As one who has been online virtually since it was available to the public I have seen many changes occur over the last two decades. We saw many local businesses fail because of their inability to compete with the online superstores and we saw countless new online businesses started and today even small mom and pop type businesses have their own website thanks to open source Content Management Systems such as WordPress and Joomla.
The introduction of the iPhone and iPod birthed another new industry as mobile application downloads have exceeded everyone’s expectations, this new industry has only continued to grow rapidly as more Apple devices have been introduced including the iPad and others including Google-Android, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile have also joined the mobile app development community.
A current trend that I have been watching is companies foregoing the development of websites and developing mobile apps in their place. We see that increasingly more people are using their mobile devices to access the web and a desire to be able to save their favorites on their device for easy access which makes converting websites to mobile apps a very viable business model today as well.
Until recently, mobile applications have been built for certain native Operating Systems(OS) such as iOS for Apple or Google’s Android platform, but with the advancement of HTML5 allowing for cross platform universal mobile applications that are web based instead of relying on a native OS, the game is changing quickly.
I believe that the popularity of HTML5 with web based and cloud based mobile applications will be the catalyst that allows Android and Windows Mobile to rise above Apple’s iOS by 2015 as has been projected by industry analysts. The cross platform compatibility of HTML5 mobile apps is exciting for developers because by employing this technology a mobile app developer can develop an app once in HTML5 and it will work on virtually any device which eliminates the need to build an app in multiple operating systems. For the consumer the advantages are desirable as well, with an HTML5 app if you decide to switch from an iPhone to a Droid or vice-versa you will still be able to keep your apps, currently this is not possible.
This is truly an amazing time to live and work in the mobile industry with endless innovations and improvements being continually announced and the opportunity for small start up companies to become multi-billion dollar companies if they are open minded and aggressive and have the courage to take the steps that the pioneers of this industry need to take in order to be leaders in the industry.
In every new industry the early movers are usually the ones who reap the biggest benefit, it has been that way throughout history and the mobile app development industry is no different. If you want to remain relevant in this fast changing sector then you must adapt and evolve, it’s that simple.
Here are a couple of resources for developers:
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The internet made the world a much smaller place with people all over the world able to share and communicate with each other about virtually anything. Now with the evolution of mobile app technology we are even able to speak to each other via video conferencing on our mobile devices. For the savvy mobile app developer this new world has abundant opportunities to reach out and communicate with people all over the world via your mobile applications!
As you begin to get an appreciable amount of downloads you will be able to see what countries outside of your home country are performing best for your mobile application. You can get this data from your iTunes account or from third party providers like App Figures, Distimo or App Annie but regardless of the platform you can get stats like those in the chart below:
Now, armed with this information you can dig deeper and decide which markets are the most profitable for you to go into next. Hopefully you already realize the value in having free and paid apps so you will want to look at ad revenue possibilities as well as paid upgrades, you will find that some countries pay much better than others for the same ad. As you go through this process you will discover certain apps that do better in particular foreign markets which will also help you in the development process of future apps.
In the example above, without going into detailed analysis of paid downloads, ad revenue, etc we would first want to expand into the French market then German and so on. Of course, this is a very simplistic example for the purposes of this post but you get the idea. You want to choose your best performing mobile apps first and expand into the most profitable countries in order so that you get your maximum ROI.
The rest of the world is fascinated by mobile in Japan – but few people really know what’s going on. The truth is, quite simply, mind-boggling. Did you know? McDonald’s Japan mobile site has 16 million registered users (more than 12 percent of the Japanese population) and its m-coupon service is used by 4.5 million. – From Mobi Thinking Guide to Mobile Marketing in Japan
The bottom line is that there is another world of opportunity out there for you to increase your bottom line you just have to expend a little effort and a little investment into having your best performing apps localized for those particular countries. These companies that specialize in localization not only translate your app titles, keywords, and descriptions but all the way through the app. It only makes sense that if you have a successful app in English that is performing well in Germany then it will do that much better translated for the native language.
For app localization try the companies listed below – I am not recommending them, just saving you some time looking them up!
As you expand your mobile app development empire be sure that you don’t overlook the low hanging fruit that can be found by simply localizing your apps and getting more business from the exposure and traffic you already have.
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The mobile application sector CAN be a very profitable industry to be in but it comes with some caveats, if you aren’t careful you can be out of business before you are really “in business”. I want to give my fellow developers out there a few tips to help you out a little. I know some of you are probably thinking, “why would he give help to his competition?” – Simple answer, competition is good, it’s healthy, it’s good for the industry and it’s good for us too, besides, I am confident in the team we have assembled and in our vision going forward.
One of the BIGGEST mistakes fledgling, would be app developers make is trying to be the “winning horse” right out of the gate. Humans aren’t without ego and THIS is ALL ego. The need or desire to create the “next big app” will end your dreams of being a mobile app developer before they even begin. Some of the mobile app developers making solid consistent revenue are doing it with mobile apps that you most likely have never even heard of. That’s right, you DON’T have to be the next “Angry Birds” or Temple Run” t o do well in the mobile app industry.
There are numerous ways to make money from mobile applications besides charging for downloads which we will touch on later in this article. Start small, if you don’t know how to program then post on sites such as eLance, Rent a Coder, and Freelanced to find developers who can build your first inexpensive apps. You really need to watch your budget here and my suggestion is to begin spending as little as possible until you have some success. Try to stay well under $500 for your first apps until you can get them to market and find out if you are going to make any revenue from them or not. With that said, I feel like success in the mobile app sector is a numbers game so the more apps you can get out there, the more opportunity for them to be popular and profitable.
Have you ever heard this quote? “You have to walk before you can run”
This is so true for the mobile app market as well. You will find it far easier to create the dream app you would like IF you have a solid income backing you up before you go after it. The way to build a solid mobile app business is the same as any other, first you have to build a foundation. Now, let me dispel any myths of what a foundation means. It isn’t a huge building, it isn’t money, it isn’t even a grand idea for the next big thing – The foundation for your business is the people you surround yourself with, your team. A big building will just be an empty shell without a team and money will come and go without the right people in place to begin with. The ability to let go of your ego and hire people even smarter than yourself to do the things that you do not know how to do, or don’t have time to do is the key to success in ANY market.
The next big issue in my opinion, is accountability. Regardless of whether you are developing apps yourself, have an in house team, or you are outsourcing you must set clear goals and projections as well as set deadlines that MUST be kept. One part of the team that doesn’t do their job affects the entire company, this is why it is crucial to hire people that can share your vision instead of people with a “worker bee” mentality. If you hire talented creative people and pay them a solid base with profit sharing then they have a vested interest in the success of the company, they aren’t just an employee anymore. Accountability applies to you too, I don’t ask anyone in our company to do anything I am not willing to do and you should set the example. I ask myself at the end of everyday, “Would the company be successful if everyone worked like I did today?” – IF, you can’t answer yes, then you need to have a heart to heart talk with yourself…
Okay, now let’s assume you make it to the point where you have an app or a few apps with a decent amount of downloads and active users. Here’s the next quagmire for mobile app developers: