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In September 2014, Apple opened up its mobile operating system, iOS 8 to third-party keyboards. Before this, the Ĝusta Klavaro was available, but it was a separate app where you typed and then copied and pasted its contents to where you wanted them–not very convenient. Due to this new feature of iOS 8, two Esperanto iPhone keyboards were released this month: one by the Esperanto game company, Ludisto, and another by Viacheslav Shklyaev. [Full disclosure: I personally run Ludisto, the creator of the first keyboard.]
Esperanto-Klavaro was released on January 4, 2015 and cost $5. According to an interview with Libera Folio, Shklyaev did not like that this cost $5 and had the Ludisto company logo on it, so he made his own Esperanta Klavaro, released on January 20. It’s also of interest to note that both keyboards used the open source project Tasty-Imitation-Keyboard as a foundation to build them.
On January 27, I made Esperanto-Klavaro free to celebrate the launch of our new iPad board game What the Shell (also playable in Esperanto). I assumed the keyboard would last a little longer as a revenue-generating project, but I don’t regret it. It brought Esperanto keyboards to iPhone owners around the world and earned our company a little, which I can now invest into further developing our Esperanto games. Now that the Esperanto-Klavaro has run its time as a paid app, I’m now delighted to show you the results of this commercial Esperanto venture.
Strictly from a business point of view, earning 215€ (US$240) from nine days of work was a pretty big commercial failure, but I was mostly working on it out of idealism, so it doesn’t bother me too much. To put this in perspective, keep in mind that it’s not too unusual for an iOS developer to make 400€ (US$450) per day! In any case, I think it’s interesting to see data from an experimental project just to get a feel for the Esperanto iOS app market.
Of course, another interesting statistic is how this breaks down by country. Given that the iPhone’s primary market is the United States, it is no surprise that this is the strongest country by far in sales. I was, however, a little surprised at Japan coming in second place. I was aware that there are many Esperanto speakers there, but I had forgotten how strong the iPhone market is there. In any case, Japan and France usually provide the second and third most participants of the Universala Kongreso de Esperanto (the first is usually the host country), so I suppose this shouldn’t have surprised me so much.
Have you considered pursuing a commercial project in Esperanto? What were your results?
Note: All screenshots were taken from Ludisto’s account on appfigures.com.