
This is a good idea in principle, but there are drawbacks. There’s no standard API for live bus data, so although you get to re-use your UI, you’ll be integrating and maintaining each bus service separately. You could just use standard GTFS schedule data but then live data apps will smoke you.
One of the things I had fun with was making the trolley busses in my app look like they really do in Vancouver. If you do this with a generalised app, you’re losing your only efficiency — but I admit it’s probably not important once your UI is great.
Finally, multi-city functionality is not really a feature for your users, only for you.
I’ve seen a bunch of people try this way:
- The Transit App (looks great, not out yet)
- “Go Vancouver” is an example of a really ugly app thats been repurposed for a bunch of cities.
- Charge more than 99c.
The established price of an app is “99c but really it should be free.” I’d love to scream about people being cheap, respect for quality, and the price of a cup of coffee but this is fundamental to how the app store is built. Apps add value to the iPhone, so Apple has always encouraged cheap/free apps. But… this is how I want it to work so I’m going to try it.
Once V1.2 comes out, I’ll be bumping the price to $3. I anticipate reviews calling me greedy in the same sentence that they wonder why I don’t do an Android version.
If this app can make around a minimum of $5K per year it’ll be worth my while. I’d love, for example, to justify the time to integrate Siri if Apple opens it up to developers. Nice things cost money.