If you purchased, tweeted, blogged about, rated, or mentioned Tweet Library thank you. I’ve been very happy to see how well it is being received. I built this app because I wanted to do more with Twitter, but I didn’t really know until it was released if anyone else would care.
The truth is, I released it a tiny bit too early — there are a few annoying bugs that I’ll need to fix soon for 1.0.1 — but it was a long development cycle, and faced with getting burned out on a project the only thing I know how to do is ship it. Then I can use the reaction from real customers to tell me if I’m on the right track and where to go next.
I’ve already blogged about the pricing and viability of third-party Twitter apps, though I hadn’t officially announced the app yet:
"When Twitter for iPad shipped it jumped to the number 1 spot in free apps, but maybe you don't have to compete directly with that. Maybe if you hold your ground somewhere in the top paid list, that's enough to find an audience."
Tweet Library has only been out for 3 full days, and I don’t want to jinx it, but so far this theory is holding. The app went to #2 for top grossing iPad apps in social networking in the first day. I didn’t expect that, but at $10 I can see how it might happen. Then it also climbed to #2 in top paid iPad apps in the same category, and stayed there for a couple days before dropping to #3 as I write this. The only other Twitter apps in any of the top 10 lists for iPad are Twitter’s official app and TweetDeck, both free.
Let me repeat that because it kind of blows my mind a little: Tweet Library has been the best-selling iPad Twitter app since it was released.
How did I successfully ship an app in a crowded market at literally 2x the price of any other app? Two things:
Refuse to compete on price. I felt so strongly about this that I was willing to launch and fail. If the App Store couldn’t support $10 Twitter apps, then I would bow out. I saw in a comment on TUAW that someone would wait until the price lowered, but I hope to avoid the pricing gimmicks common to the App Store. There’s no intro price for Tweet Library, and the price is not going to change. I believe consistency is the best long-term plan for app pricing.
Market the app as something new first and yet another Twitter app second. I believe the key to selling Tweet Library is to focus the marketing around what makes it special: archiving tweets, curating tweets, filtering tweets. Yes, you can also post to Twitter and see mentions or reply to DMs, but that is just the price to get in the door. Tweet Library doesn’t do those common tasks perfectly yet, but customers seem willing to cut me some slack because of all the other unique features that the app offers.
So, up next I’m going to fix bugs, and I’m going to add features, and I’m going to listen to customers. I’m sure it will soon drop out of the top 10 and other Twitter apps will take its place, but I feel like the launch was strong enough to prove that I’ve got something. I intend to carve out a little niche in the Twitter market and execute on it.