LicenseKeeper Release Recap

Releasing a 1.0 product is an interesting, exciting, and exhausting experience for a software developer. I can’t remember a time where I worked as many hours in such a small time span and was not only willing to do it, but couldn’t wait to jump out of bed every morning to get started. The craziest time had to be the 48 hours on each side of the release.

I was sharing with my family that if I had any idea about the amount of work involved with developing and releasing a 1.0 software product back when I started development, I probably would never have started down this path. I think it’s a good thing that most entrepreneurs have no idea what they are getting themselves into. The learning curve was more like a sheer cliff then a curve. But, the great thing is now that I have been through it and have a sense of what needs to be done, I would jump at the chance to do it all over again.

Response to the LicenseKeeper 1.0 release was much greater than I ever expected. Both from the media and from new and potential customers. LicenseKeeper began life as a small project to serve a personal need. To find that so many around the world have the same need and appreciate a polished tool to solve it is very encouraging. I received hundreds of emails with all kinds of encouragement, praise, and great suggestions for improving LicenseKeeper.

Some of the requests coincide with my earliest vision of where LicenseKeeper would evolve. But the best suggestions were for needs that I had never even considered. This got me really excited. Now I see all kinds of new opportunities for both improvement and market growth.

Of course not everything went as planned. There were several bugs discovered with LicenseKeeper 1.0 that should not have made it out the door. Ideally they would have been discovered and fixed long before release. The two most serious of these can cause unexpected crashes. One was my fault, the other exists inside Apple’s framework. Maybe, I’ll write more about them in a later post, but for now rest assured that I have fixed them in the LicenseKeeper code base. The next release is currently going through a short testing phase and if all goes well should be released sometime in the next day or so.

Just to round out the recap, here’s a short list of some of the major media outlets that covered the LicenseKeeper release since last tuesday (March 6, 2007).

LicenseKeeper Around The Web

Bullfrog Download Statistics

Sorry for the lack of updates, I’ve been busy, busy, busy. I promise this isn’t one of those “this is why I haven’t posted” posts. I hate those.

Back on August 15 I promised an article showing the traffic and download numbers resulting from submitting Bullfrog to various shareware download sites.

This sounded much easier than it turned out to be. I originally wanted to submit Bullfrog to each site one at a time. Measure the effectiveness of each submission and put together a nice chart of the results. The one thing I didn’t consider is that once you submit your application to one site, all the rest see the listing and automatically add the listing to their sites as well.

While this “service” hurt my measurement plans, it was a fascinating exercise to watch as Bullfrog organically found its way on to various shareware download sites. Due to this magical spread of download sources, it is impossible to give exact numbers as to which “submissions” where the most effective, but I was certainly able to glean overall trends.

Granted my sample size is only over the last two months, I think it is enough to get the gist of what is happening.

Traffic Trend

This first graph shows the overall web traffic to the domain outerlevel.com. This includes this blog, my company website, and all downloads.

Graph Legend

  • Orange = Unique Visitors
  • Yellow = Number of Visitors
  • Blue = Pages
  • Teal = Hits
  • Green = Bandwidth

This graph shows the overall traffic trend with the huge jump in numbers in August when Bullfrog was first submitted to MacGameFiles.com and then found its way to being Apple’s Kids & Learning featured download. Then in September, I released Bullfrog 1.2 which pushed Bullfrog back to the top of all the download listings.

The Numbers

Ok, so the graph is pretty (ooh, ah); but what about the hard numbers? All my site traffic statistics are generated using the AWStats Apache log analyzer. So they are only as accurate as this utility’s numbers.

Month Bullfrog D/Ls Comments
October 2005 0 Start of Development
November 2005 92 Alpha Released
December 2005 478 1.0 Release, OMG Contest
January 2006 147 OMG Winners Announced at MacWorld
February 2006 46
March 2006 53
April 2006 64 1.1 Universal Binary Released
May 2006 52
June 2006 70
July 2006 39
August 2006 8395 Apple, MacGameFiles, VersionTracker, MacUpdate, etc.
September 2006 6174 1.2 Release

This table clearly shows that “build it and they will come” did not work for me. From February 2006 – July 2006 traffic was primarily organic search, from one of my blogs, with a few still coming from the OMG contest site.

Referrers

I was not able to prepare a table of Bullfrog downloads by site referrer, but I do have visits by referrer. Since the overwhelmingly high percent of referred visitors are direct Bullfrog downloads, we can assume that this shows the best download referrers, though the numbers and exact rankings are probably slightly off.

Referrer Visits
Apple.com 11,183
iDevGames (OMG Contest) 1394
MacUpdate 984
VersionTracker 890
mac.page.ne.jp (Japan) 536
MacGameFiles 263
iUseThis 147
MakeMacGames.com 107
Macalecole (France) 83
Hello-Mac (Japan) 42

These numbers are only estimates and only reflect my results for my freeware game. Your results may vary greatly depending on your product, your target audience, the time of year, etc. But the trend is clear, if you want the greatest exposure for your Mac software possible, get it listed on Apple.com.

Bandwidth by Country

One thing of interest is that two of the top referrers are Japanese and one is French. I have not localized Bullfrog to any other language, but I would certainly consider it based on the above numbers and the following chart and table.

Country Bandwidth (GB)
U.S.A. 45.32
European Union 3.29
Australia 2.42
Japan 2.35
Canada 1.71
Italy 1.46
Germany 1.38
UK 1.05
Netherlands 0.63
Spain 0.53
France 0.47

Side Benefits

Some of the numbers I have not included but were also quite positive are the traffic to my blog and to my other product and services pages. I have seen a significant jump in numbers to my LicenseKeeper product page and to my Consulting Services page.

I seem to have also been added to some Mac Consulting and Cocoa Development recruiters’ lists and have received several inquiries since the surge in traffic began. The increased exposure directly related to this 8 week development project of a simple little freeware game has had some nice unexpected side benefits.

Conclusion

I hope you found this information interesting and helpful. It was certainly interesting for me and I hope that the increased traffic continues. Please keep in mind that these numbers are specific to my experience and that they are not exact. Your results may vary greatly.

iPod Games

iPod Games: now this is an interesting business opportunity.

The Mac games market may be small, but the iPod market is huge. I wonder how open Apple will be to selling independent iPod games through iTunes.

So, Apple where is that iPod Games SDK? Can I use Objective-C or do I need to use Java?

Update (Sept. 13, 2006):

Erica Sadun of MacDevCenter found a few hints as to what makes up an iPod game.

Update (Sept. 14, 2006):

Dan Dickinson has a very deep look inside multiple games that reveals more interesting details in Dissecting iPod Games. Apparently, they are simple .zip files containing some sort of ARM executable that does not appear to be Java-based.

Ben Sinclair uncovers more information on What’s Inside an iPod Game. Ben even went as far as contacting Apple to get their input on when an SDK would be available:

Thank you for contacting the Apple Developer Connection regarding developing for the iPod.

Please know that, at this time, we have no plans to offer an SDK for the iPod.

DMG Image Design

Roustem Karimov examines the approach of several companies to DMG Image Design.

This is a great comparison of several top software products’ digital distribution package for the Mac.

There are several reasons why this is so important for your product:

  • First impressions count; especially for shareware products.
  • Minimizing customer support issues. Directions on how to install your product avaiable right when your customer needs it most.
  • Branding. Burn that company and product identity into to your target audience immediately.