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Why universal iPad/iPhone apps are good for users but bad for a developers’ rankings

An app developer of iPhone® and iPad™ apps, Evan McMahon of Veiled Games.com, pointed out something to consider when doing app development for the iPhone and iPad—the app only counts on the ranking for the iPhone or the iPad, splitting the count for a universal app. 

In the end, all apps want to score it big in the iPhone app ranks.  Evan pointed out that there is an additional consideration when designing a universal app (a single application that can be run on the iPhone as well as the iPad), and the way it is counted in the ranking.  With a universal app, purchases on the iPhone count for iPhone rankings only, purchases on the iPad count for iPad rankings only, and purchases in the iTunes desktop application count for iPhone rankings only. Also, if the intended use for the app is iPad and purchased through iTunes, it is counted as an iPhone app.  Therefore, creating a universal app creates value for the user as they can use the app on both the iPhone and iPad, but as a developer, creates a possible disadvantage since it splits the count in the rankings.

Another situation that arises from this scenario is the inability to create different price points for the iPhone and iPad app to capitalize on the different price tolerances of the two markets.  

Creating a universal app is advantageous to the user, but as a developer attempting to optimize the revenue generated from the app, the developer must choose the most effective pricing and sales strategy possible.  It is a difficult balance for developers who want to provide the most utility for users while fully monetizing the investment in the application. 

Creating a universal app and how it affects your app ranking is another thing to consider when doing app development for iPhone and iPad apps.  Please comment if you have additional tips for app developers.