How to build Apps Business
Date: Monday , October 03, 2011
Mobile applications have become a technological battlefield today. The market has "exponential growth" phenomenon and downloads are predicted to reach 4 billion this year alone; rising to 21 billion by 2013. This isn't surprising when you look at the number of smartphones in the market and the worldwide shipments are reported to surpass 390 million by 2013; growing at a rate of 20.9 percent per year.
A new report from the research firm Canalys indicates that the direct revenue from mobile app stores will almost double within the next year, to hit figures of $14.1 billion a 92 percent rise from an expected $7.3 billion in 2011.
According to the Germany-based research2guidance, Android would surpass Apple's App Store by August 2011. The firm expects Android Market to reach 425,000 apps next August, effectively overtaking App Store in size.
The good news for application developers is that, as the number of smartphone users increase, so does the demand for a wide range of mobile applications. Today App business is billion-dollar-Pie and everyone is jumping in to take their part of pie. The only question that remains is how do you take advantage of this opportunity, when there are already so many apps out there, and more constantly being developed? But it's never too late.
At Amitech Business Solutions, we decided to get into the App business in January 2011; the next thing we had to think about, was the platform. We had few options: iOS, Android, and Blackberry to choose from. I have been iDevices fan so went for iOS and the next February we launched our first iOS app BeatMaster. After a month, we ventured into our first Android app. We realized that, for new developers the Apple's App Store platform is better to lookout, as Return-on-Investment are higher in iOS, than any other platform. There's no doubt Android Market will at some point offer more applications for download and/or purchase than Apple's App Store, as the latter's growth has been slowing down of late, while the Android application store's growth rate has been accelerating.
How to Get Started?
Idea: All it takes is a Good Idea. The idea can be entertaining, or a problem solver. There are unlimited possibilities what you can do with mobile devices. Your Idea can target a people, or category of store. Market research can help you, if there is already an app similar to your Idea-Read the reviews and comments of users in App store, and enhance your Idea. It's not always needed to do market research; there are hundreds of examples that developers have put wired Apps which have broken records. (Like iFart)
Select a Technology
Android: Get yourself an Android phone and an Android SDK. You must register to be able to distribute your products through the Android Market. There is a onetime registration fee of $25.
iOS: To develop iOS, you need a Mac Computer and an iPhone/ iPad to test your Apps on the device. Get enrolled in the Apple iOS developer program, which costs $99/year. Download the iOS SDK and development kit from member area.
Cross-Platform: There are some tools, which allow you to deploy application in multiple mobile formats. That saves time and money, if done right way. HTML5 developers can make mobile applications with the PhoneGap or Titanium Mobile frameworks. Advanced game development softwares like Unity3D, also deploys games in multiple platforms. Still, you will need to join Developer programs, to publish your apps to the App store.
Gather the Team
If you are a developer, you can start on your own, but for sophisticated Apps its team game. If you are an entrepreneur having no developing experience, you need a good team of developers, and a good UI designer.
Don't forget to research your competitor's app, and solve and add features which they lack. Make blueprints of the screens of the App you are planning; sketch the screens. For sophisticated app, you may sketch screen in different resolutions and landscape/portrait modes of your choice.
Designing is most important thing in App development. If you are a developer, hire a designer to design the UI and screens of your App. Design is very important, as you get few seconds to attract the customer when your app is listed in the App Store. Research says that an eye-caching icon increases the sales. What Customer can see before buying, are the Screenshots of the App. Good UI design is an important factor affecting app sales.
Work on the app, according to prototype. If you don't have a team, you can hire developers from Odesk, or other freelancer portals. Developers must follow the iOS Human Interface Guidelines; read the guidelines once. Application having bad or inaccessible UI might get rejected from App Store. Get the advantage of Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass, and other hardware sensors.
Testing and Polishing
Test your apps in all possible versions of iPhone/iPad, or other devices. It's highly recommended to test on a device, because many bugs and crashes happen only on hardware. Crashing of your app will cause the negative reviews on your App page, and high return rate. Polishing the app will make a major difference. Enhance the app with animations, Social sharing options, functionality to ask users to review your app, and custom loading animations.
Prepare for Submission
Once your app is ready, developers need to do several tasks, like configuring different sizes of icons, screenshots, and signing binary with provisional certificate. After submission of app, Apple takes 3–to-7 days to test and approve your application.
Market your App
App Store is a competitive environment; more companies and marketplaces release more applications. Against more than 140,000 apps, all screaming for attention, how do you make sure your app gets its time in the spotlight? Get a nice website and a Facebook fanpage. Decide the launch date, and write press releases and Blogposts; be interesting and Tweetable, post video reviews on YouTube. Send promo codes to famous blogs, and app websites to review your app. The App might get picked by famous websites, like TechCrunch, or LifeHacker ; TUAW gives high peak in app sales. You can also run an ad-campaign on ad-networks, like Admob and iAds to get targeted downloads. Getting more downloads and reviews in initial days of launch will help to get your app gain good position and get featured in stores. Massive quantities of mobile apps create competition to stay viable. A price drop, for few days will also help to get more reviews on paid-apps.
Keep a track, Give updates
Now your app is generating good revenues from Appstore, but your job is not over. To generate revenue for long term, you should keep a track of your users. Read the reviews they write on App Store and check crash logs. Fix the issues and problems users facing, add new features, enhance the app, and release an Update.
Those were 10 steps to launch your first App in the market. Now you can try different ways for monetizing your app and generate some extra revenue.
Download revenue can be more complex, as it involves pricing strategy. The secret to maximize download revenue, is pricing. The most popular paid applications are priced between $0.99 and $3.99; with a predominance of 99 cents applications. These applications are what we call, the "big-fast sales." Most users download them and use them once or twice; they're predominantly entertainment-based, and provide small value to the consumer, but the mass download provides great initial revenue and then stops. The most grossing applications are actually priced between $4.99 and $9.99, and account for 44 percent of revenue. These applications are downloaded less frequently, but used more often, as they usually provide tangible value.
Monetize app with Advertising
Revenue from advertising is similar to brand-driven applications; the approach aims to reach as many users as possible, by providing free entertainment or utilities, and to collect revenue through third party advertising like Admob from Google, iAds from Apple, or inMobi from Mobclix. Mobile Ads give higher eCPM values than web ads; whch means you can generate revenue for an ad impression. Monetizing app with Ads is more preferred for apps which engage users for long time.
< b>Freemium Business Model
The Freemium model has a strategy that user gets the app for free, but they can pay to get more features and enhanced experience using In-App-Purchase.
According to a new study by mobile app search firm Xyologic, about 11 percent of all free games in Apple's App Store, have in-app purchase for virtual goods, currency and additional features. But these Freemium apps, have an outsized influence on the App Store, making up 40 percent of all free game downloads from the store in March.
This year stats are showing spectacular growth in Asian App market; especially in China app downloads have increased by 46 percent, 1.5 million daily downloads in China. Being in app business, you can take advantage of this growth, hire translators, and localize your apps for Asian languages.
Amitech Business Solutions has been in app business from 10 months and have produced top ranking apps; I have been developing iOS apps and I have learned that, you have to think like a user, to get successful in the app business.
The Author is Co-founder, Amitech Business Solutions