Today Internet abounds with infinite number of collections which tell about applications for iPhone. In general they tell about the same – the popular, free and even useless widgets. Considering the app industry is less than a decade old, it’s become one of the fastest growing markets in the country. We’ve all heard the stories of developers coming up with an ingenious idea for an app, then going on to rake in mounds of cash after it becomes popular in the Apple App Store.
How many times has a friend showed you his or her favorite new iPhone app, and you lamented: Why didn’t I think of that? With total application downloads from Apple’s iTunes app store topping three billion, and monthly sales of upwards of $200 million, the marketplace for apps is booming. If you’re a designer or programmer, how can you afford not to be creating apps? Well, it’s not quite that simple.
Greg Trefry, a veteran game designer, says “There are so many apps out there, it’s an extremely crowded market so that the barrier to entry is so low and the barrier to success is so high. But you’re not necessarily aiming to have the biggest game out there, so there’s still room to make a business out of it if you’re trying to capture a certain audience.”
Therefore, here are several tips for those who choose to start their own business and succeed.
In a market where everyone wants in on the action, as an app creator, you have two big hurdles. The first is creating an app worthy of a favorable review upon submission to the Apple iTunes App Store. The second is promoting your app so that it breaks through the pack and sells well. Though there’s a lot of negative hype concerning the first hurdle, developers generally say that getting their app approved isn’t the struggle it’s made out to be. Apple’s standards for apps do restrict some racy and pornographic content, and the company excludes apps that, in its view, do not enhance the iPhone experience or that duplicate existing iPhone features. When it comes to fresh, inventive content, however, most apps are readily approved.
Promoting Your App
After an app has been approved and is listed for sale in the iTunes App Store, your next goal is to get customers to download it. To some extent, this process becomes a chicken-and-egg scenario. Vaulting into a top-selling category is the best way to encourage sales – but you first must have sales to rank highly within a category. Fortunately, the process of gaining exposure isn’t completely out of your hands. Apple features new apps daily. What does it take to win over Apple’s support? Good design is important.
Looking good is a matter of solid design. Enlist a designer to help create the interface a user will experience, as well as the logos and screen shots that will appear on the Apple iTunes App Store. This collateral is the first thing a potential buyer will see, so maximizing its impact is crucial.
Besides design, being polished includes being technically solid. If you are developing the app yourself, you may want to consider bringing on a programmer who is well-versed in Objective-C to help you; though apps can be built using other programming languages, this version of C++ is the standard. You should also be sure to give your app the full battery of beta-testing it needs before you make your submission. An inexpensive way to test it is to distribute it among friends and solicit feedback. Just remember: Without smooth functionality, your app will be dead in the water.
Leveraging Your Existing Business
If you already have a business, creating an app – or multiple apps – to enhance your clients’ experience can be a tremendous opportunity. Often, a small business is already filling a niche – and can also do so when their client is on the move. Take the case of Yelp, the online review site. Its iPhone app not only provides its standard customer-reviews, but can also tap into GPS to allow a user to find nearby businesses.
So, thinking along the lines of “what do we already do, and how can it be used on the go?” is a great place to start. Look for an area that will be a natural extension, or a macro view of what you do.
Think Big or Think Tiny
Some of the most successful apps are the most complex: Location-aware, social-networking-capable apps such as Whrrl, FourSquare or Glympse. And some of the most successful apps are very simple, one-off jokes. It may be that the best app for you is limited in scope.
Simple apps, the kind people whip out at parties to emulate chugging a beer (iBeer) or wielding a light saber (Lightsaber Unleashed), require far less up-front time designing and programming. And if you haven’t invested a lot of time into developing a simple app, you can afford to make it inexpensive. In a best-case scenario, with minimal marketing such apps can go socially viral. Then again, if it doesn’t sell, no biggie: just try again.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, complex, multi-faceted apps that are born most often out of an existing business or business model, and can require a team of designers working for weeks or months. This model is best for existing websites and businesses that can add value through creating an app. With these, you’re going for polish, perfection, and possibly a higher price-point. What’s more, complex apps need to be sticky to be effective. That’s where marketing comes in.
In the middle ground stand a host of simple-concept games with great graphical interfaces. If you look at the App Store’s top 10 sellers for paid apps at any given time, most of them are games (as example Poker App). Games that either educate or temporarily amuse, especially ones that anyone from age 4 to an adult can understand and appreciate, are almost always in demand.
Flaunt What You’ve Got
Once your shiny new app is available in the App Store marketplace, visibility is vital to profitability. Getting into the App Store’s top 100 – much less top 10 – list is of course the best way to see sales soar. If that’s just not happening for you, start small. Build an audience from the ground-up.
Trefry says “It’s not necessarily the day that comes out that it needs to have blockbuster sales. Think about what audience you’re going after, and how that person interacts with their device.”
So that wish you good luck and patience to achieve your goal! 🙂
Thank you for your attention and as always you are welcome with your comments!
Business Development Manager