Part 2

In my previous post I wrote about how reMovem (then called Jawbreaker) came into being. I’m not sure exactly how many downloads occurred on that first day. It was a Tuesday night, which I now know is one of the slower sales days of the week on the App Store. Amazingly, I didn’t think to save the daily sales reports for the first few days. My friend Time Machine cannot help here, either. It’s so long ago that everything but the weekly backups have been purged.

I do have the results for the first partial week, from Tuesday to Sunday. Based on some informed guessing I’m going to say that there were 15,000 downloads the first day. Whatever it was, within 36 hours it had jumped into the top ten list of all free applications. By Sunday it had reached the coveted #1 spot!

downloads july 2008.png

The animation below shows a 2-day period from July 31st to August 2nd. It’s really interesting to look at the other applications in that top ten list. Some, like Facebook, Pandora, Tap Tap Revenge, and Remote have stood the test of time. Recall that there were just over a thousand apps at that time, hard as it is to imagine today. In fact, by the time Apple publicized 100 million downloads on September 9th, there were only 3,000 applications in the App Store. What seemed like staggering numbers back them pale in comparison to current figures.

There’s a kind of a fear that sets in when you see your application rising up the top ten list. You think, “this is some kind of joke,” afraid to refresh the iTunes page for fear it will remove any evidence of your hard work. I started grabbing a series of screen shots, from which the following video was generated. I’ve got to tell you, this kind of success was totally unexpected; a story likely echoed by many of the early App Store developers. In my case I was preparing to switch jobs, and I had just begun work on the paid version of Jawbreaker, so I had a lot going on at the time.

As you can see from the animation, it was a bit of a rollercoaster ride, up a little, down a little, up a little more. It’s not until the app hit the top spot do you (even today) see the icon. And then it really hit me. The holy shit moment. I remember thinking “This is great! But, it can’t last.”

As the reviews started flooding in, some were very good and some were very bad. It seems this was a game people felt strongly about. It’s also funny to recall how users of a free app can be so specific in demanding additional features in order to give it one more star in the rating:

Needs more gameplay options

It’s probably just me but I wasn’t feelin it

Needs more levels and extras

Suddenly everyone’s an expert! And worse, anyone could write a review without even having downloaded the game. My wife and I fretted over some of the negative reviews, rejoiced with the good ones, and always wished for a way to respond in some way to the inaccurate ones. In the long run, though, the comments and ratings pretty much evened themselves out, and I’ve stopped worrying about them. I know this is a good, high-quality game.

Next time: A week in the limelight