Monday, January 19, 2015

L'Escapadou Educational Apps Revenue - 2014 Report

For newcomers, please note that I started creating educational apps when the iPad was released in 2010, and the market is really difficult these days (more below about that). For more context about my story, previous numbers and advices (that may not up to date since things are changing so fast), you can check my 2011 report 2012 report  and 2013 report

2014 has been a pretty good year even if I didn't release a new educational app - yes, I know, I wrote in the 2013 report that I will release two edu apps in 2014 but my plans changed a lot ;-) . 

Actually, it is the best year so far (21% better than 2013)

2014 Numbers 

2014 revenue per apps
2014 revenue per country
2014 revenue per month

So why there is more profit than in 2013 without releasing a new app ? 

  • It's mainly due to the success of Writing Wizard and Cursive Writing Wizard since all others apps are selling less than in 2013 (20% to 30% less). Note that the cursive app was released end of 2013, and the update supporting US font was released in February/March. 
  • I released a lot of updates in 2014 - actually I only worked on updates from September to December.  Updates keep your users engaged and help cross-promotion (and possibly features in App Store and blogs)
  • I've got a good educational apps portfolio and I believe cross promotion is working pretty well - even if I don't have precise numbers.
  • Schools are still buying a lot of my apps : $160K ( so almost 30% of my revenue! +24% compared to 2013). Note that 30% of this revenue comes from only one app: Word Wizard  
  • The market is still growing. There is more competition, but also more money.

Countries: I've localized apps in French, Swedish, German, Dutch and Spanish.

  • US is still, of course, the biggest market (in particular for schools, 70% of my sales to schools are from the US)
  • France, where I live, is not a big market but I've got a lot of visibility in my country and less competition
  • Canada and Australia still surprise me (I believe they buy more apps than other countries)
  • Sweden: they bought a lot of apps for kids and thanks to the support of , I've got a good visibility (and of course I've got apps in Swedish...)

The revenue per month graph shows the same pattern as in 2013: 
  • strong January - people get new devices during Christmas and in addition, I did have some good featuring this month
  • Strong back to school that runs over several months (September/October/November)
  • June and March peaks are mostly due to schools sales  because usually these months are not fantastic ( note that schools sales are also strong in September and October)

The current state of the educational kids apps market

It is now very hard to enter the market if you don't have a great idea and can't invest a lot of time to develop your new app  - I would say that 4-6 month/man is a minimum, and only if you already got a good experience in apps for kids. If your app doesn't shine, it will be really difficult to be visible. Visibility is really hard to get these days. And even with some visibility at launch, there are a lot of apps which revenue are shrinking very fast.

So, most full time indie devs now have a lot of issues. Previous apps revenue are low and it's difficult to invest in a new app. Most devs that are profitable are the ones that did the same thing as I did: create few apps, but really great apps that users loves. However, I'm sure that some found very specific niches and are profitable because the competition is lower in their niche. So being full time dev is really not easy even if you have already some good apps.

Pricing, IAPs, Subscription

In 2014, all my english apps were at $2.99. But some established apps have a higher price and good ranking/revenue. I think that when people know that an app is great, they are OK to pay for it. As for all kind of product, people are OK to pay for quality - but they must know, in a way or another, that they buy quality. So since Writing Wizard has a large and happy user base and rave reviews, I changed the price of Writing Wizard to $4.99 two weeks ago, and the result is, so far, pretty good (about 20-30% additional revenue).

As I noted last year, subscription model seems to work pretty well for some apps (Learn with Homer, Top IQ Agnitus,...) but all of these apps have a lot of content, so it's difficult to use this model when you're an indie. However, I'm still wondering if this subscription model can work for apps that are targeting on one subject like my apps do. Surely you also need to offer something regularly to your subscribers which is not easy.

Not consumable IAPs is something I want to try. It is a kind of "try before buy" and I like it as buyer (not to be confused with consumable IAPs aka smurfberries). So I really think I must add not consumable IAP versions of my apps - but I don't think I will have the time to do it because I've got others projects that are more interesting...

Example of the release of a freemium useless small app

I went back from the Dust and Magic AppCamp and WWDC  with a new idea. I wanted to use the new iOS8 SceneKit framework to do something in 3D. So I thought "I'm gonna take 2/3 weeks and release it for the release of iOS8 in September".  In the end, it took me more than 2 months, but it was really fun and put me away of doing updates and marketing (updates and marketing are not the funniest part of my job, I really prefer doing new apps but from a business point of view, it is of course important).

 It is far from being a perfect app because I did not have time to polish the user experience, and it is also a useless, but fun, app, and there is not really something educational. It allows you to draw shapes in 3D with a lot of settings to tweak the rendering, and to move around in the 3D space. 

Here is the video demo.

So I experienced what it is to release a useless small app with not consumable IAPs. All the features of the app were enabled except the possibility to change shapes, and it was possible to buy 6 shapes for $1.99. It had some visibility because it was featured on the App Store (thanks to SceneKit and iOS8 usage I think) just after the release of iOS8. In the end I've made $1.3K with the app, almost entirely when the app was featured. Not very good for 2 months of work but, honestly, I knew that it was not going to make money - the most important is that it was fun to do !

You can download it for free if you want to check the app (and IAP are free now)

Android - is it profitable ?

My cousin has ported Writing Wizard on Android and it has just been released. As he's rather a perfectionist he did a very polished port. He used Apportable  since the app was developed in objective-c and cocos2D. He has to port the app in cocos2D V3 and rebuilt all the UIKit part. In the end, it took at least 3 good months (the UIKit port was not super easy).

Anyway, the app is now released and we're gonna see what an educational app selling very well on iOS can do on Android. I'm doing the marketing right now but it seems even more complex than on iOS. I don't really know how to reach people on Android !

We decided to do a paid app and a free to try demo (not yet with IAP because of the lack of time).

Here are the video demo, and the links to the free Android version:

Writing Wizard Demo

Cursive Writing Wizard Demo

I believe it can sell very well on Android (let's say 20% of the iOS revenue), but it is the marketing that is not going to be easy.

Final Words

I don't know if this post is really useful as the ones I've done the previous years because of the state of the market that prevent a lot of people doing decent revenue. Anyway, some people asked for this report, so I believe it is useful to somebody - even if my wife tells me that it is only good for my ego ;-)

For 2015, I think I've got a good idea for a new educational app, but I'm not sure it will be very profitable because it is not targeted for young kids (which seems to be the bigger market). I will focus on innovation and very good execution and we will see. I've got the chance to be able to try to do more challenging apps because I've got good recurrent revenue, so I will do it. But of course, I will also do updates, and also try to release a Japanese version of Writing Wizard. My cousin has also an app idea - so we will see what's happen in 2015. See you in one year !

No comments:

Post a Comment