Category Archives: Mobile App

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Where’s the money in Mobile App Development?

How to make money from mobile app development

How to make money from mobile app development

App Developer magazine has printed an excellent article which describes how some people are making vast fortunes from mobile app development.

According to App Developer magazine

Show Me the Money!

The profit model for apps has shifted dramatically in the last couple of years. Distimo’s Unveiling the Secrets behind App Store Category Dynamics report was very illuminating. It revealed that 90 percent of all revenue generated on Google Play and 74 percent of Apple App Store revenue in February 2014 came from games. In the consumer space, games are clearly where it’s at.

For business the rise of enterprise apps is an important trend. An interesting post at Developer Economics last year suggested that the average revenue per developer involved in app development is four times higher for the enterprise than for the consumer segment.

Obviously much depends on your skills, your ideas, and your contacts, but choosing your focus is only the beginning.

Mobile Apps are high risk, high reward. It takes careful planning, dedication and commitment to create a mobile app success. But for the owners of successful mobile apps, the profits can be extraordinary. For example, according to the article in App Developer magazine

… one of the top games right now is Supercell’s Clash of Clans, which makes more than $1 million per day.

A million dollars per day

How do you maximise your chance of your iPhone App development or Android App development being successful? The answer, as always, is do your homework. Research what the owners of successful apps are doing to achieve that success, and copy the elements of their success which are compatible with your iPhone App or Android App idea.

One of the most important decisions when developing a mobile app is the revenue model. According to App Developer magazine

When it comes to business models, for consumer apps there’s no contest. Premium apps with a price tag are fading fast. The freemium model, whereby the app is free at the point of download, but includes in-app purchases and sometimes advertising, is dominant.

The Distimo report found that 85 percent of iPhone apps and 78.6 percent of iPad apps are free with in-app purchases. That figure is even higher for Android. A special report from App Annie last June found that a staggering 98 percent of worldwide revenue on Google Play is generated by freemium apps, and 90 percent of those freemium apps are games.

Consumers are increasingly reluctant to spend money acquiring an app, but they are growing more willing to spend on content within apps, especially after they’ve invested some time.

In my experience, the number of downloads a mobile app achieves strongly influences the position of the mobile app’s listing in Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Free apps get a lot more downloads, which puts paid for apps at a potential disadvantage.

The Freemium mobile app model can overcome this disadvantage – with freemium, you get all the advantages of a free app, but you also create an opportunity to convince users to pay a fee for premium features.

I strongly recommend you read the Full Article, if you are serious about creating a profitable mobile app.

If you have an idea for an iPhone App or Android App, and would like to discuss various revenue models, and how they might be implemented, please Contact Me

Why Mobile App Developers avoid Adobe Flash

Another week, another gaping security hole in Adobe Flash.

Up until a few years ago, if you wanted to animate a website, and create a slick dynamic presentation, you used Adobe Flash. Flash even made inroads into mobile app development – for a time it seemed likely that Adobe Flash would become the defacto cross platform environment for mobile app development.

A relentless string of security embarrassments, defects which allow malicious websites to plant viruses on the computers of users who view the websites, has dramatically damaged the popularity of Flash. The seeming inability of Adobe to secure their Flash product is an ongoing disaster, which will almost certainly lead to the demise of Adobe Flash as a web standard.

The downfall of Adobe Flash, in my opinion, began in 2009. Steve Jobs, the legendary CEO of Apple Corporation who oversaw the birth of iPhone, published an open letter, explaining why Apple would not allow Adobe Flash to run on iPhone.

In April 2010, Steve Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Apple Inc. published an open letter explaining why Apple wouldn’t allow Flash on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. In the letter he cited the rapid energy consumption, poor performance on mobile devices, abysmal security, lack of touch support, and desire to avoid “a third party layer of software coming between the platform and the developer”. He also touched on the idea of Flash being “Open”, claiming that “By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system”.

Jobs also tried to dismiss the idea that Apple customers are missing out by being sold devices without Flash compatibility. He quoted a number of statistics and concluded with “Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content.”

At the time Steve Jobs’ decision was highly controversial. Critics suggested that Steve Jobs was exaggerating the problems with Flash, to try to steer developers into using his proprietary iPhone development environment, rather than allowing iPhone Apps to be developed using Adobe Flash.

Since 2009, ongoing and very public problems with Adobe Flash security have vindicated Jobs’ decision in the eyes of most observers. Adobe’s apparent inability to secure their product has provoked fury amongst developers and Adobe Flash users.

According to The Register

Enough is ENOUGH: It’s time to flush Flash back to where it came from – Hell

If you patched Adobe’s screen door of the internet – its Flash plugin – last week, and thought you were safe, even for a few weeks, you were sadly mistaken.

