As promised, I will get into some of the nitty gritty details of creating a successful app in this post, but as you can imagine, I won’t be able to cover everything.
However, I will complete this series of posts as quickly as possible and give you as many resources as possible to turn to.
I realize we haven’t even scratched the surface of what exactly it takes to create an app, such as what language to use, what design tools to use, etc., etc.
I assure you I will get to those, but I need to continue to give you a broader overview first.
Let’s start with an exercise.
Many people approach the idea of creating an app with the following belief, “If I create an app and price it at one dollar, if 1,000,000 people buy it, I’ll be a millionaire.”
And that’s a great thought. I like it. I mean, who wouldn’t buy a great little app for $1, right?
First of all, the app store usually gives you a 70/30 split, which means for every dollar you earn, you get 70 cents, and they keep 30 cents. It’s not a bad deal for you really, since you are essentially building a treehouse in their tree. They take care of so many of the business aspects freeing you up to just create apps.
But also consider the standard tier one price is 99 cents, not a dollar, and those million extra pennies you don’t receive add up to $10,000, so you will have to sell even more.
So what are the numbers to make a million dollars with a 99 cent app? Pardon my geekiness, but I believe the number of apps you would need to sell is 1,443,002 in order to make $1,000,000.
Then the IRS comes and…
Okay, so this is getting depressing, but I’m going somewhere with this. At this point many people fall into three camps with three different ways of thinking:
- I’d be happy with substantially less
- I’ll sell more apps
- I’ll raise the price
If you’re in number one’s camp, you’re golden. No arguments from me. But why not shoot higher?
If you’re in number two or three’s camps, I admire your spirit, because, again, it takes a lot to make it in the app business, and this sort of thinking will take you far in your business education.
First let me say that idea number three (raising the price) is right out for most popular apps. If your model is to write an app for the masses, I can tell you that 99 cents is an amazing price point.
The Magic of 99 Cents
The 99 cent app is not dead, though to paraphrase a popular misquotation of Mark Twain, “reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.”
There is a new model sweeping the app world which I’m sure you’ve heard of. It’s called “freemium,” and it’s a very viable model. Shoot, even South Park spoofed this business model in the episode Freemium Isn’t Free.*
Essentially you give your app away for free and monetize it through advertisements or some other add-ons (referred to as in-app purchases, or more popularly IAP).
It’s a great model. It works. It works well. Many, many, many people will download free apps, however unless your app truly engages people or hooks into an addictive behavior, you will likely not see any more revenue from this model.
Here’s why I like the 99 cent model. It’s kind of a magic number. For many people, it’s an “automatic.” It’s like putting a coin in a slot machine. In their minds they think, “it’s only 99 cents; I’ll take a gamble on it.”
If it pays out, they believe they’ve bought a bargain (which they have). If it doesn’t, they don’t feel that bad, since they probably spent many times that amount at Starbucks.
Our first app, Spirit Story Box*, is a 99 cent app with some additional 99 cent IAP’s. I’ve had great success with that price point. I will price future apps developed by us at that price point.
That said, we will also try the freemium model in the future.
I hate to be a tease, but we will get into the idea of selling more in later posts. It’s a big topic, and I want to do it justice.
Three Basic Rules of Design
As promised, I will need to turn back to the idea of designing your app.
The first rule of app development is this:
1. Your app must be awesome, so learn what awesome is.
There’s no way around it. There are those who make money off of junk apps which provide little if any value to their customers. These apps have short lives, and if the developers have deceived their customers, they are permanently banned from selling in the app store.
The only sure way to success is to create a quality product, not junk. Think of the quality brands you admire. What sets them apart? Most successful brands pay attention to the littlest of details.
Tilley is one of those brands who has perfected their design. I believe in that company and wholeheartedly endorse them. What an inspiring brand!
Someone close to me once had the opportunity to resell some designer brand merchandise. These were brands with storefronts on Rodeo Boulevard. I was struck by the quality of the products and their packaging. Both were head and shoulders above the competition.
Say what you will about expensive brands, but there’s a reason why they are successful. Until you develop an eye for quality, you will never create a quality product.
2. Play by the rules, and heed the design guidelines
Do not create a business model that is deceptive. Play close to attention to the design guidelines provided by the owner of the app store (Apple, Google, etc.). Since we are iOS app developers, this means our apps must be approved for sale by Apple.
Apple has design guidelines we are expected to follow. We ignore these at our own risk, since doing so may likely get our app rejected.
Those design guidelines are meant to assure that we are creating a quality product, and if taken seriously, can actually guide us toward creating a quality product.
When you pay the money to become a developer, you will be given links to a variety of design resources including these guidelines.
3. Don’t give into “good enough.”
When people create an app, they have a vision of what it can be. Sometimes it meets or even exceeds that vision, but often it falls short.
Why? What factors led them to believe their app was the best it could be?
I will get into these in a later article, but often it just comes down to the fact that they felt it was, “good enough.”
Don’t be one of those developers. You may want to hurry to bring your app to market but remember this one thing:
A late app is only late until it’s finished. A bad app is bad forever.
That’s all I have for now. Continue with me on this journey as I get into the details of how to go about creating your own successful app.
If you would like to consult with us about app development, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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