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Dominating the tvOS app store: 5 success stories & lessons to be learned
- Crossy Roads. As of December 2015, 38% of 2.6 thousand Apple TV apps were games; it looks like multi-user big screen experience is the very thing game publishers are after! So it was not a big surprise when Crossy Roads – a viral mobile game that generated 50 million downloads and made $ 10 million on advertising within 90 days after its release – was turned into a tvOS app. Back in September, Apple executives previewed its new-gen TV gadget and played Crossy Roads to show what they meant by “unique gaming experience”. Just like any Apple TV application, Crossy Roads works seamlessly with the Siri remote and other iOS-based devices, so you can have a nice game evening with friends and family (something you can’t do with a smartphone). Once again, Crossy Roads became an instant success and reached #2 on the Free App Download Chart. According to Eddie Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software & Services, the latest Apple TV is not yet ready for PlayStation-quality app development. However, the tvOS store is a perfect place for vendors who focus on recreational gaming. If you consider building a mobile game, why don’t you follow the Crossy Roads’ path?
- Plex and Simple X. Here’s a story about good timing and tight market windows. When Plex, the popular streaming server, was getting through the TV App Store approval process, the Simple X third-party client entered the tvOS Top Paid App Chart at # 2. The $ 2.99 application which allows users to stream their existing Plex libraries to Apple TV was built by an independent vendor. It has a sleek interface and makes the best of Plex content arrangement. Once the official Plex app was released, the third-party client fell off the chart. Plex has opted for the freemium model and now cannot even crack the top 40. You have a bright idea for an Apple TV app? Don’t waste your time and choose the right monetization strategy;
- Alto’s Adventure. Snowman, and independent software studio from Toronto, definitely knows what makes a good app. The “endless runner” took 18 months to build (and that’s 4 times longer than expected). Although the vendor chose a cost-effective cross-platform solution, they managed to maintain great UX throughout the game & use high-quality visuals. Alto’s Adventure was met with positive reviews from IT experts who complimented the app’s elaborate graphics, beautiful soundtrack and easy-to-learn gameplay. Alto ended up being featured in Apple’s “Best of February” list and was among the first games to hit the tvOS Paid App Download chart. As of April, 2016, the $2.99 game held strong at #6. How did a team of three manage to make such a successful TV app? First, they kept it simple (all you have to do is tap the screen to get Alto – a snowboarding shepherd who’s trying to save his flock – over hazards). Second, the app features high-quality visuals and performs well. Finally, Snowman prefers one-time payments to in-app purchases and advertising. When done right, an Apple TV app can be a commercial success;
- FlightBoard. Here comes another example of iPhone/iPad app extension. Developed by Mobiata, FlightBoard is a single-purpose tvOS application that allows you to check flight arrival and departure data from over 3 thousand airports on a big screen. Back in 2012, its mobile forerunner won Webby Awards for best travel app of the year. Currently the tvOS app (available for $ 3.99) is the 12th most popular paid application on the TV App Store. The lesson to be learnt here: Mobiata does only one thing, but does it well. And yes, if you already have FlightBoard on iPhone, you can get the tvOS version for free;
- Tribeca Shortlist. In 2015 Tribeca Enterprises partnered with Lionsgate to create an indie streaming service that offers access to only 150 movies. According to Jeff Bronikowski, Tribeca Shortlist executive, they decided to focus on quality: half of the movies available on Tribeca scored at least 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. A special feature – that’s what makes a good TV app. With Tribeca, it’s obviously the Shortlister option. The service offers recommendations from well-known actors, directors and bloggers like Morgan Spurlock, so users can form an opinion about a movie before watching it. Tribeca also allows viewers to download video content on iPhone/iPad and watch it offline. Tribeca Shortlist is available at $ 4.99 per month. The app was launched in March, so Tribeca and Lionsgate have not revealed the number of subscribers yet. However, they feel very positive about the venture. With 45% of US households using SVOD (subscription video on demand) services, the expectations seem quite realistic. Tribeca has licensing partnerships with Sony, Miramax, Magnolia Pictures and several independent filmmakers. They update 30% of its content every month and offer a 2 week free trial period (it’s one week for most TV applications). tvOS is similar to mobile: as long as you deliver value to your customers, your application is doomed to success.