Amazon, Apple, and other companies have been offering free app sales for quite some time now. It’s even been one of the core ideas for the Amazon Appstore, though not app developers have liked the idea. Some have reported an enormous increase in support costs for little gain , while other have reported a boost in sales after the free app deal was over.
The ebook app developer Nosy Crow decided to see for themselves what would happen if they offered an app for free. The results surprised them.
About 2 weeks ago Nosy Crow offered their newest app, Bizzy Bear Builds a House, for free in iTunes. The offer only lasted a single day, and they did their best to make sure that word got out that app was free. the results were simply spectacular:
Well, I’m pleased to report great success (at least, that’s what it feels like to me). Between Monday, July 23 (when we announced our plans) to Wednesday, July 25 (the day of the free app promotion), downloads of Bizzy Bear Builds a House increased by 21,000%. On the day after the trial – Thursday 26 – Bizzy Bear posted its third best day of sales, beaten only by its first two initial launch days. Now, almost two weeks later, sales remain significantly higher than they were before the promotion.
What I find most interesting is that Nosy Crow started promoting the sale a coouple days before it happened. That’s a type of marketing that most developers don’t do, and it may have led to the success of the sale.
A lot of free app sales (Amazon’s especially) are offered as one day surprise sales. There is no chance to build anticipation or get more attention from potential customers. That might limit the positive effect that Nosy Crow has seen.