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“At first, the relationship with Apple was tremulous – “Oh, they denied us, we must urgently make corrections”

Manolis 0

Evgeny Plohoi, Co-founder and CEO of Capable Bits, Co-Founder in CB Labs Biz, talks about one of his products – a music player from the clouds Dropbox, Google Drive and others. The topic of the interview is the satellites of the application within ASO and promotion of the main product. The inspiration for the implementation of new ideas is guaranteed.


Zhenya, tell me about your primary product, how cool it is.

The main product I’m dealing with is an algorithm that analyzes the electrocardiogram obtained from wearable devices – Cardiolyse.me, there is a mobile application to support the operation of this service. I have a mobile studio in which we conduct experiments, mainly with mobile products – we have more than 15 own titles. Often these are not unique products, but they are unique in detail. So we conduct a lot of experiments with promotion, monetization, interfaces, etc. As part of the player, we experimented with satellites.

Eddy is a player that you can connect to an unlimited number of cloud storage, including Dropbox, Google Drive, Mega, Yandex.Disk, One Drive, etc. Regardless of the number of accounts and the type of cloud that connects to the application, we parse content, we find all the music files and assemble them into one music library. You can scatter music on 28 different folders (conditionally), but they will be in the same music library. This saves a lot of space on your mobile phone. Also, we have integration with SoundCloud, the tracks of which can be added to your library and they become part of your library. Another integration – with iPod Music Library, music library iOS device. This is probably the only application that allows you to share tracks from the native Music application on iOS devices. The music player Eddy is designed for advanced users who want to more flexibly manage files.

The first thing we started with – quickly developed a concept on the base UI elements, and the main time was taken by integration with the clouds. In June, we plan to launch Eddy 2.0 with an updated interface, and by the end of summer a full-fledged multimedia hub for photos, audio and video with support for FLAC and other hi-res formats. The concept of this product is that photos, video and audio are not just files in folders, but this is multimedia content with its meta information, and you need to treat it like multimedia content. Here is a theory that we build around the product and what we are going to.

In the end, we want to create a multimedia hub. When it comes to multimedia – with each type of file, you need to work in accordance with its meta information. Audio is a music library, albums, sorting by artists and tracks. Video is a collection, genres and the ability to stream video. Photos are photo albums, geo-marks, timeline, etc. The next step is to add the ability to stream video of any format from the cloud and finally combine all formats in one application – photos, videos and audio files. There will also be third-party products, for audio – SoundCloud and Spotify, video – youtube and Vimeo, photo – Flickr and Instagram.

What are satellite applications and what benefits can be derived?

The idea of satellites is to attract traffic to the main product. Eddy works with all popular cloud storage, and we made satellites – a cut-down version of the product for each cloud. For example, a player for Google Drive, a player for Dropbox, etc. We divided one product into its component parts, but instead of the built-in purchases, as in the main product, the user can download himself, Eddy. The idea was that a user who uses One Drive will not search by the keyword dropbox. The number of keywords is limited, and there are restrictions on the use of brands. By making a separate player for Dropbox, we collect users by the keyword dropbox and then drop them into the main product. When one of the restrictions is triggered, pop-up opens – “you want this function – download Eddy”. For example, one of the limitations is the creation of the 4th album.

The idea of creating satellites is exclusively for the generation of cheap traffic because it does not bring the product under development and crazy money, it is not yet profitable to buy traffic. The profitability consists of the formula – LTV (lifetime value) is greater than CAC (customer acquisition cost). If this mathematics converges, then further there is already scaling and increasing the amount of investment in this mathematics. For the equation to add up, you can either increase LTV or decrease CAC. Ideally, both. The satellites are aimed at reducing the CAC because we do not pay for these users. The cost of developing a satellite is minimal.

Is there a problem with approving applications in the App Store with similar functionality?

With the approval of similar applications, there were no problems, at least, with us. The review team is quite large, and for a day through them, there are hundreds of applications. When you get to the same examiner, it’s not a fact that he remembers that your application has similar functionality. We did not encounter such a problem. Although, just in case, downloaded the app with a difference of two days. The key functionality of the players is different – the player for the Dropbox and the player for Google Drive – different products. At first, the relationship with Apple was tremulous – “Oh, they denied us, we must urgently correct”. If you keep on doing this all the time, then you will always fix it, and your product will never appear in the App Store. We have to write appeals to them, sometimes to call. In half the cases it is possible to win, and the application is in the store. Patience and a little effort.

What can go wrong? What mistakes are better to avoid?

There are problems with approval, and they concern not functionality, but access to the content of third-party products. We have integration with SoundCloud, and this can create a lot of difficulties. Apple will pull the application from side to side: whether it is possible to download content offline, whether it argues with iTunes guides or terms of use. If they do not argue, they still find jambs – the application had two deviations. SoundCloud forms the initial value of the product, which is out of the box. Since we are working with clouds, before the user has connected the cloud – the product is empty and useless, there is no content in it. If the cloud does not connect, then the player will remain useless, and the user will delete it. We wrote an algorithm that every day finds the 100 most trendy tracks on SoundCloud and is available in the application as Editor’s Choice. I’m sure that as soon as we add support for Vimeo and youtube, the approval process will go even harder and longer. Morally, we are ready for this, but we do not intend to refuse user convenience so we will not remove this functionality. Perhaps we will remove them from the satellites because as an experiment the satellites have not justified themselves yet.

We received a huge number of downloads, 5-6 thousand per day for each of the satellites. But the problem is that they have very low retention, and as a consequence, low conversion of downloads into the main product. At the same time, Eddy retention is quite impressive – on the 30th day with us there are about 40% of users. For such a product it is quite a lot.

Despite a large number of downloads from satellites, the result was not given, just a lot of time spent on appeals. Now, only the player for Yandex.Disk remained from the satellites. One player did not approve. The player for the Dropbox was removed from the desktop at all, although it was first approved and it received a lot of downloads. After a while, Apple wrote that the application did not match the guides and removed it from the sale. Now we have rethought the satellites, maybe we will remove SoundCloud support and see how this works. In the current setup, despite more than 100K downloads in a couple of weeks, we have not yet met the metrics that matter to us. Now we do not spend time on satellites, but we are improving the main product. We are preparing a new interface for scaling to support other media formats besides audio. We will build the hub around Eddy and add functionality from other products.

The best format for avoiding errors is to do everything on guides. But if you make a massive product, then do it on the guides – it turns out either boringly, or like everyone else. This product is difficult to differentiate, and the only thing that gives us an advantage is the optimization of the application in the App Store, and due to this, we get downloads, more than competitors who are not so good at this. This can not be called a strategy, because once the ranking algorithms in the top search engine rankings in the App Store change, you need to retrain and past experience turns into a useless load. If you do not use applications on guides, you need to find ways to bypass the system. We have some functions working with the server so that you do not re-pour the product every time in the Apple Store and wait for a bunch of approval days. If some function complains – we disconnect it from the server. Sometimes we turn it back on for a while. This adds flexibility to the work, and the application is more like a web product.

Suppose I have an application – a document scanner. Can I change the name, icon, colour scheme of the application and this is enough for the satellite?

Yes. It is advisable, of course, not to make a forehead in the forehead and make functional changes. This has never happened, but now there is – Apple checks the applications a posteriori. Even after the team of validators approved the application and it was in the store, it is likely that the application will be checked again, or the entire account as a whole. If the account has the same applications for functionality, but different icons and colours – there is a possibility of removing satellites. If all the developers start making satellites, then this strategy will work a limited amount of time, because Apple will cover the bench.

If you make satellites in a super competitive niche like scanners, for example, it’s not a fact that it will save and traffic will appear.

How do you formulate a list of keywords within the players, do the applications compete for the keywords?

Everything was simple, with the help of well-known tools brought out an ideal list of keywords for yourself. The main differentiating words were in the name of the application, for example, “Player for Dropbox”. You can not use the brand name in the application, but we can call it an application because it describes its functionality. The list of keywords was the same for all applications – the main product and satellites. It turned out a great synergy between well-selected words, title and verified screenshots. This ensured a high position in the search results and the products reached very high rates.

Do apps compete for keywords? No. The downloads of the main product did not fall, but on the contrary grew. Applications did not compete, this hypothesis was justified. For example, in keywords there is music, and in the name Dropbox or Yandex.Disk – products for different people. Now, on the request of “Yandex player” in the Russian App Store, we are in third place after Yandex.Music and Yandex.Radio. And for the iPad, we are in the first place, because of Yandex.Music for the iPad for some reason no. Perhaps, after this interview, Yandex will fetch us or demand to be removed. If it removes, it’s a matter of time, and it’s better to know about it. Our player does not compete with the music application of Yandex, but, on the contrary, creates additional value for Yandex.Disk, which Yandex does not provide.

Such applications can be promoted by ASO optimization or press releases to appropriate resources. In the satellites themselves, there is a competent transition to the main product, and this is not one splash screen, which looks like advertising, but full integration.

When you know how the eco-system works, you can identify patterns and build hypotheses. We can verify these hypotheses. There is a team if the idea is – try. Explicitly, with satellites – the experiment did not show a result in the current implementation. We have new hypotheses and a certain horizon of work. I do not close this issue completely for myself – another function of satellites is the running-in of new versions of applications or new products.

Thanks for the interview, it’s a fascinating topic, but it’s not discussed very much. Good luck!

Interview: Diana Sedunova

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