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Mobile Application Marketability: Shiny, New is No Longer Enough

Mobile technology device users have said it countless times over. “There is an app for everything.”  And of course they are all correct.  The mobile application world has evolved into a market of 1,500,000 apps and includes every conceivable use from coupons to cardiac monitoring and beyond.  ABI Research predicts that mobile app revenue will reach $46 billion by 2016, up from about $8.5 billion in 2011.  In such a crowded marketplace it is vital for want-to-be app developers to realize that it is not nearly enough to just create an app and post it in an app store to achieve successful distribution.

Today’s app stores visually resemble a digital replication of the most comprehensive of depositories of the world’s collection of written words.  It is like standing in the center of the most inclusive of libraries, looking at the millions of volumes of books, seeking to find one topic among tens of thousands, reveal relevance among all the irrelevant and to discover the one true masterpiece amidst the masses of tripe.

Being truly original to topic or category will give a new app a “one-up” on all the others, but in such a saturated market it is difficult to come up with an entirely new idea or category. No matter the premise or use, chances are it already exists, so to succeed with another version of an existing app will require focus on what the competitors’ product is missing or how can it be improved.  The issue of usability of mobile phone apps still looms large. There are yet no clear developer guidelines on app usability and the diversity among different mobile models makes it difficult to define a “standard” for the usability factor.

Understanding and identifying existing app shortcomings will require a developer to evaluate “hard” app functions such as; screen resolution, colors and contrast, button functions, font size and style, cursors and keyboards across the vast array of devices.  According to Compuware, about 85% of global mobile device owners surveyed stated that they prefer to use a mobile app that fills their wants and needs of convenience, efficiency, and overall ease of use.  Clearly, the origin of success in today’s app marketplace begins at the beginning of the engineering process, by designing-in uniqueness, features, functions and user benefits that will differentiate a prospective offering from the established field of performers.  Get it right from the start, design-in marketability before the app reaches the marketplace.

The price of apps has a marked effect on consumer demand and app store engagement, and is essential to securing strong visibility, sustained popularity, and continued user engagement. Free and “freemium” apps tend to draw in the lion’s share of app downloads and revenue. Free apps represented 71% of total iPhone App Store revenue for February 2013.  Getting consumers to “pay” in a virtual universe of “free” is a very tall order and one that can only be filled through a properly planned and executed business model and marketing strategy, formulated to work among the masses.

A successful strategy will include elements of market analysis, integrated social media, mobile display, burst  advertising, monetary strategies and the new “big thing” in app marketing; App Store Optimization (ASO).  It’s obviously no longer enough to be the shiny new app in the store and get a few write-ups in the tech press.

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