The iPhone craze is hot as ever, with over 50,000 developers reportedly registered, 800 million apps downloaded, and VC investments being made to pure-play iPhone firms. Some have commented that cream really rises to the top from the hundreds of new apps daily published in the App Store, but there have been even bigger amount of complaints that lots of great apps or games go unnoticed. A big fuss has also been the pricing competition, reducing prices to 0,99 or even below in order get visibility on the Top lists and drive downloads that way. In my opinion, lots of the aspiring developers should look in the mirror rather than criticize Apple or others for their poor performance.
As sexy a business as iPhone and for example games is, it does not mean that normal business rules would not apply -- you cannot just build a product, make it available to the world and expect a huge success. iPhone has been great in that it gives the developers direct access to consumers world-wide. But along with the access comes also a big bunch of responsibilities and headaches. You need to do marketing as well just as in any other business. And that is what most small developers are poor at.
But that is no wonder. Mastering product marketing takes a lot different skills and knowledge than developing an app. First of all, you have to spend tremendous amount of time learning about the marketplace, exploring different apps and firms, methods and causalities, seeing what works and what does not. It can be a daunting task, but the more you know about the marketplace dynamics and the end user behavior, the better success you will see. You will need to have a solid marketing strategy for your products in order to succeed.
There are many stories about developers who have seen huge success with their apps, and those cases exactly have drawn such a big amount of developers on the platform in the spirit of gold rush. And it is great to see all the new innovation. However, if you really want to succeed on iPhone, and grow a valuable company around iPhone apps, you have to look for continuous successes instead of one-hit-wonders. And that is a lot harder. If you want to predict who will be big on iPhone, look for those developers who can consistently get their products into the top lists. Anyone can do it once by being lucky, but most valuable will be the firms who can constantly make products that rise to the top. And that takes lots of marketing skills.
Once the App Store honeymoon period ends, I wonder if there will soon be publishers for iPhone apps as well, similar to the old-school game business, taking care of the business development, marketing, and merchandizing on behalf of game developers? At least many would be in need for such expertise.
This ended up being a rather long post, so I divided it into two. Let's take a look at the most basic marketing tools available tomorrow.