– Ben Martens

Free Apps Retrospective

I have about a dozen Windows Phone and Windows 8 Store apps. They’re all paid apps, mostly because I’m too lazy to mess around with advertising and it’s nice to get a little money, even if it’s just a few bucks, for my hobby. CascadeSkier makes up about 90% of all my downloads, but even that one isn’t huge. I decided to open the kimono a bit and share the results of a recent experiment where I offered both apps for free for three days.

Windows 8 Store
This version has been out since 2012 and as of today I have 1574 downloads. This app offers a free trial for a couple days and then you have to pay $1.99 to continue using it. During the period where the app was free, I got 120 downloads so that’s a pretty good chunk considering I only have 1500 total downloads. The really interesting part is that after the free period ended, I saw another peak of about 20-30 downloads and about a third of those people bought the app. We’re not talking huge money here, but it does appear that some of the people who downloaded the app for free convinced acquaintances to buy it later.

One random stat unrelated to the free trial: over the last 12 months, 1 out of every 7 people who view the app in the store download it. 27% of those people buy the app and 75% of those people buy it without even attempting the trial.

Windows Phone
The Windows Phone app has been out since 2010 and it has 1758 downloads. During the free period I got 200 downloads but there was no follow-on peak of paid downloads.

This was an interesting experiment. In reality I probably should have done this a long time ago and maybe I’ll do it again in the future. The reviews show that pretty much anybody who uses the app loves it. So that implies that the more people that are using the app, the more people will hear about it. The flip side of this argument is that I target a very small customer base. This app only applies to skiers and snowboarders who live in Washington or the Portland area and who use Windows Phone or run apps from the Windows 8 Store. I often wonder how close I am to saturating that market.