Chances are you’ve had a great idea for a killer mobile app at some point in the last few years. Whether you’re running a successful business that can use an app, or you have grand plans to build your business around your idea, there’s no denying the fact that mobile app development is huge right now and there’s no sign it’s going away anytime soon.
When you take a glance at the Apple and Android app stores and see that literally thousands of new apps are being uploaded every week, and that the most popular ones are collecting hundreds of thousands of downloads in just days… it’s pretty obvious this is an exciting opportunity.
However, as a mobile app development studio with years of experience making app dreams come true, we feel it’s important to use a little tough love and help bring you back down to earth for a moment or two:
To start with, the chances of your app becoming the next Angry Birds is pretty slim. Not to rain on your parade, but the ratio of total available apps to mega-hits that bring in a hundred million or more downloads is approximately 500,000:1. And, unless your company’s name is Google or Facebook, breaking a billion downloads is nearly impossible.
But, even more important than this needed reality check is the fact that you’re likely sabotaging your own possibility of success! Most of the people I speak to about creating a custom mobile app are.
Here are three mistakes I see people making all the time when they’re looking to have a custom mobile app developed, and how to fix them to up your chances of success:
Not thinking it through
I can’t count how many people have contacted me about a fantastic idea they have for the next What’s App or Snapchat alternative. Inevitably, if I get them on the phone, I lean back, take a deep breath and say, “Tell me about it.”
After five or ten minutes, when they stop to take a breath, I’ll come in with, “That’s interesting. But have you considered…” and then provide them a list of at least 40 variables off the top of my head that will make their concept impossible, unfeasible, or far more difficult than they’re assuming.
It’s not like I enjoy disappointing people. I would love to get a call from a sincere businessperson who really has a great mobile app concept and who’s truly given it the thought and research required to cover all those bases so that all I need to say is, “That’s interesting. When would you like to start?”
But the fact is, most wannabe mobile app tycoons haven’t done their due diligence. More than anything else, they haven’t considered what kinds of things are possible and practical from a technological standpoint and what seemingly cool features are simply far too difficult or dangerous to take on.
Underestimating the work/time/expense involved
I’m not sure where the blame should lie for the commoditization of software development, but it’s definitely a problem we have to face regularly. It may be because freelance developers with no experience and little skills are offering their services for $1/hour on sites like eLance and oDesk; or it may be because some websites offer “free, instant, drag-and-drop mobile app creation” and ill informed consumers think those fill-in-the-blank templates are comparable to a custom designed and developed app.
Whatever the reason, however, many people with an idea for a mobile app are shocked and appalled to learn that a custom app can take up to several months or more to develop and can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 or more, depending on its complexity. There are a lot of moving pieces in a custom mobile app development project, and taking it from concept to a fully-functional launch can involve dozens of professionals and hundreds of hours of labor.
For details to help you establish a realistic view of what it’s going to take to make your dream app available to the public, here are a few articles you should read:
- What’s the Cost of Developing an Android App? (Note: numbers should be adjusted for inflation.)
- Ballpark Software Development Costs with Minimal Requirements
Failing to consider the audience
While this mistake has the least to do with our work as developers, it’s actually one of the saddest of the mistakes I see so often with enthusiastic customers with grand plans in their heads:
They may spend hours doing all the necessary technical research, they may have more than enough money to spend and understand the time frame for what it is. So – and this is why it’s so sad – they may talk themselves into thinking their app concept is a sure thing. But what they haven’t considered is whether or not their idea will actually provide value to anyone other than themselves.
It’s pure human nature: what we think is a great idea seems that way initially because it appeals to us personally. We see a need we personally experience, and we think of a clever way to fill that need. However, if you’re going to invest tens of thousands of dollars into an idea in hopes that thousands or hundreds of thousands of people will download and use your app, you’d better make sure it appeals to more than just you. That it fills that same need for other people too.
If not, you’re going to be sitting there, $20,000 poorer, and watching your app collect dust in the midst of an overcrowded and constantly changing app store where no one is noticing it.
So, along with all the necessary technical research and fleshing out of your idea, take the time to do some standard market research as well, and make sure your idea has legs before investing in custom mobile app development.
Now, if you’ve fixed all three of these mistakes, and you still think you have a mobile app concept that needs to be developed and launched, then we’re eager to hear from you.