Now here I'm gone write my personal experience with the AppStore. About 1 month ago (3th of December) my application was finally approved by Apple.
Let's go over the timeline from concept of the app until today.
The idea came after a discussion with a friend , who's a financial analyst, to build a front end on top of his trading engine.
So the idea was that I should build an iPhone front end and that he would build the web infrastructure so that the iPhone could communicate with the trading engine.
I also did some investigation and I saw that their where only 1000 apps on the AppStore in the finance category , so at least we would be seen.
Of course this was not a game so we wouldn't reach the masses or getting great attention from review sites etc.
(Note: I still find it strange that people buy 600 USdollars phones to play games on it, but oke).
And then it was April 2009, we started the development. I bought a development license from Apple for 99 USdollar ( 79 euro), got myself an iPod Touch for development. Got all the contracts signed (that was smooth by the way) and got myself an IRS number.
That was a strange experience for a non-US citizen ;-).
Apparently they don't believe in the Internet because the only to get that number was by phone, mail or fax - no online -.
Anyway we start coding , he was using PHP for the backend and I using Objective-C for the front-end.
And the communication between iPod and backend happened via HTTP using CSV files (nope no XML , that's overkill, the CSV's are generated on the fly during a request).
It took about 2,5 months to develop it, 1 month beta-testing and 1 month for corrections, change requests etc.
So in August 2009 I submitted the app for approval to ItunesConnect. And now the story begins...
3. Approval process
According to Apple it takes about 14 days to get approval (or rejection). So I was thinking , I submit it in August then we have an availability date of September 1th.
Now that was wrong.
After a week I got a mail from Apple to say that it would take longer to approve. But with no further explanation for what reason.
So august went by -> no approval
September went by -> no approval (and no message from Apple)
October went by -> no approval (no message from Apple).
At that time I sent an email to them but I got a standard response back.
And then suddenly in November they started the review of the application and I got an email that the app was rejected because of an usability problem.
I quickly fixed it and resubmitted it, and I was afraid that it would take again 3,5 months for approval.
But luckily for one reason or another they almost immediatly reviewed it and approved it.
So since December 3th the application is on the AppStore for sale !
4. Post Natal depression
So the new born is 1 month old, and how is the sales going ?
Well to be honest, not so good (sold twenty-some). We knew it was a niche market so we didn't expect 1000 downloads per day. But a bit more than 20... would be nice.
Now the AppStore (and ITunes Connect) doesn't give us much help. With more than 100.000 applications available you are just 1 item in a giant catalog (even finance has 1700 apps).
And a catalog with very limited search and browse facilities , after a few days your application is somewhere on page 10 and nobody cares anymore.
ITunes Connect as marketing aid is also nothing, you can enter keywords but you have no idea how many people are landing on your app, which keywords they used etc etc. You only see how many downloads their are.
Now we are spending our time in sending emails to review sites etc. But those guys are also overwhelmed with requests. And most likey they rather like to review games or entertainment apps than boring financial app's.
Conclusion : creating and developing an application for the iPhone is the easy part , its 10 % of the effort , marketing is the other 90%.
For those who think that the AppStore is a goldmine , forget it, a good idea is a prerequisite but some luck and a lot of marketing is needed. And even then you are not sure that you'll win the jackpot.