Everything about mobile is nothing less than revolutionary; in fact mobile has become synonymous with revolution. Know why?
You name it, it’s got it all. Initially it was the need for mobility, hence the term ‘mobile phone’ was coined. Next came the added features that aimed at providing users assistance with their day-to-day common tasks. A pinch of entertainment as well; you’d surely recollect the simple but addictive games on your early mobile phones. If this is not revolution, what else would you call it? Well, if that’s not enough revolution for you, perhaps we missed out something – mobile apps.
Mobile apps are not alien to smartphone users, not even to non-smartphone users for that matter. These tiny, smart and cheap software programs have added an entirely new dimension to how information and entertainment reach us and how we use them. There are millions of them around and still counting, a majority of which are free, though paid ones are also popular. They are available in all imaginable categories but the most popular ones, in order of user downloads, fall into the categories of games (64%), weather (60%), social networking (56%), maps/navigation (51%) and music (44%). It’s unthinkable to imagine smartphones sans apps; as a matter of fact, it’s these apps that make smartphones really smart.
Prior to the app bang, mobiles apps were ‘rival-facing’; in other words they were developed to create distinction between mobile manufacturers and their services. With the competition heating up, mobile manufacturers/operators set out in search of new options to attract and retain customers. This resulted in the idea of ‘customer-facing’ apps. Coupled with the groundbreaking advancements in mobile technology, this idea received tremendous boost.
This is how Google Play has fared off to date
The open-source era unshackled the software industry from the clutches of proprietary software manufacturers and a new breed of developers entered the arena. These independent/amateur developers formed communities that paved way for parallel mobile development, contributing hugely towards the expansion of the mobile horizon. Since these developers also represented the user community, they were in a better position to understand in detail what customers required in their smartphones.
This triggered a major shift in focus from enterprise level apps to relatively much smaller and efficient apps keeping customers in mind. As the number of apps moved into the millions, the focus took another turn – user experience. Mobile user experience gained importance as users began attaching themselves emotionally with their smartphones. Thus a new discipline took birth – user experience design. UX design tries to bridge the gap caused due to the difference between the experience across platforms by maintaining consistency.
A fallout of the app bang is the inundation of the market with millions of apps. And it’s natural for the ‘demand-supply’ factor to come into play. The whole point is to keep things simple and have a clear understanding about how the user interact with the app. Hence, if your apps should do what you want, let your app do what the users want.
The app story saw its genesis when Apple put up its App Store in 07/08. This was soon followed by Android with its Android Market, BlackBerry with its BlackBerry App World and Nokia with its Ovi Store on 10/08, 04/09 and 05/2009 respectively. Apple had its 1 billionth app download in 04/09. Whereas Android apps hit 1 billion in 08/10. Nokia surpassed the 1 billion app mark on 06/11. By 01/11 Apple clocked 10 billion app downloads. Apple, which debuted with an opening balance of 500 apps, by mid of 2011 added another 499500 apps to its kitty. Android with 50 apps in the beginning had more than 250000 apps by mid of 2011. For the same period BlackBerry had more than 35000 apps and Nokia had to its credit above 82000 apps. Microsoft who made a late entry, had around 29000 apps in the same period. The total download for the year 2011 was nearly 25 billion apps.
The combined app download figure for 2012 is a little above 45 billion. Going by the present rate, by 2016, the projected app downloads can in no way be below 300 billion. The only expected drop is in the paid apps category which has been dropping by, and is expected to drop by, about 1% every year. A major highlight would be the entry of Facebook and Amazon into the app market. Both would be trying to leverage their brand value to get a grip on the cut-throat competition lying in wait for them.
It’s a jungle out there! A jungle made up of apps. How do you plan to find the way to the top? Well, no shortcuts available and if at all any, the result would be short-lived. You gotta fight it out; your developer and marketing skills would be put to test.
Before you start off, you need to devise a detailed plan. This plan comes from an idea, not just any idea but something that’s unique and never tried before. Each app is basically an idea, so you might want to be updated on the app stores in order to avoid creating apps that already exist.
Developing an idea into an app is no easy job. You got to take into consideration a lot of aspects. Change in requirements or features can put pressure on the budget and time-frame. While this is common, all the parties involved should be ready to bear the extras. Identifying choke-points in advance is imperative to your apps’ timely launch.
Most important of all is to stand for your ideas, while keeping it simple and allowing a bit of complexity. Without doubts, you’re going to face a lot criticism when your ideas are looked down upon by others, which is normal. If you wish your idea to transform into an awesome app, you ought to believe in it. Similarly your ideas need to be simple so that it quells the criticisms. Simplicity doesn’t mean you can do away with complexity. Complexity is part and parcel of any development process, be ready for it.
You don’t have to wait till your app is fully developed in order to market it. You can initially popularize your app on social networks and technology forums. And when you’ve the beta version ready, you can offer it for free for a while. This would also be a good way to test the app in real-time. And if you’re comfortable shelling few dollars, you can go in for advertisements that are displayed inside your apps.
It’s really difficult to predict how things will turn out in the coming days. Even short term predictions/projections are becoming obsolete due to the enormous amount of changes the app space is undergoing. Whatsoever, the app effect is here to stay and a probable end to the story is not in the offing.