Plans for the new year & lessons from the old
2017 is going to be a big year for many of us and it is no different here at Mindfulness Everywhere. We’ve started work on what I believe is not only the most important product we’ve ever made but — if we do it right — could well be the most important meditation app ever made. But before I say more about that, here is a quick tour of how the last year went.
2016 was the first full year in which I worked on mindfulness stuff full time and despite the glorious productivity hit that was becoming a father for the first time, we still had a rather good year. The year saw us grow our product range from one to five and this is what we learnt.
Lesson #1. Free with in-app purchase is a tough revenue model
What we learnt from the launch of our app Sleepfulness
We started the year by launching our second ever app, Sleepfulness. It is a lovely product which took what we’d learnt from the sleep-related content from buddhify and expanded on it to better serve the all too common problem of difficulty sleeping. We’ve had great feedback from the people who have used it but not as many people have used it as we would have liked. The app store is now so crowded and dominated by free with IAP models that unless you have a big promotion budget, an existing big marketing channel or are already a big company it is hard to get cut-through. This is of course not news but as an indie maker/publisher we’ve now learnt lots about the strengths and weaknesses of the various app revenue models available as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the various value propositions that mindfulness-based apps can take.
Lesson #2. Books are still important
What we learnt from the launch of my book
January 2016 also saw the launch of the UK edition of my book This Is Happening, followed later on in the year by the German and the Spanish edition also came out. We’ve always said that Mindfulness Everywhere isn’t an app company per se, but instead we make products in the most appropriate medium and sometimes the most appropriate medium is a book. What the books does is outline the thinking and practices which underpin the mobile or on-the-go mindfulness approach which is the hallmark of our work. And what makes the book so great is that it allows me to grant the reader the time to get a more richer, deeper and broader understanding of mindfulness over and above what can be experienced through an app. Furthermore, go into any book store and you’ll see how important a category mindfulness and self-care still is. The book and the app therefore are in fact a perfect complement and I received many lovely messages over the year of how valuable the book as been to people. There is also something about having a book by a top of the league publisher like the fabulous Bluebird which gets you invitations which you might not otherwise have got. Even more excitingly the US edition of the book comes out later this month under the title Modern Mindfulness and if you’re based in the US do pick up a copy. It’s really very good.
Lesson #3. Great partnerships are great
What we learnt from Kara
This summer we launched Kara, which uses mindfulness to help people affected by cancer, made in partnership with UPMC CancerCenter Integrative Oncology in Pittsburgh. Kara is our first major partnership product and we could not been luckier with the quality of the partnership. Any healthcare context is very delicate and we would not have made such a sensitive product without such expert guidance and we look forward to seeing how Kara evolves in the coming year. You can read more about the thinking behind Kara here.
Lesson #4. English isn’t everything
What we learnt from our to-be-published product Meditation Now
We currently have a brand new app sitting in the AppStore which we will release later this month. It’s called Meditation Now…but it’s also not called that. Because what we’ve made is our first ever non-English product. So much of the current meditation app marketplace is all in English and therefore excludes so many people. We wanted to help fix that problem and we’ve learnt so much about the challenges of working in multiple languages and we’re excited to see how it gets on. Expect a more detailed launch announcement in a couple of weeks.
Lesson #5. We need to play a bigger game
What we learnt from our manifesto/provocation Designing Mindfulness
Last month we launched Designing Mindfulness, a manifesto on how to make technology which takes care of the people who use it. It is based on the idea that for mindfulness to truly scale we cannot afford to confine it to specialist apps but instead need to build it into everything. Our manifesto and its various design principles have really well received so far and we expect the ideas within to gain even more momentum in 2017. You can read more about the project at www.designingmindfulness.com
Lesson #6. People still love buddhify
What we learnt from our main product buddhify
For all our new and different products people still love buddhify. In 2016 buddhify continued to sell well, grow its regular user base and hit some major milestones including being gratuitously ripped off by a new entrant in the marketplace. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and all that, right?!
Our plan for 2017
So to this year. While there will be a handful of side-projects along the way the vast majority of our time and energy will go into a major new version of buddhify. We will take everything we have learnt this year, and indeed over the last five, take all the problems the world of mindfulness apps suffers from and build a new buddhify that will not only help a great deal of people but also kick mindfulness apps into a whole new direction. What we are working on is really very ambitious and I for one am crazy excited about it. It is in my opinion a genuinely next-generation mindfulness app and I’ll be talking a lot more about it in the coming months.
If you’re interested in being involved then there will be a range of roles available so just get in touch with me with an outline of your skill set. Right now we are looking for mindfulness instructors/teachers who a) understand buddhify and why it is different to other products and b) are ok with being told what to do. We’d also not say no to you getting in touch if you have lots of spare money hanging around and want to help us make something truly remarkable. Worth a shot :)
Happy New Year!