A software engineer who wrote what he calls a “terrible” and “crap” app in less time than it typically takes to eat lunch has since watched it shoot to the top of Apple’s App Store, where it’s now generating over $200 an hour despite being a free download.
We’ve talked a lot (a whole lot) lately about some bizarre and crap apps that make it to the App Store – but this story is fascinating to me because it gives us a ‘crap app’ developer’s point of view on things.
The developer in question, who goes by the nickname High Gloss, is 22 years old, and in his talk with Apple Insider he offers some great insight on his approach, his thoughts on *why* these sort of apps have so much success, and on some useful ways to look at the App Store as well.
Read on for more details on this app that is generating so much money, and for some very smart words from High Gloss …
Here’s a brief description (taken from High Gloss’ site) of the app in question, Sound Grenade:
Sound Grenade gives you instant crown control. That party get a little bit out of control? Sound Grenade is the answer. Plug your iPod touch or iPhone into some speakers and crank up the volume. Sound Grenade generates a really, really annoying, nauseating and headache producing high pitched sound.
I’d say that’s certainly a ‘novelty’ app, but not one that strikes me as being amongst the worst offenders in terms of crappiness etc.
And here’s a little more background on how the app came to be:
22-year-old High Gloss has worked on more than 20 other iPhone apps for an iPhone software developer. After running out of ideas to make his own app, he looked through the Top 100 apps for inspiration. (He uses a pseudonym to keep his personal efforts separate from his work with the aforementioned iPhone software developer). In just 20 minutes, he wrote Sound Grenade (Free, App Store), which is currently listed third under the top free apps, in the wild card category of “Utilities”.
Some more thoughts from Gloss on his creation:
The end product was Sound Grenade, which is a really terrible app, one button turns a sound on or off, period. For 20 minutes’ work, I thought it would be interesting to take the ride.
The rest, as they say, is history. A brief history so far, but a stunningly successful one. The app zoomed into the Top 10 in the Free Apps charts very quickly and has had tons of glowing reviews.
I think Gloss makes an awful lot of sense in assessing why his app has been so successful, and especially in his thinking on what we should really be comparing the App Store to. Here are just a few examples of this:
Most users may be quite young …
From reading a number of reviews, it seems fairly obvious that the majority of people are high school, college-aged people,” he wrote. “A lot of them mention wanting to play pranks on teachers (and) classmates …
Ideas that work …
Do some market research, work out that most of the people that download free apps are immature and seriously uncool. Then wrap an average idea that you think will appeal to immature and uncool people with some average graphics, and boom, top 10 app.
That last one seems a bit over the top to me – maybe accurate, but there a lot of very useful apps out there that are free as well.
About the App Store market itself …
The problem for the ‘quality’ app developers is they want to make theatrical films, and they can only premiere them at the same place as everybody else in the world,” he continued. “Let’s call it the YouTube of software … After all, even though not all of the content on YouTube is worth viewing, enough quality does remain to keep users coming back …
Now that seems just spot-on, very true.
His other very appropriate point of comparison for the App Store is the pop music charts – where there’s tons of dross that rises to the top.
The App Store is not like any other software market we’ve ever seen. If it could be compared to any other market, it’s like the Billboard Charts for Music. A good pop music producer can take someone with minimal talent, get them to sing some lyrics, and then run it through auto tune. Bam. Number one song.
Again, I think that’s a great analogy – you can definitely find good music if you know what you’re after or explore enough, but you have to wade through a lot of drivel at times as well. But – as with the YouTube comparison – it doesn’t stop you from buying music.
OK, enough spoiling in my part. The full story over at Apple Insider is a superb read, and there are lots more good thoughts and quotes from Gloss. I have to say, for a self-confessed ‘crap app’ developer, he seems like a hell of a smart guy …