Inc.com recently published an article on building iPhone apps and turning it into your own business. With the iPhone application marketplace booming, now is a great time to get involved in the mobile app industry.
More and more large brands are taking advantage of the mobile app industry every day, and little guy designers and programmers are getting rich as well. Check out how to make money with iPhone apps on Inc.com…
How many times has a friend showed you his or her favorite new iPhone app, and you lamented: Why didn’t I think of that?
With total application downloads from Apple’s iTunes app store topping three billion, and monthly sales of upwards of $200 million, the marketplace for apps is booming. If you’re a designer or programmer, how can you afford not to be creating apps? Well, it’s not quite that simple. Apple says it receives between 8,500 and 10,000 application submissions every week. That’s a mighty lot of competition, even for experienced game and media designers.
Greg Trefry, a veteran game designer who teaches at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, recently founded Gigantic Mechanic with Mattia Romeo. The partners this year debuted their first app, a location-aware, golf-inspired game called Gigaputt. Trefry says that while the new publishing structure under Apple’s purview coupled with a dense marketplace can be intimidating, he’s found there’s still ample opportunity for designers to carve out a niche for their app.
“There are so many apps out there, it’s an extremely crowded market so that the barrier to entry is so low and the barrier to success is so high,” he says. “But you’re not necessarily aiming to have the biggest game out there, so there’s still room to make a business out of it if you’re trying to capture a certain audience.”
Of course, there’s more to making a profitable app than just having a good idea. And lots of the work comes after the design and programming is already done. Here are some tips to helping your app turn a profit.
In a market where everyone wants in on the action, as an app creator, you have two big hurdles. The first is creating an app worthy of a favorable review upon submission to the Apple iTunes App Store. The second is promoting your app so that it breaks through the pack and sells well.
Though there’s a lot of negative hype concerning the first hurdle, developers generally say that getting their app approved isn’t the struggle it’s made out to be. Apple’s standards for apps do restrict some racy and pornographic content, and the company excludes apps that, in its view, do not enhance the iPhone experience or that duplicate existing iPhone features. When it comes to fresh, inventive content, however, most apps are readily approved.
Zach Saul, founder of Retronyms, a San Francisco-based app creating company, has been creating apps since the 2008 iTunes App Store launch, in which his popular, 99-cent app Recorder – an audio recorder – was included.
“We haven’t had any trouble getting apps approved and included, but our work is very non-controversial, entertaining and fun,” he says. “The approval process seems like a confrontational thing, but every time we’ve had an app rejected, there’s been something wrong with it and they’ve given us a bit of free testing and helped us solve a problem, so it’s very helpful.”
And despite the fact that thousands of apps are submitted to Apple for approval each week, app creators tell Inc.com that the turnaround time tends to be swift.
“It actually wasn’t that bad a process,” says Trefry, who learned that Gigaputt was given the thumbs’ up after a three-day wait. “You just have to do your contract with them, and it’s pretty clear.”
Promoting Your App
After an app has been approved and is listed for sale in the iTunes App Store, your next goal is to get customers to download it. To some extent, this process becomes a chicken-and-egg scenario. Vaulting into a top-selling category is the best way to encourage sales – but you first must have sales to rank highly within a category. Fortunately, the process of gaining exposure isn’t completely out of your hands. Apple features new apps daily.
What does it take to win over Apple’s support? Good design is important. “As far as we can tell that’s based on polish and quality,” Saul says. “Make something that’s useful and also is nice and polished and looks good, and your chances are vastly increased.”
Looking good is a matter of solid design. Enlist a designer to help create the interface a user will experience, as well as the logos and screen shots that will appear on the Apple iTunes App Store. This collateral is the first thing a potential buyer will see, so maximizing its impact is crucial.
Besides design, being polished includes being technically solid. If you are developing the app yourself, you may want to consider bringing on a programmer who is well-versed in Objective-C to help you; though apps can be built using other programming languages, this version of C++ is the standard. You should also be sure to give your app the full battery of beta-testing it needs before you make your submission. An inexpensive way to test it is to distribute it among friends and solicit feedback. Just remember: Without smooth functionality, your app will be dead in the water.
Photo Cred: Itaxsmart.com