A few months ago an David House of Random Accident and I were discussing ways to boost sales for our education based apps around the back to school time period. Ideas were thrown around and noted for future reference presumably to be tackled at some point in the future. Well, to his great credit David took one of those ideas and ran with it. The idea was an indie dev community focused back to school sale where developers would be able to promote their software to a student and teacher population that was getting back in to the groove of a new school year.

We wanted a site that would require a minimum of supervision from us and allow for maximum flexibility for developers to promote their software. The system that David had put together using Ruby on Rails was pretty automated and allowed developers to add/remove products, determine their own discounts and forward all purchase transactions to their own site. I helped out in the effort by coming up with the overall site look-and-feel and getting the CSS for it coded up. After a week or so of off and on development we had something ready to go. So, we grabbed a domain and iAppsForStudents was born. Hosting was provided by the incredible folks over at Heroku. If you like Ruby on Rails and you like Git then you must try out Heroku!

As part of the community based effort it was decided to open source the back end for the site. So, if after reading this, you decide to run a community based promotion of your own feel free base it off of the iAppsForStudents site. You can grab the entire code base for the site on GutHub.

With the fun development work done we started out on the hard road of promotion. The first phase was to gather interest and bring indie developers into the sale. We promoted the idea and site on Twitter and sent emails to every indie dev we knew (and many we didn’t). The sale was open to any Mac, iPhone, or iPad developer who wanted to participate. Education based apps were great but by no means a requirement for participating in the sale.

By the start of the sale, which was to run from August 15th til September 1st, iAppsForStudents had attracted nearly 80 Indie Dev companies including some of the top names in the Mac and iOS Indie Dev communities. Here’s the final breakdown on participation from the community:

Mac Apps: 114
iPhone Apps: 39
iPad Apps: 8
Companies: 79
Total Discounts: $2526

Not only did devs participate in the sale they also helped out with the next phase, promotion. Many of us sent out press releases set to release at staggered intervals throughout the sale. Others wrote blog posts or mentioned us to press contacts they had developed over the years. We even got a write up in Macworld. This was truly a community effort and a great testament to the strength of our community of developers.

As great as the sale was it wasn’t all peaches and cream. To be honest the response from the press could have been better. The Macworld write up was great but with so many well known devs and such great discounts I had personally hoped for better coverage. Discounting iPhone and iPad apps was also a bit problematic since the discount needed to be applied AppStore wide. It would be great if the AppStore provided a coupon code good for some % off for some duration of time to anyone who used it. I don’t have high hopes of this happening but it would provide yet another avenue of promotion for iOS devs.

So was it worth it? Absolutely. This was a lot of fun to put together and actually doing something to help out the community was priceless. From the looks of it we plan to make this a yearly event so if you missed out head over to the iAppsForStudents site and follow us on twitter or sign up for the mail list so you’ll know when we crank it up again next year.


A new look

Hello, and welcome to the completely redesigned Blue Lightning Labs website. I am really excited about the new look and company logo. We worked long and hard with Ben Lew on the design, it was a lot of fun and I hope that you like it. The site is still a little sparse at the moment but I have big plans to rapidly expand the product and support pages along with lots of other new content.

The company blog is also a new addition for Blue Lightning Labs and I have to say it is one of the new items that I’m most excited about. I’ll be using the blog to provide a behind the scenes look at the company. This will include updates on our latest projects, industry opinions, and iPhone development. It’s sure to be a lot of fun.

There are also several options for staying in touch. First there’s the RSS feed that you should subscribe to if you want to stay in the loop with the blog. We are also pretty active on Twitter and you can give us a follow here. Our Facebook fan page is a new addition that we’re trying to get a handle on and you can fan us here. Finally, we are putting together a newsletter for product announcements and tips. We’re using Mailchimp to manage the list. They are very concerned with staying on the right side of email usage which is why we chose them. We absolutely keep all information private because, well, we hate email spam as much as you do. You can sign up for our infrequent newsletters at the bottom of this page.

Until next time.