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Posted by Tom, July 23, 2012

Building an audience for our apps

This Wednesday, Bizzy Bear Builds a House will be free on the App Store for 24 hours.

One of the most exciting (and sometimes, quite scary) things about making apps is the fact that so much is new and unknown. The way we tell stories, the way we engage children, and the way we sell our products are all different to how we do things with our print books, which can be incredibly liberating. Selling our apps on the iTunes App Store presents a unique set of challenges around discoverability and marketing, and one of the ways in which app developers like us can try and increase our visibility on the App Store is by experimenting with pricing.

Very broadly speaking (and without taking into account other, admittedly large, factors like quality and brand power), apps that cost little are downloaded in greater numbers than apps that cost a lot (which is not to say that they make more money), and apps that are free are downloaded in even greater numbers. The more downloads your app receives, the higher it climbs in sales charts, and the more visible it becomes, and so the more likely it is to be downloaded by other people. This is what’s known as a positive feedback loop (there is an incredibly interesting book called Winners and Losers, which looks at how positive feedback loops – which are not always good – have affected different businesses).

We’ve never experimented with a free price model before, but we thought we’d give it a try now (and be as open as possible about our thinking behind the decision). Bizzy Bear Builds a House, our newest app, will be free for one day, on Wednesday July 25. What we hope is for a very large number of people to download the app on that day, so that when it returns to its incredibly reasonable price of £2.49 the following day, it will be high in the charts and enjoy a very visible position.

Being able to expand our audience and reach lots of new people, who we hope will love our apps, is one of things that’s very exciting. And doing so by making an app free is one of the things that’s quite scary. But we’re very eager to try new things, see what will happen, and learn from the experiences.

If you download Bizzy Bear Builds a House on Wednesday and enjoy it, why not try our first Bizzy Bear app, Bizzy Bear on the Farm? And if you have any thoughts about app pricing (or Bizzy Bear!), please do share them in the comments.

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