1 Million Users in 9 Days

Yes. It’s a true statistic. If you’re like me, you might have guessed one of those tween-friendly social network or chatting apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp or Kik owned that record. But then, like me, you’d be wrong.

The answer: Draw Something. There is a good chance that you’ve played it, as the app surpassed 100 million downloads way back in 2013. While it’s crazy to imagine 100 MILLION downloads, I am more impressed by the 1 million in nine days. Can you imagine releasing an app…. a website…. a burger joint in the middle of Times Square…. anything…. and having 1 MILLION customers in a mere nine days?

And Draw Something isn’t the only app that’s hit it big (in case you’re interested, Zynga acquired the company who created Draw Something for $180 million a few years back.) King Digital Entertainment, the maker of Candy Crush Saga raked in $568 million of in 2013. Angry Birds: $200 million 2012. Oh yeah, and Clash of Clans is cashing in $1.5 million in revenue per……. day.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? GET ME INTO THE APP DEVELOPMENT INDUSTRY!!!!!!!

Not so fast. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite as easy as it seems (seriously, an app about angry birds destroying greedy pigs is worth hundreds of millions? Really?) Less than 1% of apps are considered “financially successful” which is loosely defined as bringing in a decent profit. And it’s not getting rosier — Gartner predicts that by 2018, that 0.99% will become around 0.01% and over 95% of apps will be free.

So what does the future of app development look like? Where are developers and entrepreneurs that have an app idea most likely to succeed? Here are a few nuggets to keep in mind:

  1. ) Think Enterprise. New technology usually permeates the consumer space first, before migrating over to business. If you’re at work right now, look around and think about the technology that your company uses to get things done. Chances are, there is plenty of room for improvement. It’s no surprise that enterprise is the highest earning app category at 29%. Games, on the other hand, don’t even crack the top-5.
  2. ) It’s not just about smartphones. Apps aren’t just on our phones. They’re on our TV’s, car dashboards, iPads, XBOX, and more. While Smart TV’s take the crown for highest earning device type with 30%, close behind are IoT (Internet of Things) devices at 24%. Don’t know much about IoT? Look around your house (or workplace, or wherever you are) and start typing in “smart X” into Google with X being any object. There are smart toothbrushes, forks, beds, pens, coffee makers, the list goes on. It won’t be long before it will be an expectation that all of our devices are connected to the internet.
  3. ) Consider app-flipping (also known as “re-skinning.”) Have you noticed how many Candy Crush Saga games there are now? “Pet Rescue Saga.” “Diamond Digger Saga.” Or what about all of those Deer Hunting apps. Or Slots. Or my favorites — knock-offs of Flappy Bird — Splashy Fish or Flappy Potato anyone? The basic premise of app-flipping is that you purchase the source code for a game, and then add different graphics to create various versions. Check out Apptopia or Fliptopia if you’re interested in learning more.
  4. ) It’s still a business. In order to make your app a success, you need to run it like a business. Make sure you know what your customer acquisition cost and lifetime value of a customer are. Develop a distribution plan — how will you acquire customers? Will your app be free and offer in-game purchases, or will you charge an initial download fee? These are all important questions to consider before writing any code. Once you have deployed, be sure to take advantage of analytics tools like AppAnnie or Distimo.
  5. ) iOS is still king. App developers often love to hate Apple, but unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil as iOS still wins when it comes to the highest earning platform (27%.) Mobile browser (22%) and Android (16%) are 2nd and 3rd, with the rest falling very far behind.

While creating an app AS a business can be a difficult endeavor, developing an app FOR your business can be extremely value when it comes to customer engagement and brand recognition. In fact, having an app (or at the bare minimum, mobile friendly website) is more of table stakes than a competitive advantage anymore. But that doesn’t mean you can cut corners with a poor user experience or lack of compelling features — having a bad app is worse than not having one at all.

So, I want to know — have you ever created an app or thought about creating one? What are your predictions for the future of app development?

Thanks for reading!

Julie

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