Does Apple report the true number of sales, and how would we know

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by badger22, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. badger22 macrumors newbie

    Feb 12, 2011
    We launched an App last Monday - a game. Within the app users can (optionally) enter their email and we have an autoresponder that sends a message once the user completes the first level - i.e. they have to play to get the email. Their email serves as a unique identifier in a global scoreboard that we maintain (we didn't want to use Game Center so that we had more control).

    The app went to number one in one of the games segments in one country (not US or UK) on Thursday.

    From Monday to Thursday Apple reported that we sold just under 400 units in iTunes Connect.
    However, Flurry reported over 2800 unique users for the same period.
    Our autoresponder (Campaign Monitor) reported that we'd sent over 1100 emails.
    Within 3 days the top 1000 spots on the leaderboard had been filled.
    We had already made the assumption that at least half the people either wouldn't bother entering their email or wouldn't be playing online, so that does show an approximate correlation between 1100 emails sent and 2800 users in Flurry.
    Flurry reports 1.58% of apps are installed on jailbroken phones, so we're assuming they're illegal copies.

    But only 400 sales from Monday-Thursday!! How can this be with our other evidence showing potentially 7 times that figure in sales?

    The thing is, how would we ever be able to contest this with Apple - how could we ever prove that Apple might be under reporting the number of apps sold? It wouldn't take much for Apple to hide a few (million) app store downloads and thus not have to pay developers the full amount they are due. I mean, who is going to audit them.

    Or am I being paranoid? Or is Flurry wrong about the number of jailbroken phones and really 80% of our install base consists of pirated copies (which would be disheartening considering the tens of thousands of dollars of effort that went into it)? Most of our users are in the US and Europe according to Flurry.

    Anyone else suspect the same with their app? Or with anyone else's app?

    As of now (Sunday), I'm showing almost 1800 emails sent and between 3-6 new emails occuring every hour.
  2. neko girl macrumors 6502a

    neko girl

    Jan 20, 2011
    Maybe piracy really is that rampant?

    Seriously doubt that Apple is fudging sales numbers to rip you off.

    Also, a single purchase can be installed on any number of iOS devices (is it 5? I don't think it is). so 400 x 5 = 2000 for example.
  3. 1458279 Suspended


    May 1, 2010
    Interesting post, I think I would contine to collect data on this and see where this goes.
    I was doing app dev for Droid and decided that I would switch to IOS because I thought Droid would have much higher rate of stolen apps.

    I don't think Apple would hide the number of sales. For one thing, anyone with your app could contact you or apple if they wanted an update or had a problem. You might end up with a situation where you get contacted by someone that Apple would have hid, they Apple would be on the stop to explain things.

    I don't think Apple would risk this, also as I understand it, money from apps is a very small percentage of Apple income and they brag about the # of apps they have vs others (Droid).

    This would really be pocket change for Apple, and really open the discussion over stolen apps.

    If there were some way to find out from those on the email list who bought and who didn't.

    Interesting topic.
  4. badger22 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 12, 2011
    @Neko girl - why would people installing on multiple devices use multiple email addresses? And what proportion of users have multiple devices or even bother sharing with friends? (I dont' have those stats).

    Interesting points, @KarlJay, but the thing is that if someone contacted me who bought the app, I would have no way of knowing anyway because Apple just gives me a number per day that have sold, not individual contact details
    In fact, by us sending an autoresponder email they have (in essence) contacted us - they've created a score on a level. They haven't directly emailed us, but I do have all the emails.

    I'm not sure I'd get a good response asking whether someone bought it or pirated it.

    I think the main issues here are:
    1) There is no transparency over Apple's reports of how many apps you've sold - you just get a graph and a country breakdown 2 days in arrears
    2) Apple could systematically either deliberately or accidentally under report and how could anyone prove it?
    3) If you use Game Center does it make it harder for Apple to do this?

    If Apple is going to vend 10+billion apps this year, which is easily possible, it's not really chump change any more.

    I'm reluctant to contact Apple because I don't want to be put on any blacklists which might affect our other apps (we have 4 others that aren't in the games section), or any future apps.
  5. 1458279 Suspended


    May 1, 2010
    If you keep track of the number of users then you could simply ask Apple about this. If you approach this from the "I think people are steeling my app" approach rather than "You guys are skimming" You should get a reasonable response.

    This should be a concern for all developers and if a bunch of them start tracking this then we should get to an answer.

    I don't know if there is any way to have the app know if it was purchased from Apple or stolen, but what you have now seems to be almost having users register the app. If you take it 1 step further, you could have people sign up with basic info, and give them a registration number.

    I used to put an 'unlock' code in my apps, people would call to get the code so they could use the app past the trial period. The unlock code wouldn't work on anything but that machine. I can give you details on that if you want.

    My guess is that someone with a stolen app wouldn't register it, that might give some insight to what's going on here.

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