9News Denver App Development

App development information augmenting the 9News in Denver story which interviewed with Brad Anderson, Fruition’s President, regarding mobile (iPhone and Android) app development. Fruition is an app development firm located in Denver, Colorado that performs iPhone and Android development for businesses and individuals with novel ideas that port well to mobile devices.

If you have a novel idea for a new app read this first

$30 billion a year will be spent in the app marketplaces by 2013

Most estimates put spending in the app marketplaces in excess of $30 billion per year by 2013. Thus, there is no doubt that there is a massive market for apps. However, just because there is a huge market does not mean that you should go all in and invest your life savings in a new app. First you need to truly flush out your app idea. Then by working with a reputable app development company your chances of success are a lot higher. The following paragraphs lay out a few general rules on what makes an app successful and ways to save money on app development.

What social utility does your app provide?

You need an app that provides enough social utility for people to download it and continue to use it. Social utility is the benefit people get out of using the app. This is usually through a skill mechanism such and a reward mechanism (e.g. points).

Barriers to entry for apps

The barriers to entry are relatively small compared to many other businesses that require larger capital investments. The fixed cost for a small app development are essentially zero. You only need an idea that you can translate into an app and then you need it developed. Of course if you have app development skills the costs are much lower than if you have to hire an app development firm such as Fruition to write the code.

App development is expensive

Done right, app development is expensive. A typical app costs at least $20,000 in development costs and can easily run into the upper six figures. Unfortunately, the costs associated with apps do not end when the development finishes. Now there are millions of apps available in the iTunes app store and the various Android marketplaces including Amazon’s and Google’s app stores. Therefore, to get exposure for your app you need to market the app through app store optimization and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The adage of build it and they will come is not true in the app marketplaces. You have to reach a critical mass before an app will promote itself.

What is your app going to do?

The most successful apps that do well (that are not providing access to an existing business) have two common components to them: (1) a skill including a reward mechanism and (2) social interaction. The skill component provides some social utility. Why does the person need to play it? What does the player get out of it? How does the player know they are doing well? Then the social component comes into play? How does the player compare to their friends? How do they invite and interact with their friends?

App business models – How is your app going to make money?

The most common app business models include:
  • Paid apps: The user pays per download.
  • Free apps: Free apps are supported via paid services after the user downloads them these include – (1) Advertising supported, (2) Virtual good, and (3) Subscription model.

If your app idea is for an existing business

The decision to develop an iPhone or Android app for an existing product or service orientated business is fairly easy. If you answer several basic questions such as: (1) What benefit will my get customers receive from taking my widget service or product and making it available on an iPhone or Android? (2) How will it impact my business processes? (3) Is the development, maintenance, and marketing costs worth it? By working through these questions you will likely have a good idea as to whether or not the app is worth it.

Examples of successful iPhone and Android apps for an existing business

successful appsMy favorite app that was developed for an existing business was Golfzing. Golfzing allows individuals to play fantasy golf and book tee times for 100+ golf courses around the country. Unfortunately, there are not any golf courses included in the Denver area yet you can still play fantasy golf and win real prizes. This is my favorite business app because it is centered around a core business process which is booking tee times for American Golf’s courses in California, Georgia, Texas, New York, Hawaii, and various other states. To provide more social utility than simply easier tee time bookings Golfzing created a fantasy golf game from scratch. That is not an easy development cycle because of the intricacies involved with PGA scoring, the hundreds of PGA players, and the weekly tournament updates that start and end at various times.

How to work through your app development ideas – Ways to save money on app development!

Fruition gets a lot of requests for app development that are simply not complete thoughts. To quote an app all of the critical components of the app need to be thought out and preferably even drawn out via flowcharts or wireframes. Understand that the more work that the app firm has to do for you the less accurate the app development quote is going to be and the more expensive that the app will be.

Create iPhone Wireframes

A wireframe is a simple outline of the platform that you are designing for. There are several excellent wireframing platforms available to help you work through the app ideas. These include Balsamiq wireframes and LucidCharts.com. Both of which are extremely cheap when you compare the hourly rate of an app designer and developer. If an ad idea is thoroughly thought out and even mocked-up (a mock-up does not mean it is fully designed just conceptualized) then it is easy much easier for Fruition to provide an app quote with a higher degree of confidence. If the app is quoted and then the scope of the app changes then the price of the app can end up being many multiples more than the original quote. That is something that has happened and no one likes that type of project. At Fruition we like to have clearly defined app development projects both in terms of scope and price. When the app development projects are clearly defined the final product is usually better!