If you submit your brand new app to Apple and they offer to make it a featured app when it hits the the App Store, you might think you’d have to be crazy to refuse. But startup investor M.G. Siegler suggests in a Medium post that you may want to think twice.
If you’re not familiar with the name, Siegler is a guy who ought to know a thing or two about startups. He’s a general partner at Google Ventures, was a founding partner of TechCrunch and has worked with startups since 2005.
There are two problems with having your app get a lot of exposure at launch, he argues. First, if your app is free, you may get the downloads but not the revenue.
Talking to a number of early stage companies that have been featured at launch recently, they all have similar stories: a ton of downloads that resulted in very few users that actually stuck around.
Second, whether free or paid, brand new apps are rarely ready for the big time – and if you leave people disappointed with version 1.0 of your app, you may not get a second chance.
So you’re featured and get all those downloads. Lots of high fives that Thursday afternoon. Come Thursday evening, the first realization sets in: while some of those downloads are converting into initial users, they’re having all sorts of issues actually using your app. Bugs are exposed not by flashlight, but by sunbeam.
The result is that you lose most of those initial users, plus they bad-mouth you and your app.
Of course, Siegler is a guy in a position to help startups get that much-needed publicity later – whereas a lone developer who is lucky enough to catch Apple’s eye at launch may not get a second chance. But if nothing else, it does show the importance of testing your app to death before launch, and getting feedback from as many beta users as possible.
That and not spending too much money on champagne if Apple offers to feature your app, as the evidence shows that fame and fortune may not necessarily follow.