Saturday, March 22, 2014

How To Turn Your App in to a Million Dollar Baby

Ideas, Tips and Techniques to Build a Better App

Photo Credit: KROMKRATHOG via

In your favorite movies list, there will be movies with a storyline in which the main protagonist has achieved fame and stardom through sheer hard work, dedication and a few inspirational speeches.
Movies like Rocky, Any Given Sunday, Moneyball, Gridiron Gang and Cinderella Man are all based on the concept of one unknown man (or a bunch of unknown men) beating the world’s best at their own game. Such stories are always appreciated and loved by the people.

Actually this happens somewhere else too, in the App Store. The App Store is famous for making millionaires. There are more than 800,000 apps available on the App Store and total downloads have reached 48 billion so far. Apple said iOS developers have earned $15 billion so far. With such staggering figures, surely anyone would love to be an app developer. The overall situation, however, is a bit grim. Let’s put things into perspective. According to Apple’s press release early in January 2014, the App Store sales touched $10 billion for the year 2013, making $1 billion alone in the month of December. This mean that iOS developers have earned around $7 billion from the apps in the year 2013. Staggering figures? Not anymore. Kkeep in mind that only a handful of iOS developers and companies are doing well. Most app developers and companies are not doing well financially.
To determine what turns an app into a million dollar baby, let’s dig into the scene a bit.

Let’s take a look at Angry Birds, Candy Crush, iSteam, Enigmo, and iShoot. All of these apps turned into an App Store sensation within a couple of weeks.

Is there a problem mate?
The App Store is a crowded marketplace, where hundreds of apps appear on a daily basis. Only a handful of these apps meet the desired expectations of users and developers. What makes these apps unique, lovable, and downloadable— what makes people pay for them?

These apps solve a problem. As we have discussed in an earlier part, apps are loved by the users if it solves some kind of problem and makes people’s life a tad easier.

So it is all about solving problems? No entirely, it is not all about solving problems but the app should serve a purpose. At times we may see apps like Phone Saber and iBeer, people still use them for fun, yet they fade out of our memory rather quickly. There are unsung apps too. For instance, you might never hear a review or clap of appreciation for Notes, between if you are a fan of Notes you will love its new look in iOS 7.

The primary purpose of an app should be a reasonable one. It should attempt to solve some sort of problem. Whether it is helping you in paying your bills, making you feel happy by rescuing some poor birds, connecting you with your friends, or just reading articles and blog posts.

V for Viral
Have you ever tried frantically to tap, swipe, pinch and tilt your way to rescue birds in cages? What is the reason behind the success of Angry Birds, iShoot, and other apps with gazillions of downloads. There may be several reasons behind an app’s success, but an app should be an engaging product. The app should compel people to use its again and again. This can be achieved through fun, necessity, and problem solving. Once you have done that, you need to make it viral on social media.

People should be talking about your app on Facebook, Twitter, the App Store and YouTube. Once the app is viral, you don’t need to do much. But it takes a lot of creativity to make something viral in today’s social world.

Connecting People and Devices
Apps that connect people will always be popular popular — that is why Facebook, Twitter,

WhatsApp and Viber are loved by so many people. Whatever features and functions your app may have, it must have an option to connect the user with others. It is always good to share your high score on Facebook, Twitter and other social media apps. The aspect of connecting app users is very important, no matter what kind of app you are developing. It will also give a boost to your marketing efforts, when people share through your app on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Another aspect of connectivity is your app connecting to other devices. The best example of this type of connectivity is Smart television apps: Controlling and sharing your television with your Smartphone. BMW M Power Meter app, when synced to a BMW app-equipped car can record speed, acceleration, and travel time for a specified distance. Imagine a world of possibilities with this type of connectivity, when people will be able to learn more about their car engines and other parts.
Wearables like Google Glass and Smart watches will also be important trends this year. Apps that will connect those devices to your Smartphone will have the potential of huge success.

Covering all the bases
In baseball, infielders are supposed to cover bases. They stand on the base in anticipation of getting a throw from outfielders. A player may not receive a single ball in the whole inning, but eventually he will have to catch a ball. Same goes with app platforms and devices. If you are developing an application that you think is as good as Angry Birds, then you should make it available to as many users as you can. The app should be available for desktop, Web browsers, iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry-based devices. Initially, the app might not get a chance to play on all platforms but, eventually, as the word gets out, it will be noticed by other platform users and they will use it. That is when your efforts will be rewarded.

Simple and Intuitive
For people who may argue that designs and functions cannot be intuitive, they are right, it is not possible — applications are the behavior side of a program. But a developer can be intuitive. Exploring all the possibilities about user experience is the sign of a good developer. How and what people expect from an app and how they interact with their devices is the key. One of the many reasons behind Angry Birds’ success was its innovative use of zoom-in and zoom-out with a pinch.

The app marketplace is crowded and flooded with hundreds of apps on a daily basis. The features of a good app may just not be sufficient until mixed with an aggressive marketing approach. Therefore, the apps must be innovative, intuitive and playful to reach one million downloads.