How to tap into the world of apps
'Looking at how an app is promoted is a more complicated question.' Photo: Karl Hilzinger
EVERYONE has heard of some whiz-bang kid who made squillions having invented an iPhone or tablet app. I have an idea that could be interesting - how do I break into the market?
It requires three ingredients. The first is a cool idea. It doesn't necessarily have to be unique, although that helps, but it could be a an old idea rolled out in a better way. The second is quality execution - high production values, an intuitive user interface and useful features. As with any other product, happy customers - your users - can generate more exposure and sales, which leads to a more profitable product. The final element is effective marketing. You can achieve this by ensuring you keep some budget aside to promote your app when it goes live, and by using the available social mediums to promote the hell out of it.
HOW do I find out if my idea already exists as an app, and if not, how do I secure ownership?
Start off by Googling an idea, and searching the Apple App Store and Google Play store for similar concepts - be sure to include overseas markets in these searches. Also look at including different and unusual search terms, and if you want to find some information on existing apps, you can visit sites such as Xyologic and App Annie to get an idea of what works.
Remember that not finding anything evenly remotely similar is rare but possible. As far as securing ownership, the best way to do this is to build a great app, get it out there and gain market share. In most cases patenting is not a viable option because of set-up costs, enforcement and the fact that having a totally original idea in the app market is unusual.
HOW do I find help with the technical questions?
If you are taking on the development and promotion of an app on your own, you can do an online search to help answer any burning technical questions. Sites such as Stack Overflow are a great resource for this, but you should keep in mind that if you find yourself needing to ask these kinds of questions, then it is probably best to seek advice from an app developer.
WHO do I approach to sell the app? And what are the best ways to promote it?
Apps are sold through smartphone stores such as the App Store and Google Play, but looking at how an app is promoted is a more complicated question. It will depend on the type of app you're selling and the market you want to reach. Most strategies will include a combination of paid advertising, the use of social networks and building your own community.
With MIRIAM STEFFENS
Steve Fanale is founder of online business incubator AppVillage, which helps entrepreneurs build and market apps.