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Today I interview the amazing Rana Sobhany, and we talk about her new book and how to market iPhone and iPad apps.

Download the podcast from iTunes, or play it below:


Trying to keep up with Rana Sobhany is sort of like trying to gather up a handful of ball bearings after you’ve dropped them down a steep hill. While wearing mittens. And rollerblades. We were introduced at the opening party of the 2007 Wired Store, and since then there are many words I’ve used to describe her:

– Friend
– Former podcast guest (Episode 38)
– Guest speaker in my NYU class
– Entrepreneur
– Former tennis star
iPad DJ
– World Traveler
– Speaker

And now Author.

And in fact, fellow author. In the podcast I do a quick reveal that I have signed a book deal and will be developing my own iPad app. But more on that in a future episode.

In this super fun and energetic podcast, we focus the first part on how she got the book deal, and the rest answering specific answers to the question: How do I market my iPhone or iPad app?

The book process
– Rana’s crazy revelation regarding her incredible creative focus, as she wrote her first book draft — 75,000 words in one week
– The most direct way I’ve ever heard anyone get a publishing deal
– How her topic changed after the release of the iPhone 4 and iPad
– How she is marketing the book

Book content: Mobilize – Strategies for Success from the Frontlines of the App Revolution

Here was the most important line in the book for me:
“You bought this book because you want in”

It defines the type of reader she’s targeting from a marketing perspective… usually an entrepreneur that wants to have their own app, and wants it to break through the clutter of the app store and have their product succeed.

First we start with the stats from the beginning of the app store
– The initial gold rush – 10 million app downloads in the first 72 hours
– Jim’s prediction that everyone would want in, with the barrier to entry being programming knowledge and $100 for the Apple SDK
– How Apple trained users from iTunes to create a buying frenzy in the App store (with some help from Amazon)

Two keys that helped launch the store
1) Marketing: We discuss the “There’s an app for that” campaign
2) Developers: The huge community Apple had already created, and the complete opposite experience engineers faced vs. creating phone apps prior to the iPhone

Did you know?
– How many people remember that the original iPhone was $599? (And Rana stood in a very long line to pay that)
– Did you know the iPad was developed by Apple before the iPhone?

Three words to success in the app store
One theme that kept coming up was quality. There are a lot of ideas out there, the key is building something great. A few of her sources described three key words in different ways:
– Fast, simple, elegant
– Polish, service, awesomeness
– Fun, simple, addicting

Nowhere in there does it say slow, poorly designed, and chock full of features. In fact, she urges developers to go in with HALF the features they planned on implementing. She also reveals Apple’s “30 second test.”

Another app development company said that they ask 4 questions when deciding whether or not to build an app
1) Can we sell it to a majority?
2) Will we enjoy building it?
3) Will we use it ourselves?
4) Is it better than a competitor?

Since I have my own app coming out around my book Salary Tutor, it was a fantastic way for me to ask the questions I needed to ask:

1) What are tips on naming my app?
– What about the length of the name, number of syllabus, and the subtitle
– Tell me about the keywords Apple lets you have

2) What are best practices for iPhone and iPad app icons?
– Rana answers, what is the best color icon for the app store?
– And yes, what is the worst color icon for the app store?
– Trick question: what is the best font for the app store?

3) What category should I put my iPhone app in?
– Key: It’s all about positioning

4) How do I track my iPhone app with metrics?
What is the best company for iPhone and iPad app metrics?

5) What is the best price for app success?
– Learn why what you’ll pay RIGHT NOW is key
– Why 99 cents is NOT what you want to price your app at, unless you are in this category
– When should you make your app free?

6) The launch
– What is the best day of the week to launch an app?
– What to do in the first 48 hours of launch
– What is the most important thing you must do at launch

7) What about comments and ratings in the app store?
– What is the #1 mistake developers make, and what is apple’s fault?

8 ) Seven ways to marketing your iPhone or iPad app – the pros and cons of each
1) Press releases
2) Blogger outreach
3) PR
4) Mainstream media
5) Word of mouth
6) Social media
7) Video demo

9) The Holy Grail – How to get your app featured by Apple
– How getting featured by Apple is like dating

10) How did the iPad release change the direction of her book?

11) What is the future of Android?

Seriously, you have to listen to this podcast:

Download the podcast from iTunes, or play it below:


What’s next for Rana?
Who knows… I’m still on my rollerblades trying to catch up. You can catch her performing her iPad DJ gigs or speaking all over the country.

Go to Rana.co for more information, or follow her on Twitter under the name @ranajune

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