Divided, a month in

Divided has been on sale for just over a month now. I enjoy the retrospectives of other app developers, so feel duty bound to add my own.

At the recent PloneConf in San Francisco, the Netsight crew used Divided almost every evening meal. It’s reinforced my confidence in the concept of a “more complicated bill spliting app”. I’ve also appreciated the work I put in to streamline the user interface. Anyhow, enough patting myself on the back.

Launch

I needed to release. By mid-September the features were in place, but the UI wasn’t as perfect as I wanted. I convinced myself the UI didn’t need to be perfect, and followed 37 Signal’s advice: just get it out there. Iterate fast.

Initial sales were… sluggish, though I did manage to sell more copies than I had friends willing to buy the app in the first week. This fulfilled a challenge I’d semi-seriously set myself at the start of the year: build something and sell it to someone I didn’t know.

I also needed to scratch an itch which had been building for a few months: learn something non-trivial. A new language and platform fitted the bill perfectly.

I suppose there was a little of a crisis of confidence in the challenge I set myself. It has been several years since I created something myself from scratch and released it to the world. I’ve built many things with others, particularly since starting at Netsight, but little on my own. It’s feels good to have rectified that.

I was shocked to see Divided featured in Apple’s “New and Noteworthy” selection in the app store, particularly as I’d not felt the UI quite up to snuff yet. It’s clear being chosen by Apple for this placement is worth a lot to an application; sales were many times higher during the period than they are now. It was also a vote of confidence—of a kind.

Overall, reactions have been favourable; the reviews I’ve received so far are generally positive, and I’m hoping to address many of the issues people have mentioned in the upcoming couple of releases. I think the sales and reviews show there is a market for Divided—if it’s discoverable.

Where next?

In the short term, I’ll concentrate on building the UI toward the level I want it to be. It’s certain I’ll need to learn more of Objective-C and the iPhone platform before I’m able to achieve this. I’ve also had several feature requests from users which I hope to be able to implement within the next few versions. From the programming point of view, I think things are well covered. Well, I know where I’m heading, at least; iterate fast.

The real question I’m facing is the other half of the equation: how do I make it easy for people to find Divided in the first place? This is a place where my current skill set is weak.

To begin, I’m curious about how people find applications for their phones. From my own experience, I mostly rely on recommendations from my friends or websites I trust. This is followed by the app store, and finally by searches on Google. I’m not sure whether this is “normal” behaviour or not. I suppose my first port of call is finding this out, so I know where to concentrate my efforts.

And finally…

Just in case you need reminding about the best tip calculation and bill splitting application you need, here’s a sneak peak of 1.1:

.:.