iApp Revenue Modeling (updated for 2013)

IMPORTANT UPDATE NOV 28, 2012

App Annie changed their url scheme today and these links no longer work to see revenue for a specific apple fiscal month.  Now each individual user or company has a id number that has to be embedded in the link.  In my opinion there’s no good reason for this or any security benefit as the links have always been contextual to the user who is logged in.  Me using these links shows my revenue only.  You using them shows your revenue only.  Since the link didn’t have anything to do with WHO we were and there was no user or company id in the url, there was no risk of seeing someone else’s revenue or someone seeing yours.  But today app annie changed their scheme and now to see my revenue for a date range there is a /number/ in the link, which I can only assume is my company id or my user id.  This really messes things up and I’m very bummed.

It means that I can’t provide generic links here that will work for everyone.  Your links are now different than mine as our /numbers/ are different.  I don’t see any advantage for anyone on this, but it’s the way it is today.

It’s a real shame that they’ve made these changes. This was the main way I used app annie: several times a month I would go to my blog here and click on the current fiscal month to see how I’m doing.  This allowed me to see my revenue long before apple sent out revenue reports.  And for a small company like mine, it is very helpful.  Unless they change it back I won’t be doing it this way, and I can’t provide generic links for you either.  I’ll have to make a private list of links that include my secret company id in them, probably paste them into Notes on my phone and use that to check things.  It’s a real bummer.

I’ve emailed Bertrand Schmitt at app annie who I’ve spoken to before and asked him to respond. He forwarded it to someone on his team to look into it.  I’ll update again here later to let you know what happens.

Original article:

If you’re like me and you rely on your iOS iApp revenue to pay the bills, it’s helpful to have an idea of how well you’re doing, how much revenue is coming in, and be able to calculate it before Apple releases the actual reports.

For the longest time I would sort of guess what my revenue would be each month.  I’d look at sales reports, guess a date range and hope that it was close. Somewhere in the middle of the month I’d start getting emails stating that financial reports are available per region.  Eventually all regions would be in and I’d finally have a good idea of what my next check would be.

But this month Apple is just now starting to release revenue reports for February, and I had a good idea of what my next check would be about a month ago.  Of course it’s not that complicated and I just needed to open my eyes and look for the answer.

I always assumed that the information should be easy to obtain long before the report comes out, but I wasn’t sure how to calculate it.  Apple pays something like 45-60 days after the end of the sales month.  So by the time revenue reports come out the sales for that pay month have all concluded weeks earlier.  The key was in knowing the date ranges for each pay period.  Of course all of these date ranges are published by Apple and were not hard to find.

Once I finally found that I realized that it’s not that hard to model what a check will be even a week or two before the end of the fiscal month – as sales are happening, and 30-45 days before the automatic deposit happens.  It’s nice to be able to plan ahead and it can also be a good kick in the pants when you realize that sales are down.  You still have time to try to make whatever changes or adjustments you can to improve that next check.

Disclaimer #1: of course, the actual amount of the check will vary based on foreign exchange rates.  So everything we’re talking about here is estimates anyway.

Disclaimer #2: and of course, you do have to be a developer to do any of this, you have to be making revenue, and you have to have an account with App Annie and your back sales date in their system.

I do use appannie.com for sales analytics, and that helps a lot.  They log in daily for me and get my sales data and present it in a nice format.  You could also get the data from apple (iTunes connect).  But App Annie is a little nicer on the eyes and has a few more tools for charting your data.  And it’s easy to view only a specific date range – which is key to projecting revenue.

What App Annie doesn’t have yet is sales revenue modeling.  I suppose maybe there are some legal vulnerabilities or reservations they might have about telling people what kind of revenue they might make.  But for everyone else in business and sales, modeling is standard practice. Since they don’t do it, this part is something that you have to do manually.  But still, it’s very easy to do.