The Photoshop goliath is warning that yet another programming blunder in its code is being exploited in the wild, and says it won’t have a patch ready to deploy until later this week. Buckle up, in other words.

This latest security vulnerability is, as always, triggered when the plugin tries to play a malicious Flash file – allowing hackers to download malware onto PCs and effectively hijack the computers so passwords and more can be stolen.

According to Trend Micro, the Angler exploit kit was updated to leverage this particular flaw, and used to inject malware into PCs visiting web video site dailymotion.com via a dodgy ad network.

Read more…

For now Adobe Flash continues to be used. A lot of legacy websites, and some mobile Apps, still use Adobe Flash – so completely removing support for Adobe Flash from all systems would potentially annoy users, by preventing them from accessing websites and mobile apps they rely on.

But Jobs’ early decision to ban Flash on iPhones, combined with the rise of alternatives such as Javascript / CSS animations, which provide comparable functionality without the security problems, has had an impact. Flash is now very much seen as a legacy system – something you have to consider supporting, because some old websites and mobile apps still require Flash, but not a system which you would use for creating new code or web content.

If you would like to know more about Adobe Flash, and options for upgrading or replacing Flash, please Contact Me

Android App Developers Poke Fun at North Korea

A newly developed Android App pokes fun at the North Korean dictator

A newly developed Android App pokes fun at the North Korean dictator

A new Android App developed by Subway Monkey lets users poke fun at North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

According to PR Newswire

While Sony Pictures may have famously balked at the idea, the fearless development team at Subway Monkey has no qualms about poking the bear that is North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The company’s new mobile app, Kim Cam, gives users a co-star with the reclusive and notorious leader in their own mini-movies. Subway Monkey has also launched a Kickstarter campaign to further support the app’s development.

“What’s a great home movie or viral video without a compelling and recognizable star?” asked Bee Brown, Public Relations Manager at Subway Monkey. “Our new Kim Cam app lets enterprising young directors cast none other than Kim Jong-un in the lead role, doing all sorts of ridiculous things. We all know that Kim’s father was an avowed movie buff – it’s only fitting that his son follow in his footsteps, so to speak.”

Kim Cam is free and will launch first on Google Play. The app takes advantage of a smartphone’s built-in camera and enables users to insert short recordings of the North Korean leader into a video clip. The user’s imagination and sense of humor are the only practical limitations on what can be created with Kim Cam.

These apps might not seem a significant contribution to the world, but there are a few inescapable highlights of creating an app like this:

  1. The creators of satirical mobile apps sometimes make a lot of money – taking advantage of a hot issue is a powerful way to attract attention for your effort
  2. Satirical mobile apps are arguably a celebration of freedom of expression. They might seem silly or puerile, but I’m glad we live in a world where you can create such a mobile app without breaking the law
  3. Nobody is going to complain to you about the impact on their business or income, if your satire mobile app malfunctions.

Of course, in the case of a high profile target like Kim Jong-un, there is a risk your satirical app will attract the attention of cyber criminals, like the people who hacked Sony Pictures.

However, the world would be a poorer place, if everyone started censoring themselves because they were worried someone powerful might be offended by what they say. The famous comedian Charlie Chaplain refused to be intimidated by the risk of retribution from Adolf Hitler, when Chaplain made the satirical movie The Great Dictator, even though Hitler had agents and sympathisers who could conceivably have attacked Chaplain in retaliation for mocking their idol.

If you have an idea for a satirical mobile app, especially if the satire is relevant to current world events, and want to speak to an iPhone App Developer or Android App Developer about your idea, please Contact Me.

Mobile App Development: Native or Web?

Web App vs Native Mobile App - a Big Development Decision

Web App vs Native Mobile App – an Important Development Decision

Software Development Times has written an excellent article about one of the important early development decisions which needs to be made when developing a mobile app – should you use native mobile app development tools, or should you present your app functionality using web technology – HTML, CSS and Javascript?

According to SDT:

Native apps maximize performance and user experience

Native development is, on average, the most widely adopted approach. Forrester’s latest Business Technographics Global Developer Survey found that, overall, developers build native apps 38% of the time, hybrid apps 22% of the time, and Web apps 27% of the time. That’s not surprising: Native apps offer a great combination of performance and user experience. And when done right, they deliver a high level of customer satisfaction compared to Web applications, as well as enable superior offline processing and storage capability.

But regardless of these benefits, native apps are a challenge to maintain. Developers we’ve worked with report porting costs of 50% to 70% of the cost of the original app for every new mobile operating system the app needs to run on. Plan to support iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows? That’s an increase in development costs of 150% to 210%.

