So, just yesterday, I launched the Android version of Private Photo Vault (you can download it here). Private Photo Vault was originally launched in February of 2011, so releasing it 4 years later is an extremely long period of time to wait to launch an Android version, especially in the software world.
Looking back, I can’t come up with any good reason that I didn’t launch on Android earlier (I was in college for a good percentage of that time though). Regardless, now that the product is released, I am immediately realizing the problem of launching late.
Showing up in app store’s search results is crucial for getting organic downloads. Upon launching Private Photo Vault yesterday, the app shows up as the 40th result when searching “Private Photo Vault” while Google Play is auto-predicting my app’s iOS name in the search results because people search for my app’s name on Google. This is a huge problem as people who are looking specifically for Private Photo Vault and not those 40 other apps can’t find it. They will likely download a competitor because they won’t scroll through all 40 of the other apps.
Most app store algorithms work by looking at number of downloads, number of reviews, app engagement, and keywords. Since number of downloads and number of reviews are highly correlated with the length of time the product has been in the store, older apps will perform better and it is difficult to move your way up.
Competitors Move Ahead
While I had one the earliest products on iOS to allow users to password protect photos, my product is not novel on Android. There are many competitors on Android that have well established positions. Being forced to move ahead these competitors will probably take significant effort/money.
I feel fairly foolish for waiting so long to launch on Android, but the next best time besides the past to launch an app is the present. I am also certain that I will be able to improve its ranking in Google Play with new marketing techniques. I’ll keep you updated to see what can be done about launching late and if it is even worth launching on Android at all if you have significant competition.