Selling free apps – Air Hockey Free iPhone Downloads o’ Plenty

How do apps climb the charts?  I’ve been watching our Air Hockey Free battle the App Store for 19 days now and I think it’s pretty interesting.  It still has a long way to go before it’s crowned the #1 app in the world, but here’s the story so far.  😉

On day 1, Feb 4, I announced it on twitter.  I don’t have a huge following there, but a few people retweeted my announcement.  A day or so later, I started a 36-hour PR-a-thon at Touch Arcade.  I announced Air Hockey Free and asked for private messages of those interested in a promo code for the full version of Air Hockey.  I got over 100 PMs & gave away 10 promo codes.  The thread had roughly 800 views and at quite a few of those downloaded the free version.  Several people PM’d me saying that they bought the full version after trying the free one.  Success?  Maybe.

About the time that the Touch Arcade promo was over, the first weekend happened.  I’ve known from my paid version over the last 5 months that weekends are the big money makers.  For free apps, there’s a download spike over weekends too.  That Sunday, roughly 3,000 people downloaded Air Hockey Free.  At that time, Air Hockey Free was in the top 100 arcade games and the top 100 kids games, but wasn’t in the top 100 games – not even close to the top 100 apps (all of these are US App Store rankings).  Visibility wasn’t huge, but better than nothing.

Monday’s have historically been the low point for sales each week.  The first Monday’s dip was about 30%.  Since then, I’ve just watched what Air Hockey Free would do by itself. A couple web pages reviewed Air Hockey Free and downloads increased throughout the week.

The next weekend caused another big jump in downloads.  By the second Monday morning, Air Hockey Free made it into the top 100 free games list.  A week later, the downloads per day had doubled again.  Yesterday roughly 9500 people downloaded Air Hockey Free for the first time.  As of today, more than 75,000 people have downloaded Air Hockey Free.

Air Hockey Free’s rankings in the US store have been fairly static over the past week.  The US downloads are still increasing, but the big push over the weekend was from somewhere else.  Germany.  I looked last night and again this morning – Air Hockey Free is the #3 app in Germany.  I love Germany.  (devs, to answer your question…no, I didn’t translate the app to German…it’s an air hockey table though – dead simple.)


I wish I’d been watching the story of the German App Store unfold.  Dang.  I’ll just have to watch it happen in the US.

If you don’t have Air Hockey Free, please download it here. Spread the word!

There’s more you devs want to know, right?  Does the free app generate full version sales?  Maybe.  The current “upgrade action” for Air Hockey Free users requires them to open the setup page while in a game, then click on a “Full Version” button.  I did this for a couple reasons.  First, I wanted the app to get approved by Apple.  The rules on what a free app can be are, well, how shall I say this, perhaps a bit open to reviewer interpretation.  Non-obtrusive design meant to me a better chance of the app making it to the App Store.  Second, I didn’t want to offend users by being to “in their face.”

Since its release, I’ve done some more research on how other free apps have touted their full versions.  I’ll just say, Air Hockey Free has the most non-offensive upgrade button I found.  A change of this strategy will likely increase full version sales.  We shall see!

Again, download Air Hockey Free.  Seriously.  Do it.  Now.

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