First, Apple lists their fiscal year calendar on their iTunes connect website.  This has their fiscal quarter dates and each pay period.  I’m not going to link to it here, but just log in to your iTunes connect account, go to Payments and Financial Reports and look for the link called “Fiscal Calendar”.  It been there the whole time and I had just never thought about it.  But each Period listed there is the date range to use in App Annie to see a close estimate of your revenue for that month.  I’ve prebuilt all the links for 2012 here.  The ones marked 5 weeks have an extra week of revenue and theoretically should be 25% higher.  You have to log in to App Annie first and then click away to see how close the past ones were to reality:

(LINKS DO NOT WORK RIGHT NOW)

Oct 2011 = Sep 25 – Oct 29 (5 weeks)
Nov 2011 = Oct 30 – Nov 26
Dec 2011 = Nov 27 – Dec 31 (5 weeks)
Jan 2012 = Jan 1 – Feb 4 (5 weeks)
Feb 2012 = Feb 5 – Mar 3
Mar 2012 = Mar 4 – Mar 31
April 2012 = April 1 – May 5 (5 weeks)
May 2012 = May 6 – Jun 2
Jun 2012 = Jun 3 – Jun 30
Jul 2012 = July 1 – Aug 4 (5 weeks)
Aug 2012 = Aug 5 – Sep 1
Sep 2012  = Sep 2 – Sep 29

UPDATED FOR 2013 fiscal year

Oct 2012 = Sep 30 – Nov 3 (5 weeks)
Nov 2012 = Nov 4 – Dec 1
Dec 2012 = Dec 2 – Dec 29
Jan 2013 = Dec 30 – Feb 2 (5 weeks)
Feb 2013 = Feb 3 – Mar 2
Mar 2013 = Mar 3 – Mar 30
April 2013 = Mar 31 – May 4 (5 weeks)
May 2013 = May 5 – Jun 1
Jun 2013 = Jun 2 – Jun 29
Jul 2013 = Jun 30 – Aug 3 (5 weeks)
Aug 2013 = Aug 4 – Aug 31
Sep 2013  = Sep 1 – Sep 28

For my sales these numbers often come in about a day too much.  So I recommend subtracting about a typical day’s worth of revenue to plan correctly.  You can see how close yours are and come up with your own rule of thumb.

Of course it’s not a time machine and any dates in the future show as zero sales.  I don’t see a point in modeling for a period that you’re not currently in.  To me that would be utter guesswork.  But for the period that you are currently in you’ll see some sales and then a flatline in the last part of the month.  For these ranges you can model the remaining days.  You just have to decide how optimistic to be.  Of course sales go up and down all the time and there’s no way to know for sure.  But there are a couple of ways to approach it.  First you have to simply count days – how many days have reported so far this month and how many are left.  Divide the revenue total for the selected period by the number of days with sales numbers and that will give you the average per day so far.  Then multiply that average by the number of days left in the period and add it to the current total.  You’ll have a “reasonable” estimate of revenue for that period.  I did this about a month ago and got a very close estimate of what my next check will be – about 45 days before the check will arrive.  Alternatively, if you’d rather be more conservative, a very low estimate would be obtained by taking the lowest single day sales for the month during the period and use that as your model for the rest of the month.  The rest of the month is always a ‘guestimate.’

I actually sent this as a feature request to app annie but so far they don’t have plans to add it.  I think it would be nice to at least have these date ranges auto fill in with a pull down menu.  But in the mean time just come here and click the links. Good luck!

UPDATE Nov 26, 2012 – I guess app annie changed their url api or something and possibly went to https..  The links weren’t working.  I fixed the problem.  For now anyway the link format is:

https://www.appannie.com/sales/#view=revenue&start_date=yyyy-mm-dd&end_date=yyyy-mm-dd

Replace the yyyy-mm-dd with your start and end dates.

UPDATE Nov 28, 2012 – Now they’ve even messed up this link format as well.  There is now a /id-number/ after the /sales/.  Mine is a 5 digit number similar to /12345/.  The new link format, at least today, is:

https://www.appannie.com/sales/12345/#view=revenue&start_date=yyyy-mm-dd&end_date=yyyy-mm-dd

Hope they figure out how important date ranges are to their users and fix this.

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