Third Wind: Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment with New Business Models

With the highly anticipated Apple event finally underway in San Francisco, tech fans around the globe are already speculating how Apple’s new iPad might change the state of computing. Another group of people listening intently to the happenings at the Yerba Buena Center are iPhone application developers, who are curious to see when they may be able to begin developing apps for the iPad.

As we’ve seen, the iPad is a blend of the iPhone OS and OS X, and it opens up opportunities for new business models for developers, so we thought we would point out a story of a man who rejuvenated his business by taking advantage of new iPhone and iPod Touch business models.

Noel Llopis, an indie game developer and author of the blog Games from Within, recently wrote about the ups and downs of the App Store, which he witnessed first-hand with his application, Flower Garden. The app allows users to plant seeds, water them and watch their virtual flowers grow over time.

After some initial success after the apps launch, Flower Garden became what Llopis calls “a strange in-between app” where it was more successful than 99% of apps, but it still wasn’t a chart topper. Llopis tried to bolster his less-than-thrilling sales by adding more features, like Facebook integration, and by releasing a lite version of the application.

“Fortunately I was right and the effect on sales was very noticeable, pretty much doubling sales,” Llopis writes on his blog. “But it never really took off in any significant way, and sales slowly declined over time.”

Llopis was nearly ready to move on and forget about Flower Garden. But when Apple released In-App-Purchases last summer, he found his second, if not third wind. The graph below from Llopis’ blog shows the effect in-app-purchases had on Llopis’ application, represented in yellow and green versus the stagnant blue of the regular application.

“Flower Garden Free was never a big player,” Llopis writes. “But, as soon as the in-app Flower Shop was released, downloads started climbing, and on Christmas day they went through the roof (relatively speaking).”

So with the new iPad released today, iPhone app developers may have found a new platform for their mobile app business models. If you have an iPhone app whose sales have been steadily declining, look to the iPad or the existing options on the iPhone for new ways to raise sales.

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