"The results of my single app on Windows Phone exceeded my expectations so much that I quit looking for a job."
In less than one year, Eddie Kezeli, the mastermind of ProShot—an innovative camera app that is ranked among the Top Paid Apps—drove his app to obtain a trial-to-paid conversion rate of 28 percent, one of the highest rates of any app in the Windows Phone Store. Kezeli graduated from college just a few years ago and no longer needs a day job; the revenue from ProShot affords him the luxury to do what he loves most—develop apps and games for the Windows Phone platform. The runner-up of last year’s Next App Star contest has achieved enormous success with a $0 marketing budget. In this blog, he tells about his approach and winning strategies.
Kezeli came up with the idea to develop ProShot when he read the Lenses API documentation shortly after the Windows Phone 8 SDK was released. He says, “The Lenses API is what started my thought process and I let my imagination run wild, drawing upon my childhood fascination with cameras to design my dream camera app. From conception to completion, ProShot took three weeks of intense day-and-night labor. I really wanted to be the first to put a comprehensive and professional camera app out there.”
ProShot empowers photography professionals and beginners alike to make the most of their Windows Phone camera; the application provides a wide array of manual controls and shooting modes and options that allow shutterbugs to be more creative. “Lenses API – unique to Windows Phone – gave me the edge over similar apps on other platforms, allowing me to draw upon my interests to create a great app: ProShot is the first camera app on any platform to offer manual focus, and it is home to the world's first real-time filter editor, allowing for over 2.11 trillion filter combinations,” says Kezeli.
Kezeli believes that user experience is paramount, along with great design, but he focuses first on experience. “Windows Phone Camera API is the most accessible and robust among similar APIs on the three major mobile platforms. I leveraged it effectively and designed the UI to be almost completely flat, offering users access to the entire spectrum of camera features and settings, in real-time, and without the need to dig through traditionally complex menus. I focused primarily on the user experience and honed the UI over a few iterations,” he says.
“ProShot includes several shortcuts and workflow optimizations to aid users in quickly switching settings during moments that they do not want to miss. By focusing on performance and operation, I made ProShot a stand-out product for professionals as well as enthusiasts,” says Kezeli.
According to Kezeli, “A good design will attract potential users, but a satisfying experience will retain them and keep them coming back for more. Having both [good design + UX] is, of course, the ideal combination,” he states.
Explaining his choice of selecting Windows Phone as his exclusive development platform, Kezeli says, “I wasn't satisfied with my previous experiences developing for iOS, and I was worried about hardware compatibility issues with Android. When I picked up my first Windows Phone device, I was instantly enamored by the UI, and I was inspired to create. Besides, as far as C-based languages go, C# is about a billion times easier to work with than Objective C; I also love using Visual Studio and can not imagine ever using another IDE. It's fast, user friendly, and easy to understand.”
Free trial to buy has proven to be an effective monetization strategy for Proshot. Kezeli says, “Free trial-to-buy is a unique capability on the Windows Phone platform. This feature has allowed me to significantly expand my user base. The fact that ProShot enjoys one of the highest trial-to-paid conversion rates (28%) on the Windows Phone Store demonstrates the effectiveness of this feature.” At $1.99, the app—which offers superior and unique features—has been priced to ensure a high likelihood of purchase.
To increase the opportunities for monetization, Kezeli recently integrated in-app purchasing into ProShot. “I saw many apps on all major mobile platforms charging $0.99 for filter packs. I was monitoring my users’ feedback, and I decided to offer 2.11 trillion filters for a one-time price of $0.99. That’s good value for my users,” he says.
ProShot enjoys the advantage of being an early mover in the camera app space. “I pushed myself hard during development to be the first to market. ProShot v1.0 was the only professional camera app in the Windows Phone Store at the time, and that definitely gave me a competitive advantage,” Kezeli explains, adding that, “The Lenses marketplace -- a unique market that gives photo apps extra visibility -- was crucial in gaining traction early on.”
Kezeli monitors user feedback to improve his app. “As the app evolved, I learned that not all people want to be professional photographers; they just want to take great pictures. And with that in mind, I focused on bringing the most-used features to the front of the UI. By monitoring user feedback, I have not only expanded my target demographic, I have also created happy users who will in turn bring more users,” he says, expanding on his belief that one’s product is one’s most important marketing tool. “If you can build a product that is unique and powerful, there will always be users to support you.”
Kezeli has further expanded his target audience by localizing the application; he currently offers versions of the application in Traditional and Simplified Chinese and German. Soon, he plans to also release ProShot in Spanish, French, and Korean. Localizing, says Kezeli, is important: “The biggest download spike I ever saw for ProShot (excluding the week it was featured as a Red Stripe Deal), was the day my Chinese localizations went live. If your app is somewhat popular, others from the community will reach out to you with offers to translate in their local language for free. I strongly encourage fellow developers to localize their apps.”
Finally, Kezeli regularly contacts bloggers whose content relates to his camera app. He also is regular on Windows Phone forums such as WPCentral. “By responding to users’ questions on the forums and acting quickly on their suggestions, I have earned myself the most effective marketing—word-of-mouth,” he says.
In addition, Kezeli got help from Microsoft and Nokia and from winning second place in the Next App Star competition. Microsoft promoted his app by including ProShot in the international app highlights section. And the Nokia DVLUP team helped spread the word through articles, tweets, and app highlights. “I simply love the sense of community on Windows Phone; everyone is extremely supportive and wants me to succeed,” says Kezeli.
“The results of my single app on Windows Phone exceeded my expectations so much that I quit looking for a job. ProShot and my story would not have been possible on other platforms, from the Lenses marketplace to the APIs, to the help I've received from Microsoft and Nokia, the Next App Star contest, etc,” says Kezeli, who is now starting a new project – an action / puzzle game with RPG elements. “Originally I’d planned to fund my new project with the proceeds from ProShot sales, but thanks to support from the AppCampus program, I have been able to hire help, expand the project’s scope, and decrease my time to market.” He advises developers to innovate: “Explore, experiment, invent, and you will succeed.”
Eddie KezeliDeveloper, ProShot @RiseUpGames