Article in Mobile, Marketing and Growth, App Review, iPhone, iPad categories.

Tea Time With Nik Fletcher of Realmac Software: How Clear Went Viral

Sometimes the simplest of creations can make a surprisingly large impact. Clear, the simple to-do app released for Apple just last month is one such…

Sometimes the simplest of creations can make a surprisingly large impact. Clear, the simple to-do app released for Apple just last month is one such excellent example of this idea. When covered by Fueled, there was no such thought that on its very first launch day, Clear would manage to make it to number one in the App Store - a pretty amazing feat for such a basic premise, one which probably has some of the most competitors of any app category.

The success and hype surrounding the app is clearly a feat of marketing and the method is much simpler than expected. Clear is one of the perfect examples of an app that has thrived on the potency of social media sites. Describing its rise in popularity as a more or less organic process, product manager Nik Fletcher said, “All the hype for the app was driven entirely 'virally'. We simply posted it on Twitter and let it spread naturally. We shot a teaser video that showed off the app and let it spread.”

Fletcher does not hesitate to say, "The success of Clear totally blew us away. We'd carefully previewed - maybe ‘teased’ would be a better word - the app and really worked to show off  the differences between Clear and the hundreds (maybe thousands) of to-do apps. There are lots of small niceties that people really dig, but the time and iterations invested in the app really paid off."

The reviews found in the iTunes store for Clear help to give some perspective into what exactly these "niceties" and “differences” are. For one, quite a few reviewers make it a point to comment on the pleasantness of using a to-do list app that does not have a million features, like OmniFocus. This is something Fletcher points out directly. “We deliberately removed the cruft and unnecessary bulk to make it really easy to do things in the app. Managing your to-dos shouldn't be something you have to do.” Perhaps the most prevalent descriptions one will often come across regarding Clear is its likeness to a neat, pretty, done-up, even sexy, piece of notepad paper to jot notes on.

What was originally a hope that Clear would perhaps just be a “modest success on the App Store,” in actuality developed into the opposite. As Fletcher reports, "demand for the app was an order of magnitude higher than our wildest estimations — by 8 am EST on launch day, we had already hit the number one spot in the US and almost all other App Stores." Eight days later, 350,000 copies had already been sold.

Realmac is currently planning to make Clear available for the iPad. It should be interesting to see how the aesthetic quality of the app, which so many seem to love, will translate over into iPad format.

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