Area Code 408? Pick Up The Phone!

On September 17, 2009
Guest author Aaron Kardell is the author of the iGarageSale app. This post originally appeared in his blog. Have an article to share with our readers? Contact us!

At 8:45 Monday night, I received a call from an unrecognized number with a 408 area code. As a general habit I do not answer unrecognized calls in the evening. The iPhone said the number originated from Palo Alto, but I didn’t think much of it. 30 seconds later I received another call from the same number. Still didn’t answer.

Soon, my iPhone indicated I had a message: “Aaron, hi my name is ____, I’m calling from Apple. Would you call me back as soon as you get this message, please? It’s regarding a very timely marketing opportunity. 408-xxx-xxxx. Thanks very much. Speak with you soon. Bye-bye.”

At this point, my jaw dropped. This is exactly the kind of call I had been hoping for, but realistically I never expected to get. Standing out in the App Store is difficult, and this could be a big opportunity for the iGarageSale app.

It was late in the evening and I was at home hanging out with my son. I quickly scrambled to get him a toy to occupy him for a couple minutes, and then I returned the call. The gentleman at Apple indicated that they were interested in featuring iGarageSale in iTunes and that they really like the app. However, they wanted me to change a bit of the description first.

Purchasers of iGarageSale receive a free MP3 download of “Holding On” by the independent artist, Mr. J. Medeiros. This is the song featured as background music in the demo video for iGarageSale. Apple was fine with purchasers getting a free copy of the song as this is something that had been legally agreed to with the artist, but they wanted me to remove that fact from the description of the app in iTunes. They wanted people to buy the app for its own merits, not in the hopes of a free bundled MP3. I assume this is also to avoid potential confusion and complaints directly to Apple later, which is understandable. Since they didn’t require me to take away the freebie – just the promotion of it in the iTunes description, I said I’d make the change immediately.

The Apple representative asked how sales of the app were going and I said “OK, but not where I’d like them to be. Certainly having the app featured in iTunes will help!” He responded saying “Well, we’re not promising anything.” Then he chuckled and said, “But you might want to check the App Store tomorrow.”

Three hours later (around midnight), I saw this on the front page of the App Store section in iTunes:

iGarageSale - New And Noteworthy in iTunes

Naturally, I was pretty excited to see this.

Yesterday was the first full day the app was featured in the New and Noteworthy section of iTunes. So, what kind of difference does it make to be featured? Sales were around 30x the previous day. The app tends to sell better towards the weekend when most garage sales happen, so comparing one day to the next might be flawed; that said, the sales of the app that first day as compared to same day of the previous week were an even larger 78x.

iGarageSale Revenue Graph

As for how Apple noticed my app. I can only speculate. The lite version of the app was doing well — showing up in the top-50 free navigation apps. I’d also just published an update. Either of these might have put Apple’s eyes on the app.

So, wrapping up: if you get a call from a 408 number, I suggest you answer!

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0 responses to “Area Code 408? Pick Up The Phone!”

  1. Chris Ryland says:

    Good show! That happened with our graphing calculator app soon after launch (Grafly), though they didn’t call us or request any changes, and (along with a Daring Fireball mention) it definitely skyrocketed sales.

    Unfortunately, it didn’t translate into anything long-term.

    But that’s just the way the App Store works…

  2. Congratulations! That certainly is the golden ticket. 🙂 I got a call from the same number with the same request to change my description, however it wasn’t for any fun stuff like being highlighted on the noteworthy apps list. Your call sounds way better than mine heh.

  3. cak says:

    Thanks for the update, would like to see some number on that graph. For example, if it went from 2 sales a day, to 100, that is not that impressive. If it went from 100 to 5000, that is fantastic.

  4. Max says:

    Pet Peeve: People who don’t answer their cell phone even if they don’t know the number. What’s the worst that can happen? You never know what you could be missing.

  5. To cak: clearly by being featured on the New section of iTunes, you are talking of volumes way above 100/day.

    It’s just good business for any publisher to never reveal too much. By not giving a reference, you don’t give away the raw data but you make your point.

    You can cross-reference this chart with others that have hard numbers and you can guesstimate how many sales the author received.

  6. SD says:

    congratulations !!

  7. penny pincher says:

    @ max

    some of us don’t have the funds to pay for unlimited cell plans. therefore answering an unrecognized number = cost. if you want to send me 45 bucks a month i’ll gladly answer any and every phone call provided i’m not preoccupied.

    so to answer your question: the worst that could happen, the person on the other end is someone i don’t want to talk to, and happens to have serious issues with rejection. answer, don’t like what they’re selling/offering/or what they have to say, hang up. the other person promptly uses my number to sign up for who knows how many survey/porn/marketing websites and the number of unknown calls to my phone multiplies 100 fold within a week. forcing me to abandon my number and get a new one. having to pay outrageous fees to my cell provider for this small “convenience” because they don’t view me as “true” customer since i don’t have a regular plan

  8. dozermca says:

    @ penny pincher

    you are angry and poor.

  9. malarkey says:

    i have a phone so i can talk to people i know……NOT to invite telemarketers into my home. hard to understand? there is indeed life beyond being a consumer. and more than enuff advertising everywhere already, without needing to carry it around with me where ever i go. come on now. are you that thoroughly trained by corporations, that you would need this explained?

  10. down with pirates says:

    with further research on these 408 numbers, one can easily discover that this is yet another scam. perhaps dozermca and max can explain why in the hell they would expect someone to pick up my phone for these criminals? perhaps dozermca and max share the 408 area code, no?