Touch Carrom – every 100th facebook fan gets a free promo code (US Store only)

Posted in iphone on December 13th, 2009 by Abhishek Balaria – Comments Off

In under two days Touch Carrom has added 99 fans as of now.

Announcing a new promo code give away: every 100th facebook fan will get a free promo code for the game. The codes are currently valid for the US store only.

Click here to become a fan!

Touch Carrom updated!

Posted in iphone on December 10th, 2009 by Abhishek Balaria – Comments Off

The new version in the App Store rocks!

Well, this is no way to make a product announcement :-) But I have to say that the version in the App Store for last 20 days sucked! There were some annoying bugs which we found in extended testing. Apple has finally approved our latest upgrade.

We have fixed those issues and then some. I can finally say we are closer to our vision of what a Carrom game should look and play like on the iPhone/iPod Touch or any touch control device for that matter.

There is still a lot to come very soon, but for now we are proud to announce this latest upgrade and hope you enjoy every moment spent with Touch Carrom.

Having said all of the above, we know there a long way to go before we perfect this game. Please help us improve by reviewing the game in the App Store and sending us your feedback (we love criticism)..

Here is a sneak peek of the latest version:

App Rejections

Posted in iphone on December 4th, 2009 by Abhishek Balaria – Comments Off

There is a lot of noise about AppRejections.com. I think it’s generally a good idea. Mostly it’s being used to highlight how ridiculous are some of the rejections, but I think there is an opportunity to use the site to learn what not to do to get rejected.

App Store is still a relatively new entity, and we are still learning the rules of the game. AppRejections.com can play an important role here.

How To Track Your App Reviews Worldwide

Posted in iphone on November 25th, 2009 by Abhishek Balaria – Comments Off

We have just launched our first iPhone game (touchCarrom) and one thing I learned while doing research on the app store was that the reviews are not worldwide. Which is OK from a reviewers perspective, but as a developer you want to know what people have been saying about your application worldwide. One way to do it is to go to each country store and look for your app. This, however, is not very practical as you can imagine. A Google search on the subject resulted in an interesting application which I found to be really useful. The application is aptly called “AppReviewsFinder” and you can grab it at: http://code.google.com/p/appreviewsfinder/.

The application is not a native mac app, but a Java application. Which means you will have to run it in your terminal command line as following:

java -jar AppReviewsFinder_1_0.jar

You can then add the application for which you want the reviews. Here is a quick screenshot:

touch Carrom in AppReviewsFinder

Whose Mistake?

Posted in iphone on November 21st, 2009 by Abhishek Balaria – Comments Off

I just finished reading Paul Graham’s essay on the current “mess” that the App Store approval process seems to be. As always, Paul brings fresh perspective and interesting thoughts.

One thing we often forget is that what Apple is trying to accomplish with the App Store has never been done before. There is no single worldwide quality assurance and software distribution model for a mobile platform. I for one would like to give Apple the benefit of the doubt and assume they are trying their best and that they genuinely care about the developers (not in a phony developers developers developers monkey dance way). The current “mess” is not as much a result of arrogance or worse stupidity, but is an ongoing evolution. The developer often forget that they are getting worldwide software delivery mechanism with access to 50 million strong market in return for a 30% cut and agreeing to few rules. A solution would emerge over time, as it has in other issues which the iPhone seemingly had when it launched.

However, I do agree with Paul that iterations are the best way to build software and the App Store approval process gets in the way. But for Apple, specially with a platform like the iPhone, there is always a risk that malicious software could have negative effect on the device performance and will eventually hurt their brand perception. I think what Apple needs to fix more urgently is the approval process for updates.

There is also a positive side to the approval process for developers (specially smaller ones) that it may actually serve like QA which they often don’t have resources to perform.

Finally, as they say, history is the best indicator of future success. Let’s see some of the older issues which Apple iPhone had and how Apple went about fixing them.

  • The apps are web only: fixed with SDK release
  • No cut/copy/paste: fixed with the OS upgrade
  • No MMS: not really Apple’s issue, but also fixed with an OS upgrade

The list can go on, but the point is in last more than 2 years that the iPhone has been in the market they have fixed most complains and I am willing to bet that the App Store approval process too will be fixed (specially the updates part).

Why iPhone killers aren’t

Posted in iphone on October 20th, 2009 by Abhishek Balaria – 1 Comment

It’s very common that when something becomes really popular or a category killer (no, monopoly is not a good term here), the competitors start claiming their products as XYZ killer. There are plenty of examples, like iPod killer, Windows killer and more recently iPhone killer. This post is generally about the concept of product killers and specifically about the so-called iPhone killers.

