Matt Stockton

mattstockton@gmail.com
Why my crappy looking iPhone app made me over $10,000

I wrote six iPhone applications that were released to the AppStore between 2009 and 2010. Five of the six apps have had very limited monetary success (maximum $200/year in revenue). However, my Group Texting Pro app was very successful, at least by my personal measurements. Since the June 2010 release, it has netted me well over $10,000 after Apple’s cut — not ridiculously successful, but certainly not bad for a side project! This is my reflection on building the Group Texting Pro app, including what I think made it successful, and what I could have done better.

App Ideation

In the summer of 2010, iOS4 was announced. iOS4 had a huge amount of new APIs available to developers (over 1500 according to the product announcement). I was very interested to find a ‘niche’ application that used one of the new APIs and solved a very specific problem, although I didn’t have a problem in mind. I read the API documentation, and was immediately drawn to the SMS/MMS API. There had been no way to interface with the SMS capabilities in an app before iOS4. Since almost everyone sends text messages, I decided building an application that sent text messages was a good starting plan. I began brainstorming pain-points around text messaging. One specific pain came to mind: There was a group of ~10 friends that I sent the same message to pretty much every Friday night: ‘Doing anything tonight?’ Sending this text message required numerous steps as follows:

Native steps to send a Group Message

  1. Open the Messages app
  2. Remember names of people you want to message
  3. Type in names
  4. Who am I missing? Thinking…. Add the missing people.
  5. Type in a message, and send

I wanted to turn this into:

  1. Open my Group Texting app
  2. Click a group
  3. Type in a message, and send

The basic concept was born. Here is why I think Group Texting Pro was successful:

What I wished I would have done

There’s no doubt that Group Texting Pro has been a great success for me, but there are still some things I wished I had done:

Final Thoughts

So that’s my story. Group Texting Pro was my sixth app that I built and released, and it was the first one to make any real money. It hasn’t been life-changing in terms of $$$ but it has been life-changing in terms of my mindset. It’s given me the confidence to know that I can build something. As a Software Engineer, I have the means and skills to control my own destiny — not a lot of people can say this about their skill-set, and I am grateful for this. It is really fun to know that thousands of people use something I built every day, and they paid me for it, and are getting tremendous value out of it too. The thrill of opening itunesconnect every day is still there, 2 years later, and I hope that I can inspire you to attempt to get that same thrill. With that, I’ll leave you with a graph that I am very proud of, and a few of the many customer reviews that have made me smile through the experience:

You may be wondering, why the quick downward slope on the $$$ graph in the last 2 months. That’s the subject of another post, which I intend to write soon, stay tuned!

Some Quotes from Customers

I run a business with 9 employees, this app has completely changed the way I communicate with my employees. It’s mostly done in the evening. I can let them all know what everyone is doing the next day in one group text. It REALLY works well for me.

In the 15 years I coached this is the best way to communicate with players and parents…One text 26 people!!! Before it was 23 calls.

I am baseball coach and use this app to communicate too my team about rain outs, changes to practice times, remind them about other baseball related items. It has already paid for itself.

Incredible app. I use it to stay in touch with my teams….It has been a blessing for us.

Thanks so much, Matt. You are remarkable with your customer service, and I appreciate it–again!