Posts Tagged ‘iPhone application’« Older Entries |
Tuesday, September 11th, 2012
There are two categories of people looking to start a business: those who have an idea and want to build it, and those who want to build something but haven’t found the right idea yet.
Each category has different challenges, but in this post I will focus on the latter. Where can you find a good idea? From my personal experience, good ideas are the result of good observation. We are often too busy working or doing something else to take a step back and look at how we execute the things that we do. If you take the time to try to observe yourself from the outside, you will probably find many inefficiencies in your execution. You will also notice that most of those inefficiencies come from the tools that you use.
Offline shopping, for instance, is very inefficient. You have to drive to a store, walk through the isles, choose from a limited-by-space amount of products, stand in line at the cashier and then drive back home. Looking at shopping from an efficiency point of view, it’s easy to see how Amazon (like other e-commerce sites) are a great idea.
SyncPad itself was born this way. Since expressing design changes over the phone or Skype was challenging, and emailing drafts and changes back and forth was a waste of time, I came up with a tool that could solve these inefficiencies. With SyncPad, I can now quickly share a sketch or an image while I’m on the phone, and the other person can work on it in real-time.
Of course isolating an inefficiency is only the beginning. Once you focus on a problem, the second factor you need to analyze is its potential market and value. Is this a problem that only you and a few others have, or is it common to billions of people? Dropbox is a great example of a product that solves a very common inefficiency: the need to easily access your data and documents from different places. Your need for a better tool to catalog your collection of Coke cans may not be as common. The size of the market itself is meaningless if it’s not associated with the value of your solution. If you can charge hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for your product, it’s ok if your market size is in the four digit range.
So start looking around for inefficiencies. Once you find one, try to understand how big the possible market would be for a solution to that inefficiency. Lastly, start talking to your potential customers to get an idea of the value of that solution.
Friday, September 3rd, 2010
This post wants to be a response to the article posted on Fast Company “The Great App Bubble,” in which the author base all his statements on stats taken out of context.
One billion dollars in revenue for the approximately 225,000 apps is $4,444 per app–significantly less than an app costs to develop.
Sure, this would be true if those revenues were equally distributed to all developers. This statement doesn’t keep in mind that there are thousands of crappy apps out there that don’t make a dime and applications that are developed once and republished several times (think all those travel apps where they publish a different one for each city). In the latter case even if the statement were true, I wouldn’t mind making $4,444 one hundred times over.
A typical iPhone app costs $35,000 to develop.
I really really wish this statement was true, especially because that’s what we do primarily at 39 inc.; I also wish that was the typical price we charged for the applications we build. Some applications could really be expensive of course, especially if you factor some server side programming as well, but of those 250,000 applications, I can guarantee you that 220,000 of those apps didn’t cost more than $7,000 each.
iPhone users don’t find their apps very valuable. In 2009, analytics start-up Pinch Media reported that people barely use the majority of apps they download. Only 20 percent of consumers utilize a free app the day after they download it. By 30 days out, less than 5 percent of consumers are still using it. Paid apps (page 13 of the company’s fascinating 33-page slideshow) have a slightly better performance record, but they still get hit with a steep drop in usage within a period of 11 days. The value of most apps may be in satisfying the curiosity of what the app can do, not in its usefulness or relevance in a user’s daily life.
Sure, free applications are often downloaded just out of curiosity, games are usually discarded once finished and nobody is arguing that there are a great number of disposable apps. So what? I don’t see any problems with that. As a developer you can you can make tons of money building disposable apps as well as building a long lasting success like Tweetie or Instapaper.
Marketers are spending money on iDevice apps at the expense of improving their mobile Web sites that everyone with a smart phone can access. According to Ahonen and Moore, iDevice app development actually costs 10 times more and reach is 50 times worse. Sex appeal will only trump pragmatic reach for so long.
I agree, a lot of websites should definitely try to improve their mobile website or at least make sure that the mobile experience isn’t inferior to the desktop one. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t also offer a native application for iOS, with performances and experience far superior to their web counterparts.
Venture capital is flooding into the app economy in spite of the questionable ROI proposition.
Go tell that to the people who invested in Tapulous or other successful mobile development companies. That’s how venture capital works anyway, they do ten investments and maybe a couple of those will be successful enough to pay for the other investments and still make a profit.
