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Tap DJ: Creating a success out of the “touchy, black box” that is the App Store

Switch Details: When: Tues., April 26, 6 p.m. Where: Huntsman Hall, University of Pennsylvania Price: $9 Click Here to Get Tickets No, it’s not because Jason and C.C. Laan spend their weekends deejaying local club parties that they decided to create Tap DJ, an iPhone app that lets users mix songs and create samples, mimicking the […]

Switch Details:
When: Tues., April 26, 6 p.m.
Where: Huntsman Hall, University of Pennsylvania
Price: $9
Click Here to Get Tickets

No, it’s not because Jason and C.C. Laan spend their weekends deejaying local club parties that they decided to create Tap DJ, an iPhone app that lets users mix songs and create samples, mimicking the experience.
“It started with a coffee shop conversation. Our goals were initially based around the fact that Apple had released new APIs to access the iPod library. We asked, ‘what can we make with this?” C.C. says. “The first thing that came up was a DJ app.”
What was originally a few cool and interesting features, says C.C., grew organically. “Once we saw the features we had, we thought it could be pretty good app. We created a website and added the extra polish that might push it.”
And those extra features helped. Since launching after six months of development, Laan Labs‘ Tap DJ has been featured by Apple at least 3 times, placing the application in the spotlight, and bumping it within the top ten iOS applications in February. It has been one of the best successes for the company’s independent line of applications. “There were a lot of iPhone DJ apps that do similar stuff. Ours just put all the pieces in the right order.”
[Full Disclosure: Laan Labs will be demoing Tap DJ at Technically Philly’s Switch event on April 26, a part of Philly Tech Week. Tickets are available here.]
So, is there a formula for great app sales?

“It’s such a touchy black box, the App Store. We try different things and we’ve certainly failed several times before.” The firm says its independent apps, like AR Soccer, are mostly “break-even experiences,” that get them attention and pay them back for the time put in.
“But if Apple takes notice of you for some reason, it dwarfs other marketing,” C.C. says. “We took a look at other apps they featured. Most had a nice looking website, everything worked as intended in the app, and it had to be polished and user-friendly.” Every detail was perfected for Tap DJ, even the app’s icon, which is a uniquely three-dimensional representation of a turntable.
The company declined to offer any sales numbers, but said that being featured by Apple did provide spikes. As for news marketing, the company didn’t get traction on sites like TUAW or Gizmodo, but some international iOS review sites did reviews and brought sales.
The Northern Liberties-based company spends half its time developing in-house apps to sell (with more than a dozen produced), like iVideoCamera — the first iPhone 3G video camera application — and half its time consulting with companies on mobile applications. The firm developed TweetDeck’s iPhone application and it’s currently working on video site Vimeo‘s iOS foray.
Though most of the work is completed by Laan brothers Jason and C.C., Laan Labs also contracts out to folks in the region that do mobile application work, looking to groups like Cocoaheads, based at IndyHall.
For now, the company is working on the next version of Tap DJ and focusing on its consulting gigs.
The brothers say that they likely will not charge for new Tap DJ effects packages using Apple’s in-app purchasing system. “Sales were terrible,” C.C. says, when they tried that with the company’s iVideoCamera app. Instead, they may raise the $1.99 price tag of Tap DJ, as comparable apps range anywhere from $5 to $20.
That would only happen, the company says, if they added some more professional DJ features. There are a ton of common requests — in the more than 8,000 feedback emails they brothers have received — like BPM matching, the ability to match two songs up automatically based on beat speed, and more.
How about an iPad version?
“It looks really great on the iPad,” C.C. says. But the company hasn’t yet released an iPad version, citing competition from larger desktop DJ companies.
An educated decision from a group that has experimented in the iOS space.
[tech]YK1lQHHPWJc[/tech]

Companies: Laan Labs

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