With all the buzz around the newly released iPhone 5 and the anticipation of the upcoming iPad Mini, you might be thinking about creating a mobile app or certainly downloading a few. And that's just with Apple's iOS. There are other platforms that are just as popular such as those running Android such as Samsung's phenomenal Galaxy S III and Microsoft's Surface tablet which is slated to be released later this month on Oct. 26.
For one, there are only two types of apps: those for entertainment and those that provide utility. Approximately 85 percent of all apps are entertainment based -- that means the players have fun. Utility apps do things for you like see what your friends are up to, find an immediate caffeine fix, or find the nearest subway station.
I just launched an app that pokes fun at Wall St. called Trader Trivia. I learned a great deal and got some helpful advice during the process and I want to pay it forward by making you aware of them. One person that I found invaluable is Deltina Hay -- a super-talent in her own right. She has a modestly priced online course available at Udemy called Marketing Mobile Apps For Top Visibility and Lasting Success. If you are thinking about the app space, this will be the best $99 that you'll spend. If Hay's name is familiar, it's because she's authored two great reads called the Social Media Survivor's Guide and The Bootstrapper's Guide to the Mobile Web.
Most of you reading this might have an idea for an app, but if you don't have a solid marketing plan, you might as well be a mute. No one will find you. According to press releases by Apple, there are over 700,000 apps today -- you will not get found just because you have a pretty icon. Hay's coverage of advances, press releases, and handling query letters is worth the price alone.
One thing you should know is that if you have a business, you can create an app that will make life easier for your potential clients and current fans. Those types of apps will include contact information, social media links to Facebook and Twitter, your contact information, and an RSS feed if you have a blog. If you are a restaurant, you might include your menu or your weekly specials.
But these are what I refer to as "apps of convenience" as they serve more like a "Control-D bookmarked icon" that an iOS or Android PDA owner can place on their screen for their convenience. These apps are a step above having your existing website optimized to be mobile-friendly, but your truest fans are visiting your site every day and they don't need an app to do it. Don't agree with me? If Bloomberg or CNBC asked you 'How does having this app benefit the user? You better have an answer that's better than "Well, I've got links to my facebook and my phone number... " That's why I call it an "app of convenience."
I'd say it's cheaper to have a mobile-friendly website that you can optimize your for all mobile platforms for a cost between free and $99 depending on your needs. That might be a better fit for you than to hire a programmer with "an engine" develop an "app of convenience" for $1,000. Do your homework because if have both, then you'll have to drive traffic to your site and to your app. The coolness will eventually wear off and you might be better off using a mobile-friendly site and support that with social media.
Launching an app is not unlike launching a book in the current publishing environment. In my opinion, you first need to have a huge following, and then develop the app. I wouldn't try to create an app cold unless you have thousands of followers on Facebook and/or Twitter, great relationships, or a huge marketing budget. I've seen and heard of dozens of guys spending between $20,000 and $100,000 to launch an app as unknowns. Chad Mureta, mentioned above, recommends keeping your budget to less than $2,000 to produce your first app. After that, chances are you won't make your investment back.