You have most likely heard the expression, “If you build it, they will come”. If you have ever developed an app hoping to make it rich on one of the popular app stores, you already know how untrue that expression really is. Most developers I know of are less interested in building apps than they are selling apps. Building apps is what you do when you are learning how to write code. Selling apps is what you do to pay the rent. Contrary to popular belief, apps do not sell themselves. People do. For that to happen, your app has to be marketable.
Find out what the market actually wants
If you intend to make a living as an app developer, you need to do what it takes to make a living. By that, I mean that you have to do a bit of research into what is selling. Figure out how to make one of those and make that your first project. I know that what you really want to do is spend all your time and effort on your big idea that is going to revolutionize the way we do math. That is a laudable goal. But your idea may or may not sell. Building it is no guarantee of success. You most likely have done no market analysts. You just have a gut feeling that everyone is going to feel the same way about your idea as you do.
There is a good chance they won’t. However, what they really love and spend money on are tip calculators. Good news: tip calculators are easy to code and sell. Make a great tip calculator and finance your real masterpiece. It is easy to sell what people already want. An ad agency can provide valuable insight into market desires and help you frame your masterpiece in those terms.
Develop apps that are easy to understand
Tell a friend who is not a programmer about your great idea. Did it take less than 30 seconds to explain? Did they get it right away? Were they excited about it? If the answer is NO to any of these questions, then your idea may be too difficult to market.
If you can’t market your idea, it will not sell. It will languish in the land of misfit apps that no one ever downloads. If your idea is too involved to explain to someone with a passing interest in your work, how much more difficult will it be to market to a world of people who could care less about your hopes and dreams?
This goes for commercial enterprises, too. A new trend in business marketing is enterprise app development. Not only does a proprietary app help to market your company’s flagship product or service, it helps with outreach and branding as well. Check out the iPhone app development of ISBX and see if this is the right kind of investment for your small to medium sized business.
Satisfy a niche
Speaking of iPhone apps, what made Angry birds so popular? A large part of it was that it was one of the first games developed from the ground up for the iPhone. I do not mean to say that there were not iPhone games that came before it. Rather, the developers truly understood the iPhone and what made it interesting. They didn’t just port a PC or console game to the new platform just to get in early on the gold rush. They designed something that spoke directly to the burgeoning iPhone community. It was exclusive, and designed specifically with that device in mind. It was easy to market as it piggybacked on the iPhones cache as a cool and unique device that could do cool and unique things.
It was the right size with the right kind of graphics for the hardware. It was guaranteed to run smoothly every time. It was easy to pick up and play by just about everyone who could use an iPhone. There was no learning curve. Those who knew how to use the iPhone knew how to play the game. It was probably not the most brilliant game that ever hit the market, but it was the right game, the perfect game for the iPhone niche.
Don’t make a game that requires a joystick and a lot of text input for a three and a half inch touchscreen. Make a niche feel special and the marketing battle is practically won.
Finally, just be realistic. Like artists, musicians, actors, and writers, getting rich is not a likely outcome of our work. That doesn’t mean that we can’t make a decent living doing what we enjoy. Make apps that are marketable and you will be able to indulge your creative itch for years to come.