iPhone App Marketing Case Study #2 on GREAT apps

by Brook Lenox on April 9, 2010

My first case study was on overall app strategy.

In this case study, I want to cover app GREATNESS.

In other words, what makes a great app? It’s a little more subjective, but hopefully will give you some insights.

We’ll look at two very different apps: Faces iMake by iMagine machine and QuickReader by Inkstone Software.

I think “great apps” have these elements in common:

  • Visual appeal
  • Simple, but great features
  • Are “Polished”
  • User love (check the reviews/ratings)

Faces iMake


This app is what I call “art meets app”. It’s made by iMagine machine and in conjunction with Hanoch Piven, a world renowned artist.

With Faces iMake you create faces out of everyday stuff.  A banana for a mouth. Train tracks for hair. Toy wheels for eyes.

You get the idea.

Visual Appeal

Created with the focused help of an artist, this app’s visual appeal is amazing. Just look at the icon. Bright, fun, and playful. It stands out. When you spend time in the app it’s like you stepped into his studio.

Simple, but Great Features

Apps should just “make sense”. You open it and just start playing. My 8 year old starting playing with Faces iMake and she needed little/no help from me to make her first face.

But it doesn’t end there. An app that is both simple and full of neat features is harder to find. Play with Faces iMake and I think you see both.


I talked to a marketing type person today who sees hundreds of apps a week and she kept saying “Faces iMake is polished“. She meant that every aspect of it is well done.

We’ve all seen the opposite of that. Apps that just seem to have something missing or don’t work just quite right.

User Love

Apps that knock my first three criteria out of the park get user love. It shows up in the ratings and in the reviews.

Faces iMake is really new, so there aren’t at ton of ratings, but it has an overall 5 star rating at this point and here are some current reviews:

“My kids and I just love this game. They really enjoy that they can create and set a face that appears when my husband calls. A must have app!”.

“Will keep this one! Easy to use and fun to get reactions to portraits of friends.”


QuickReader is a totally different app. It is what it sounds like. It helps you become a better reading. Perfect app for me. I read slightly faster than my 8 year old and half as fast as my 13 year old and wife. I get lots of grief for it.


Visual Appeal

QuickReader has a different visual appeal from Faces iMake, but all the same, a great one. Its a productivity app. When I see the icon and name, it makes sense. It is clear and professional. That goes for the rest of the app as well. The developer used a solid graphic designer. You can tell.

Simple, but Great Features

QuickReader is simple. It highlights words for you at the speed you want, in order to pull you along in your reading ability. You can test your speed and see your progress. There is even a video to show you how it works if you’re confused.


This app is $4.99 and worth every penny. Its graphics, design, layout, and ease of use are top notch.

User Love

QuickReader has gotten quite a bit of user love. It has 4 stars  and here are some of the reviews:

“Very simple but VERY effective. Constantly adding new books.”

“This app was def worth the money. My reading has improved in 3 weeks, and the free books that come with it are great to practice and just to read. WORTH IT!”


If nothing else I hope this gets you asking two questions:

1) Do I have a great app?
2) If not, what do I need to do to make my app great?

Photo credit: mckaysavage

Disclosure: I’ve worked with Inkstone Software in the past and am currently working with iMagine machine.  Regardless of that, these are GREAT apps people. You can learn from them.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Judd Feuerstein April 10, 2010 at 10:08 am

Thanks for this post, Brook. Very interesting.

I’m familiar with the FacesIMake app through indirect relation with Mr. Piven. Great app indeed.

I can’t help wondering how you’d rate my “Audiobook & Podcast Player”. I do think I have a great app but, of course, I’m not objective. FWIW, judging from the encouraging comments my customers make, they think so to.

You can see a quick intro on youtube:

And here’s a link to the application on iTunes (fully functional app is free to install and evaluate):

Looking forward to your comments…

Brook Lenox April 14, 2010 at 8:01 pm

@ Judd – glad you like Faces iMake and enjoyed the post. Crazy busy, don’t have to look at the app. If I do, I’ll email you some comments.

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