Alpenglow - Hitting 100 Subscribers
Alpenglow has just hit 100 active subscribers after introducing In-App Subscriptions in October, shortly after iOS 14 was launched. Alpenglow allows users to view Sunrise, Sunset, and Golden Hour times for their location alongside Sunrise & Sunset Forecasts.
Alpenglow started as a free app back in 2016. It looked quite different as the app was focused on crowdsourcing sunrise/sunset quality reports from users to power notifications to other users in the area. While this worked, it required way more users to be really useful across the world. A great example of this idea is the hello aurora app, which crowdsources sightings of the Northern Lights, which is way more localized than the whole globe.
Later in 2016, I became aware of SunsetWX who created a model to forecast sunrise and sunset quality using many meteorological factors. They opened up their API, which I helped beta test for some time in the early versions of a pivoted Alpenglow. The app remained free with no revenue, and once the SunsetWX API became paid, I paid for it out of pocket.
In 2018 I introduced the ability to tip. This covered some of the costs; however, the tip amounts were quite low, and I continued to pay most of the running costs out of my pocket.
At the start of 2020, I made some updates to the app to allow tips to unlock a couple of features. Features included the ability to see further into the future rather than just today and tomorrow, and a more accurate location was used to retrieve forecasts. I think the biggest draw was the ability to subscribe to forecast notifications, which would deliver the forecast for sunrise and/or sunset an hour before. This quickly increased the number of tips to cover 90% of the costs month to month rather than about $10 a month (if lucky).
Apple featured Alpenglow on the App Store Today Page in August. With the feature driving way more downloads, I had to reach out to SunsetWX to see if I could increase the subscription past the currently offered tiers as Alpenglow was very close to hitting its daily request limit. An amazing problem to have! They noticed I had adjusted the tip system and pointed out that the non-commercial subscriptions were no longer applicable according to their terms, increasing the subscription cost five times. Albeit with more headroom for requests.
Net Revenue between December 2018 - October 2020 including the additional tips thanks to the Today Page feature in August
Fortunately, at this time, I was already working away on Alpenglow v6.0 after Apple's World Wide Developer Conference in July. The update ended up being a complete rewrite of the app using SwiftUI and included a restructuring of features within two tiers of In-App Purchases. Alpenglow Plus is unlocked via a one-time tip, and Alpenglow Pro via a subscription that has a monthly, yearly, or one-time lifetime option.
I also introduced the same structure within the Android app, albeit with a more limited feature set while I continue to get the Android app in line with the iOS version.
With 100 subscribers across both iOS and Android, these now cover the SunsetWX subscription. Alpenglow's Subscribers are on course to cover all of the monthly running costs in a couple of months and hopefully a few one-off purchases, including a brand new icon from the talented Michael Flarup.
New subscribers have evened out a little since the October launch's initial hype, but it continues to go in the right direction.
Net Revenue between December 2018 - December 2020 showing the increase from the introduction of Subscriptions & additional unlockable features.
Apple has been in touch for some artwork for a possible feature in the App Store. I've implemented the ability to remotely put free users into a lower usage mode so some value can be provided to all users if it is looking like limits may be hit. SunsetWX has also been super helpful and has temporarily increased my limit if a feature surprises us. I may stick with the increased limit and use the increased limit to power some new features for Plus and Pro users.
I've also been sitting on a watchOS app for a couple of months, trying to ensure that Complications are working smoothly. I planned to release the watchOS app in v6.1 but ended up pushing the submission back multiple weeks before removing it from the release to get the update out.
I'm also working on implementing trials for the Pro tier, with some additional improvements to reveal the savings when going with the yearly vs. monthly option.
I'm hoping to document the journey a little more now that I have a new site & I'm focusing on building up revenue by introducing new features. So watch this space.