Web apps minimize costs and improve agility

While developers on average spend more time building native apps, at least 74% spend time building with a Web-based approach. But with native’s advantages in performance and user satisfaction, why would anyone want to use Web technologies?

Unless an unlimited development budget is available, taking a native-only approach exceeds the reach of many development teams. A good rule of thumb is to estimate 20% to 25% in additional porting costs when using Web technologies, significantly less than the cost of an all-native approach.

Web Apps vs Native Apps

Web Apps, at least for some types of apps, offer a cost advantage if you plan to target a large number of mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Microsoft, etc.).

HOWEVER, web apps in my experience present a challenge if you want to create an app which appears to be native – you can spend a lot of time and effort making web buttons look exactly like native buttons, only to have all the rules change next time Apple or Android upgrade their operating system.

In addition, there are many types of app functionality which would perform poorly if implemented using web app technology. For example, if your app presents a long list of database entries, particularly if you want the contents of the database list to update automatically as the user types text into a search field, the inferior performance of web app technology very quickly becomes an issue – if your database contains more than a 50 entries, it is very difficult to make a web app provide acceptable search performance, without developing native mobile app components to augment the search – which kindof defeats the purpose of using web app technology.

In general I advise clients NOT to opt for the web app approach, unless the functionality of their mobile app is simple and not computationally demanding. While the lure of being able to port the bulk of your app to different mobile platforms with minimal changes might seem attractive, in my experience the risk of unsatisfactory mobile app performance, and the difficulty of achieving that vital last 1% of polish to make the web app into a compelling user experience, more than outweighs any benefits.

The Facebook Web App Experience

I’m not alone in my assessment of the significant challenges associated with creating high quality web apps. Facebook chose to redevelop their web app into a native iPhone app, because of the stability and performance issues their team encountered during development of their web app.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-engineering/under-the-hood-rebuilding-facebook-for-ios/10151036091753920

Scaling up with HTML5

As mobile usage exploded over the last few years, our priority was to ensure that regardless of device, platform, network, or region, Facebook users had a good experience on their mobile devices. To support thousands of devices and multiple mobile platforms, we leveraged HTML5 to build and distribute Facebook mobile experiences across iOS and other platforms.

By allowing us to write once and ship across multiple platforms, HTML5 has historically allowed us to keep the Facebook mobile experience current and widely available, and has been instrumental in getting us to where we are today. We chose to use HTML5 because not only did it let us leverage much of the same code for iOS, Android, and the mobile web, but it also allowed us to iterate on experiences quickly by launching and testing new features without having to release new versions of our apps.

So while utilizing web technology has allowed us to support more than 500 million people using Facebook on more than 7000 supported devices, we realized that when it comes to platforms like iOS, people expect a fast, reliable experience and our iOS app was falling short. Now that our mobile services had breadth, we wanted depth. So, we rewrote Facebook for iOS from the ground up (I really did open up Xcode and click “New Project”) with a focus on quality and leveraging the advances that have been made in iOS development.

(Re-)Building for speed

One of the biggest advantages we’ve gained from building on native iOS has been the ability to make the app fast. Now, when you scroll through your news feed on the new Facebook for iOS, you’ll notice that it feels much faster than before. One way we have achieved this is by re-balancing where we perform certain tasks. For example, in iOS, the main thread drives the UI and handles touch events, so the more work we do on the main thread, the slower the app feels. Instead, we take care to perform computationally expensive tasks in the background. This means all our networking activity, JSON parsing, NSManagedObject creation, and saving to disk never touches the main thread.

To give another example, we use Core Text to lay out many of our strings, but layout calculations can quickly become a bottleneck. With our new iOS app, when we download new content, we asynchronously calculate the sizes for all these strings, cache our CTFramesetters (which can be expensive to create), and then use all these calculations later when we present the story into our UITableView.

If you would like advice on whether your proposed iPhone App or Android App is a good fit for being developed as a web app, or whether you should choose the native mobile app development option, please Contact Me

Mobile App Revenue Model – Paid or Advertised?

The rise of App Advertising Revenue

The rise of Mobile App Advertising Revenue

Business Insider Australia has published a story about the rise of mobile app install advertisements, popup advertisements which encourage users to install other mobile apps.

According to Business Insider Australia, install advertisements are popular because it is easy to calculate the return on investment.

New and exclusive data from BI Intelligence finds that US mobile app-install ad revenue will top $US4.6 billion this year and grow to $US6.8 billion by the end of 2019, increasing by a compound annual growth rate of 14% from 2014. We believe mobile app install ads accounted for about 30% of mobile ad revenue last year.

