Unread: A tale of trying to make a living in the iOS App Store

Unread for iPhone and iPad is one of my favorite apps … I use it everyday. So I was disappointed to hear that the developer hasn’t seen enough sales to continue developing for it. He wrote about his experience in a revealing blog post (that I ironically read from within his app):

Unread for iPhone has earned a total of $32K in App Store sales. Unread for iPad has earned $10K. After subtracting 40 percent in self-employment taxes and $350/month for health care premiums (times 12 months), the actual take-home pay from the combined sales of both apps is:

$21,000, or $1,750/month

Considering the enormous amount of effort I have put into these apps over the past year, that’s a depressing figure.

Voyager’s Vintage Tech is Amazingly Vintage

If Carl Sagan was so smart, why did he send a bunch of technology from the 70s into interstellar space? It’s fun to be on this end of such an epic mission. Seeing what is essentially an Atari 2600 with a tape drive escaping the heliosphere while still communicating with the Earth, is amazing. According to Wired:

The computers aboard the Voyager probes each have 69.63 kilobytes of memory, total. That’s about enough to store one average internet jpeg file. The probes’ scientific data is encoded on old-fashioned digital 8-track tape machines rather than whatever solid state drive your high-end laptop is currently using. Once it’s been transmitted to Earth, the spacecraft have to write over old data in order to have enough room for new observations.

The Voyager machines are capable of executing about 81,000 instructions per second. The smart phone that is likely sitting in your pocket is probably about 7,500 times faster than that. They transmit their data back to Earth at 160 bits per second. A slow dial-up connection can deliver at least 20,000 bits per second.

Though technically we’re still at the beginning. Expected to last for a few billion years, these two robots and the golden records they carry might be the last evidence that humanity existed at all.

Carl does a better job of illustrating their significance:

Social is about behavior, not platforms.

I wrote about the need to unpack “social” a few months ago. Greg Satell at HBR argues the case well:

These days, it’s pretty easy to interact with consumers directly.

Yet that’s exactly the problem. All too often, when marketers talk about their “social strategy,” they really mean a digital marketing strategy implemented on social platforms, rather than using social dynamics to benefit their business.

That’s why many social initiatives fail miserably. Consider Pepsi’s Refresh project, which sought to replace $20 million in Super Bowl spending with a social platform that funded good works. While its social media KPI’s soared, its business suffered. Pepsi actually lost market share and fell to number three in the cola wars for the first time in modern history.

The problem is thinking that “social,” whatever it means, has some mandate to replace marketing or communications in general. That being said, the internet undoubtedly offers companies the chance to reach a wider audience. For example, by mastering digital marketing strategies such as SEO, a company is more likely to rise through search engine rankings and stand out from the crowd.

It is not just Google that businesses need to impress now either. Other popular search engines such as Bing can also have an influence over the types of websites potential customers decide to click through. To learn more about search engine optimization for Bing, take a look at this Guide to Bing SEO.

Social at its best is about social mechanics. Behavior. Ideas that people want to share. Not in the Ted way, but in the things people talk to each other about way.

And mass media is usually much better at spreading ideas than Twitter alone. It’s a simple matter of scale.

That’s not to say that social networks aren’t useful in all of this, it’s just to say that “social” isn’t a channel, it’s a behavior that lives anywhere a good idea can.

And after all is said and done, engagement is not a replacement for ideas that move business.