How My Appbackr Experience Failed My Expectations

Appbackr is a marketplace where everyone can crowdinvest in IPhone apps and Android apps. The way it works is that investors prefund future sales of apps. The investor buys the copies at a lower wholesale prices and makes a profit later, when the copies actually sell in the app store. I described the concept in more detail in my article ‘Experimenting with Appbackr – Promising and Trecherous‘. In the 6 month that have passed since that review, my experience turned worse.

There are two major problems with Appbackr

  1. Even when Apps achieved the sales of the copies the investors have pre- purchased, then it still frequently happens that the investors do not get payed on time. The information given in the dashboard (see screenshot) is useless, because the given dates lapse without payment or notice. On March 24th, the payout schedule said I would be paid 53 US$ for sales of the SOS Friends Alert App – the date passed, no payment arrived, no information was given.
    Even worse the interface is no help at all in keeping track – it just pretends the payment arrived (for the SOS Friends Alert app the status is ‘Completed’ saying 57 US$ earned 12 US$ profit, while in reality I did not receive any payments for this app so far. The backrs are left to manually keep track on their own.
  2. Appbackr has no means to enforce agreements with developers. Two concept apps I funded (Boogie Monster and Glass Ceiling) are 6 and 4 months past announced launch date – again no notice, nothing happening. Vy Nguyen, Manager Finance at Appbackr answered my complaints in January saying: ‘appbackr will try its best to enforce the contracts facilitated on its marketplace, but as the actual contract is between the Developer and Buyer, we can only negotiate on your behalf. Similar to other marketplaces, the main communications should be between the Developers and Buyers, with appbackr’s role being to facilitate that communication.
    Our goal in making payment details available in the myappbackr dashboard was to help backrs of multiple apps reconcile their monthly payments from appbackr, track down exactly which payments, if any, have been delayed, and contact the developer directly as necessary. We do have a late payment notification in place, but it is only set to go out to backrs when the payment is delayed for longer than 1 month.’. That sounds pretty weak to me.

Furthermore Appbackr is taking steps in the wrong direction. They removed (without explanation) the statistics tab which I predominately used to screen and select IPhone apps on the marketplace to invest in. Continue reading

Experimenting with Appbackr – Promising and Treacherous

In August I discovered Appbackr. Appbackr is a marketplace where everyone can invest in IPhone apps and Android apps. Crowdfunding for app development? That sounded very interesting and innovative. I read the information supplied and the way it works is that investors prefund future sales of apps. The investor buys the copies at a lower wholesale prices and makes a profit later, when the copies actually sell in the app store. Clearly the risk is the uncertainty as to when the prepurchased copies will sell or if the sales volume will not be high enough at all and the copy will not get sold, which will result in a total loss of that investment.

Funding is done during an open bidding period. The developer lists his app on the marketplace and provides a description and information what the funding will be used for. Provided a minimum reserve is met, the funding will be successful, even if the maximum amount the developer seeks is not reached during bidding period.

Concept versus Live Apps

Appbackr differentiates between ‘Live Apps’ and ‘Concept Apps’.

A ‘Live App’ is already online in the Apple or Android Store and has started selling. For most Apple Apps Appbackr provides sales stats, which allow an educated guess how good the app is selling. The markup investors earn on Live Apps is 27% (once they are sold).

A ‘Concept App’ is an app that is under development or just an idea with a plan. The developer states a date, when he plans to launch in the store. For ‘Concept Apps’ the markup is 54%. The higher margin reflects the added risk for possible developing problems, which could in a worst case scenario lead to the app never making it into a store with zero copies sold.

A major difference between these two kind of apps is that the payout for ‘Live Apps’ is ‘sequential’ whereas the payout for ‘Concept Apps’ is ‘simultaneus’, meaning that those investors, who invested first during the bidding period ,get paid first for sales of Live Apps (you are informed how many copies need to sell before your copies will sell). For the ‘Concept Apps’, each backr will receive a fraction of each sale. That means you only get full payout for ‘Concept Apps’ after the last funded copy has been sold, too.

I had a good start – everything looked promising

After a lot of reading and browsing I did my first purchases/investments in early September. And it looked like I had a lucky start with good picks.

Screenshot of the Appbackr Dashboard for my Apps in status ‘Completed’. I unfolded the details for the AppZilla 2 app and the iScape App. It shows that ‘my’ 100 copies of iScape sold over the course of only 7 days. For the AppZilla 2 app it went even better. It took only 1 day for all ‘my’ 500 copies to sell. Note that Appbackr calculates annualized profit solely on the duration of the sales period. De facto I purchased the copies on Sep., 5th and was paid back $330.60 on Nov., 7th. My money was tied up for roughly two month which translates to a tremendous annualized profit of roughly 160%. Continue reading