The published revenue figures conclusively demonstrate that advertising is a serious option for monetising mobile apps, especially mobile app install advertisements.

Free apps definitely get more installs – convincing someone to click a button is much easier than convincing someone to spend some cash.

Both models have their advantages – for example, if your target audience is a specialist market, if your mobile app will be very useful to a small number of people, then it makes more sense to charge and upfront fee for your mobile app – generating revenue from advertising requires a large audience.

However, if your target audience is the general public, especially if you are competing with free mobile apps, there is a strong case for adopting an advertising model. It is difficult to convince people to pay for your iPhone app or Android app, if a competitor offers a very similar service for free, even if your app provides more features.

Then of course there is the Freemium model – a free app with optional feature upgrades which can be purchased. My advice, if you are building a Freemium mobile app, is make sure the user can perform all the basic functions of the app without paying. If you give users the impression you are being “greedy”, by asking for money every time they click a button, this can be a major turnoff, and can lead to users leaving negative reviews in App Store or Google Play Store.

If you would like to discuss the monetisation options for an iPhone app or Android App which you are developing, please Contact me for more information.

iOS App Development – More Revenue than Hollywood

Apps vs Holly - the rapid growth of mobile app development.

iOS App Development vs Hollywood – the rapid growth of mobile app development.

Last year, software development – iOS app development – generated 14.3 billion dollars, more revenue than Hollywood.

According to ReadWrite:

As analyst Horace Dediu pointed out on his Asymco blog, iOS apps drew in more bucks last year than the movie business. Earlier this month, Apple announced iPhone and iPad developers raked in as much as $10 billion in 2014. Tack on the 30% or so that Apple itself made on top, and the roughly $14.3 billion exceeds the $10 billion or so Hollywood made at the U.S. box office.

Its not just the numbers which are astounding, its the meteoric pace at which mobile app development has overtaken the movie business which has shocked observers. As the graph above shows, just 2 years ago the app business was half the size of today. The rapid growth trend shows no sign of slowing down.

The interesting question in my mind is – just how long will Hollywood stay in the movie business, given that the skills required for mobile app development and movie production overlap in so many ways?

Will we see a slow “brain drain”, as the best Hollywood film engineers are tempted by the fabulous rewards of mobile app development? Or will we see a great convergence, as Hollywood and mobile app developers join forces to ensure that every movie has an app, or apps become more movie like? Or movies become more app like?

What is clear is there is still potential to make a lot of money developing Android apps and developing iPhone apps. And, just as it is in Hollywood, its not always the big production houses which take the prize – there is plenty of room for newcomers to make their mark, and cash in on the multi-billion dollar mobile app development market.

Shapr raises $3 million for Business Mobile App

Shapr app

Sharp announces it has raised $3 million of investor finance

New York / Paris based startup Shapr has raised $3 million funding to help them develop a new business networking mobile app. They plan to build both iPhone App and Android app versions of their product.

According to Techcrunch;

… the idea for Shapr came to him [Ludovic Huraux] early last year because, as an entrepreneur, he loved to get connected with other people. “I was frustrated because now, [getting connected with others] is very random,” he says. Meanwhile, on LinkedIn, users are often connected to a number of people, some of whom they don’t know that well or haven’t kept up with in years, making it more difficult for online introductions to work as well as those that take place in the real world.

Although Shapr currently bases their service on the LinkedIn social network, Shapr extends LinkedIn functionality, by allowing users to select up to 50 contacts with whom they have a close connection. The idea is to provide an enhanced version of LinkedIn contacts, by encouraging mobile app users to select people with whom they have maintained strong connections, rather than just providing links to everyone in their network, with no qualification based on how up to date that link might be.

Shapr also sees one of their strengths as being mobile centric – designed from the ground up as a mobile app, rather than being retrofitted to iPhone App and Android App platforms after initially being developed as a desktop system.

… unlike business networking giant LinkedIn, Shapr’s software is mobile-first, with apps for both iOS and Android devices that allow users to select a subset of their contacts who they really know and endorse, and then share those contacts with others in their network.

The Shapr announcement is firm evidence that there is ongoing strong investor interest in networking apps. While it might seem sometimes that billion dollar companies like Facebook own the world, the truth is all social networking businesses are one innovation away from losing their crown to an ambitious newcomer.

If you have an idea for a networking app, or would like some help preparing a proposal to attract investor support for your mobile app idea, please contact me now.

How to hire a mobile app developer

How to hire a developer to build an app for your small business

How to hire a developer to build an app for your small business

Lifehacker has published a great article about how to hire a mobile app developer, and how and when you should do so.

