The Darker Side of being a mobile app developer

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Bigger Picture

Well before going into the darker version of mobile app economy lets see into the brighter side of it.Today this tiny little powerhouse called mobile has completely changed the way people are connecting & sharing. Todays generation are talking less and chatting more, they prefer sending smiley’s instead of writing too much text, want things to happen in lightning fast speed. Trillions of data is being exchanged everyday through internet connected mobile phones and guess what ! the major stakeholders controlling for this huge data flow, are all mobile app developers Viz. WhatsApp , hike, WeChat, line etc . Facebook when switched to app strategy its user base skyrocketed to next level. Now 70 % of their user traffic comes from mobile app only.

Brighter Side of being a mobile app developer

1. Apple and Google app stores will continue growing strongly and exceed 2 million apps before the end of 2017
2. The mobile developer population will grow by about 800,000 developers in 2015
3. On an average everyday 2–3 K apps are being uploaded on major app stores daily
4. Mobile apps have been downloaded more than 150 billion times combined for android and apple App store since their inception in 2008
3. Average time spent on mobile app by internet connected population is more than 1.5 hrs a day
4. The global app economy was worth $ 53Bn in 2012, and expected to rise to $ 68Bn in 2013. It is growing at a 28% CAGR between 2012 and 2016, reaching $143 Bn in 2016. The bulk of this growth will come from APAC and LatAm, the fastest growing markets in terms of smartphone penetration.
5. Total numbers of connected smartphone users is nearing around 3 billion.

Why mobile app developers have to worry ?

From above stats and insights which i shared it’s very clear, all is not bad as far as mobile apps economy is concerned. Then what is that which is so alarming and is less spoken about or has been less covered in this digital age. Let me put this not so good stats in few dotted points –

1. The number of mobile app developers are growing and they will keep adding on ,but not their app revenue
2. Numbers of mobile apps being uploaded will grow by 200 % but at the flip side the chances for reaching those apps into the hands of mobile app user are also decreasing at the same rate.
3. The biggest challenge which is growing at an alarming rate is the mobile app visibility on the app stores. 90 % apps are becoming zombie apps within few days of getting it live on the app store.
4. Mobile user are using only few apps on the regular basis rest apps are being uninstalled within few minutes of their first breath on users phone.
5. Bigger player which are only 10 % of total app developer population, are taking 80 % share of the total revenue being generated from this not so lucrative app stores.
7.98 % population of mobile app user prefer Ad-free version of mobile apps.So chances of making even few dollars a day is becoming dangerously thin for majority of new age developers.
8.Retention rate are as low as 1–3 % on an average for majority of app developers.

Well the list can go on and on as in this 9 years journey of being a mobile app developer , i have seen a lot of things changing and kept learning by failing lot many times .

Darker side — Survival of the fittest(Problems)

I am not saying all is lost yes magic do happen as we are seeing it happening with few big messaging apps and gaming brands. But brutal truth is that most of the wannabe developers will be thrown out of the competition if they to don’t get these things bang on –
1. Targeted mobile app marketing for acquiring users, which sadly is a game of bigger player with huge marketing budget.Even though wise use of free social networking channels can be a savior.

2. Right ASO(organic growth) — app store optimization which is the only thing which if done well and practiced well can do the magic as 70 % of download traffic comes from app stores search .

3. Apps which has a unique concept,launched at right time & which can generate mouth publicity are the ones’s who are going to stay in the competition.Mouth publicity is second largest contributor in mobile apps organic downloads.

So how to survive this illusive economy ? Go ASO Mode(Solution) –

Why App store Optimization ? –

In simple word ASO plays a major role in getting your app visible on the app stores and indirectly leads to some organic downloads thereby improving your app ranking on the store. For survival Go organic way, Inorganic way is costly affair for an average app developers. As per Fiksu -The average Cost per Install for apps on apple and google app stores is going to be as high as 3–4 $. It will be more at higher side for games.So your best chance to survive depends factually on App store optimization .

How to get your ASO right ?

Let me make it absolutely clear that ASO is not a one day or few weeks job, it comes with lot of failed attempts to do it right. It comes from awareness.Also i warn not to outsource this process as it brings a lot of cost and doesn’t guarantee to change your apps fate.The life cycle will be short for outsourced ASO. Do it yourself as you have the chances to go wrong, it will cost less and you will gain a lot over the period of time. here are few right ways to get ASO done in-house

1. App title optimization(Keyword optimization is key)

No matter how competitive your app title is it has to be relevant to your app. Suppose it’s a photo editing app. So make sure image, photo, editing all these keywords are framed to form a relevant phrase. Always go for phrase which you will search if you were the app user. Your app title should not be sugar-coated words it should clearly convey the message about what your app is going to do. Spend some money & time on keyword research tools instead of outsourcing. combine the core functionality of the app with another word that describes what the app does — for example Tweet-deck or Photo Editor.

2. App description optimization(In case of Google play only) —

If it’s an android app, you get a bonus opportunity to amass some organic downloads as Google’s algorithm consider your app description too, into their app ranking strategy.

3. Choose your image wisely

Get your app icon and screenshot optimized to get your user hooked when ever he visits your store listing. human mind works in pictures so if your images are eye-catching it may catch few eye balls and convert them into real app downloads. When i say images i mean to say RGB(color pixels). Read my article on Impact of colors in decision making to get a broader picture. Your app icon is the first window through which your app user interacts. User make decision in microseconds so that’s what we all have in our hand to impress our valuable user. So spends as much time as possible in getting those images right. The fact is that developing a mobile app is the smallest chunk of your effort the biggest effort should go into planning right marketing strategy around your app.And ASO is one of that critical tool to get few downloads organically.

very often i quote

Product fails not because of bad logic , it fails because of bad marketing

Even if your product have some minor bugs and crashes it can be rectified and relaunched. But if product not marketed well can be lethal.

So if i have to sum up this whole picture. I will say nothing is perfect, good exists because of bad. It’s upon us to decide why we are choosing this field. Once we are clear about why we can easily figure out our ways to remain market fit.Truly its the survival of the fittest and fittest is going to remain and rule this app ecosystem. Also organic will always remain relevant and contribute in a bigger way to get numbers for small players which may not remain small always, either they will become big or will be out of context.

Dare to change what seems impossible and be the change yourself.

Pramod Chandrayan

Founder & CEO (Mobibit Soft (P) Ltd) | Mobile App Development Consultant | Startup Mentor | Spiritual Seeker

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