“PR, PR and more PR, we can’t stress enough the importance of PR alongside marketing of your app”
~ Mills, Pocket Gamer
“If you have aspirations to make more than a little spending money from your iPhone app then you must develop a marketing plan and apply tried-and-true marketing principles to your sales strategy”
~ Jeff Hughes, 148 Apps
“There is a major opportunity here for apps and brands to own consumer engagement everywhere and gather highly valuable targeting information about consumers”
~ Kate Imbach, Mashable
"This is now a mass-market phenomenon, which has opened up new and more direct routes to consumers for brands”
~ Guillaume Arth, Vision Mobile
I recently read an article on Mashable introducing Binpress, a source code marketplace for web developers, leading me to consider the viability of such a service for the mobile app space. The practice is commonplace in many traditional coding communities, but has thus far mostly eluded mobile platforms. This is surprising, given the fact that a marketplace like this could:
a) provide developers with an alternative means of monetizing their work
b) reduce development hours if existing, low-cost code modules could be licensed to include in suitable projects.
Developers who have not been enamoured with the commercial success of their apps could further exploit these existing resources by selling certain code elements. If the demand was strong enough some might even focus specifically on developing components or framework apps, without ever publishing a product to one of the app stores. Many companies offer their third party APIs to developers but they don’t get access to the code. This is fine if the item provides the exact solution that a project requires but not if tinkering under the bonnet is needed.
Making certain components available at a cost is something a few developers have explored on their own websites (eg. Plausible Labs) and I’m sure it’s something many others have toyed with (Matt Gemmell ponders on this idea here). What is really needed however is a marketplace like Binpress that aggregates and categorises quality code and UI elements from a variety of sources.
Is anyone attempting this?
-Code Canyon, which primarily covers web formats, also has a mobile section with about 30 items on offer at the time of writing.
-App discovery site iPhone Application List also offers “an open marketplace to buy or sell apps and underlying technology”, where mostly completed apps can be purchased or licensed for further development.
-Swappz provides a place for developers to buy and sell app rights using an auction format, though has thus far seen little activity.
-For the sake of completeness, another site called App Sources also aims to be an app code marketplace but currently has a grand total of 1 item up for sale.
For any of these to really take off they will need to beef up their product offering. Developers must feel confident of finding something relevant to their requirements for them to bother browsing. Including existing open source components would be one way to achieve greater product depth.
Essentially for this to take off the value offered must outweigh the downsides such as needing to modify off-the-shelf offerings to a project’s particular needs and having to figure out someone else’s code in order to do so. This reason alone may put off some coders. Also, in a marketplace where achieving originality is an increasingly hard feat, developers may feel starting from scratch is necessary to successfully differentiate a product.
Despite this, if the components on offer fulfil generic needs, and can be adapted to individual requirements, a resource like this would provide valuable shortcuts for time-pressured programmers. Therefore we feel there is definitely a market for this. With its potential to provide another way to monetize apps we will be keenly observing how this corner of the industry develops.
It can be said with certainty and likely comes as no surprise that development is the most competitive area of the mobile app industry. All signs indicate things will remain this way, with the allure of its high profit potential versus comparatively low costs making it an attractive proposition for both indie software developers and larger production houses alike. With such high market growth yet relatively low barriers to entry it is natural that the number of suppliers will continue to balloon until the market matures.
Jumping on the app development bandwagon has been something of a gold rush amongst programmers, with a few staggering success stories bringing in new developers by their thousands. Analyst warnings, pointing out that the typical developer fails to make an above average return on their investments of time and money which justify their efforts, have done little to discourage newcomers. The number of registered developers that have now published an application to the Apple App Store is fast approaching 70,000, meaning the average developer is being left with an increasingly slim slice of the app market pie. However, with Gartner predicting the market to be worth $29.5bn in 2013, up from their estimation of $6.8bn for 2010, we’re talking about a very appetizing pie with a lot to go around.
When fresh platforms such as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android first emerge, they demand new skills to be attained by interested third parties before they can be capitalized on. They can present large opportunities for early movers but this must be balanced against the risks of pursuing a platform before it has been fully proven. Few people would have predicted the degree to which the popularity and uptake of apps would mushroom when Apple first launched its ecosystem, yet responsive developers were quick to master it and speculative entrepreneurs were quick to back it. The continued fast-paced uptake of these app platforms indicates that developers at least have seen more than enough evidence to satisfy themselves that these platforms are a worthy pursuit.
Honing the necessary skills to develop apps as a service to others is arguably less risky than developing and releasing one’s own apps as products which the creator aims to benefit financially from. It is only recently therefore that larger numbers of non-tech companies are starting to see apps as a viable and valuable business proposition, with innovators in their respective industries having now demonstrated how apps can be used effectively to enhance their businesses. App analytics firm Flurry note that a respectable 20% of iPhone apps currently published are by developers that emerged solely in response to the launch of the App Store, with the remainder being made up by traditional media, online, gaming or retail companies. With more large companies perceiving the iPhone to have reached critical mass, their entry into the market is going to make it harder for indie developers to maintain this market share.
The app consumer market is still firmly in the growth stage but the development market will gradually start moving from growth to maturity as we enter the next stage in the product’s lifecycle. The implications of this to companies operating in different segments of the app market will be discussed in part 2 of this article.
Hello and welcome to the App Biz Blog. My name is Bob Gallagher and I am the MD here at Appsynth. Having spent the last few months solidifying the company’s foundations, I am delighted to say our website is now live and we are open for business. This blog is the arena in which we will investigate all aspects of the mobile and web application industries, plus the environmental factors which impact them. Our mission is to deconstruct and demystify the business behind apps, to support the companies and individuals operating in this market. While some app blogs aim to report on any relevant news, here we will be delving deeper into the more significant industry developments and in particular their implications to you. Topics will span everything from marketing, promotion and advertising to distribution, business models and resources. We will also detail some of the projects Appsynth is working on and what we have learned from these, while asking other companies to share their own experiences and the insights these helped provide.
Our posts are intended to be a starting point from which discussions can unfold, so I hope our material will spur debate and raise new topics for exploration. Please join the conversation and share your thoughts by leaving comments for all to consider. We hope to build a community around these discussions and so urge you to subscribe to our blog feed and share the content with others who will find it of interest. You can follow us on Twitter @appsynth for all company announcements and you can also follow me @bobgallagheruk where I will be sharing noteworthy bytes of app biz news.
In such a fast moving and evolving industry it can be difficult to anticipate where the market is headed but it is this transience that provides both opportunity and keeps us on our toes. Morgan Stanley has come out and stated that it believes mobile internet “may be the biggest technology trend ever”. Whether this proves to be the case remains to be seen but this is an undeniably exciting industry to be involved in and I look forward to sharing the journey with each of you.