Tag Archives: google

My delicious.com bookmarks for July 9th through July 17th

  • The giant Apollo 11 post – The best of the web on the 40th anniversary of the moon landing.
  • Year two – Nice analysis of where the App Store need to change in order to keep both customers and developers happy.
  • Let's all take a deep breath and get some perspective – "[Google are] starting to look like the new Scott McNealy. Remember him? Ran a company called Sun, which had a great little business going until McNealy became obsessed with Gates and started doing things like paying millions of dollars to buy StarOffice so he could get into that booming free software business."

Geeking out in Silicon Valley

As if wandering around a conference centre before the start of the conference wasn’t enough, I also went to the south of the Bay Area to visit some of the major sights in Silicon Valley.

I started at the excellent Computer History Museum. I don’t doubt that most people would find this mind-numbingly dull but I thought that the large archive of “significant” computers was great. It would be easy to argue over the machines that were on display, the ones that were more significant or, well, less American1.

Still, that’s nit-picking. It was great to see the PDP-8 — the successor to the PDP-7 that the original version of Unix was written for — and a couple of Cray-1’s. Purely for nostalgia value, it was great to see the Sinclair Spectrum (my first computer) and the ZX81 (the name of this website). I also remember wanting to get a QL because a friend had one and because it was cheap and powerful and had a great built-in programming language.

I’m guessing that many people reading this won’t have heard of the Xerox Alto. You can think of this as the first machine with what might be recognisable as a Graphical User Interface — or the point and click interface that we’re all used to now with the Macintosh and Windows. Talking of the Macintosh, the NeXT Cube is in many ways the precursor to the modern Mac. I remember getting some of the marketing bumph from NeXT when they were still being manufactured. I wasn’t completely sure why they were cool or what I would do with it if I had one, but I wanted one. The connection? Well, this was Steve Jobs company after he was booted from Apple in 1985 and the operating system forms the foundation of Mac OS X2.

There were lots of other interesting (mainly bigger and older) machines but these are the main ones that stood out to me. They have a policy of only displaying machines that are ten or more year old in order to get some perspective and decide what is truly significant. It will be interesting to see where they go in the next few years. Most of the interesting stuff in the last few years has been either in software or in gadgets that are not traditionally considered to be computers (such as iPods and mobile phones).

Unfortunately, the major problem with the rest of the valley is that it’s just a bunch of office buildings. Even the ones where interesting work is going on are still just office buildings. So I went to the other side of Mountain View to have a quick look at Google and then a quick stint on the freeway to Cupertino3 to have a word with the iPhone application review team (not really).

And from there it was back to San Francisco for some good food and some more traditional sight-seeing.

  1. Some would argue that the first “modern” computer was built at Manchester University in the UK, but there are a number of good contenders. []
  2. Actually, if you want to go further back, NeXTStep is a variant of Unix which we can trace back to the PDP-7 in 1969. []
  3. It seemed right that I’d take the picture of the Infinite Loop sign using my iPhone. []

Advertising your iApp

My iPhone application, Yummy, has been on sale in iTunes for a couple of months now and, as a number of other developers have noted, after the initial launch sales figures take a significant nose dive very quickly. I’ve been trying to think of ways to increase visibility without taking too much time away from actually making enhancements to the software.

As luck would have it, I got a “free trial” of Google AdWords and thought I would give that a try. Results have been… well, not exactly what I was expecting.

The way AdWords works is that you give it a bunch of search terms and when someone enters those terms you go into an auction with other advertisers with the same terms. You can set a maximum bid and a maximum per day. I confess that these are not values that I have played around much with; I stuck with the defaults. You then get charged when someone clicks on your advert, not just when it’s put in front of someone.

It turns out that with my choice of words I was averaging £0.33 per click. If we assume that every click results in a sale then I would say that this is on the high side of acceptable. Yummy retails for £1.19 in the UK, with Apple getting 30% and the tax man another chunk.

However that’s not necessarily a good assumption. In fact, I have no real idea of how good or bad it is. Using Google Analytics and AdWords’ built-in statistics I can see how many people visited Yummy’s website and I can see how many people clicked the link to the App Store. What I can’t see is the number of people who clicked on the ad that ended up buying a copy.

But the cost of attracting customers and the inability to track the effectiveness of the campaign was nothing compared with my frustration in penning a suitable advert. I started with the following text:

Delicious on your iPhone
Search and edit your delicious.com
bookmarks in one app on your iPhone

Sure, I’m not going to make a living as a copywriter any time soon, but given the space constraints I didn’t think it was too bad.

However after a couple of days my campaign was suspended because I’d used a trademark in my text. Now I’m no expert on trademarks, but I really don’t see the problem here. I’m not trying to sell dodgy iPhones; I’m not passing myself off as Apple; and I’m not selling a competitor, indeed all Yummy users are already Apple customers.

Writing about an application that runs on an iPhone without mentioning Apple or iPhone is not easy. I ended up with:

Delicious.com on the move
Search, add, edit and delete your
Delicious bookmarks in one iApp

They have not suspend that yet, but I think it’s a substantially less compelling advert.

So overall, it was certainly worth a try — I had nothing to lose — but for the price-point of Yummy I don’t think it’s worth paying for AdWords once my trial funds expire.