How OneVoice & Commit Makes Money

RichardBy Richard
| 4 minutes read

An app success story…is it possible?!  Well, kind of.  Nathan Barry who admiteddly has some nice design and basic programming skills when it comes to iOS may just provide you with enough inspiration to try your own app out and start floating around in the App Store passive income pools.

So here’s the deal.  He first created an app to help people with their speech problems, OneVoice.  Great technology behind the app and something that solved a big pain, as patients previously had to spend $7-10k on a dedicated machine.  With this in mind Nathan priced the app at a whopping – for the app store – $200 price.  Boom!

IN the space of about 2 years he’s made something like $30,000 profit.  So $15,000 a year from a complicated app.  Is this a good ROI?  Well it only took him about 5 months from start to launch and during this time he was probably also working on his other service oriented design business.  So I’d say hells yeah.  And after upfront work spreading the word amongst speech professionals, the marketing was fairly low key.

But you know, if you don’t have the design and programming skills – or access to cheap friends in the business who can pitch in – is this still a good ROI?  I mean, how much would this app have cost to get developed.  I would estimate $10,000.  On that basis the ROI is good, but not great if you take into account the risk involved in launching an app like this – ie there’s only so much testing you can do with an app and the app store is a bit of a lottery.  Okay, what was the other app?  Commit.

An app that helps you stick to a habit by reminding you of it everyday and tracking whether you did it for each day – if you go on a streak you’ll do pretty much everything not to break it, so you can see the smart idea behind this app.  Before we dive into analyzing the app, let’s pause on how Nathan came up with the idea…this is a site dedicated to the Eureka moment after all!

Nathan says it was inspired after he read an article on how Jerry Seinfeld made writing jokes a habit – he would mark a big X on a calendar, and the streak of Xs would compel him to write a joke everyday.  Brilliant!

Think about your everyday situations…what could you turn into an app that others could use?  Back to Commit.  Now obviously this is a simpler app and accordingly Nathan priced it at just $3.  Sales went okay, but nothing really got moving until the reviews came in he says.  And it took one review to beget another etc, so a bit of hard work getting the momentum.

After a year or so on the market, Commit generated $6,000 in profit Nathan says.  Doesn’t sound like a gold mine, right.  Especially when you find out that sites like Life Hacker reviewed it.  Well, it’s freaking awesome passive income for something that would have only taken him probably 100 hours, plus marketing time – me thinks.  Buuuuut, as Nathan says in his guest post over at Think Traffic, with apps you have to keep pushing new updates to them to fix bugs, improve features and respons to customer criticism in the App Store’s review section.

However if you’ve taken the lean startup approach and put out a barely functioning version early on, then these iterations aren’t too bad and in fact allow you to get to market fast.  I will say though that it is dangerous to go too lean.

Take Commit for example, maybe there were some bugs that were too bad when it was first released, because the average reviews when I saw it last were 3-3.5 stars.  That was enough to turn me off buying it.  As with every passive income idea, I think the successful ones have to be good quality from the beginning in a world of hyperconnected information and user reviews.  PS Nathan has followed in the footsteps of all smart operators, and created an information product on designing apps!  This may be an even better passive income case study haha.

So he’s got the masterplan for anyone who wants to learn how to DIY their own apps.  Intelligently he has the favored 3-pricing points strategy going, where you can choose from book, book + video, or book, video + examples.  Awesome.  Particularly the higher pricing for something everyone is probably going to be desperate to get (sample code and example project).  And with $39, $79 and $169 as his price points I tip my cap, because these are smart price points for those looking to maximize profitability.  Bravo good man.

Visit One Voice & Committ or check out Think Traffic where case study originally spotted