The mobile application business suffers from a “long tail” of popularity: a few apps do very well, but most of them flounder. According to Ken Seto, founder and CEO of mobile game company Massive Damage, “Some indie game developers get as few as a couple of downloads a day. This number is entirely dependent on your marketing, virality, and ranking in the app store.”
All businesses have competitors. But for mobile apps, the app store ecosystem puts that competition front and center. You can’t ignore your standings, and you can’t relax. “The tricky part,” he says, “is that it’s hard to stick at a certain ranking because everyone around you is trying to surpass you. So if your game doesn’t have natural hype—or isn’t promoted by Apple or paid marketing—you will slip in rankings. There’s no ‘typical’ here.”
Expect yourself to be at the mercy of promotions, marketing, and the whims of the app store environment. The app store battle can be demoralizing, but smart mobile developers use the abundance of information about competitors to see what’s working, emulate their successes, and avoid their mistakes.
As mobile applications get more complex, their file sizes increase. This poses a risk for developers, though; consumers on slower connections may abandon a download if it takes too long. Alexandre Pelletier-Normand, co-founder of Execution Labs, a game development accelerator, says, “If you want your ...