Steve Jobs has said 15,000 apps are submitted to the App Store each week. With this many apps to sort through, finding new, useful ones to download can be a painstaking task. Then on my phone, if I want to find an app I don’t regularly use or a new one, I need to use the search function to find it. Can you think of a faster way to get information? The browser. Once mobile Internet gets faster, apps as the key to on-the-go information and tools will be on the outs..
I suppose that for the author it’s easier to find a web application between millions of pages than a useful apps between 250,000 ones. He seemingly forgot about word of mouth, blogs, social networks and all the others ways that will always let the cream raise at top.
In conclusion, I can say that building a business solely based on mobile development isn’t as easy a task as some successful stories may infer, but definitely mobile apps are not a bubble. They could be part of a cycle for sure, where at one point they will leave their place to other things, just like other things do, but there is a big difference from being a bubble.
Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
You can find Dean’s stencil at MobileSketchBook.com.
Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
As many of you may have noticed, in the last forty days or so I promoted all over the place a simple Christmas application we published called Christmasfy Me. Not only was it a fun application that we wanted to build, but it was also our first experiment with in-app purchasing. Not too long ago, Apple opened the in-app purchase feature to free applications. I personally think this is a great tool for a lot of people to monetize their apps, and at the same time, somehow solve the problem of not being able to release demo and trial versions of their apps.
As promised, I’m going to fully disclose the results I gathered with Christmasfy Me in hopes of helping others to better understand this business model.
Christmasfy Me is an iPhone application that lets you take a picture, or select an existing one from your library, and apply Christmas elements to it. You can then save or share these pictures via email, Twitter, or Facebook. You can view a video of how this application works at www.ChristmasfyMe.com. The application originally came with three unlocked items, we then unlocked an additional three items for a total of six. To unlock the remaining 20 items, the user had to pay $0.99.
Some factors we need to keep in mind
This iPhone application was built and released as a seasonal application; this means that the same kind of application (not necessarily with the same theme) may have totally different results and numbers during other periods of the year. The application was released in a period that is usually notorious for having more downloads that any other period throughout the year: between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Considering that after Christmas the sales dropped considerably, I will only take into account the sales from 11/26/2009 to 12/31/2009.
Over a period of 37 days, Christmasfy Me was downloaded a total of 66,623 times. Of those downloads, 32,189 happened in the US while the other 34,434 account for world-wide downloads, mainly in the UK and Italy. In Italy, the application even ranked as the second most downloaded free application in the photography category and about 120th in the overall Top Free chart for a few days. I can’t hide that I was expecting to do better than this. Of course, I’m not unhappy with the results, but everything was timed in order to be included by Apple in their holidays selection and that never happened. Even on its better days, as far as downloads go, the app never ranked better than 500th in the Top Free Apps chart. This says a lot about how many downloads you need to be in the top 100, especially considering the fact that rank and number of downloads don’t usually grow proportionally.
As far as in-app purchases go, we sold a total of 2,193 “upgrades” over the same period. This is actually better than I expected, considering that this was an average conversion rate of 3.29% and, based on the results published by Riptide of their in-app purchase experience, I was expecting something closer to 2.5%. The regional results demonstrate how US customers are more likely to buy in-app content, with an average conversion rate of 4.11%, and accounting for 60.37% of the total of in-app purchases. So, if you decide to build your business on in-app purchases, forget markets like Italy, where the conversion rate was well below 1%, and focus on the US and the UK. Also, If you look at the chart, you’ll notice that conversion rate dropped after December 16th, the day we released a new version where, among other updates, the number of free elements went from three to six.
It might not be the most profitable business model since you need a high number of downloads to make a decent profit, but definitely less than what you would need with ads. More and more powerhouses like ngimoco, Gameloft, and Tapulous are switching to this model with many of their apps. Also, this may allow you to create complex and expensive apps while allowing your customers to pay only for the features they really need (Boxcar docet). The biggest con I found is that a lot of people expect everything to be free to download. I’ve even been accused of “stealing” money because there were only three free elements in the first version. That cost me a bunch of one star ratings in the App store.
I will definitely explore and use this model more in the future. I think there is more that can be done to improve performance and revenue. I’ll be sure to keep you all updated with our results.
Friday, December 11th, 2009
I was checking as usual how my apps were doing in the store when I notice that Apple just released a redesign of the application pages in the App Store. I definitely think this is a great improvement and I think it will improve sales for everybody. Here is what’s new:
- They got rid of the huge link to your company name. Nobody was clicking on it to see your apps so it was just a waste of space and it was confusing people.
