You've just had your iPhone app accepted to the App Store. Now you'd like to find out how to track your app's sales. This excerpt from Craig Hockenberry's iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual will show you what you need to know to get started.
If you're like most iPhone developers, you want to know how well your product is selling. The more downloads you have, the more people like your work, and you feel validated. More importantly, these sales numbers are the primary feedback mechanism for your marketing efforts. Apple provides two types of reports: a daily summary and monthly financial report.
The daily summary tells you how many units you sold of each product in each country. It's a tab-delimited text file that totals every item sold. It shouldn't come as a surprise that you get these files from iTunes Connect. To download the report, follow these steps:
Log into iTunes Connect and click Sales/Trends Report.
The Transaction Reports screen appears (Figure 9.1).
Figure 9.1. Your daily sales reports are downloaded from the Transaction Reports page in iTunes Connect. The tab-delimited text file contains a list of all sales worldwide for the selected day.
Make sure the Report Type pop-up menu shows Summary. Set the second pop-up menu, Report Period, to Daily.
The page updates, and you see some new options, including a Day pop-up menu.
From the Day drop-down menu, choose the date you want reported. Then click Download.
A text file for the selected date makes its way to your Downloads folder.
You can load this text file into a spreadsheet such as Excel, and manually track your sales, but it's tedious. After a few days of processing these files, you'll be happy to know that several products on the market make it easy to gather, analyze, and display your sales data. As a bonus, many of these applications can also track your reviews and ranking on iTunes.
If you'd like your sales data to be accessible no matter where you are, a web-based solution that shows the information in a browser would be handy. The folks behind appFigures (http://appfigures.com) have produced exactly this.
After signing up for an account, enter your iTunes Connect login info, and your daily reports are transferred to the application, analyzed, and plotted. appFigures also provides a very useful "events" mechanism that helps you track the effect of releases and promotions on your product's sales. Reviews and rankings are also available.
You can use the site for free with a limited number of products and accounts. If your needs go beyond this or you wish to use additional features—like reviews and ranking—the monthly fees start at $5.
The first is called AppSales, and it's open source software written by Ole Zorn. You can check out the project on GitHub: http://github.com/omz/AppSales-Mobile. Once you check out the source code on your Mac, you can build and install the application on your iPhone. You then supply your iTunes Connect account information, and the application loads your daily reports and shows the results in tables and graphs. You can also see your products' reviews.
Another solution is the similarly named MyAppSales at www.drobnik.com/touch/my-app-sales/. This app provides several features not found in AppSales: It can handle multiple accounts and in-app purchases. Because Apple doesn't let iPhone applications access iTunes Connect per section 3.3.7 of the SDK agreement, you'll also need to build and install this application yourself. The cost for a source code license is a very reasonable $15.
The third solution for doing daily reports is a Mac desktop application called AppViz at www.ideaswarm.com/products/appviz/ (Figure 9.2). As with the others, you provide your iTunes credentials, and it downloads your reports automatically when you launch the application. This $30 application can also back up your sales reports automatically.
Figure 9.2. Here's how AppViz shows the daily sales information for Safety Light on the App Store. The AppViz dashboard is plotting the daily revenue for the first 2 weeks of 2010. The application can also produce more detailed graphs and sales reports. And you can check out your product reviews and rankings from all iTunes stores worldwide.
AppViz can also download the rankings for the top 100 apps in each category. If your app is a top seller, the rank helps you see how your product is performing in iTunes. As with other sales-tracking applications, worldwide reviews are available.
The main advantage to using a desktop application is that all your financial data is under your direct control. And as with any financial data, you should make sure that it's backed up and stored in a secure location.
It's important to keep in mind that the daily reports are reported in each country's currency. A copy of Safety Light earns you $0.70 in the United States and 0.48€ in Europe, so that's the way Apple reports it.
Since most developers are interested in knowing the results in their own currency, the applications listed above adjust the sales figures using the current exchange rates. However, foreign currency markets fluctuate, so the reported values will be off by the time the end-of-month reconciliation is done. The adjusted amounts aren't perfect, but they're fine for gauging how well your products are selling. If you're doing any revenue sharing or paying royalties, don't use the daily reports for the accounting. Instead, use the monthly financial reports, described next.
About 2 weeks after the end of the month, you'll start to get emails from Apple with a subject line that begins with "iTunes Financial Report". That's great news—Apple has taken the first step toward paying you.
You'll receive this notification mail for each major region: Australia (AU), Canada (CA), Europe (EU), Japan (JP), United Kingdom (GB), United States (US), and World (WW). It usually takes 4 or 5 days to get the reports for all regions. The email itself doesn't contain a report; you get it by logging into iTunes Connect.
Once in, click the Financial Reports link, and you'll see the reports for the most recent month listed first (Figure 9.3). Click the links in the Download column to get the reports on your Mac.
Figure 9.3. A couple of weeks after the end of the month, you can download Financial Reports from iTunes Connect. When you click a link, you download the report for that region and time period—here, the United States in December 2009.
You receive two types of reports: The files that end in "PYMT.txt" contain a summary of the payment for the region. If you haven't earned at least $150 in a given region, Apple will maintain a balance for your account; any previous balance is listed in the monthly summary. You'll also see any withholding or GST/JCT taxes that are deducted from your earnings.
If you haven't filed Japanese tax treaty documents as discussed on the section called “Tax info”, you'll find that 20 percent of your earnings in Japan are withheld. The Manage Your Contracts section of iTunes Connect explains how to recover these earnings.
The other type of .txt file listed (without "PYMT") on the Financial Reports screen contains the sales information. This document contains tab-delimited data that breaks down the number of units sold for each product in each country. Both Microsoft Excel and Numbers in iWork will open the report after you drag the document onto the Dock icon.
If you have multiple products, sort the data by the Vendor Identifier (to group all products together), and then add up the Extended Partner Share column to get the amount for each product.
The amounts listed in the PYMT.txt files are what Apple will deposit into your bank account. Typically, the deposit happens a couple of weeks after you've received the monthly report. Reconciling these deposits is a bit tricky because of currency conversions.
Only the US (United States) and WW (World) regions are listed in dollars. The Payment listed in the financial report will show up as an ACH deposit in the account you specified when setting up the contracts in iTunes Connect. For payments that aren't in dollars, you need the exchange rate on the day of the deposit. Apple can't provide this information, because they don't know what the rate will be when the payment is handed over to the banking system, which is when the actual exchange takes place. And unfortunately, many banks don't report the exchange rate for the SWIFT wire transfer.
If your bank doesn't record the exchange rate, use an online archive like the one at http://x-rates.com/cgi-bin/hlookup.cgi. The rate for a day or two before the deposit date will help you determine the country of origin and get a feeling for whether the amount is correct.
At this point, all that's left to do is make a down payment on a 100-foot yacht and order the Cuban cigars! Or figure out how to make those monthly deposits a bit bigger…
Learn more about this topic from iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual.
Ready to create your own iPhone app? This book walks you through the entire iPhone app development process. You'll learn how to download the tools, build the app, successfully navigate Apple's approval process, and then market and maintain the finished product. Written by Mac guru Craig Hockenberry, creator of the wildly popular Twitterific iPhone app, iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual includes illustrated, step-by-step tutorials and real-world examples.