APP APP APP APP APP - what to consider when creating an app for mobile phones
a pocket guide from Media Evolution
Media Evolution This publication is published by the media cluster Media Evolution. We are working to boost growth in the media industries in southern Sweden. One of our key areas is gathering intelligence to monitor whatâ€™s going on in the media industries across the globe. We take that information and use it to highlight opportunities and business models that our members, and media industries in general, can exploit and develop. www.mediaevolution.se
INTRO by Media Evolution
Answering app q’s
pps are the new website. Everybody wants one. We get tons of questions about how it works to create an app, what has to be considered, and where you can go to get your app made.
”We have chosen to concentrate on apps for mobile phones”
In this publication, we turn app questions into app answers. Programmer Anders Mårtensson explains the process of creating an app in four steps. Tomas de Souza writes about the all-important look before you leap and pre-app market analysis. Aaron Watkins explains how to use marketing to cut through the clutter once your app is ready. The term app covers a wide area and may be used for programs installed on everything from PCs to tablets and social networks. We have chosen to concentrate on apps for mobile phones.
4 When apps took over the world 6 App hysteria & corporate development 8 Making money on apps 10 Everyone wants an app, this is how you make one 14 A mobile web app for all platforms 16 The art of marketing an app 18 90 markets in one launch 20 Ten tips if you’re ordering an app 22 App Developers 24 Trends in the app industry 26 Contemporary buzzwords
App app app app app June 2011
Publisher: Media Evolution Editors: Sara Ponnert and Martin Thörnkvist email@example.com Design: You Us and Them
WHAT by Martin Thörnkvist
When apps took over the world
Before the iPhone, the mobile phone makers’ usual strategy was to launch separate models for every type of user. One for the music fan, one for the camera buff, one for the guy who considers his phone a fashion accessory, and so on. All of them with special features to appeal to the target group. Instead of putting out another niche phone, Apple launched a screen with a menu – one the user controlled and could modify to her heart’s content. Six months later, Apple opened the App Store, giving developers a prime venue to offer their own apps.
he mobile phone market changed forever when Apple launched the iPhone in 2007. The hot topics are apps, developer tools and app markets instead of megapixels, gigabytes and millimetres.
Wall of apps
What is an app App is short for application – a program, in other words. In this context, we are talking about programs that are installed on mobile phones or tablets. This can be anything from games and other entertainment to communication tools, location-based services and out-and-out brand builders. Apps for phones could be downloaded long before the Apple App Store came along, but the big app download party started with its launch and the opportunity for developers to sell their creations directly from mobile phones. Platforms Apps that are developed, installed and not run in a web browser have to be developed specifically for the opera-
ting system. Some hardware manufacturers have their own operating systems, like RIM (Blackberry OS) and Apple (iOS). Then there are the operating systems from software vendors like Google (Android) and Microsoft (Windows) that other manufacturers use, including HTC, Samsung, Nokia and Sony Ericsson. On top of that, all the players have their own marketplaces: Android Market, Apple App Store, Nokia Ovi Store, RIM App World, Microsoft Marketplace, Sony Ericsson Play Now, Samsung Apps and so on. The standard deal is that the developer keeps 70% of sales revenues and the marketplace gets a 30% cut. Market breakthrough Five billion mobile phone apps were downloaded last year, with estimated sales of about the same number of dollars. Gartner predicts that sales will be triple that figure in 2011 and continue rising to become a 185 billion dollar market by 2014. Android is the biggest platform in terms of numbers of phones. The most apps are available for iOS and acceptance of paid apps is higher among users. Nine out of ten apps downloaded last year were accessed via the Apple App Store. The possibilities for brands and developers are endless. The plethora of market players and the huge competition makes it vital to have your analysis done and strategy set before you get started creating your own app.
”Five billion mobile phone apps were downloaded last year”
WHY / WHY NOT by Andreas Granfeldt
App hysteria & corporate development
ne of the most common questions in the past year has been, “How do you earn money from apps?” “What does the ’business case’ look like?” As if there was only one. Really the question is impossible to answer, and from my perspective it’s irrelevant. What is interesting is to first answer the company’s fundamental questions about why, how, what, where, who for and what for – and what business aim is to be achieved. If the solution then turns out to be a blackboard or a pot holder with a barcode on, that’s just as relevant to me as any new technology. Putting the company before the app The question isn’t how you earn money on apps but what you as a company have to gain from an app. And which of them best supports your business goals. Ultimately it all comes down to corporate development in a new context. The problem is that those of us in the digital media landscape seem to forget to think in terms of corporate development and business objectives. Instead lots of people are swept up in the hype – because “everyone else is doing it”. In the past twenty years we’ve seen several bewildering development journeys, partly driven by increased globalisation and partly by technical and digital development. But still a plus is always a plus and a minus is always a minus. Running a company is basically about accumulating more pluses than minuses. It doesn’t matter whether you call it “the new economy” or “the free economy”. There is still nothing that is fundamentally new and nothing that is free. And that goes for internet presence as well. It is still about people working with other people to find other people who
“Constantly evaluating, challenging and developing the business model is just as important and necessary today as developing the product.”