- Simple horizontal scroll to see the screenshots. This means that if you have a decent size screen you can actually see more than one screenshot at the time.
- Excerpt of the description. Developers will have to make sure that the most important stuff are written in the first part of the description.
- Links to the company site and support page more prominent.
- More importance to the “What’s New in Version…” section.
- An area with the links to few other apps from the same developer. This is great to help cross promotions of your apps. Even after they get old, this is a good way for people to find the.
- This is also helped by a new big “Customers Also Bought” area at the bottom. Of course this won’t help you on your app page, but it will help you when your app will appear on your competitors’ page
Overall I would say this is a great update by Apple, that seems doing a lot of things lately to please users and developers as far as iPhone OS apps.
Thursday, December 10th, 2009
Saturday, October 24th, 2009
If you are an iPhone developer and you are looking for new jobs or new clients, now you don’t have to be in front of your computer to do that. We just released the Get Apps Done iPhone application (iTunes link), which will let you browse through all the job listings on GetAppsDone.com. Also, registered users will be able to favorite jobs in order to quickly find them later on their phone or computer.
Wednesday, October 14th, 2009
Would you like to try one of our latest applications? It’s pretty simple but I think the interface is pretty sleek. Here’s some free codes for you to try it out. If you use one of the codes, please copy and paste the code list in the comments without the one you used, so that people won’t keep trying used codes.
TE6939MXL6L7, 7L3PF6R3Y4Y3, 694NKHAKPL44, 4MFR76P4KXAF, YE3N7997KYA7, RPX7JLXMNMPA, H93NX979X6WP, WMKX66XEEK6T, A3YTANWW9ETF, E66YW647HAKT, P7LHH7WEFHFX, NE9LPPYLPTPW, K69KJXN6KNMF, TKFJWAF49NLY, 66MXM4FKLP7A, 3YN97YEYFK3M, 4WNNRP4MMW3F, XKAJF64YHWL6, 7LTXNH3JPFAP, E6373FX6MPFY, XP74KTFTM97P, PF6PMKK99TXT, E7K7TJF9HLMJ, X7WJAXEEN993, L33HXWAFFF47, M4FHAYTJFLWP, KMJFLR3P7M3A, 9NFM6P64TR4F, NLHM6LP799WR, LF3ENJAHW7A6, R3JNKE73WRMY, RHK3NA4TX3XK, MN7YXLYE64F3, HTPM9HXAWAHT, 776ATYLLRYRT, EPJ9RN9AP4KY, AHHXJ7YWWPLL, W9RA3LHELHFH, PM7TEKRJX3E6, EK9N6KNW9KXM
To redeem the code you need to click on the redeem link in the iTunes homepage.
We already submitted an update to correct few little bugs.
Sunday, October 11th, 2009
Last Friday, Atebits launched the new version of their popular iPhone Twitter client, Tweetie 2, which in just one day dominated the Top Paid and Top Grossing charts in the App Store. What can we learn from this?
Keep your interface clean and simple.
Tweetie 2′s interface is really clean and simple, almost as if Apple themself may have had a hand in designing it. Everything is easy to access and erroneous clicks are pretty rare.
Offer what users need, not everything.
For sure, Tweetie 2 doesn’t offer as many options as other clients. Twittelator, just to name one, offers a full array of integrations and functions, but this may only serve to confuse a new user.
Keep it open.
On the other hand, Tweetie 2 gives you the option of using whatever service you want for posting pictures and shortening URLs, which is great! Now I can use my own URL shortener, and I’m not forced to use Twittelator in order to use, in my opinion, the best picture service around: Pikchur. Actually, if you want to use Pikchur as well, here’s the API ending point you need to insert in Tweetie: http://api.pikchur.com/tweetie
Create good products and people will throw money at you.
Tweetie was a great product, but Tweetie 2 is even better. And when you create such great products, people won’t mind spending $3 for your application. Of course, that doesn’t come without work. You still need great PR, and you have to ensure that your product gets in front of the right eyes (like that of a Mashable or Techcrunch writer). I must say that this doesn’t happen too often; there are several great applications buried in the App Store, but the best ones hardly stay buried forever.
Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
Here’s a quick demo of Thirtynine’s latest application, a flash cards application.
We really wanted to keep it as simple as possible. This is going to be just the first one of a series of educational applications.