I launched my product a year ago, but so far haven’t had much luck selling it. I desperately needed advice from a person that could take a look at my situation and help figure out what’s wrong and how to move on. Andy Brice has been through all this and knew exactly what I was struggling with.
GraphicDesignerToolbox is a Mac OS X application for creating computer generated graphics. It allows users to snap together generative and filter blocks to create a vast range of different types of images, without any drawing or programming. It is an impressively slick and well engineered piece of software. But sales were unsatisfactory. I did some consulting for the author, Simon Strandgaard, focussed on improving the marketing and the user’s initial experience of the product. As a result he has made a lot of changes, including:
Re-thought the product positioning, marketing message and target customer.
Renamed the application to GraphicDesignerToolbox (from the less descriptive ToolboxApp).
Moved the website from ToolboxApp.com to GraphicDesignerToolbox.com.
Commissioned a new application icon.
Completely rewritten the website.
Improved the initial user experience with a quick tour and easy to load samples.
Improved the product documentation.
Changed the trial model.
Increased the price.
Released version 1.0.
You can see captures of old and new versions of the website below:
Old home page - click to enlarge
New home page - click to enlarge
It is has been very rewarding to see the product and marketing improve so much in just three months. Especially as someone else was doing all the hard work! I think the changes are a huge improvement all round and I wish Simon and GraphicDesignerToolbox every success. v1.0 was released today and Simon tells me he has sold as many licences today as in the previous 5 months.
2008 was a good year for Apple and Mac OS X. According to netapplications.com data (via sharewarepromotions blog) Mac OS X’s share of the OS market increased from 7.31% in Dec 2007 to 9.63% in Dec 2008. That is a 32% increase in market share during 2008, compared to a 22% increase during 2007.
Windows market share fell from 91.79% to 88.68% in the same time. While Mac OS X’s annual gains are impressive, it has a long way to go to catch Windows. 15 years if you project the 2008 gains forward.
Of course, it is highly questionable to project 15 years from a single year of data, but it gives an idea how much work Apple still has to do.
My data also shows that Mac users are twice as likely to purchase my software as Windows users (I have heard similar figures have reported by others). So Mac users currently account for 20% of my sales. I wouldn’t want to live off my Mac sales, but it is very useful additional income. Given the disparity in cost between Windows and Mac hardware it is hardly surprising that Mac users are more ready to reach for their credit card.
My software is built on top of the Qt cross-platform toolkit. The recent porting of Qt 4.5 to Cocoa gives me the opportunity to further improve PerfectTablePlan’s Mac look and feel and to release a 64 bit version. Hopefully this, coupled with increasing Mac market share, will further improve my Mac sales.
I need to support both MacOSX 10.4 (Tiger) and 10.5 (Leopard) for the latest release of PerfectTablePlan. I could have created a new partition on the current harddisk for 10.5, but apparently you can’t do that without erasing the whole disk. I really didn’t want to mess with my existing 10.4 setup, so I purchased a 320GB WD MyBook USB/Firewire external harddisk to install 10.5 on to. 320GB for £75, bargain! But I had quite a bit of trouble installing Leopard on to it. After about the tenth time looking at a “Mac OS X could not be installed on your computer. The installer cannot prepare the volume for installation.” message I finally got it working. In case anyone else gets stuck, here are some hints:
When you set up the new harddisk partitions using Disk Utility make sure you choose Apple Partition Map using the Options button (it may be set to Master Boot Record if the disk is shipped set-up for Windows).
Disconnect the harddisk USB cable. Just use the Firewire cable.
I hope this saves someone else a few hours. Thanks to Jeff B for a hint that got me moving in the right direction.