Launch Festival · Mobile

When to launch on App Store?

Rachel Ratliff Voki Mobile

April 1st, 2014

I have a messaging app that will be ready for beta testing in May. I'm hoping that beta testing will only take a month, so the app could be ready to go into the App Store in June. I'm not planning on a big launch (party, lots of press, etc.), in part because I'm doing this solo and don't have the resources at the moment to make it happen. 

My concern is that I've heard that your App Store rankings depend in part on how quickly users download your app, and so if your app "lurks" for a while (ie does not get a lot of downloads), your chances of gaining prominence in the App Store in the future are decreased because of the slow uptake. 

Can anyone speak to their experience with releasing into the App Store - soft launch vs. hard, gaining momentum slowly, and/or other issues your foresee?


Hayden Tay Marketing and Customer Success Manager at ChargeSpot Wireless Power

April 1st, 2014

I work for a messaging app, and here's some of my thoughts:

Our iOS app was launched before I joined. It was a soft launch and adoption was mostly friends. The app back then is a far cry from what it is now, and knowing what we know now we probably would not do a big launch. A soft launch allowed us to gather data, feedback, and slowly improve the app - we discarded major features, reworked and redesigned huge portions of the app etc. This also allowed us to assess our target audience and play around with messaging. We placed major focus on improving user retention and generating as much love as possible from them (I do a lot of outreach and user support).

We've been getting significantly more traction nowadays with the new and improved app, and lots of love from our users. This has helped us do a slow climb up the charts (we're now top 25 in Social Networking in Brazil, peaked at top 5; more than a year after we were first available in the App Store).

A few more random thoughts on the App Store rankings etc:
- Unless you rank in the top 100 overall rankings, you're not going to see significant increases in downloads. Our biggest increase in downloads have come from users loving the app and then telling their friends, not from where we sit in the App Store.
- I've had many conversations with advertising partners/people who say that they can get you to the top of the charts. The spend to get there is absolutely ridiculous, and unless you have a cool 20 to 50 grand to throw in a one day campaign, there's no point
- Having a "shark fin" pattern could be a bad signal
- If it really doesn't work out for you, but you think you have a killer app, you could always pull the app, rebrand and relaunch

Francis Malka Founder at Sensopia

April 6th, 2014

Time of day is irrelevant on the day you launch. Remember it's always 5 o'clock somewhere on the planet at any given time.

Our app began #1 in the Netherlands even though it wasn't translated into Netherlands at the time we're a Canadian company. We could never have guessed.

Releasing an app is not a one time event. As others mentioned below, just get it out there, get feedback and iterate. Downloads will grow over time as you improve it.

Taylor Dondich Vice President of Engineering at MaxCDN

April 1st, 2014

Release soon and release often.  Get it out.  Get it in people's hands. 

Then iterate iterate iterate.  

The App Store favors apps that constantly improve.

By releasing early, you start getting feedback.  Use an analytics platform such as mixpanel to start gathering user behavior analytics for your product.  Use this to fuel your improvements.

Don't wait.  Release now.  Get the traction, get the behavior and iterate.

Huan Liu Co-founder at Vimo Labs Inc.

April 1st, 2014

Apple App store gives you about 2 weeks of favor. In the first two weeks, you will rank higher in any of your keyword matches. It is best to use those two weeks to your advantage, to achieve a high download rate, so that after the two weeks, you still rank high based on the number of downloads. 

I do not have experience with Android App Store yet, but I heard it is similar in design. I also heard that if you do not make it in the first month, it is unlikely that you will rank high again later. 

Dragos Ionel Software Developer/Owner at Adelante Consulting Inc.

April 6th, 2014

While it is somehow important how and when you release (some say Tuesday is best), the most important is the quality of the app. You should make it in such a way that a user that opens the app will be in love with it in the first 30 seconds and want to share it with his friends. If that is achieved, the app will rock. If not, any amount of release planning and money put into advertising will be a waste.

So release only when your app is awesome. 

Ayush Jain

April 14th, 2014

Hi Rachel,

The ranking of your app in app store does not depend on how many users have downloaded the app but it depends on the app store optimization of your app.

What you can definitely do for creating a buzz of your app is to start getting your app reviewed. App Store gives you 50 promo codes for every version of your app when you deploy it on App Store. 

Promo Codes allow you to download apps for free that are normally paid. These can be redeemed either from iPhone or iTunes.

In order to get authentic reviews on your app, you can share the promo codes with the journos of various app reviewing websites.

This way you can get the reviews on your app and increase the ranking of your app in App Store.