I have been quite busy the last couple of weeks trying to wrap up all the minor stuff in my apps in anticipation of the WWDC. Last week I finished most of it and had some free time to look at the top charts… my app is climbing slowly through Utilities in the USA and some other countries, and I wanted to see the apps it’s competing with. So I checked AppAnnie top charts in the USA, and once again discovered that scamming people pays off. Like seriously if you see a free trial for 3 days and then weekly subscription and it’s not some magazine or publication, 99.9% it’s a scam.
What caught my eye were QR reader apps — currently occupying #18 & #23 in top grossing Utilities.
I already have some QR reading capabilities in my apps — I use it to overcome discovery issues when Bonjour protocol is failing to detect users Mac, in that case, I encode its address in QR code and suggest to the user to scan it with their phone, instead of inputting it manually. So I know that Apple does most of the heavy lifting on this, with awesome and easy to use APIs.
As always I opened SensorTower to get a guesstimate of how much are they raking in… and let’s say I was amazed. The data for April says one is getting $200K and the other $100K. That’s freaking ridiculous… a specially the one with 70K downloads and $100K revenue.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about making money, but — in an honest way. I don’t want to scam my users, I want to provide them with value, and somehow I fail to see enough value those apps are providing for the price. I read some reviews on the App Store — not sure they are not some ipsom lorem…
So I decided to build my own QR / Barcode scanner. Why? Sure there is enough of them on the App Store already, but I needed something to do, and wanted to check some other stuff, and maybe learn something new on the way. I’m currently trying to figure out why I’m seeing so much of OOMs in my apps on Fabric, and I have a theory I want to check. So I decided that this week I’m going to build it. It also a great opportunity to remind myself AVFoundation, CoreLocation, MapKit, Contact and some other frameworks I don’t use in my current apps.
So the app is ready — and it’s going to be free. I’m trying to put it through the review — I had a little to much fun with it, so I got rejected on the first try (something about my privacy description not being very descriptive… “You can guess why this app requires camera permissions, right?” doesn’t cut with Apple reviewers I guess).
It was a very fun project — I also have a number of crazy ideas I might do with it (ARKit, actual product lookup instead of google search and etc.) in the future, and no promises that I won’t charge some $$$ for premium features. I thought about doing it for automatic flashlight turning ON in dark environment, that I added and haven’t seen in any of the other apps — but decided to leave it free for now. Putting new app through the review is hard enough even without in-app purchases…
So let me end with this — if you can build an app in a week, please don’t charge $50/week for it — you crapping where you eat. I don’t know anyone who’s main job is scanning barcodes all day who would find enough of the value in it for this $50, or anyone else for that matter.