Sunday, August 10, 2014

Phrasememe brand is being retired... for now

So the PhraseMeme scanning app has been removed from the app store for a while now, and I am finally getting around to retiring the brand name. I may use it again sometime in the future, but for now you can follow me on twitter at @GBrayUT if you want updates on what I am working on.


Friday, April 22, 2011

PhraseMeme Scanner Use Metrics: Days per User, Scan Count, and Active Daily Users

User_ScanCountIn the latest version of our barcode scanning app for Windows Phone we added a very basic notification and analytic system that allows us to send short messages to certain user groups (Trial, Paid, Region, etc) as well as track how each group is using the application. This is all done anonymously by generating one web request per day to see if there are any new messages to display and including basic use information as part of the request URL (similar to how Google Analytics work). Eventually I would like to polish the code a bit and release it for others to use, but for now it is a work in progress that is starting to generate some interesting use metrics like the chart on the right, which shows that over 75% of users have scanned less than 5 barcodes in total! 

This week I finally got around to using Log Parser 2.2 to filter through the log files and create some meaningful data. Unfortunately about half of the total aggregate downloads occurred before this system was in place, so we are missing some data, but from the data we do have we can find interesting results like the fact that around 66% of users are never seen again after the first day, meaning they never opened the app again after the initial 24 hours. That means that out of all the downloads listed on the AppHub reports (about 7,000 in our case) only 1/3 of them used the app more than once.


I’ve heard this reported before, but as I started digging deeper into the stats it became more and more clear that you only have once shot at impressing users and turn them into avid fans. Our app is a bit unique in that it is a tool used for a specific purpose that probably doesn’t need to be opened ever day or even every week, but with about two months worth of data collected it is clear that there are a lot of users that download the app, open it, and then for one reason or another never return.

This was most evident when we started running the numbers for daily active users. Our app has a pretty liberal trial policy (Unlimited free trial with no ads, just a nag screen), so I was not too surprised that the trial users out number the paid users, but what surprised me the most was seeing the daily active user breakdown of Paid vs Trial and New (aka initial app load) vs Returning. Below you will find a chart that outlines this data very well:

App Users By Type 2011APR20

From this we can find that:

  1. Our daily user count has about doubled from around 60 a day to around 120 active users a day. This is lower than I would like, but not bad for a paid app with lots of free competitors.
  2. Trial users out number Paid users by around 10 to 1. The top two segments for groups A and B (Light blue and purple) show that most of our daily users are either new trial users or returning trial users. I might be able to increase conversions by limiting the trial version more, but my best bet would be to improve the initial experience to entice more of the new users to stick around.
  3. The New – Paid group is a bit larger then I would have expected at around 5 to 10 users a day, but this might also be due to paid users re-installing the app after reloading their phone. We track users based on an installation timestamp, so if you uninstall the app and then reinstall it, you are essential a New user.
  4. Since there are about 2,000-3,000 downloads that occurred before we started tracking users, we called these Legacy users and tracked when they first upgraded and opened the app. You can see a spike when the new software was released, and then a steady stream of a few legacy users each day. It is a bit surprising that there are users that have not opened the app in almost two months, but this just shows that our app is not a daily use app.

I’d like to dig into the data a bit more and find the average timespan between app loads for each type of user, but so far this system has shown that we really need to polish our first run experience to try and capture more of the initial users.

Monday, April 18, 2011

WinFone Alpha application will be removed from the Windows Phone Marketplace

I am sorry to say that we will be removing the WinFone Alpha application from the Windows Phone Marketplace this afternoon as the application is currently in violation of the Wolfram Alpha terms of service regarding deep linking to their website. Any users that have previously downloaded the application or that manage to download it before it is removed from the marketplace will still be able to use the program, but we will not be releasing any updates in the future. If anyone else wishes to access the Wolfram Alpha service on their phone, we highly recommend that you use the Http:// webpage and set it as a bookmark in IE or shortcut on your home screen.

Shortly after releasing the application we were contacted by the very friendly people at Wolfram Alpha, and after a great discussion with them we are voluntarily removing the application today at their request. We still <3 Wolfram Alpha and are glad to have had the opportunity to promote the use of their most excellent service on the Windows Phone platform. We look forward to if/when an official Wolfram Alpha application may be/is available for Windows Phone.

Monday, March 21, 2011

WP7Comp Entry Statistics: Total Likes, Comments, and Reactions for all entries

WP7Comp Authors 2011MAR20I haven’t done a very good job at keeping up with the PhraseMeme blog (too busy coding :-), but the WP7Comp contest sponsored by Microsoft and Red Gate is scheduled to announce a winner at the end of March and the anticipation is killing me! I have two entries in the competition: WinFone Alpha and PhraseMeme Scanner, and I have spent a fair amount of time looking over all of the other entries to see what the competition is up to. Many of the entries are very good, and I honestly have no idea who they will choose as the winners, but I wanted to see where I was at and what my chances might be.

One of the grading criteria is generating a “social buzz” on the WP7Comp website, but the competition’s website does not make it very easy to navigate around or see which entry is getting the most buzz. Because of this I decided to modify an old Resolver One spreadsheet that I made a while back that uses WatiN to create an IronPython powered spreadsheet for simple Web page automation and testing. This lets me scrape information from websites and load it into a grid for sorting and processing, and worked perfect for generating stats for each entry on the WP7Comp website.

So after an hour or two of work I was able to get all of the entries filled into one spreadsheet, with the number of Likes, Comments, and Reactions for each. It turns out that while there are a number of entries with more likes and comments than mine, the entry for PhraseMeme Scanner is currently in the top 15 for total number of Likes, which is better than I expected considering the barrage of last minute entries. If you are interested you can see the charts above/below for more details or access the full spreadsheet on Google Docs.

WP7Comp Entries by Likes 2011MAR20

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In the beginning was the Word… (John 1:1)

Human beings have been playing games for a long time, but in the last few decades these games have become more and more elaborate with the development of high performance personal computers and gaming consoles. When I was growing up the Gameboy represented the ultimate portable gaming machine, but when compared to the latest releases by Nintendo and Sony the original Gameboy seems like a giant ancient artifact. Over the last few years many people have started to play games on their smart phone or portable music device since the games can be purchased and downloaded directly through the device instead of through a old-fashion brick-and-mortar toy store. These games are usually more casual in nature (most devices lack joysticks and buttons, instead using tilt sensors and touch screens), but they still are a fun way to pass the time while riding the bus or waiting for friends.

One area that I have not seen a lot of development in is that of real-world social gaming. Yes you can play Scrabble with friends on your iPhone or Texas Hold’em with friends on your Android, but what about playing games with friends that are in the same room as you? Instead of just being PERSONAL devices, our portable electronics should also have the ability to help us entertain GROUPS of people. I have many friends that prefer playing old-fashioned board games or card games primarily because these games are much more sociable and can be played in a large group.

Being a programmer I have taken note of this and decided that I want to help change this trend. It is my goal to design games of a gregarious nature that promote interacting with others in your proximity instead of just your online friends. I already have a few ideas and hope to have an initial version released in the next month or two. At first these games will target Windows Phone 7 for a variety of reasons that will be outlined in a future post, but if they succeed then I plan on expanding to other mobile platforms as well.

I also plan on blogging throughout the planning, development, and release cycle, so if this is of interest to you then you can follow along using the email or RSS subscription links located on the side bar. I also registered a Twitter account ( @PhraseMeme ) that you can follow for all the latest updates or use to send feedback. If that is not enough, you can also follow my personal and technical blogs to round out your online stalker profile :-P

Until next time… Enjoy!