I’ve read and listened to a lot of well-constructed thoughts on the current state of the App Store. App-pricing, the effect of games with their IAPs, the marginal cost of software, niche markets and product differentiation, revenue models… and what this all means for independent developers.
Like many people, it’s caused me to think.
As I consider the next step in my plan, I’ve decided that it will serve me well if I forget the App Store exists…
The App Store for Distribution Only
OK, that’s a purposefully attention-grabbing title but, put all the discussion of pricing and revenue models to one side for a moment and think about the App Store and the process of someone finding a new app.
How does it change my approach if I imagine that the App Store has no mechanism for searching or for browsing? There aren’t featured lists or charts. If I imagine that the App Store simply allows users to download apps that they already know about and, in some cases, will process payments.
That might seem like a step too far. After all, those featured lists do exist, people do browse, and your results in App Store searches can be improved. But it’s a safe step. A step toward something less fuzzy, toward acknowledging reality.
With this view, I’m not crossing my fingers and hoping that some magical-marketing-machine will deliver me sales.
With this view, I need to really think about how people will find out about my app.
This view makes it absolutely clear that there’s more work that just the development. That I need to be able to reach potential customers.
This really changes my view on what apps are worth writing. The app(s) that I work on need to fit with my strategy and ability to market my products.
Let’s return to that discussion of revenue models. I could opt for one of the favoured strategies and work on something that’s freemium, perhaps with a subscription service added in. That’s still no good if I haven’t considered how the pricing fits with the target market and worse, if I’ve got no way getting the product in front of those people.
There has been some really good commentary and analysis of app-pricing. In the same way that I don’t want to get caught out, expecting free marketing from the App Store, I also don’t want to get caught up with the idea that the right revenue model will fix all my problems.
I need a dependable method of reaching customers.
There isn’t one size fits all.
The App Store and the marketing/exposure it provides is key for some apps/businesses; they can rely on it. I know that some developers have some influence/control, and the App Store can be built-in as part of a bigger, marketing plan. I’m also pretty sure that people have had over-night hits with pleasing results…
For me, considering App Store generated sales puts me dangerously close to hoping-for-a-hit. I can’t build on that. I need to take full responsibility for reaching the target audience.
Still pretty awesome, actually
Let’s not be disheartened. With this view, the App Store is still a magical-software-delivery mechanism. It’s not that long ago that getting the average person to feel confident downloading new software was a rarity – not to mention, handing over money for it! The App Store is still awesome for developers.