In July 2008 the iPhone’s app store opened with 500 apps readily available. Stories filled the news about small teams and individuals creating apps, pocketing the creators large amounts of money in a short time. With the lure of potential millions, ’App fever’ hit the world and iPhone developers from all corners of the earth started appearing, scrambling to get their own apps to the appstore in hopes of striking it rich. It was the modern day gold rush.
Today there are over 500,000 apps on the app store. The overcrowding of the store has made it much more difficult to stand out. Gone are the days of making a simple app, throwing it on the store and simply sitting back, watching your bank balance grow. With so much competition out there, proper research and planning is needed to give your app any chance of survival in a saturated marketplace.
Here are 4 considerations to help with your research before you start any development work:
1) IT ALL STARTS WITH AN IDEA
It all starts with an idea. If you have an app idea it should have a clear function.
- Can your app solve a frustrating issue, solve a genuine problem or make a process more simple?
- Will your app be able to provide genuine entertainment?
Brainstorming and finding inspiration for me was all about talking to the people around me and researching online. I discussed app ideas with friends, family and work colleagues to see if there were any apps they wished existed.
The internet is another great resource. Scour forums and comment boxes in articles and app reviews. Keep your mind on alert; always thinking about apps and listen to the people around you. Someone else’s wish or problem may just be the inspiration for your next multimillion dollar app.
2) RESEARCH YOUR TARGET MARKET
Once you have your killer app idea, you need to find out exactly who your target market will be.
Researching your target market will not only help with the design and overall feel of the app, but will also help estimate how much potential income you could make. Find out as much about your market as possible. The more you know about them, the better. Answer questions such as:
Who exactly the app is for? How old are they? Are they male or female? Why would they want your app? Would they be willing to pay for your app? How much would they pay? Do they even own iPhones?
Is your market large enough?
The larger your target market, the more potential sales you can make. Keep in mind though, an app targeted at a smaller niche, whilst has small numbers, may give you the chance to charge a premium price. It’s all about getting clear on who your app is for, what value you can provide them and would they pay money for your product.
3) KNOW YOUR COMPETITION AND LEARN FROM THEM
There’s a common misconception that you need to have a completely unique, original app idea to make it in the app store.
The chance of coming up with a unique idea in a marketplace of 500,000 apps is certainly no easy task. But keep in mind, Google weren’t the first search engine on the market, social networking did exist years before Facebook, and the iPhone certainly wasnt the first smartphone on the market.
So when you finally come up with your app idea only to discover there are 10 more like it on the market, don’t be scared and scrap the idea at the first sign of competition. Use them as research.
How long has their app been on the market? Are apps of this type actually selling? How much are your competitors charging? Is the genre a growing trend or a sinking ship?
Get on the analytic websites and study how the market are responding to these types of apps. If the signs are showing potential, download competitors apps and ask yourself.
‘What would make their apps even better?’
Study how the information is organized and how the app navigates from screen to screen. Write a list of the apps strongest and weakest points. Could the apps design or experience have been better? Is the app missing features? Could you improve on the idea or add your own spin to it?
There should be a strong, clear reason for someone to download your app over your competitors. Simply making a clone of an already existing app is not enough. If you can’t stand out from the crowd, it may be wise shelving the concept and finding another idea while it’s still early days.
4) MAKE SURE YOU APP CAN BE SUBMITTED
Lastly, you need to make sure your app follows all the guidelines and regulations to be allowed to be submitted to the app store. Apple have strict requirements regarding content and function and reject apps relentlessly. So before any development takes place, review Apple’s submission criteria and make sure your app ticks all the boxes. The last thing you want is to invest large amounts of money and time into an app, only to have the code sitting on your hard drive.
The app store’s charts are sending a clear message to developers. App buyers are looking for apps that give REAL VALUE. Yes the app store is a crowded place, but there is, and always will be room for quality apps. If you are planning an app that is simply just another cloned todo list, photo filter app or flashlight, then prepare to be just another app lost in the market. But if you can build an app that solves a problem or provides entertainment and can stand out from the crowd, then there just might be some gold coming your way….