A Tale of Two Apps — Or Why You Shouldn’t Automatically Give Up
Some of you may know that I have a debt snowball app called Pay Off Debt.
I got the idea for it one day while browsing the financial apps on my iPhone. I noticed that there weren’t any apps like it, and thought there might be a market for it.
“Thinking there might be a market for it” meant that I would have loved an app like that back when I was paying off my student loan. Beyond that, the only other things that made me believe people might want a debt snowball app were a few reviews on a couple of credit card apps.
So, basically I spent about $1500 and a lot of hours of time to create the very first version of the iPhone app based on a sample of about 4 people total. It was an idea that I wanted to give a shot.
And you know what? Pay Off Debt was a success. I sold 423 apps the first month, recouping more than half of my initial investment. Sales improved after that, especially when it became one of the top 25 financial apps.
People kept asking if Pay Off Debt was available for Android too, so of course that was my next project. After another investment of time and money, I released the Android version, hoping it would essentially double my sales.
But it didn’t. Not by a long shot.
The Android sales were barely a tenth of my iPhone sales, even though both versions of the app (initially) had the exact same features. (I’ve since added additional features to the iPhone version.)
Why? I still have no idea. Maybe Android users are less likely to buy apps. Maybe it’s harder to find apps in the Android Market than it is in the App Store. Maybe Android users are less likely to be in debt, or to use a debt snowball. I’d say maybe there was a better Android debt snowball app out there, but at the time mine was the only one. At some point (soon, I hope!) I’m going to do what I can to figure it out and improve.
The thing is, if I had done the Android version of Pay Off Debt first, I never would have done the iPhone version at all.
Instead, I would have told myself “Oh well, it was a bad idea. It was just a bet anyway.”
I would have given up and moved on — leaving thousands of dollars on the table.
That experience was enough to teach me an important lesson: when things aren’t going the way you’d like, don’t just assume that you’re a failure. Instead, analyze the situation. Look for alternative ways of doing things, and places to improve. Try to figure out how to make things better. And then try some more.