AppsGoneFree is King of Free App Market

A Sunday morning in late February, LetterSlider started seeing a surge in downloads. We had turned the app free just hours earlier, and we’d seen an ensuing uptick in Game Center players, but nothing like this. Every hour, over 100 new players were showing up in Game Center. LetterSlider shot up the App Store charts and stayed there for two days — thanks to over 25k downloads. And AppsGoneFree is who to thank for those downloads.

I had connected with Tyler Tschida, who runs AppsGoneFree, two weeks earlier. He agreed to feature LetterSlider in his app and I’d attribute our new “free” price point to AppsGoneFree. It was the perfect arrangement. Since then, the chatter surrounding our game has certainly increased. Sometimes you just need a simple push to help make people take notice.

I spoke to Tyler about LetterSlider’s success and what makes AppsGoneFree the go-to resource for the best free apps daily.

For LetterSlider, 25k downloads over two days is a tremendous accomplishments. Do you see similar results with most of the smaller apps you feature?

I would say the majority of apps from our smaller developers end up somewhere around there since they can’t go off of name recognition alone.

Not surprisingly, the type and category of app still matters the most. If an app has mass appeal, even if it’s from a smaller developer, it should have no problem generating similar numbers.

I think AppsGoneFree helps in two ways: 1) It helps bring a lot of eyes to the app; 2) It pushes it up the charts, which is where more download traffic is obtained. How do you view AppsGoneFree’s success flow?

It all starts with our users. They definitely know what they want. About one hour after a list has been published, you can already see the effect our users have on an app’s position in the App Store. It’s easy to pick out which they find the most desirable as well.

I mean, all of the apps included in AppsGoneFree see a sizable position jump in the App Store, but, as you alluded, the apps that break into the tops of their categories can really take off. AppsGoneFree users are only a tiny portion of the entire App Store ecosystem, so if an app can be pushed into the view of the general public, it has a much greater chance of making it big.

I personally download at least one new app a day from AppsGoneFree. Do you ever get excited to learn of some apps you’ve had your eye on go to no cost?

Sometimes. We have a group iTunes account at AppAdvice, so I basically get to try any app I want, or at least those we have reviewed. But I do take advantage of AppsGoneFree for my personal iTunes account just like every one of our users. Now that I think about it, I’m kind of spoiled when it comes to free apps.

I read that AppsGoneFree was created by AppAdvice.com readers. Talk about the evolution of the app?

That’s exactly right. About three years ago I started doing periodical app price drop articles on AppAdvice.com, or AppleiPhoneApps.com as it was called back then, mostly because I was personally interested in taking advantage of the awesome deals in the App Store. If you recall, back then apps were quite a bit more expensive than they are today.

The articles were basically weekly round-ups, but eventually readers started asking for more. They wanted daily price drops. They wanted more free apps. So I tweaked the article and started doing daily free app round-ups to keep things simple, and eventually people just got hooked.

As you can imagine, the article was by far the most popular on our site on a daily basis. So we thought, why not make an app? Why not expand our reach? We are AppAdvice after all. We took into consideration all of comments left on the articles to help shape and mold the best experience possible, and released an app in November 2011.

How did you personally get involved and what is your day like?

Since I already touched on my involvement, I’ll give you a rundown of what my day is like. The moment I wake up I grab my coffee, head to the computer, and start looking through our system for the best apps that have gone free. I have to start as early as possible so our readers all across the world can take advantage of the deals before they expire.

We have a dedicated system set up just for the discovery and input of apps that have gone free. It’s actually quite fantastic. It’s amazing what our developers have been able to do on the backend.

The process of looking for apps usually lasts quite a while since there are just so very many to look through. Once I have narrowed them down, I take each app for a spin to ensure they meet all of our requirements and to get a better understanding of how they work so I can write their descriptions. Then everything is pieced together bit by bit, and I push the daily list out to our users around 9 AM PDT. The whole process takes about three and a half hours from start to finish.

The rest of my day consists of reaching out to developers that are interested in our service, and try to get a head start on the next day’s list. I also handle all of the customer support, which can chew up quite a bit of time considering the amount of users we have.

Have you featured any apps that were relatively unknowns at the time that are now household names?

Since we feature multiple apps each day and even apps that are being promoted in other places through other services, it’s relatively difficult to follow their progress. Plus, a lot of our best performing apps are actually those that were once popular and have drifted off into obscurity. I’d like to say we give apps a new lease on life. What’s better than a second chance?

What category of apps do you think your users like the best?

Business and productivity apps. It probably has something to do with their usually high original price points and the fact that we just don’t feature them as often since developers are much less willing to make them available for free. Games are always a big draw as well, at least those that have mass appeal like word and puzzle games.

I see more and more apps popping up in the App Store that promote free apps. What makes AppsGoneFree different?

Quality and consistency. We don’t allow ads in our free apps. We don’t feature freemium apps. We’re not out to try and trick our users into downloading apps for our own gain. We enjoy great deals as much as our users do, and we just want to provide the best possible experience. Plus, we feature anywhere from five to 25 apps each and every day! That way everyone gets what they want.

What do you have planned for the future of AppsGoneFree?

We’re continuing to flesh out the entire experience. We’re looking for more ways to provide our readers with the tools to get exactly what they want out of AppsGoneFree. AppBump was only the beginning, so stay tuned!

Download AppsGoneFree from the App Store today.