In the digital era, I see many companies spending a ridiculously small amount of time challenging and developing the company’s business model and organisation. Companies are far too focused on their products and services. Constantly Accumulate more pluses than minuses evaluating, challenging and developing the business model is just as important and necessary today as developing the product. The companies that will win out in their sector in the future are working just as much on developing new business models and new business spaces, as they are on developing new products and services. However that requires a completely new way of working, and new ideas, and that affects the whole company. Pick and choose Today’s, and tomorrow’s, presence on “the net” is increasingly merging with our day-to-day habits and activities. The digital channels are melting together and working seamlessly with each other. And the choices we make as companies in communicating, marketing and selling our message and products are becoming hugely more complex. Here it is essential to be able to pick and choose according to a plan which supports the overall objectives of the business – whether you are looking at an app or anything else. Anders Granfeldt works as a management consultant at HiQ, helping companies with strategic development and business.
appreciate the company’s existence and its products or services.
HOW by Tomas de Souza
Making money on apps
veryone wants to get on board and make money on nifty little programs that make life easier for users. But there is widespread misunderstanding about the financial potential of launching an app. If you are in the Apple App Store to make money on your app, it is a very good idea to check your figures and then check them again. Upload to App Store?
If we assume there are half a million iPhones in the Swedish market and one out of twenty users will buy your app, we come up with the following:
Amazing App: €0.80 Apple’s cut (30%): €0.24 Revenue per app: €0.56 Total revenues on sales of 25,000 apps: €14,000 And then there is the Swedish Tax Agency’s doubt about whether app revenues are subject to VAT, so until further notice you should expect 20% of the revenues to be paid in tax. That leaves only €11,200. And there we have the potential for an 80-cent app on the Swedish market – provided you can attract one twentieth of the market. The total is just about on par with the cost to develop a mid-range app if you use a cost-effective production company. App Bubble Last August, Aaron Shapiro wrote an article for Fast Company making a case that we’re in an app bubble. He referred to Apple’s own figures saying that the App Store had
generated about one billion dollars in revenue for developers worldwide. That’s a lot of money, but the median paid app was earning $682 a year for its owner at the time, equal to about €485. Those who have done their homework and calculated the sales potential will realise pretty quick that production costs have to go down. If financial gain is the only incentive for developing an app, it will eventually become an impossible product for us to deliver to our customers. Think this way So, what’s the solution? One way of skinning this cat is to focus on an international market, but that won’t fit all types of operations. Another is to weave side incentives into the equation. If the app contributes positive PR and builds your brand, maybe it would be enough to add the cost to the marketing budget instead of the revenue to the sales budget. However, the PR impact of releasing an app fades with every day that passes, and brand building can be hard to quantify in actual impact per invested euro. The app has to work for you the same way your website or other digital communication does. It has to generate business – especially because it will probably not make a profit on its own. If we can create an app that can do that, then considerably more can be spent on development. Otherwise, a mobile version of your website may be the right solution.
Tomas de Souza is the managing director of web strategy agency Good Old in Malmö.
“But there is widespread misunderstanding about the financial potential of launching an app.”
HOW by Anders Mårtensson
Everyone wants an app, this is how you make one
he guy filling up at the next pump asked what I did for a living. App and game development, I said. He said he wanted his own app. He was a carpenter. He didn’t know what he wanted it for, but he knew that he wanted one. It takes you back to the late 1990s when everyone wanted their own website. With hindsight, we know that websites are here to stay. Anders Mårtensson
But how do you make a good app and why can’t you really write one in three days? Here is a story in four parts describing what a developer has to do to create an app. Part 1 – chuck out 99.9% of what you think you need The preparatory work takes a long time and is possibly the most important thing and the most difficult thing. Often you want to get in as many innovative features as possible. That’s rarely the best solution. Good design is all about saying no to 1,000 things, not saying yes to 1,000 things. And not to 100 either, maybe not even to 10. One innovative feature, that’s what we want to end up with, if we can. It’s important to focus on the features that the app is all about and forget about the rest. Do that, and you’ll be free to focus on making the few features you have got as good as they can possibly be. Too many features and the quality will suffer and the app will be hard to use. A good app should almost feel “too simple”. It really doesn’t need to be any more complicated.
