Self-funded and hailing from Russia, Buy Me A Pie! is boasting some big numbers: The cloud-powered grocery list maker for iOS now claims 2 million downloads for the fully-featured version of its app — a version that is normally priced at $2.99 but has at times been heavily discounted and even given away for free as part of an ‘organic’ growth strategy that the app’s developer says is bearing fruit.
Buy Me A Pie! also gets a significant update today that sees ‘app gifting’ functionality introduced, making it easy for friends, housemates and family members to purchase the app for each other, motivated by the convenience of sharing and synchronising their grocery shopping lists.
“It’s pretty hard to get any downloads these days, even free downloads, for iOS apps”, says Oleg Nederev, CEO of Skript, the company behind the app. “The cost to acquire free users is very high and starts from 50 cents per user and up to several dollars but we got these downloads organically which is a sign of a good app.”
A sign of a good app, maybe. Buy Me A Pie! is certainly well designed and simple to use, ratcheting up an average user rating of 4.5/5 in the App Store globally. It’s powerful too — the built-in cloud storage and synchronisation across Web and iOS clients sets it apart from most of the simple list-making apps out there, competing most directly with VC-funded ZipList. But it’s also a sign of good marketing. That organic growth strategy has included regular app promotions and giveaways, temporarily reducing the app’s price to zero in order to drive visibility in the App Store.
Nederev tells me that it’s regularly featured in the top 25 of the Productivity category in countries such as Italy, Brazil, Russia, Spain, and Canada. Meanwhile, weekends see the highest number of downloads, when Nederev says that most people do their grocery shopping and that this quite often sees Buy Me A Pie! enter the Productivity top ten in the U.S.
During those promotions, the app’s rank goes even higher, and has been known to enter the top 60 overall worldwide, driving as many as 500k downloads in a week. That’s translated into pretty impressive growth — as recently as May, Buy Me A Pie! claimed a total of just 1 million downloads — although Nederev won’t talk about revenue, except to say that the app is profitable.
Breaking the numbers down further, the country that the app garners the greatest number of downloads is the U.S., which Nederev attributes to being the most mature iOS market. Next up is Germany, followed by Italy, Russia and Brazil. It’s interesting to note that the UK isn’t in the top 5, but then Buy Me A Pie! is a global play, having been translated into seven languages: English, French, Italian, German, Russian, and with today’s update, Spanish and Portuguese.
The ‘paid’ version of the app is used by around 40,000 users per-day on average or around 120,000 users a week.
Skript, the company behind Buy Me A Pie!, is perhaps an interesting story in itself. It hails from the city of Ulyanovsk in Russia which resides about 900 km from Moscow, sharing a home with Russian startups such as ECWID.com and aboutecho.com. But it would be hard to class Skript itself as a startup based on the age of the company alone. Founded in 2004, it’s been around for a while, having recently changed tack to focus solely on mobile apps.
“In 2010 we decided to try creating mobile products and now in two years all our company’s resources are allocated to creating mobile products”, says Nederev.
Buy Me a Pie! has been the most successful so far and the company plans to keep improving it, including releasing an Android version which Nederev says is currently in the works. The team is also working on iOS game, which is yet to be officially released.