Price Changes Take between 15 min and more than 16 hours to take effect in iTunes!

Our focus on app pricing optimization and the power of price changes (see post) has led us to make an interesting discovery related to the mechanism for making price changes on iTunes: the time between a price change request and it taking effect can vary dramatically.

Using our platform to initiate price changes on iTunes, we have seen them take anywhere between 15 minutes and more than 16 hours to go around the globe and be reflected in every storefront. Price changes literally go around the world starting in Australasian and Asian storefronts, then going to the European and African storefronts, before finishing in the Americas.

In the graph below we look at the time it takes for a price change on one of our apps to take effect in the New Zealand storefront (one of the first), the France storefront and the US storefront (one of the last). In the first price change at around 14:00 (or 2PM) on the 23rd of April the app had the Tier 1 price ( corresponding to $1.99) reflected in all three storefronts within 30 minutes. This was also true for the last price change at around 6:00 on the 25th of April. But on the 23rd (and again on the 24th), the app became free at around 10:00 in New Zealand, at around 23:00 (11PM) or 13 hours later in France and at around 3:00 on the 24th in the US. It therefore took 17 hours for that price change to be reflected in all storefronts on iTunes.

Price Changes Taking Effect on iTunes

So if you are making a price change on your app and expect your new price to be reflected in all iTunes storefronts immediately (within 15-30 minutes), that will not always be true. This also means that if a competitor changes their price and you are in France or the United States, for example, watching the New Zealand or Australia storefront will be the best way for you to know in advance what new price is coming to your storefront.

As we continue testing and tracking price changes on more and more apps, we will be able to provide greater insight as to when (what part of the day or what day of the week) a price change has the most chance of spreading quickly (<1hr) or very slowly (>10hrs).

 

 

App Download Data as a Predictive Indicator of Company Performance: Candy Crush Saga and Twitter

In this post, we analyze 2 closely followed companies and note various information that can be gleaned from The Loadown’s data on each of them. This shows ways analysts can effectively use this information in helping support a position around a particular company and the predictive nature of the information.

Candy Crush Saga

With the recent King.com IPO, many analysts have had their eyes on the company’s apps, trying to monitor their performance. The Loadown tracks all King.com apps daily (across all countries), and below is only data on the iPhone app in the US.

Finpoint20140512

In the above chart, we are looking at the daily download estimates for the period (from January 1, 2014 – present) respectively.

Though the app’s user continue to rise, daily downloads have decreased fairly dramatically to level off recently (since the beginning of 2014) at approximately 2.5 times less than end of 2013 ranges.

These findings tie in with the recent quarterly earnings announcement from King.com (May 7, 2014), where the following was reported and concluded:

  • Candy Crush Saga accounting for 67% of total first quarter 2014 gross bookings, down from 78% in the fourth quarter of 2013 (Source: King.com earnings release)
  • Investors were […] worried about the company’s growth. Revenue in Q4 was down from its Q3 revenue. This quarter, as we noted, revenue is up sequentially, but it’s still not as high as it was in Q3. (Source: Business Insider)
  • Up premarket after posting a Q1 EPS beat and moderate Q/Q bookings growth, King Digital (KING -8.7%) has sharply reversed course. Concerns about softening Candy Crush Saga bookings and a Q/Q drop in monthly unique payers appear to be the triggers. (Source: Seeking Alpha)

Conclusion:

Though it should be emphasized that daily downloads are only one piece of an overall company strategy and analysis, The Loadown’s download estimates show clear evidence early into the last quarter the pattern for reduced user growth on the iOS platform. (This may in part be attributed to a reduction in the company’s large paid acquisition strategy that it used around the IPO timeframe).

This daily downloads data can have important predictive value and could be an early alert to start monitoring other strategies and indicators of the company, as new users are not being added as the same level as before.
What can that imply further for user growth, usage patterns, and company performance in general going forward into the quarter and beyond?

Twitter

Twitter, another recent IPO and closely followed company, also has interesting app download behavior. The Loadown follows the Twitter app (and all other 3rd party Twitter apps). Below is data on the iPhone app in the US.

Finpoint20140512b

In the above chart, we again look at the daily download estimates for the period (from January 1, 2014 – present) respectively.

The daily download shows a very steady pattern of user acquisition. Outside of a small spike in downloads around the time of the last earnings report (which may have been attributed to publicity around the event), the trend line for the period is pretty much flat. Therefore, the pattern shows that the user base acquisition (through the Twitter app) is not increasing beyond previous levels.

