This is the first article in our series on Creating a Successful Mobile App. It introduces the concept of creating a mobile app, companies which have achieved incredible financial success and discusses how to turn your app idea into a viable concept.
Mobile Apps are the Future
While there are many exciting industries you could launch into, few are as dynamic and fast paced as the mobile app market. Smartphones are no longer simply for voice calls. Games, productivity tools, video manipulation and social networking are now seamlessly integrated into all aspects of our lives. With more than 700,000 apps available on iTunes and Google Play, there seem to be apps for everything, but still plenty of room for more.
According to analysts, the mobile app space is developing 15 times faster than the internet. For businesses and entrepreneurs, this means the time is ripe for amazing ideas to be unleashed on the app marketplaces and success to be achieved.
With 983 million smartphones are expected to be sold in 2013, it’s predicted that mobile devices will begin to outnumber people by 2017. This is an incredible concept and it’s even more inspiring to consider that these people could one day be your customers.
Movers and Shakers on the App Store
The most financially successful mobile apps have been created by companies that you may never have heard of. Many of these companies reached their success in less than a year and achieved some of the highest grossing mobile games in history.
Danish app developer Supercell are one of these incredible companies, and reportedly generate over USD$750,000 a day from two popular mobile strategy games – Clash of Clans and Hay Day. Supercell hold the title of being one of the fastest growing technology companies in recent years, generating big revenue much faster than traditional startups such as Facebook. King is another lesser known company whose revenue skyrocketed after releasing the fiendishly addictive mobile game, Candy Crush.
However, app store success is not only limited to mobile games. Popular categories such as productivity and photo manipulation are also achieving big sales. A quick search on iTunes shows that task list apps are dime a dozen, yet Realmac Software’s Clear impressively managed 350,000 sales in its first nine days on the App Store. With an abundance of competition, Clear’s success is attributed to a beautiful and intuitive interface, which provides an attractive point of difference from its competitors.
Clear’s story shows that while being a big company with existing brand recognition is advantageous, it is no longer a necessity. Mobile app customers tend to be driven more based on functionality and innovation. This is especially encouraging for small developers.
Fortunately, app store customers can also be influenced through innovative app marketing and app store optimisation (ASO), an area we’ll cover in a later article.
Fine Tuning Your App Idea
As mobile app developers, one of the best pieces of advice we can provide is to do your initial research. It’s extremely important to take a step back, analyse your market and competitors, and attempt to validate your concept. As an example, if you were attempting to sell a new product and didn’t know who your customers were, how would you even begin to market it?
Start with the following questions. What problem is your app solving? Who are your customers? Who are your competitors? Does your app have a point of difference?
Competitor analysis can be achieved using specialist analytics websites such as App Annie. This allows you to see who you’re directly competing against and predict how your app may perform, based on the ranking of similar apps in the sales charts. App Annie provides a full breakdown of iPhone, iPad and Google Play rankings sortable via category, country and pricing model.
Maintaining the secrecy of your app idea is also an important consideration. In some cases, it’s entirely practical to keep your idea under “Apple style” lock and key until it’s ready for public viewing. However, it nearly always makes more sense to speak to friends and potential customers to validate if anyone would purchase it. This also helps to build your customer base for when your app is released.
While no amount of initial research guarantees your app will become the next Instagram, it does help you consider the business objectives of developing an app. This is crucial, as you’re not just building an app and selling it in a marketplace – you’re selling a new product where you need to consider marketing and providing value to your customers.
Our next article discusses how to approach the development phase of your app, Android versus iOS device platforms and how to choose the best development technology for building your app.