This is a big milestone for Qbix. After 9 months of development, we finally launched our first paid app: Calendar Plus. And a day later, it’s rocketed into the top 10 Productivity apps, and climbing.
We haven’t done any marketing or PR yet. So how did we get our app off to such a good start? Well, while I don’t have all the answers, we have done a few things differently. So let’s take a few steps back.
Step 1: Simple needs
Back when we released our first apps, we wanted to address a pressing need that we all felt:
- Groups – Provides a way to manage your address book on your phone. The iPhone supported groups of contacts, but had no way to make them!
- Calendar – Provides a way to view your calendars at a glance. The Mac didn’t even give you an easy way to check what day a future date was.
Due to the simple way we named our apps, people who were looking to solve these problems found them right away. That’s how we grew without any marketing. As of this writing, a year later, Groups is still the #1 app if you search for “groups” and Calendar is still #1 if you search for “calendar” on the respective app stores.
Step 2: Connect with users
Since their launch, our apps have had a combined 769,000 downloads. Not everyone kept it, but today we’re happy to have over 160,000 monthly users, of whom more than 30,000 use our apps every day.
Those users are using our apps in a very similar way to us, day in and day out. A quick look at the reviews of the Groups app will reveal this. We have a shared passion, and thus it’s often clear to everyone what we need to work on next.
Step 3: Keep in touch
Groups was getting raving reviews (to the point where people kept saying it should have come with the iPhone), and we wanted to do the same for Calendar. We had released Calendar quickly, so as to get something into the Mac App Store. But building a full featured version would go on to take 9 months.
During this time, despite Calendar’s shortcomings, it attracted a loyal user base. Calendar at its peak enjoyed 30,000 users a day (but is now down to 20,000 because apparently Mountain Lion renamed iCal to Calendar, which silently hides our app after the upgrade!)
We had set up a facebook page for Calendar, to serve as a support forum. While we were busy working on Calendar Plus, the page got over 2,000 likes! It also proved to be a great source of feedback and ideas for what we should include in Calendar Plus.
Step 4: Release something awesome
Calendar Plus brings together everything we wanted in a desktop calendar:
- Accessible from an icon in the menu bar
- Ability to integrate with iCal and Google Calendar, of course
- Facebook: birthdays, events you’re invited to, events friends are going to
- Totally customizable backgrounds and themes
- Keyboard shortcuts for everything
- Weather forecast
We figured that version 1.0 would be compelling enough to make a big splash in the app store. See it in action.
Step 5: Tell all your existing users
A couple days before the launch, we told our facebook fans that we were about to release Calendar Plus, and that it would be on sale for the first couple days. We created a page for them to leave their email address so we’d let them know when we launched it. Dozens of people left us their email.
Our apps have a way to display a message if we have something interesting, such as new product launch. In this case, we told all our existing Groups and Calendar users to check out Calendar Plus. That drove and continues to drive people to buy the calendar.
For now, we’ve surpassed Fantastical and CalendarBar in the Mac App Store. As this is being written, Calendar Plus is #30 paid app in the entire store. And the rate at which people are downloading it seems to be accelerating.
So what now?
Now we admit that we could use some help with the PR and marketing. Our team is awesome at building products and getting traction from users, but we haven’t spent time getting to know important bloggers in the tech world yet.
So if you’re reading this and you think you can help us reach out to TechCrunch, Mashable, NY Times or another outlet, definitely get in touch. We’ve accomplished everything on our own steam for now. Qbix seems to be writing its own great story, but very few people know about it … for now.