The two most important points they make, in my opinion:

Australians are in love with mobile phones and mobile apps. In that context, it can seem like developing a mobile app for your business is an essential step. With online sales in Australia topping $246 billion in 2012-2013 (according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics) and more than 76 per cent of Australians accessing online services via their mobile phone (according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority), some sort of mobile strategy seems essential. However, careful planning is required to make sure you can get value from your investment.

A slice of a $246 billion dollar pie is an attractive proposition – but maximising your return on investment on an app, as with any endeavour, requires careful planning and preparation.

Make sure you really need (and can afford) an app

Make sure you can answer the most basic question: Why does my business need a mobile app? If the only answer is “Because I think it would be cool”, that’s not sufficient justification. If the main answer is “because everyone else is building one”, you also need to think carefully. While it’s true that if everyone else in your sector has an app and you don’t you might look sluggish, it’s also true that there may be more effective ways of differentiating yourself from rivals.

My most successful clients know exactly why they want an app, have a clear idea of what they want to achieve, and they know how they plan to market their app.

I cannot overemphasise the importance of having a marketing plan. Very occasionally, an app will shoot up the charts with no marketing whatsoever, but this is rare. Even legendary apps like Angry Birds got their start through vigorous marketing.

I strongly recommend if you are thinking of commissioning an iPhone app or Android App that you read the Lifehacker article. Once you have read the Lifehacker article, contact me if you have any questions, or would like to discuss your mobile app requirements.

Unrealistic Boobs – a mobile app animation failure

The Guardian has a fascinating writeup of the way mobile app and desktop app games developers neglect the boobs of animated characters. We’ve all heard the Lara Croft story – how an accidental slip of the mouse created a female hero of truly heroic frontal proportions. But its one thing to give your female character a generous endowment – its quite another to make their endowment behave in a lifelike manner.

Consider the following:

I mean, you can see what the mobile game developer *attempted* to do – but its not really working, is it? The boobs bounce around quite independently of the movement of the character, making them look like they are demonically possessed.

The article is well worth a read, it has other examples of hilarious slip-ups in the boob animation department. Its certainly an eye opener, and a cautionary tale when it comes to your own animation content.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jan/21/boobs-breasts-physics-video-game

Blackberry to force YOU to pay for their app mistakes

The failed mobile app platform that wants to force you to help

The failed mobile app platform that wants to force you to help

Blackberry has outrageously demanded that app developers be forced to support their platform, at the developer’s expense – that whenever a mobile app is released, app developers should be forced by law to also release a version of their app for the Blackberry platform.

In the late 90s, Blackberry was a popular platform. But they lost their crown to Apple and Google Android, because there was one crucially important aspect of their business which Blackberry neglected – their app developers.

Developing for Blackberry was difficult and expensive – from memory, you had to pay thousands of dollars for the Blackberry development environment, then you had to pay hundreds of dollars when you submitted a mobile app, for Blackberry to evaluate it. As a result, hardly anyone developed mobile apps for the Blackberry platform.

When Apple iPhone exploded onto the scene, Apple’s focus on encouraging mobile app development gave their iPhone platform an unprecedented level of versatility – and swept previous incumbents like Blackberry from the field.

If you were CEO of a company which had just been so soundly outcompeted, what would you do?

The obvious solution, you could attempt some product innovation, you could try to find a way to tempt consumers back to your brand, by addressing its shortcomings.

Or you could do what Blackberry has just done – run to Washington, to try to force mobile developers to support your platform, by convincing politicians that your proposed anti-freedom law should be passed in the name of ensuring “equality”.

If Blackberry gets away with this audacious attempt to force others to prop up their business, to pay for their mistakes, this madness won’t stop with Blackberry – the law will apply to any mobile app platform, no matter how obscure.

Where do you draw the line? If some mom and pop business releases 500 phones, do you have to support their platform as well? If a Taiwanese manufacturer creates a new mobile OS, which has no presence whatsoever in English speaking markets, could they sue you if you fail to support their mobile app platform?

And of course, it won’t be long before other industries take notice, and start clamouring for “neutrality” laws of their own, to secure market share through government fiat rather than product innovation.

This madness must be stopped. The potential for this proposal to stifle innovation and crush startup businesses is breathtaking, but Blackberry doesn’t care. All they can see is a possible opportunity to convince legislators to force developers, anyone who commissions an app, to give Blackberry’s business a boost, without Blackberry having to pay a penny. Given Blackberry’s dismal market share, none of the effort devoted to creating blackberry apps is likely to yield a profit – but the “Blackberry Law” would still force you to provide an app for their system, at your own expense.