Part 2 – design within the limits Many people think that making an app is roughly the same thing as making a website. A website and an app are not the same thing at all. A mobile phone has a much smaller screen than a computer and it usually has a slower connection, a slower processor and less memory. Due to the small screen, you have to design according to screen size from the start. That means you’ll have room for less stuff on the screen at the same time. Since users touch the screen with their thick and clumsy fingers, precision is seriously impaired, which doesn’t make things any easier. Ideally, the most important function ought to be achievable just by pressing one button. Less is more. Navigating to the next page down counts as pressing a button, so that’s two things before you’ve even started. Ideally all you should need to do is 1) open the app, 2) press a button to do what you want to do and 3) close the app again. If you combine these requirements, adapt to the small screen size, keep down the number of pages and keep down the number of buttons you need to press, you’ll soon realise that designing an app that is easy to use and contains everything you want it to is going to take you longer than 15 minutes. A day might not be enough either, maybe not even a week. Part 3 – code, code, code! Once the overall design is ready, it’s time to start with the technical part, the actual programming. Setting up a project is quite quick, and fixing the basics is often quite quick too. But fairly soon, the technical limitations start to make
“For users, whether or not they use Android is mostly a matter of taste. As a developer, I’d always choose to develop for the iPhone over Android, if I have the choice.”
Once almost everything is in place, you’ll One step at a time notice stuff starts taking too long. Speed is essential, considering how often people use an app for less than a minute at a time. Start the camera app, take a picture, close the app. A good app should start quickly and be quick and easy to use to do the things you want to achieve, while looking great and being quick to download at the same time. Not exactly an equation you can solve in a day. Part 4 – test, test, test! A well tested app is an app that works well. There aren’t very many iPhone models. They don’t differ very much from each other. The screen size and the resolution are identical (apart from the iPhone 4, whose resolution is twice as high). This means it is relatively easy to write apps that work well on all models. In terms of time spent, it makes sense to buy all the models and test your app on every one, in other words that’s realistic and cost-effective. Programming only one model is obviously the simplest method, but four isn’t too bad. However, with Android it’s a different story.
themselves felt. Use too much of the very limited memory, and the app will simply be shut down by the system. Once most things are in place, you soon start to realise that everything is taking a little bit too long. It’s important that your app works instantly. Usually people use an app for less than a minute. Start the camera app, take a picture, close the app.
Android phones can have different screen sizes, different resolutions and different amounts of memory, faster or slower processors, and behave differently depending on how the manufacturer chose to interpret the specifications, etc. All these variables make it difficult to develop for Android. How can you guarantee that the app will work on all phones? You can’t. For users, whether or not they use Android is mostly a matter of taste. As a developer, I would always choose to develop for the iPhone over Android, if I have the choice. I don’t always. The future These days people tend to expect that there will be an app for a certain purpose. All websites that provide services will soon be expected to have their own app too. Browsing the web on your mobile phone is tricky. If you have access to a computer, you will tend to choose that over your phone. As long as there isn’t a great app that’s better than its equivalent on the web, that is. An app that adapts the content to the phone.
What does an app cost, in other words how long does it take?
A simple app, such as Blocket, for example, would take an estimated four weeks for one person to write. A game, such as Angry Birds, for example could take maybe three to six months. At normal consultancy fees, you know roughly how much that would cost. Try writing down every single function and button included in as much detail as possible. You can be sure it will be an impressive list. Analysing an app like that only shows the tip of the iceberg. 90% of all the coding usually lies under the surface. And you can be sure that it will also take countless iterations of design and functionality before you get it right. Often you don’t know if it’s right until you’ve tested it. A good app takes time to develop.
Everybody wants an app.
Anders Mårtensson works as an app programmer at Mandelform Studios and has many years of experience at Illusions Labs.
HOW by Peter Svensson
A mobile web app for all platforms
obile apps are as hot today as websites were fifteen years ago. Everyone, and that means everyone, must have an app whether they need one or not. This has led to a huge increase in the need for app development expertise.
“This means that websites can act like real applications”
WHAT by Aaron Watkins
The art of marketing an app
tart by finding your niche. Does your app have mass-market appeal, or is there a specific group of people you are trying to reach? What age are they? What types of websites, magazine, and newspaper articles do they read? This is useful not only in determining what to expect from your sales, but also what types of influencers you will need to reach out to. It is also important to take a look at your Aaron Watkins competition. How much market share have they taken up already? Generally, when it comes to competition, you have three ways to establish dominance, price, features, and quality. Establish Your Presence Your app is a brand, and every brand needs a brand identity. You name, your icon or logo, your app description, these are all aspects of your brand identity that will help the consumer decide if they want to be a user of your product. Your app name is the primary search term that people will use to find it. Avoid words that are easily misspelled, and/or make sure common variations are included in your keywords as to still show up. The Power of PR The most straightforward coverage is the app review, a basic review of your application for the sake of giving people information. When sending information to someone reviewing your app, make sure you give him or
her everything they need to make a full review. Screenshots, description, links and relevant bits of information the average person may not know. In the end, PR is about relationships, and relationships take time and effort to build. Reach out to anyone you know that may have friends that are in the media, get an introduction if you can. Often it is best to hire the services of a PR agency like Appency that has experience and relationships in the app space. Social Media Marketing While there are a million sites that call themselves social media, the social media sites that are most important for app marketing are generally Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. This does not mean every app should have all of these, each one should be looked at in turn and a decision must be made regarding the appropriateness of the network for the app you are promoting. Advertising Not all sales from an ad are tracked. During an ad buy, you have to know your baseline, and see the total lift on the app, not just the tracked sales. Advertising is about building your brand as much as direct sales. Brand impression takes a while. Your first impression will help strengthen their brand recognition for your app later. When users see the impression again in another spot they are that much more likely to buy it. Aaron Watkins is the co-founder of Appency, a mobile marketing firm in San Francisco focusing on marketing apps.
