Launch a mobile app because you can

Recently, I came across a post on Vulcan Post which reads, “6 reasons why you should not launch a mobile app just because you can1”. There were six reasons, and there was definitely some grains of truth in his argument supported with some numbers. However, as a developer, I see those reasons as mere challenges, instead of “reasons” to not launch a mobile app. In fact, you should probably launch a mobile app because you can.

Launch a mobile app because you can2

To save you time from clicking the title, I had copied the reasons over and bolded them over here. Here are my thoughts:

1. The level of saturation of the apps industry is too high

Without a doubt, competition is high – especially on the App Store. As of October 2013, there were 1 million apps on Apple’s app marketplace. But that’s only because the App Store is where the money is! According to Apple, the US-based firm has made over US$10 billion in sales in 2013 alone.

Sure, you can work on a responsive HTML5 site or use the Ionic framework but one thing is for sure – the future is mobile. Go native to take advantage of hardware features on the mobile devices.

2. There will be an influx of low quality apps

The author is absolutely right. There IS an influx of low quality apps. I’ll be the first to say this – my very own Pomchek (a location-based app to find the nearest bike shops) scores low on quality. Someone even left a one-star review for me. But as a novice developer, I am always reminded that we need to start somewhere. Seeing my app on the App Store is akin to giving birth to a child and watching him or her grow up.

Of course, I was ashamed and sad when I received the one-star review, but it did make me want to improve the app for the next user. By the way, I’m still maintaining the app (go download it!).

3. There are so many copies of each app with each being slight permutations of each other.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Good artists copy but great artists steal.” That is the way humans function. When you see someone doing well in a certain app category, you start thinking, “I can do it better.” That is why we have thousands of note taking apps on the store – with each one thinking that they can do better than the previous. No doubt, there are always going to be bad apples trying to scam users.

I think I can make a better bill splitting app, and I am doing it with some mentoring from my friend Chris. There you go, I just added another similar app into the App Store, because I can!

4. The average lifespan of an app is surprisingly low

I don’t really have much to add here, but here’s a word from a local venture capitalist, Jeffrey Paine. He was sharing something else with me but I think it makes lot of sense for developing any app.

5. It is not all that profitable.

It’s true, and the author is totally right. This is a screenshot of my profits from adMob.

You’re laughing, aren’t you? Don’t worry, I’m doing the very same thing. Some skeptics might ask, “Why spend all the time in the world to maintain an app that isn’t making much money?” Here’s my answer: Because an awesome group of riders from Love Cycling SG said, “It’s really useful especially for cyclist new to Singapore.” Knowing that my app is helping someone out there keeps me going.

On the other side, there are developers who made money with good quality simple app.

To date, I’ve invested about two weeks of time into Bugshot and it has made a total of $3,531.89. That’s not bad at all, but it’s not going to go very far, especially considering that the average for the last 5 days is just $47 per day, and the trend is clearly falling quickly. via Link

To me $47 per day is still awesome.

**6. The costs of making an app are staggering **

Yes, making an app is expensive especially good quality ones. Why is it so expensive? It is because lots of effort and sweat are put into it. To make an app simple yet functional is the toughest. It may seem easy from an user point of view but the efforts behind to get the mechanics correct are crazy. Check out this email exchange post about How Threes was created3, the number of iteration, the hours and the sleepless nights. They took 1.5 years. If they charge at a rate of US100 for every working hour. You do the calculation. It’s not easy so it is expensive. If you can do it, by all means make an app and launch it.

These are all challenges a mobile app developer will have to face if he or she decides to be serious about the market. Work hard, focus on your product and make it swell.

I’m not Mugunth Kumar, but I need to start somewhere. I know the future is in mobile – something reiterated way too many times in various tech publications. I will continue to make apps and hopefully, they will be better ones, all because I can.

p/s – Here is a great article on how to price your app.

  1. Link
  2. When I mean “you can”, I mean you can actually code it out yourself and launch it.
  3. Threes is a very successful game on app store.
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