This has been a strange couple of weeks for me. For the last couple of years, downloads of Flexile (I can't even say "sales" because it's free) have been very flat at a remarkably low level. Despite good reviews and a dedicated user base, I've never been able to gain enough exposure to actually monetize Flexile. And so most of the work I've done have been bug fixes to keep it stable. Even though it makes me absolutely nothing, I've simply been unwilling to kill it after so much work I've put into it. But that can only last so long, and lately I've been having discussions as to whether it was time to finally kill and pull Flexile from the app store.
And then a couple of weeks ago I had the largest downloads of Flexile I've ever seen. I was astonished... and thoroughly confused. Was the report wrong? Had Apple made a mistake? Had some website performed some delayed review of my app? No matter how I searched, I couldn't find anything that would cause this. Eventually, I had an email conversation with a user that revealed they were using iOS 11, and along with Apple's redesign of the App Store they apparently had redesigned the search algorithm. And so where I was once showing up at around #300 in the search, I was now showing up at #6... a huge difference.
What can I say? The internet gods have smiled upon me, and Apple has deigned fit to place my app higher in the search algorithms. I have another chance to actually make Flexile into a real business and so... well, I guess it's time to try again.
It couldn't have come at a better time. I've recently finished a lucrative two year contract, my wife has gotten a new job, and I've been looking for my next venture. I wasn't expecting Flexile to revive from the dead, but it has and I'll take advantage of it.
So here's the plan:
- I'm going to fix all the bugs that have built up the last eight months. There's a few user-facing bugs and a whole bunch of stuff that only I can see but the larger problem is the Flexile codebase has gotten out-dated over the last several years. Some approaches I've taken are no longer valid and need to be changed. It'll be quite a bit of work and will likely require some significant changes to how Flexile operated (more on that in future blog posts).
- My next phase will be to develop some sort of feature I can charge for. Currently, I'm thinking about creating a graphing feature. It's not something I've seen done in other apps that I think could be really useful. This would allow you to create custom graphs derived from your data. I would charge this as an in-app purchase (no idea about pricing yet). If that works out well, I'll move on to phase 3...
- I will start refactoring and modernizing the codebase. I'll be honest, this will likely create a lot of new bugs as I've learned from experience that while these things are necessary, they're usually painful in some degree.
- The refactor should give me a good foundation for moving foward, so afterwards I will work toward implementing a syncing service. My end goal is to have apps for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows with a subscriptions service that will sync between them. This is no small feat, but as a subscription service will provide me with the money I need to continue developing Flexile.
I don't know if this will work, but I'm going to give it a try. I would love, absolutely love, to not only keep Flexile alive but turn it into a thriving business. I don't know if I can do it, but I sure as hell will try now that I've been given a second chance.