If the App Store Feels Crowded — Developers Should Do This

Now, wouldn’t it be great if the first sentence of this post held a definitive answer to the above statement? Yes and no. Yes, because it would mean there was an easy solution to the App Store discovery conundrum. But no, because then every developer would obviously be doing it and we would all be back at square one again…

Every app development company that cannot solve the App Store discovery problem by throwing ad dollars at it has probably asked itself the question of how to better reach potential customers.

Two years ago at Happi Papi we were no different. Every year since we started developing learning apps for kids, we had to release more and more apps just in order to keep revenue at last year’s level.

The reason for this is of course the never ending stream of excellent new learning apps hitting the App Store on a daily basis. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that using more and more resources to make less and less money is a business model that will eventually implode.

So what does an indie developer do? If you develop mainstream games the answer is most likely further refining your freemium business model through research. But if you instead develop business or learning apps, a freemium business model will be harder to pull off.

As a learning apps developer, we constantly hear from our customers that a freemium model is perceived a bit like a bait and switch scheme where parents and teachers end up having to spend more and more money for the kids to continue using a learning app that they happen to like.

For that reason (and a few others), we decided to go another, longer way. This is what we did:

  1. We stopped all development of regular apps.
  2. Instead we started to develop a platform where people could create, play and share their own apps in any language and in as little as a few minutes.
  3. We made sure that the solution that we built would work on both computers and tablets regardless of operating system.
  4. We created a way for customers to choose if they wanted to play the apps on the web or send them as app levels to new iOS and Android apps created by us.
  5. We decided to make the entire platform free.
Apps created on our new learning platform at happipapi.com

Yes, this took us a while to create during which time we saw our monthly revenue fall due to the ever increasing competition in the app industry. But now that we have created a solid platform to build upon, we will realize a few very important benefits that will hopefully help us stay relevant in the learning apps space:

  1. We have significantly shortened the time and effort it will take for us to release new apps.
  2. All apps that we release will have a never ending stream of crowdsourced learning content, created by teachers and parents, available to them.
  3. We will be able to reach our customers directly whenever we, for example, release a new app that can receive what our customers have created on the platform.
  4. We will have a much easier way to promote our value proposition as the platform is free (compared to just selling paid apps in the App Store).
  5. In time, we can start to offer extra tools to power users in the form of, for example, a yearly subscription.
“App Designer” templates to guide the app making process

In addition to all the benefits that we are now reaping, we believe that we have also created something really beneficial for our customers. Among other things, our customers will receive:

  1. A free and fully customizable app experience.
  2. Hundreds, and in time thousands, of apps created by teachers around the world to choose from.
  3. Possibility to put together tailor made app collections for students to work on.
  4. Option to send all apps of interest (whether created by you or shared by someone else) as app levels to Happi Papi’s official iOS and Android apps.
  5. Automatically created pdf worksheets for every level of every app that you choose to make available to the public.

While not an easy feat, we strongly believe that creating a great service for your customers that ties in with the awesome apps you are already making, can get you closer to them. Most customers seem to have no problem providing their email address during sign-in to a platform or service they feel will help them in their daily lives. Especially if it is free.