What Can I Learn From The Book "App Store Confidential""?

App Store Confidential

Immediately after the publication of the book App Store Confidential by Tom Sadowski, Apple gave the book a big boost by filing dissuasions. Reason enough for me to order the book and read it almost in one go. After all, I am also represented in the store with Merlin Project. And if there is a possibility to learn something in the App Store business, I am always there.

I was particularly interested in the chapter "How do I get featured?". Just because we have never seen Apple promote us with Merlin Project before. Probably project management software is not sexy enough. By the way, this is a fate that many app vendors share with us, while individual vendors are permanent guests in the recommendation lists. But I digress.

Of course, I was also curious about all the secrets in the App Store business; just because the book title includes "confidential". The disappointment comes right in the preface:

„Nor will I reveal any secrets or reveal any confidential matters. All the facts in this book are in the public domain.“ – Tom Sadowski

Well, another book with a lurid title and nothing behind it. I thought it went badly and turned the page. Tom comes out a little more personal at the end of the preface with his goals for the book:

  1. he wants to enlighten
  2. he wants to help
  3. he wants to entertain

All right, I thought so, and turned the page.

Der Weg zu Apple

The way to Apple

Tom entertains with many anecdotes, which are described in some chronological order. I myself have been in the Apple business for over 15 years and am always very interested in what's happening in the industry. So far I thought that I know most of the stories about Apple. After all, I virtually devour all news about and around Apple from all kinds of German and English language sources. But far from it. Many of the stories from the book were not yet known to me, or at least not in the written detail. Did Tom perhaps take the following quote too literally?

„It's better to be a pirate than to join the Navy.“ – Steve Jobs

Completely new for me was of course Tom's career before Apple. Not that it will be part of my general education from now on, but I have discovered one or two funny things in common: Tom as an unsuspecting SAP consultant. I turned the page with a grin.


After about the first third of the book, the story gets into the nuts and bolts. First a few well known statistics, then directly and without beating about the bush my first explanation why I'm not on the Apple radar with Merlin Project

  • Merlin Project is probably not one of the top-selling apps
  • Our software is not of strategic relevance to Apple
  • ProjectWizards is not a startup anymore for a long time

On the following pages, the interested reader will discover many stories about developers, their apps and the relation to Apple. Not really boring, but always with the feeling to have read it before. As an Apple lawyer I wouldn't take my feet out of the desk drawer yet.

Again I find the lessons between the examples great. Truths overwritten as "App-Insider", which should be important for every app developer. Tensely I turned the page.

Success factors & trends

Up to here, Tom Sadowski entertained me just fine. So his third goal is accomplished. But he's still got to do the educating and helping. Definitely in this chapter; because this is also about my business, respectively the business of the company.

First, I learn that for apps, a subscription model is the fastest growing business model. Check - We have it! Then I learn the small but important details that make an app a hit. As an experienced developer most of it is not really new. Nevertheless it is worth reading. In some places, time has overtaken Tom's statement; because there are paid ads on the iOS App Store today. But these are details. I gladly believe most, no, almost all statements. The "Dos and Don'ts" at the end of the chapter round off the story nicely.

The book closes with the trends in which Tom gives his personal outlook on the coming years in the app business.


Yes, I was entertained by Tom Sadowski's book. It has and will also help me through some insights, not least through its enlightenment. In that respect the author has achieved the goals he set for himself. The publisher's goal is certainly fulfilled by the interference of Apple. Even if I personally do not think that business secrets are betrayed here, Apple certainly and rightly measures with its own measure.

Finally, a word of praise for a great additional achievement in the book. The reader finds a QR code on the pages every now and then. With the photo app from the iPhone, the reader is quickly guided to podcasts, songs and more. This is finally a sensible use of QR Codes without having to kill a kitten ;-)

Posted by Frank Blome on February 27th, 2020 under Project Management
Tags: book sreview

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