Awhile back, maybe a few months ago I noticed a few apps showing up for iPhone developers that make it easier to analyze app store sales. Some of these apps were desktop applications or web apps, but I was really only interested in apps that ran on the phone itself. If I wanted to use a “real” computer, I could just use a spreadsheet.
One of the apps I found was MyAppSales by Oliver Drobnik (a.k.a. “Dr. Touch”). As you may know, Apple provides no public API for accessing app store sales data and as I understand it, it’s “against the rules” to scrape this data out of iTunes Connect , so Dr. Touch was unable to get his app approved for sale via the App Store. So instead, he found a clever way to work around the (dis)approval process by selling the source code for the application to developers directly, who could then compile and install the code on the iPhone themselves. Since the only market for the app are other iPhone developers, this model works just fine.
I decided to purchase a copy of the app, but during the checkout process (via PayPal), I received an unexpected message (related to the international nature of the transaction) and I chickened out, not knowing much about Dr. Touch at the time.
A few days later I was relieved that the purchase didn’t go through because I found a lovely little app on the app store called “ Sales Tracker “. The screenshots looked beautiful, and while the price was high I was pretty sure this was the app I had been waiting for.
After purchasing the app, I was somewhat disappointed. The graphics that looked so good in the screenshots didn’t necessarily do anything (notably a cube on one of the screens seemed to serve no purpose) but it was giving me some data and that was enough to put up with the limited functionality and occasional crashes.
This wasn’t the end of the disappointment however. A month or so later, I wanted to use the backup-and-restore feature because I was going to wipe out my phone to install the OS 3.0 beta and I was unable to figure out how to use the restore function (the URL provided by the application didn’t work). Worse yet, when I emailed the developer I received no reply. While I was having trouble, so were other users as revealed by the increasingly negative reviews on the app store, as well as rumors about questionable security and privacy practices of the app’s developers.
The final straw came about a week ago. The day after my latest release of Lent went live and I was very curious about how it faired in the store. When I tried to open Sales Tracker and update my data, it was unable to connect. As it turns out, this was a common problem across all applications like this due to a change Apple had made to iTunes connect.
All the while, I had been following Dr. Touch on Twitter and noticed that he too was having this problem connecting with his MyAppSales app. He described how he would address the problem, but that he was on his honeymoon and it would have to wait until he returned. Not long after posting this message he wrote again, describing the necessary fix and how you could modify the code yourself to address the issue. Not more than a few hours later, the fix had been committed to the subversion repository and that customers could fetch the patch immediately.
This was quite a contrast to the support provided for Sales Tracker . I decided right then to purchase a copy of MyAppSales .
I’ve been using MyAppSales for a few hours and I’m very happy with it. It’s not quite as “pretty” as Sales Tracker , but there’s allot more useful functionality and since I have the source, if I can’t get Dr. Touch to address my needs, I can do it myself (although I hope he does continue to update the app, he does wonderful work!).