HazeOver Consíguelo en el Mac App StoreVersión de prueba

HazeOver Story:
Life Hacker to Product Hunt.

My workspace turns into a mess in no time. I have notes, pencils, papers and books scattered all over the table. I don’t like it so I force myself to clean it up every few days. It gets even worse on my computer Desktop. Open windows, documents, browser tabs, developer tools and notes taken in multiple TextEdit windows. I keep track of what I need to do by having all these items around as reminders. It’s the same reason I have paper notes on my table. Besides, I find it satisfying to toss away crumpled paper notes and close related windows when I’m done with something.

Looks like nothing has changed in my work process since 2007 when the idea of HazeOver was first conceived. I had been developing Windows shareware programs at that time and I was looking for a way to manage my window chaos and improve productivity. Here’s what this very website looked like back then: HazeOver on Web Archive.

LifeHacker

I did not get to develop HazeOver until a few years after I started developing Mac software. Using Mac OS X API to work with other apps and their active windows turned out to be tricky, but in 2011 the app was finally released on the Mac App Store. I tried to promote the app with little success until HazeOver got mentioned on the LifeHacker. The single publication made HazeOver #1 Top Paid US productivity app and #5 Top Paid US app out of the blue. Mind you this was the time back when Angry Birds games were all over the place. And my app got them pushed down to #6. This was overwhelmingly exciting.

HazeOver at #5 spot on the US Mac App Store. April, 2011.
HazeOver at #5 spot on the US Mac App Store. April, 2011.

Despite positive ratings and user feedback, HazeOver turned out be a flash in a pan. A few days later it got off the charts like it’s never been there. Sales completely flatlined shortly after and I was left with a bitter-sweet aftertaste of my 15 minutes of app store fame.

HazeOver Mac App Store sales. April, 2011.
HazeOver Mac App Store sales. April, 2011.

Then came the Mac App Store sandboxing restrictions which made HazeOver fate especially gloomy. The app relies on Accessibility features not available in sandboxed apps and every update could get the app rejected or completely booted off the app store. Being merely a hobby project, HazeOver got shelved for a few years. There was no clear perspective and little incentive developing it.

From time to time I returned to the project to catch up and get practice with technologies that I could not otherwise implement yet in my production apps due to backward compatibility requirements. Namely ARC, Auto Layout, Base Localization and then Swift. I also spent some time rejuvenating my drawing, sketching and design skills to create the new icon, UI and website for HazeOver. This eventually lead to a quiet unnoticed release of the new version of HazeOver in March 2015.

Product Hunt

In late May 2015 I stumbled upon a Russian article about Product Hunt promotion guide based on MailBurn success story. With little expectation I contacted a few product hunters to help me publish the app on the PH. The next morning (noonish, to be honest) I woke up, read a reply from Bram Kanstein and found out that HazeOver got featured on the front page of Product Hunt. The product held #5 spot among the products of the day. This started a 3 day marathon of commenting, twitting, emailing old customers, pitching web sites, replying to feedback, sending out promo codes and monitoring Google Analytics and App Store rankings like crazy. This was an exhausting but incredibly electrifying experience. Product hunters’ response was remarkably positive and helpful. My creation got praised with reviews and ratings on the Mac app store as well. The app briefly peaked as the #3 Top Paid US app, beating my personal record of 2011. Other countries quickly followed to embrace Hazeover in their top paid charts: Russia #1, China #3, Germany #9, Australia #9, UK #10 among many others.

HazeOver at #3 spot on the US Mac App Store. June, 2015.
HazeOver at #3 spot on the US Mac App Store. June, 2015.

The sales were no less impressive: +5575% revenue after a single publication on Product Hunt. That is especially remarkable given that this is not a new product: it’s been sitting on the Mac App Store for years.

HazeOver revenue surge. June, 2015.
HazeOver revenue surge. June, 2015.

The most characteristic response to the app is actually expressed in the very first sentence of Product Hunt publication: “I didn't know I needed this til I downloaded it!”. This might be the reason that for the second time in the history of this tiny project it turns into a pumpkin the minute an unexpected spotlight leaves it. My efforts to promote HazeOver beyond the Product Hunt publication did not come to much success so far. I guess it requires a certain amount of reputation and social media authority to pursue your audience and followers into trying out this kind of product. It’s hard to market and sustain demand for something that people don’t know they need even when they see it. Nonetheless it has been a damn fun ride. Exactly like the rollercoaster. I want to go another round event if it means waiting and pushing in the line for the sake of mere moments of excitement.

HazeOver.com user sessions. June, 2015.
HazeOver.com user sessions. June, 2015.

Consíguelo en el Mac App StoreVersión de prueba