First let’s talk about the product killers in general. There is no common definition of what a product that kills another product actually means. The marketers aren’t talking about actually destroying the physical product :-) I suppose it’s an euphemism for a very aggressive marketing tactic which means their new product is going to halt the momentum (in terms of market adoption and buzz) of the existing category killer and eventually turn the momentum into the new product’s favor. This is, of course, what all marketers dream off. There is an old Indian (probably also other cultures) saying that a man is judged by quality of his enemies. Pitting yourself against a powerful enemy can help you position your product and at least give prospective customers a reason for pause. The question, though, is whether this is a good long term strategy. This strategy assumes that the new product meets all the current requirements plus fills all the voids left by current leader. This would imply that the product is going to please everyone. Whoever has ever been involved in any product development knows that this is a recipe for disaster. Every product requires some features that you would have to consciously omit in order for the whole package to work. If you cram too many features your product will become hard to use, position and end up not being liked by anyone. While launching a new product a better bet is to get a few passionate early adopters and then iterate and grow into adjacent feature areas. The passionate early adopters tend to have very strong opinions about how a product should work and your are not going to please them with a product that has 1000 other features they don’t care about. Even if you do make a better product with all the features plus everything consciously left out by the current leader (for some reason – often stupidity is not the reason), you still have an uphill battle because of the network effect, ability of current leader to cut prices or simply because the leading product has become a fashion statement.

So what exactly does calling your product an XYZ killer do? It sets the expectations very high, which is generally a bad idea while launching a new product. No matter how hard you try, most likely you will disappoint because you simply can’t please everyone. And all the negative reactions will end up hurting your chances in the long run.

The iPhone killers
Before the iPhone, there were the iPod killers. Often times the devices actually were quite good, they had FM radio, cameras, better sound quality, wifi connectivity and so on. None of this seemed to have put even a small dent into the iPod’s market share. The reasons why none of the missing features were important enough for the customers to switch, though they have sometimes missed them, was because the whole iPod+iTunes package worked. Somehow the competitors couldn’t figure out the right mix and mostly ended up completely forgetting the content strategy. They fought the wrong battle and eventually lost the war. It’s also interesting to note that the horizontal strategy that worked great for PCs hasn’t translated very well into consumer electronics. Not only iPod/iPhone but also the video game consoles are a good example of that. That is a separate topic though.

Now on to the iPhone, just this week we have heard about DroidTM and how “Droid Does”. Make no mistake, some of the “iDon’t”s are real and can be a bother often times. Of course, before DroidTM there were Palm Pre, Google Phone (a number of android clones *pun intended*), Samsung Instinct, LG Voyager and the so the list goes. They had everything that iPhone didn’t for a very long time including their own app store clones. Why have they not succeeded in killing the iPhone then? The reason again, I suppose, is that the iPhone is a better overall package and all the things it “doesn’t” are not important enough to that experience. Now to Apple’s credit they have listened to the customers and have fixed or added the issues, but only when they were sure it was the right time and right way to do it (cases in point: copy-cut-paste, SDK, MMS, tethering etc.). So what would it take to kill the iPhone? You would have to do a lot better than replaceable batteries. Almost always you can kill a product category leader if you stay long enough (and keep investing) and wait for the category leader to stumble in execution or strategy. Though I doubt this is going to happen anytime soon with the iPhone.

It’s also interesting that while introducing the iPhone, Apple never claimed it to be a BlackBerry or Nokia killer. The expectation was set relatively low, the focus was on delivering the whole package and whatever little iPhone did, it did it with perfection (except making the calls :-)). They listened to the market and kept iterating. I wonder if they were following Minimum Viable Product strategy mentioned below.

This post has already become a lot longer than I had intended, so I will probably write follow up later. But I would be interested in knowing examples of product killers which dethroned the market leaders by building slightly improved product (without the market leader failing to execute e.g. Netscape vs. Microsoft is not a good example).

In-App Payments In Free Apps

Posted in iphone on October 17th, 2009 by Abhishek Balaria – Comments Off

Apple yesterday announced that they are now allowing even the free apps the ability to charge within the application. This is an interesting development and should fix a major hole in the application discovery process. Finally the app developers can truly allow try before buy. The Lite and Full version method used by most developers so far was a good workaround but this is so much better.

It does, however, bring some interesting issues with it. How are the users going to differentiate a completely free app without in-app payments with the one which charges later? But I am sure the market will find a way.