Under The Microscope

Archive for June 8th, 2006

All I Ever Needed To Know About Developing For Windows, I Learned From Rogue Amoeba

Just under a month ago we released our very first Windows product, Airfoil for Windows, and it’s doing well. We received a lot of interest relating to our decision to develop for Windows, ranging from a desire to hear our thoughts on developing to questions on sales numbers and comparisons between the Mac and Windows worlds. In this article, I’ll be speaking about the marketing and sales end of the experience of expanding from the Mac to Windows. First though, in the great American tradition, a disclaimer:

Disclaimer: We’re just one Mac shop, who’s ported one application to Windows. Your mileage will vary. Airfoil For Windows (henceforth, Winfoil) isn’t yet a 1.0 (it’s a public beta), which no doubt kept some users away. In additional, Winfoil does not have feature parity with Airfoil for Mac (henceforth, Macfoil). Finally, to purchase Winfoil users must download it, while Macfoil can be purchased through our store directly. How these facts affect things is simply not known.

Marketing On Windows
Marketing MegaphoneRogue Amoeba has been marketing on the Mac platform since 2002, and we’ve all worked on the Mac for years before. We’ve got a good bit of experience as far as getting new applications seen by Mac users, in addition to a powerful list of contacts in the Mac press. As this point, submitting our software to a couple of key download sites and sending out some press releases takes us a long way.

Not so on the Windows side, however. We were featured on many of the usual suspects, sites like Digg and Engadget, and we got plenty of traffic on the day of release. However, there simply doesn’t seem to be the hive mind on the Windows side that exists on the Mac platform, especially not with regards to the news sites. The Mac world has a half dozen or so news sites that a huge number (and a huge percentage) of Mac users read frequently. Maybe it’s the fact that in a world that’s 95% Windows users, “Windows-specific” news doesn’t really make sense, or maybe Windows users are just less interested in new sofware for their machines. Whatever the reason, Windows users simply don’t have the same types of news sites we do on the Mac side.

Because of this, reaching Windows users is a different game entirely, and we’re just getting our feet wet here. In the future, we’ll hopefully have more to report. For now, the essential thing to know is that marketing to Windows users is a very different beast.

Windows Doesn’t Mean Instant Success
Big YachtSee this yacht? Pretty nice, eh? It’s the Blue Moon, selling for approximately $41.5 million dollars. Jealous? Don’t be – we didn’t buy it. If we were boat shopping, we wouldn’t exactly be stuck with this either, but Winfoil simply wasn’t the instant hit that the Mac version was.

There are a lot of important factors here. We didn’t pre-announce Winfoil (as we did with Macfoil) so we didn’t have users (virtually) lined up ready to buy. The Public Beta status no doubt scared off some users. Winfoil also works solely with Apple hardware (the AirPort Express), which is certain to be less popular than on the Mac side. Finally, as noted above, marketing on Windows is new for us, so our message hasn’t been heard nearly as well just yet.

Even with all those mitigating factors, I’d still say it’s at least somewhat useful to know that on the day of our Windows release, we didn’t rush out to buy yachts. We saw good response, and decent sales, but it wasn’t as simple as:

Step 1) Develop a Windows version of a successful Mac product
Step 2) Release
Step 3) Go to sleep on a pile of money.

Conversion Rates Aren’t What You’d Expect
ConversionsThe popular theory is that Mac users are more likely to purchase software than Windows users. In the face of its rather woeful market share, this idea makes developing for the Mac a lot more logical. If, for example, Mac users are twice as likely to purchase a particular application, then Apple’s 5% market share is equivalent to 10% of Windows’ market share.

So how did it actually work out? We keep our sales data close to the vest, so instead, let’s have some fun with algebra. In the first 20 days after its release, Winfoil was downloaded X times. In that same time period, Macfoil was downloaded 2.2X. Meanwhile, Winfoil was purchased Y times, and Macfoil was purchased 2.0Y times. Yes, that’s right, Winfoil’s conversion rate from download to sale was actually higher than Macfoil. Macfoil’s conversion rate was ~4.9% while Winfoil’s was ~5.4%. Put another way, for every 100 Macfoil downloads, we saw 4.9 sales. For every 100 Winfoil downloads we saw 5.4 sales.

  Winfoil Macfoil
Downloads: X 2.2X
Sales: Y 2.0Y
Conversion Rate: ~5.4% ~4.9%

Winfoil vs. Macfoil Data

The margin of error inherent in our sample size means this works out to a tie. But seeing that Macfoil didn’t out-convert Winfoil ten to one, or even two to one, these results contradict popular wisdom and our initial assumptions.

Conclusion
We’re less than a month in to our experience in the Windows world, but we’ve already learned a lot. In the future we hope to have more to share, including more data on conversion rates as well as tips for marketing to the Windows world.