I Launched on Android Years Late

By |April 7th, 2015|

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 [...]

How Flappy Bird accidentally went viral

By |February 1st, 2014|

If you haven’t heard, the latest bird game to hit the top of the App Store is Flappy Bird.  I saw this game at #1 for numerous days in a row and had to figure out what was going on.  One guy even goes as far as to say that the developer is using bots to fuel all the downloads for the app.  He just doesn’t understand the mechanism that is fueling this extremely rapid growth.

Here is one of the latest charts showing Flappy Bird’s crazy growth. After months of nearly no downloads, it jumped and out of nowhere surged to the top of the App Store.

Flappy Bird number downloads


What Flappy Bird is NOT doing

Ad Spend – According to the developer, he has spent no money on any advertising for Flappy Bird.  Many of the top games in the App Store such as Candy Crush or Clash of Clans have a 5 or 6 figure daily advertising budget.

Cross-Promotion – Flappy Bird is doing no cross-promotion with other successful apps in the App Store.  One technique of driving growth for apps is to link to other companies apps and they link back to you in turn growing both of your user bases. Flappy Bird doesn’t do this.

Social Sharing Buttons – Flappy bird does not employ any sharing features within the app itself.

Marketing of any kind – According to the developer, he just got “lucky”.  Well, lucky is good and all but it doesn’t help other developers to figure out how they can replicate these techniques and make more money.

So why is Flappy Bird #1 in the App Store??

Alright, so to explain how Flappy Bird has had such unbelievable growth in the past few [...]

App Store Screenshots – Boosting Downloads

By |November 26th, 2013|

After releasing numerous apps to the App Store and having had some that have flopped and some that have crushed it, I have learned what works and what doesn’t in terms of App Store Screenshots. Here are a few strategies I use when creating screenshots. This is Part 3 of a set of 3 posts on how to improve your App Store presence. You can also check out part 1: how to write a download boosting app store description and part 2: how to make a killer app icon.

Why App Store Screenshots matter more than ever

Since the release of iOS 6, Apple has redesigned the app store search results so that instead of having results show up as a list, search results now show up 1 at a time and show the first screenshot. This has dramatically changed the way app discovery works and it is important to know that it is there and to take advantage of it.

iOS 5 App Store Screenshot          iOS 7 App Store Screenshot             
Since an entire screenshot shows up whenever someone searches for your app, this means your first App Store screenshot is more important than ever.

Strategy #1: Select your screenshots that highlight key features

This may seem like something simple, but have your App Store screenshots highlight the most impressive features in your app. If there is heavy competition for your app, highlight the features in your app that make it different.

Strategy #2 : Communicate anything that may not be immediately obvious

There are times when you have a feature in your app that is hard to describe just by an organic screenshot from [...]

How to Make a Killer App Icon

By |October 29th, 2013|

Over the past few years in the App Store, I’ve had apps that have varied from extremely poor performance to chart topping performance with millions of downloads. One of the key factor’s to an app’s success is the app icon. There are several attributes that I have found generally lead to more downloads. I will also show you how to find the best icon designers in the world. This is the Part 2 of a 3 part series on how to optimize your app store presence. You can also check out how to write a good App Store description.

Icon Styles

I believe the best way to learn is by example, so I will start this post by showing you some of the best icons in the App Store.


Candy-Crush App icon   Clash-of-clans    Game-of-war

These 3 icons are from some of the highest grossing games in the App Store. As of this posting, Candy Crush is #1, Clash of Clans is #2, and Game of War is #4.

An interesting thing to note about Candy Crush and Clash of Clans is that they both have an icon border and have a 3 dimensional component where the subject of the icon overlaps the border. This really causes the icon to pop out and get more attention. The other important thing to notice is that the subject of the icon is huge and occupies most of the icon.

What is interesting about Clash of Clans and Game of War is that [...]

App Descriptions – 5 Secrets to Boosting Downloads

By |October 21st, 2013|

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably discovered that writing a good App Description can be hard!

There are really 3 things you want your app store description to do:

  1. Convert
  2. Convert
  3. Convert

This post will explain the 5 secrets on how to write an app description that actually converts!

This is the first of 3 posts that I will be writing on the App Store that will cover your App Store presence and how to get people to actually download your app after seeing it in the store.

First of all, I wanted to say that I am going to be presenting the 5 secrets of an app description that I have personally found that actually lead to more users downloading an app. I will be teaching by example of apps that have all received millions of downloads or have been ranked in the top charts.

1.  Social Proof

One of the best ways to persuade new users to download your app is to tell them about all the other people currently using it. Hearing about others using it makes it psychologically much easier to believe that the app is really good.

Here are some good examples of what I am talking about:

“Over 3,000,000 people trust Private Photo Vault to keep their photos hidden.

Top 100 Photography App in USA, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, India, Italy, Finland, UK, South Africa, Egypt, Mexico, Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong, France, Ireland, Germany and many more countries.”

Private Photo Vault

App Description

 “#1 Top Paid App on the App Store

Downloaded and used by millions including Starbucks, ABCFamily, UFC, A-list celebrities, teachers, bloggers (fashion, fitness, food) and Instagrammers ALL around the world.”



If you are just launching your app, you won’t really have the ability to list [...]