It’s the most wonderful time of the year…for free and discounted iPhone apps, that is. Here is your reminder that today marks the return of Standalone Santa Claus app, an initiative launched to help small app developers reach new audiences without having to pay for expensive ads on the App Store. The event, which began in 2020, is now entering its third year, offering both a Twitter feed of offers as well as an advent calendar-style app where iPhone users can unlock a premium app for free or at a deep discount each day.
The deals start today, December 1, 2022, and will run until January 10, 2023. It’s kind of like a month-long Black Friday event, but only for indie apps. While TechCrunch doesn’t typically write about sales or promotions, this one is worth checking out as it inevitably reveals undiscovered gems and helps support the indie app developer community.
This year, the Indie App Santa event will feature 40 deals across an expanded number of categories, including mobile games. Although the names of the apps aren’t published ahead of time, Indie App Santa creator Francois Boulais tells us that at least one app that won an Apple Design Award is making an appearance this year. He also notes that half of the offers presented will be for free downloads of otherwise paid apps instead of just discounts.
Boulais thanks two friends who are helping him organize the event, back-end developer Jean Delasalle and front-end developer Thibault Saint-Germain.
Although participating developers have to offer discounts to join, they end up reaping the rewards in other ways. Beyond the initial wave of users, the increased exposure often helps them to long-term loyal users who also leave higher ratings and reviews. It also gives their app a boost in the App Store rankings around one of the busiest times of the year for downloads – the holidays. And apps that offer other in-app purchases have the potential to enjoy increased sales within days of announcing their offer.
As the developer of Luilux, Christian Lobach, noticed last year, “I spent more money on Search Ads campaigns with much worse results [sic].”
This year’s event kicked off with today’s launch of posture friend, a mobile app that intelligently uses the motion sensors of your AirPods to help you improve your neck, shoulder, and back posture without the need for any additional tracking device. Instead, the app tracks if your neck tilts and sends an alert. Typically, the Pro subscription costs $14.99, according to its Indie App Santa listing, but users today can head to the app’s settings and select a lifetime free plan.
Other offers will be published in the coming weeks, which you can follow on Twitter feed @indieappsanta or by downloading its application. If you choose the latter, you get the experience of tapping on little festive windows that open to reveal the free or discounted app icon. You can then tap on it to learn more about the app and process and install the app on your iOS device. If you choose to support the program through an in-app purchase of $4.99, you will have access to other features such as push notifications to alert you to offers as they arrive, alternative app icons and soon widgets. Many don’t necessarily pay for the feature set, however, they pay to support the program itself – and the app also lets you boost your donation.