Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Bloomberg or The Virgin Group. Journalists have worked in the past from one garage because that’s what the founder of Bloomberg could afford then. The likes of Richard Branson and a lot other people who have gone on to build empires started from dingy holes that a lot of us can never ever imagine working out of. Even now that these businesses have made it, there are still challenges on an ongoing basis. The same applies, without any differences or deviations to the app businesses. Developers will struggle today and will still continue to 10 years from now because that is the nature of business. What are some of the biggest challenges that app businesses are faced with everyday?
Identifying the best business revenue model
The fastest way to get revenue in the app business is obviously getting users to pay per download – which is as good as what the human mind is used to, get a product and pay for it. However the app business is a very tricky one; users buy expensive gadgets for exorbitant fees but when it comes to purchasing an app that is less than a hundredth fraction of the gadget price, they still moan and whine before purchasing or moving onto the next app. Unfortunately no marketer has really explored the psychology behind this kind of behavior. Then there’s in – app purchases that some users are comfortable with whilst on the other hand others are put off by it. With other revenue models out there, the whole situation leaves developers in a sticky position – this is a new industry and so much still has to be proven to work either for the short term or for the long term.
App discovery and visibility
Too many apps, fewer stores, too much clutter in the stores and too many gadgets that get more complex every year. Developers are in a tight position, they have to keep up with the technology developments on the market – new and more complex mobile gadgets mean that developers have to ensure their apps meet the specifications to sit on those gadgets and be viewed exactly the same. This costs money that most developers honestly don’t have.
Add to that the fact that app stores that are interested in having as many apps on their shelves yet do little to promote them; developers are left having to do their own marketing – advertise to get exposure, push for reviews and the list goes on.
If users don’t even know what they are looking for at times, how are they likely to find an app that is right at the bottom of all the hundreds of thousands? That app might actually be the exact one they need but they don’t have time to go through such a huge number of apps, they therefore end up sticking to the most recommended, suggested or popular ones.
Keeping users for life
Identifying the right target audience is hard for every business because of the ever – changing needs of users. I always joke with people that the easiest target market to map out for marketing purposes is that of people in need of private jets – there’s no need to identify them, they come to you.
App stores unfortunately do not provide app developers with information on their users, information that could help with a full understanding of what that user really needs. There are tools to analyze user behavior but these are all probable in the absence of true demographics or psychographs. If this is the problem – other than content how can developers stay engaged with the users or even know of formula to retain them?
The app itself
Developing an app is time consuming and financially and emotionally draining. Despite all of that the app still needs to be of high quality whilst at the same time developers are rushing against almost-impossible deadlines. Ongoing updates and upgrades are also needed on an ongoing basis to improve all the elements that make the app. This means a parallel process of evaluating the app, bettering it, trying different revenue models and marketing all happening at the same time. This is a huge challenge because app businesses are not made up of thousands of employees who can run the different divisions of the app at a relaxed pace. Except for a handful most apps are teams of 20 or less and can’t afford to drop the ball which can be very frustrating considering the volume and complexity of their work.
Users want that sense of trust when they download an app that it’s secure – none of their information will be stolen and abused. Developers aim to ensure that this never becomes a problem for their users. Developers are still struggling to protect their apps, we aren’t yet at that point where the industry can safely say all apps are secure and can’t be attacked. Developers then have to push harder to protect their own IP and on the other hand protect their users.