App Store Spotlight Not So Bright For ‘Indie’ Apps

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Developers who are featured under the “indie” banner in the App Store don’t gain anything from being featured, according to a report (via Re/code) from Distimo titled “The Impact of Being Featured in an App Store." The report claims that showing up in a collection of “If You Like…” or “Best New Game/App” gave a significant bump to apps, whereas being listed in a collection like “Indie Game Showcase” didn’t do anything for download numbers or revenue.

Pennies from Heaven

For all the good it does you, Indie.

According to the report, the problem isn't caused by being a game, or even charging for a title, it’s really just that the collections with “indie” in the title aren’t helping, despite efforts to promote them. Being featured virtually anyplace else  in the App Store seems to give at least a small bump.

Google Play has no corresponding indie collection. It does however have a “trending” list that features apps that are seeing a jump in the last 24 hours.

With the number of apps in the app store, it would seem that any sort of feature should lead to some visibility, and therefore a bump in downloads/revenue, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the indie collections. In the Distimo report there are some pretty dramatic examples of the “If You Like” feature bumps, and they are staggering numbers.

There was also a comparison of the time an app is featured. In the US it is an average of eight days for apps (six for games), and in Japan it’s 13 days for apps (11 for games).

Indie image made with help from Shutterstock.

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On the upside, as Re/Code says, iPhone users might be less hipstery than they are perceived to be. I also wonder if this is an issue of semantics, where slapping an “indie” label on an app has some sort of negative connotation for people.

On the downside, it seems like now you not only need to get featured in the App Store, you need to get featured in the right section. I fully understand that visibility is a tough nut to crack, and I’ve seen a variety of attempts to do so, but none of of them seem to stick. I wish I had a good answer, but for now it seems the old ways are best: asking what someone has on their iPhone.

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So bizarre to me. I came up at a time when ‘indie’ wasn’t a genre or a category but rather a descriptor for legitimate alternative to things that generally and genuinely sucked, and ‘hipster’ was a dude from the 50s with a goatee, a black turtleneck (to hide the espresso stains, you dig?), and a well worn copy of ‘On the Road’. This 21st century codification of everything as hard data or buzzword is the biggest disconnect of knowledge vs. experience in human history, methinks. I’m sorry for the developers. :/

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