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Making Money with Magical Apps: An Interview with Andy Weekes - Developer of The Night Sky
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Making Money with Magical Apps: An Interview with Andy Weekes – Developer of The Night Sky

The Night SkyI have to admit, when I first contacted Andy Weekes a while back (when MAT only had a few posts on it), I was not expecting a reply.  After all, we’re talking about emailing the developer of the app that has been dominating the reference section of the App Store for the past 8+ months.  However, Andy was nice enough to take the time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about his company, iCandi Apps, and some of his experiences being the developer of one of the most successful apps (even today) on the App Store!

I was big fan of The Night Sky even before I started my adventures with app development so this was pretty exciting for me.  Hopefully you will be able to take away some information as well as a huge dose of inspiration from this interview with Andy Weekes.

Background:

Are you an individual developer or are you the head of a company with in-house developers?

Head of a company with in-house developers.

What made you decide to get into mobile app development?

It was a passion and enthusiasm I had inside of me to create amazing software.  Originally inspired by the App Store introduction keynote by Steve Jobs in 2008.

How many apps have you made?

We currently have almost 40 applications available.

What categories of apps do you mostly create apps for?

We have a lot of apps in the utilities category.  Gaming is something we are working on at the moment.

Are most of your apps free or paid apps?

We have a mixture of free and paid.

What platforms to you develop apps for?

We make apps for Apple iOS, Android, and Windows.

What happens if you have an idea for an app but someone already “beat you to it”?  Would you still consider pursuing this idea?

Yes, just do a better job than they have!

About The Night Sky

How did you come up with the idea for The Night Sky?  Were you certain that this idea was a “winner” from the beginning?

There were a few other apps similar to The Night Sky, however they didn’t have the simple point to the sky and WOW factor.  They were too cluttered, and too complicated people didn’t immediately realize or see the wow factor of simply holding your device to the sky and have it identify stars, constellations, planets and satellites.  The Night Sky cuts straight to the magic, it is its simplicity which makes it so successful.

How long did it take to create this app from start to finish?

The initial development process took around 3 months, however to get the app at the stage it is at now this has taken just over 1 year.

What were some of the challenges in developing this app?

Filtering out bugs, adapting it to work simply and beautifully on many different devices, and ultimately figuring out the right way to market the product.

How has this app been doing sales wise?  If you don’t mind sharing, (around) how many downloads has The Night Sky app gotten?  Is it your most successful app?

The Night Sky is our most successful app; we don’t reveal exact sales figures however we can tell you sales are now into the millions.

How did you market this application?

We marketed The Night Sky as simply being amazing and magical.  With over 3000 5 star reviews, our users agree with the statement!

Conclusion:

What is your typical day like?

It really isn’t that interesting, generally start work at 9 am spend first hour answering e-mails checking on stats.  Often have meetings with colleagues in the mornings and spend a lot of time discussing the way the products are going and pushing teams towards deadlines.  Afternoons are spent working closely on product development with various internal and external people.  I work on all the marketing myself.

Where do you see the mobile app industry going?

I see it growing particularly in countries where it is yet to have a major impact like China, India etc…  Good localization of apps is key to securing long term success in this field.

If you were able to go back in time, what would you do differently in regards to app development?

I would have got into it sooner, maybe even before the App Store existed and would have created apps for the Mac and Windows platforms.

What is your advice for people interested in making mobile apps?

Be prepared to work hard, stay ahead of the game and the rewards will come.

What are your plans for the future?

To continue making magical apps!

Andy Weekes

Things to Take Away:

Andy mentioned in his response that before The Night Sky, there were other similar apps out there – but that didn’t stop him – he just did it better then the competing apps!

Also, let me just say that after a week of my first app SharePrayer being for sale on the App Store and Google Play, I definitely needed some inspiration to keep me focused and get my head in the game.  I don’t want to reveal too much about my sales yet though, as I will be saving that for my first Income Report post which will be published in the beginning of August.  However, I can tell you that this interview with Andy definitely reminded me that it is possible to make a living from apps – all it takes is a “magical” idea, hard work, and a little persistence! :)

Thanks again to Andy for doing this interview – I know that the MAT community and I appreciate you sharing your experiences and knowledge with us!

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Comments

  1. Great interview Thomas.

    I still have not gotten into apps yet but if everything pans out like i hope it does, then I will be creating my very first app by October. Wish me luck.

    ~Adam

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Andy and Thomas!

    Thomas, I think the key to success is a long term vision with a library of apps. I bet The Night Sky wasn’t his first app. You just have to constantly be coming up with new ideas and continually tweaking your current apps.

    I like how he mentions that he checks stats first thing in the morning. Chad Muerta, author of App Empire (THE best book on this biz), says that is crucial to keeping revenue up by tweaking your app and your marketing.

    • Hey Will – You’re right, The Night Sky wasn’t his first app and that’s what most people need to be reminded of. You’re first app is probably NOT going to be a success. Your second will probably be a flop too. I don’t say that to discourage people, but instead to remind them that getting into app development is a long-term thing. You can’t expect to see instant success.

      I’ve actually never read App Empire – going to have to check it out! Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. Great interview, Thomas.

    The night sky looks like a really cool app. I really believe that if someone else has already came up with your idea you can still roll with it, but you just need to make yours better. I also took a look at your prayer app and it is pretty darn cool!

    It must be cool to have landed an interview with someone that you consider to be a celebrity. I can’t wait to see any future apps that you come out with.

    • Thanks Oliver! Definitely agree with you – a lot of the top apps aren’t 100% original ideas, they are just improved versions of other apps.

      Was definitely pretty cool to be able to interview Andy!

  4. Once again, another good read.

    I think the point he makes about localization is an excellent one.
    It takes a lot more effort (and probably some money) to do so but this can be a big differentiating factor
    for an app developer.

    It’s also not an easy task, as simple translations might get the wrong message across. It’s one thing to simply fit your copy through google translate and another to actually find someone who’s familiar with the targeted country’s culture to get the proper message across.

    • Thanks Shen! Yes, localization is definitely something that seems like it has a lot of potential IF it is done right. And you’re absolutely right that it would be a terrible idea to just throw some text through Google Translate as not only could the translation be off a bit, but the culture of different countries are COMPLETELY different. You could make a comment that would seem mild here in the US and it could completely insult someone in another country’s culture.

  5. Hey Thomas,

    Well done on snagging Andy for the interview! When are you going to start a podcast??

    Cheers,
    Trent

    • Thanks Trent! Really exciting for me to see you here by the way :) Everything is ready to go for the podcast and I’m really pumped to launch it! I have 3 more text interviews that I’m going to publish first before the podcast though. So you can expect the first episode within 1-2 weeks!

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