Happy 2013

Uncategorized  |  January 1, 2013  |  2 responses  

Hey everyone, happy 2013!

I’m writing to hopefully get everyone up to speed on what I’ve been up to. Unfortunately I haven’t been as consistent in my blogging as I hoped… although I enjoy blogging and both giving and receiving feedback from the Android dev community, I find that creating a blog post normally takes more time than I have available. A have to admit though that 4 months since my last post is too much!

My purpose for today’s post is to write a very quick review of 2012, and to give my hopes for 2013.

Quick review of 2012

This last year was very successful for me as an indie Android developer. Although I’m not close to making my goal of $2000/month, what I am making has not required a lot of work on my part. I’m currently averaging from $500 to $600 per month in sales, not counting the ads revenue which could be around $50/month (more on this later).

Language Flashcards

The flashcards app has pretty much been left as-is during the last year. The free version continues to get a good amount of downloads, which leads to some sales. I don’t have much interest in continuing work on this app as I believe it’s reached a fairly mature state, and is not a topic I’m particularly passionate about (although I did make it to scratch my own itch). Every once in a while I get a bug report regarding an incorrect word translation, so I’ve been logging these and will probably make one final update, and then forget this app forever.

The ad experiment I had started using this app has been interesting. Initially I thought it definitely was not worth making only an ad-supported app, as the daily income was really low. However as time has passed and total downloads have continued to increase, this number has increased to about $1.5/day on ads. This is still lower than what I make in flashcard sales, however it’s constantly increasing and will probably one day be more than the sales. The downside of this is that Mobclix, the ad network I’m using, is having some kind of technical or financial difficulty and is delayed several months in it’s payouts. This is unacceptable, so if/when I update the app I’m definitely getting out of Mobclix.

Electrician Calculator

A cool thing about having a blog and making my plans public is that I can look back and see what I intended to do a while back, and compare that to what I’ve actually done. Although I feel I’m doing ok, I can see I’ve done only a fraction of the things I set out to do. Almost a year ago exactly I wrote that I wanted to do the following regarding the Electrician Calculator:

  • Add more sections
  • Update to NEC 2011
  • Make iOS version
  • Make promotional video and email blogs

Of these I have completely achieved only the first two, and I’m probably a little less than half way towards finishing an iOS version (a bought a Mac Mini about a month ago and have been learning iOS). I had emailed an electrician blog a long time ago, but the admins only had iPhones, so I decided to wait on the promo video until I could cover the other 50% of the mobile ecosystem.

In general it’s been a good year for the calculator. It’s making most of the revenue (I don’t have specifics at the moment), it’s the app I’m most proud of and the one I wish to invest more time in in 2013. Just to put this into writing as I did a year ago, this is what I wish to accomplish:

  • Publish a version for iOS.
  • Generate more organic traffic to the Electrician Calculator website. My initial plan is to add a blog to the sales site and blog about topics electricians are interested in.
  • Publish a version for Windows Phone (this depends on how well W8 takes off, and it’s really not a priority).

Flops, and other stuff I didn’t finish

Did I mention finishing stuff is hard? Really hard. There are several projects I mentioned last year but that didn’t see the light of day, or have been complete flops. Here’s what’s up with those:

GRE Flashcards

When I made these flashcards I thought it was a good idea. After all, a very large number of people have to take this test in order to enter grad school (in the US). However, after months in the market, it’s sold a grand total of…. 6 copies in 8 months. Yes, 6. Which means I made $4.2 dollars from this app.

If two years ago I had decided that this would be my first app and published it, I would probably have given up on Android development and believed the people that say you can’t make money selling apps. I guess this is a good reason not to give up, even if your first or second or third apps seem like total failures.

Ruppix

I had mentioned Ruppix as a web app for Google Play analytics. As I normally do I did a little research to see if there was anything similar already out there, and there was. But not just any web app, but a really good one. And it’s free! (If you’re curious, it’s App Annie). That was kind of a bummer because I really liked the idea, but App Annie was already doing exactly what I was thinking of, doing it really well, and doing it for free.

I normally would say that having a competitor isn’t a problem. After all, there were other calculators for electricians when I started mine, and there are tons of other flashcard apps similar to mine. But normally in both cases there were fronts in which I believed I could compete: ease of use, better UI, or even lower price. In Ruppix’s case, I had none of these, so I decided to let it go.

Hopes for 2013

From a developer standpoint, I’m looking forward to 2013. I’ll share my goals here with the hope that you keep me somewhat accountable, and so in 365 days I can look back and see what I’ve done right, and what I haven’t. Hopefully I will have done more things right than wrong.

Mobile apps

I already have two new Android apps that are almost finished! One is an idioms reference app, and the second is an NFC based treasure hunt game. The idioms app is pretty simple… just a big’ol list of idioms with their real meaning, related words, etc. (more on this in a future post). I normally wouldn’t recommend on working on several apps at the same time like this, but in this case it just happened. I got NFC tags for Christmas, so I decided to hack up a quick app to use them. This turned into several late night hacking sessions in which I was able to get a lot done and I almost have a product.

NFC based games and possibly website

NFC is a relatively new technology where there still aren’t a whole lot of apps, so I think this is a good moment to jump in and start being creative with this. I built a prototype of the treasure hunt game in just a few hours, and have been polishing it up and I’m hoping to publish this soon. I have a hard deadline of around January 15th, since I’m hoping to test it during a birthday party January 17th.

I believe a whole community can be built around this idea, and that I can use this first app to launch it. I’m still debating this, though, since community sites need to reach their critical mass before they can fly on their own and are normally not as easily monetized.

Web apps

Even though all my current revenue seems recurring, it’s really not, since I make money from each customer only once. I have an idea for a software as a service (Saas) web app that I’m planning for the start of 2013. The service I plan to provide is targeted at Android developers, and it’s something I already do for myself, so this would also be a good example of scratching my own itch.

I have a really simple script already running in my servers, so my idea is to provide this service to other Android developers. Why am I being so secretive? I don’t know! But I feel it’s still too early to get the word out. However as soon as I have a “coming soon” page set up I’ll definitely write a post about it so I can get your feedback.

Happy 2013

This is me welcoming 2013. Hope you have a good 2013!