The Arduous Task of Monitoring Your Portfolio in App World


App World

For BlackBerry Theme and App developers, it’s important to check your download/sales reports, and figure out how your product is doing in App World. Ideally, you’re meant to learn more about what sells and how best to tailor your product(s) to fit what users are demanding. A good strategy to success in App World is to have a large portfolio of apps or themes, but as your portfolio increases, it becomes more difficult to manage all of these apps/themes. Here is a typical example of how a developer, with many products in his/her portfolio, would find managing these products given the current features of the App World vendor portal.

There are two options for analyzing your products in App World: Schedule Reports and Generate Charts. Schedule reports gives you a CSV file that tells you: Product Name, File Bundle Name, Version, Date/Time, Price, Currency, License Key, Device Model, OS Version, Carrier, Locale and Country. The Generate Charts feature, gives you a basic line graph with Total Downloads vs Date.

Schedule Reports

To schedule a report, you have to click the “Schedule Report” link and define the parameters around which you want to have a report created. You can select “All Products” or an individual product within the Vendor Portal. When you’ve selected the parameters, you’re then given a message that you will be emailed once the report is complete. What’s strange about the email, is that it’s not like you’re getting the report in your inbox, it’s just a notification that the system has processed your order. But how long can it take to dump some data from the database in a .CSV format?

Once you get the confirmation and head back into the Vendor Portal, you’re presented with a .CSV file that is not only painful to look at, but only answers some basic questions about who is downloading your products and what they like.

From this data, I am able to determine:

  • Which products sell the best
  • How much revenue I’ve earned
  • What devices/OS/carriers are most popular
  • Where my users are located

Obviously, to get a solid understanding of this data, you have to take the time to create charts and visualizations around it. Companies like Distimo were doing a great job of providing this, but they’ve recently been having a lot of problems grabbing the data from App World post updates. Developers are generally busy people, with some creating apps outside of work hours as a second job, so the last thing you want developers spending time on is plugging away in Excel trying to figure out how best to represent this data to get some meaning out of it. Aside from the need for visualization, it would be good to get more than just some basic user profile data including:

  • The way in which the content was discovered (navigation process vs desktop vs mobile vs featured section vs category)
  • Some demographic info (eg sex) about users who downloaded the app
  • Keywords used in search and discovery of content

Offering this kind of data will help developers build a portfolio that is better tailored to users who are buying through App World.

Generate Charts

The Generate Charts feature gives you quick access to some very basic data about how well your products are selling in App World. In the Vendor Portal, under Download Reports, you’re given the option to select between 1 and 5 products to visualize in a simple line chart. For theme developers, they may have more than 50 products to manage in a given portfolio and it gets really frustrating that RIM restricts the App World portal to 1-5 products. There isn’t even a “Download Report for All Products” feature.

This is a sample chart that is outputted from the Generate Charts feature:

There is very little value in this graph. For a portfolio of 50 products, you could save each of these charts, overlap them in Photoshop or try and visually compare, but really the only thing it tells you is purchase spikes and which products are performing better than others. The obvious question that comes to mind when you look at a graph like this, is why did one product perform so much better? This is the key question I would like to see App World’s analytics team be able to answer for both theme and app developers alike.

Do you have multiple products in App World? How do you find managing them?
What sort of information would you like App World to tell you about your products?

  • Eric at Ebscer

    The emails are a bit excessive. However by using the scheduled system, you can now download reports with over 80,000 entries, which was a problem on the old system…

  • Ale!

    I use Distimo to monitor my downloads and sales. They have a great and very easy to use interface plus they offer you a lot of tools to analyze your apps/themes….

  • Jerome Carty

    If they cached the data for the reports, there would be no need to dump directly from the database when someone wants the report. It seems most of the resources for the servers are being used up on sending these e-mails out (including signing key e-mails).

  • Kyle McInnes

    I was using Distimo Monitor as well but I’ve been having problems ever since they had to update to account for scheduled reports.

  • Kyle McInnes

    It would be cool to get some quick access data in the emails as a notification system. For example, you could set App World to email you like a stock ticker, if sales exceed this or go below that, email me.

  • Eric at Ebscer

    This would be cool. Truth is that I now mostly just check reports once a month, which would cause me to miss something potentially interesting in a timely manner.

    However I would prefer that RIM spend most of their time focusing on the customer facing side.

  • Rajesh Akkineni

    Unfortunately these all features are not working for us since last 2 months. They told that they will fix by this 22nd. And still none of these are working for us.