Advancing Your App: The Explosion of Competition and the Importance of Being Featured

 

Let’s face it, every businessperson that’s looking to find the quickest, most lucrative, easiest to launch project on the market right now is looking at the same place: apps. But the truth is, the field is getting more competitive every day. Apple reports 20,000-26,000 new app submissions every week! This means your app needs to be a supernova in a galaxy of the “next big” ideas just to get approved and added to the online market.

And developers are very much aware of the immense demand for people who can generate professional, stylized apps. Complex apps can cost anywhere from $50,000-$150,000 and beyond! The average app developer charges $100 per hour. Suddenly apps are approaching the same start-up cost as a mom-and-pop-shop in your downtown.

So why bother risking all this time and money when your app may never see the light of day? The reality of the matter is the ceiling for earnings is so high, and that makes people hungry. The mobile app industry is projected to reach $25 billion this year and $47 billion by 2016.  Besides the cost of keeping up with customer service and repeated marketing, apps can turn into essentially self-perpetuated money-generating behemoths.  Of the top 10 grossing apps 8 are games, 2 are music platforms, and one is Zoosk, the dating app. Two of those games are simply digital incarnations of casino games. None of these apps are really introducing anything marvelous or new to the world, yet a game like Clash of Clans can haul in over $1,000,000 a day. Relentless marketing campaigns certainly helped these apps gain traction, but there was another key factor that really got these apps cooking.

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All of these apps have been put on Apple’s app store on the front page “featured” screen. Most companies report a 300-400% increase in sales immediately upon becoming featured. Picture it like this: the apps on the “featured” screen are like items in a shop that are conspicuously placed on the front shelves, thousands upon thousands of other items are sitting back in a stock room. Few people would spend their time sifting through thousands of similar products when they can get one on the shelf in front of them. In fact, app developers often refer to the Android and Apple “featured” pages as “The Shelf”.

So how does one get placed on the Shelf? It’s important first to recognize that in addition to making an app people will love, it’s necessary to create an app that Apple will love. Look through the lens of an Apple employee’s perspective when designing your app. Apple grabs about 30% of the revenue generated, so of course the key element is whether or not the app makes money.

All of those top 10ers are free to download, with in app purchase or premium paid packages. However, the choice to between free and paid isn’t always easy. It is important to consider the only free apps that Apple features are those made by high profile companies with recognized brands. Also accepted are apps that are so innovative that Apple believes it would add value to their product. Examples of this are Spotify, Evernote, and Duolingo.

Sam Vermette, creator of the suddenly and wildly popular Transit navigation act leaves us with some good advice. “Your goal should be to make people want to buy an iPhone in order to use your app” says Vermette. In an increasingly expanding singular marketplace it will become exponentially more difficult to differentiate your product from the rest. However, if you happen to strike that gold vein, you’ll get to sit back and watch the riches roll in.

 

 

 

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