Analysts and the press has been very consistent and laser focused on Twitter’s ability to expand its user base, which was supposed to be the basis for its growth:

  • Twitter Inc. (NYSE:TWTR) likely failed to accelerate user growth in the first quarter despite major investments aimed at making the social network more attractive to new users in the U.S. and abroad, according to analysts looking ahead to Tuesday’s first-quarter earnings report. (Source: International Business Times)
  • Shares in Twitter dropped 9 per cent in after market trading when the messaging platform failed to reverse a trend of slow user growth, shaking investor confidence that it could ever grow to the size of Facebook. (Source: Financial Times)
  • Twitter (TWTR) may have captivated millions of insiders in the twin realms of technology and media, but its most persistent challenge can be easily characterized in less than 140 characters: “Grow the user base faster and enlist more engaged, mainstream users i.e. #BeMorelikeFacebook.” (Source: Bloomberg Businessweek)

Conclusion:

The Loadown’s download data for Twitter shows a predictive trend that ultimately became an important issue during the current earnings quarter for the company. By monitoring app download estimates daily through The Loadown data, it becomes clear that no significant uptick was seen, when one was expected for the company. Analysts could relatively early on in the quarter begin to focus on this emerging pattern to support the prediction that Twitter user expansion could fall below expectations.

It is also interesting to note that additional analysis could be done by studying the 3rd party Twitter apps’ download patterns for this period, further providing predictive clarity around company performance.

Top 200 (Grossing) Analysis: Paid iPad Apps

AppPoint20140502

 

Here is some more interesting data for all you publishers with paid apps or considering paid apps:

On Thursday, May 1st, 2014, we analyzed the paid iPad apps that made the top 200 (grossing) lists by genre (see above graph). Most genres (15 of 23) had paid apps representing more than half of their top 200 (grossing) apps. Nearly all of the genres had about 50% or more of their paid apps priced at $3.99 or higher. The only exceptions  were Weather (27%), Social (21%), Catalog (19%) and Newsstand (0%). And, two of these, Weather and Catalog, were the only genre’s with a significant number of 99¢ apps.

If you are paid or think of going paid, we can help you manage and optimize your price. #PaidAppsRule

Top 200 (Grossing) Analysis: Paid iPhone Apps

Image

Here is some interesting data for all you publishers with paid apps or considering paid apps:

On Monday, April 28th, 2014, we analyzed the paid iPhone apps that made the top 200 (grossing) lists by genre (see above graph). 4 genres had paid apps representing more than half of their top 200 (grossing) apps: Catalogs (136), Business (116), Finance (115), Food & Drinks (109) and Books (108). About half of the genres had more than 50% of the paid apps priced at $3.99 or higher, while only Catalog had more than 50% of its app priced at $0.99. Games and Newsstand were the only genres that had apps priced at $2.99.

If you are paid or think of going paid, we can help you manage and optimize your price. #PaidAppsRule

Version Updates and Price Changes of iOS Apps Deliver Up to 23% Better Rank and 96% More Days Ranked!

We have a new white paper, “Using Version Updates and Price Changes to Improve Mobile App Discovery”, available on theloadown.com. According to US market data we collected in 2013, iOS app publishers and developers making version updates and price changes improve their positioning on iTunes’ Top Paid, Top Free and Top Grossing lists.

This is because when a paid or free app is updated to a new version, the developer can change the name, icon, description, screenshots and keywords of the app as well as force users to notice the new update. For price changes, sales get featured on an Apple RSS feed that is distributed to thousands of sites and twitter feeds focused on promoting apps that have gone on sale or have recently become free.

The Loadown’s data (see graph) indicates that free apps making version changes increased the number of days they were ranked by an average of 45% in Apple’s Top Free list and 73% in Top Grossing (19 more days), compared to apps that never updated their versions. In terms of rank, these free apps improved by about 17% in Top Paid and 21% in Top Grossing (45 rank positions).

Similarly, compared to apps that never changed their prices and never updated their versions, paid apps that did had an average increase of 36% in the number of days they were ranked in Top Paid and 96% in Top Grossing (22 more days) along with a 23% improvement in their Top Paid rank and 21% in Top Grossing (50 rank positions).

This data provides supporting evidence that active involvement by apps in their positioning on Apple’s App Store through version updates and price changes significantly improves their discoverability, downloads and sales.

TLD-PressReleaseImage