I'm a Top 3 iPhone App Developer!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

UPDATED: My former employer requested that I remove mention of their company name and client.

Short version:
[REDACTED], one of the apps I developed, became #3 top paid app on the US App Store less than a week after launch.

Long version:
After deciding that iPhone development was going to be in my future, and without previous programming knowledge besides some occasional dabbling in scripting - I've worked in publishing all my life - I jumped head first into Objective-C and Cocoa by attending the Big Nerd Ranch June '08 Cocoa Bootcamp class.

With the foundation from the classes and an active involvement in the local CocoaHeads and NSCoder Night (which I started), I ventured to take on a couple freelance iPhone projects on the side and - after a lot of sleepless nights - had my first app available on the App Store by Halloween '08. Shortly after, I completed my second app (100 Sounds, iTunes link) and, to my surprise, it saw great success, climbing the rankings to Top 32 paid app (#7 in Entertainment category) early January '09.

From there, I opted to train a beginner group in iPhone development (isn't that the best way to learn?) and continued developing a few more apps which eventually met with limited success. I was still working at my publishing day job, when one of my clients - a startup company named [REDACTED] - invited me to join them full-time in May '09. I jumped at the chance despite the potential risk and was finally able to focus 100% on iPhone development.


After a lot of work, the app was finally submitted to Apple for approval. Anxious about the possibility of rejection, we were ecstatic when we finally got news that the app was approved. [REDACTED] decided to "soft-launch" the app early (catching our servers off guard as well!) and we were soon watching the app shoot up in the rankings. But more importantly, it was gathering rave reviews from users on the iTunes App Store and Twitter comments.

In a couple days, it was already #45 top paid app. And then [REDACTED]'s marketing and press releases really kicked in. By the next day, the app had crossed into the fabled Top 10 territory and was visible in the front page of the App Store. With almost 90% of the reviews being 5 stars (and those that weren't were complaining about the price, or unavailable content), the app continued to inch toward the top - specially after it mysteriously appeared in the prominent first spot of the "New & Noteworthy" ranking (an area usually only updated on Tuesdays!). The following day, it finally settled at #3 top paid app, #1 top sports paid app, and #3 top grossing app (an amazing metric to have!).

This is a great personal and professional milestone in my nascent career as iPhone developer. A lot of work and little sleep, but I'm ready for more.