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Offical boosters for the North of England have been looking at iPhone development, and published a guide for entrepreneurial Northerners on how to get their apps noticed.

Regional development body Northwest Vision and Media body tries to promote development of the digital economy up North, and reckons that iPhone application development is worthy of a punt or two. With that in mind it hired some consultants to find out what makes one iPhone app stand out in the galaxy of mediocrity that is the iTunes store.

The consultants spoke to "a few hundred" iPhone users, and interviewed some of the more-successful development companies, before concluding that it really is a matter of sink or swim, as the report explains: "There's no army of developers doing 'quite well' from modest sales; it's all or nothing."

But those who are making money are doing so thanks to a combination of careful pricing (£2.99 is the sweet spot, according to the report) relentless promotion and not a little luck in being selected by Apple for special attention.

What doesn't help is star ratings, which users are coming to ignore: "People are giving 1-star reviews that are factually inaccurate, or 5-star reviews that make no sense." Equally unhelpful is mainstream press coverage which promotes the application to lots of people who don't have iPhones.

But 90 per cent of iPhone and iPod Touch users are buying applications, surprisingly the latter buying more than the former. A quarter of those questioned had also paid for content from within an application, which bodes well for developers thinking of alternative revenue streams.

The full report has some other statistics, and a liberal sprinkling of hearsay from existing developers - it's worth reading if you're planning, or already doing, iPhone development. ®

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