If you use a lot of productivity apps on iOS, the chances are one of them was made by Readdle. The Ukrainian company has built some of the biggest and best software for getting things done, including Spark, Scanner Pro, and PDF Expert.
Readdle launched its first app in 2007, just a few months after the very first iPhone went on sale. Since then, it has built 40 products and assembled a team of 135 people in eight locations around the world.
This week, Readdle hit a major milestone: 100 million downloads. Here’s how it happened.
Readdle was never a typical software startup. It started small and with zero outside funding, and over the years, it has turned down numerous acquisition offers. All of its success, and every one of its products, is a direct result of revenue made from its users.
Out of the 40 products Readdle has built over the years, 32 have failed. And yet, 11 years since releasing its first app, Readdle is thriving. It still hasn’t accepted outside investment, and its apps are more popular than ever.
So, what make Readdle so great?
The road to 100 million downloads
When Readdle’s co-founders held the first iPhone in their hands, before an App Store even existed, they saw an opportunity to create something special. They started with an app that allowed users to read books, three years before Apple would release its own iBooks app.
Their mission was simple: They wanted to help people do more with mobile devices and be more productive on the move. With every product, they set out to solve one problem that many users faced, in a way that’s easy to understand.
Scanner Pro, Readdle’s first smash hit, is a terrific example of this. It was designed with the sole purpose of turning an iPhone into a document scanner that’s always with you. It wasn’t the first scanner app, but its quality and simplicity made it the best.
Scanner Pro is now the number one business app in over 20 countries around the world, despite a long and ever-growing list of free alternatives. And it’s not the only Readdle app that you’ll find in the App Store’s top charts.
Putting the user first
Another key to Readdle’s success is that it always puts its users first. It sacrifices quick and easy cash to provide a better user experience and to do “what’s right” for its fans. It charges for most of its apps, but it ensures we get good value for money.
One app Readdle does offer for free is Documents, which made it easy to manage files on iOS long before Apple delivered a Files app of its own. Documents attracts 1 million users every month, but Readdle won’t serve them ads because it knows this will ruin the experience.
“We know exactly what people want, what they ask for, and we refine our roadmap and keep improving our products all the time,” the company says. “In the last year alone, we’ve answered over 130,000 emails from our users.”
When something isn’t working, Readdle knows when to cut its losses.
Learning from the mistakes
It’s not easy to be successful on the App Store, and many developers have to learn this the hard way. Readdle has invested time and money into apps that weren’t successful, and has had to endure many failures over the years.
AniGIF was one of them. The simple tool turned photos into GIFs, but it launched at a time when GIFs weren’t as popular — long before they filled every comments section on the internet.
PDF Office, launched in 2014, allowed users to turn paper forms into PDFs that could be filled on an iPad. It was priced at $39.99 a year, a fraction of the cost of rival solutions, but iOS users just weren’t ready to embrace subscription-based services.
Readdle even launched three games — one of which played very similarly to the hugely successful Flappy Bird — but they were “spectacular failures,” it says.
A focus on productivity
Despite being unsuccessful, those games helped Readdle realize that it had to focus on what it does best. It now spends its resources on what it calls the three pillars of productivity — email, documents, and calendars — and it’s paying off.
Readdle has hit 100 million downloads, and it’s confident it can reach 1 billion down the road. But what’s more exciting, the company says, is that it knows it can “fix really big problems in tech and create the best experiences.”
“It’s phenomenal to witness how productivity trends goes mainstream, and how many people use their mobile devices to get things done,” Readdle’s Denys Zhadanov told Cult of Mac.
“Our ultimate goal is to enable new technologies to people so we all can save time, letting the machines do the job.”
To try out Readdle’s awesome apps for yourself, find them all in the App Store here.