â€œyou have three ways to establish dominance, price, features, and quality.â€?
HOW by Björn Jeffery
90 markets in one launch
hen Bonnier was researching new business segments, Brickmark came about from one simple insight. It’s easier to invent a new product in a successful segment than to create a willingness to pay in a segment where there isn’t one. But with new products come new rules and ecosystems. Media companies don’t necessarily have the same role as they once did. We have chosen to accept, appreciate and exploit this fact – instead of resisting it. Countless articles have been written about media companies worldwide who feel unfairly treated and pushed aside by the new technology companies that are now setting the agenda. Apple, Google and Facebook, to name but a few. Brickmark takes them on from a different angle. We develop products and services that play with these ecosystems from the start. We accept the dependence this brings because the opportunities of creating something with them are so much greater than we have ever been able to achieve on our own. But it means fundamentally changing the product, which is precisely what we’ve done. When we release a digital toy in the App Store, we are selling on over 90 markets at the same time in the space of a single second. It’s a fascinating fact, but it’s also central to our product development. What can we create that exploits that fact? What can we sell on 90 markets that still feels relevant and important? What Swedish media companies have traditionally created, articles in Swedish, don’t scale up very well, for obvious reasons. So how do you find these products? We started with re-
“One central insight was the importance of the touchscreen in future media consumption”
Toca Boca solely makes products that work on a global scale. Our product and concept development process is designed to sift out the ideas that have the potential to do this. We use very little language and speech. It’s all about simple, child-friendly user interfaces built around symbols and themes that are recognised worldwide. And we can receive payment for them easily because Apple runs a smooth payment process that consumers feel comfortable with.
search. We looked at changes in consumer behaviour, software development, prices of hardware, ecosystem growth and much more besides. One central insight was the importance of the touchscreen in future media consumption. One of the many things it does is make it easier for small children to have their first digital media experience. The interfaces are easy to use and don’t need the same fine motor functions as a mouse or a touchpad. The iPad has also become a gadget shared by everyone in the family, making it ideal for products that parents and children use together. All this was a factor when we chose to develop our first game studio, Toca Boca.
When others set the rules for how business operates, you have to be quick and adaptable in choosing your product. If you are, there is a global market just sitting out there waiting for the next big thing. Björn Jeffery is Director of Digital Commerce at Brickmark, part of Bonnier Digital.
HOW by Claes Magnusson
Ten tips if you’re ordering an app
2 Start quickly and simply with a first version. It doesn’t matter that much what it contains, as long as you create it and publish it. Then you can gather experience and continue on with the next version. Apps can be changed and added to quickly. Don’t spend months or years on discussions trying to create the perfect app before you start building it. 3 It’s better to make one app with five functions that work extremely well than to create an usable high-tech monster with 500 functions. Never overestimating the expertise of your users is a good rule of thumb, but nor should you underestimate their curiosity. 4 Work as far as possible with cross-platform solutions that let you build an app then expand it for several different solutions platforms and phones. 5 Create apps quickly and effectively. No-one is going to win any prizes for well- structured source code so it’s better to spend your money on graphic design and particularly on getting business into the app.
1 Start with yourself. Get yourself an iPhone and a new Android phone. It’s only when you’ve used your device everyday for several weeks that you realise what you might be able to do and how you might be able to use apps in your business. 35% of all smartphone users use an app before they have even got out of bed. Once you’re doing that too, you’ll get the picture.
6 If you are going to order an app to be made for you, just go by what your developers can do and are able to show you. The best app developers are often not the big mega groups with hundreds or thousands of consultants. The most successful app developers are recently started small companies with efficient teams,. 7 These days there is no value in ideas. All you have to do is ask any large crowd and you’ll get hundreds of people saying “I’ve got an idea for an app!” But none of these ideas matter at all. The only winner is the one who actually does it. 8 Think about your business. What new business opportunities will emerge when your customers can suddenly communicate with you wherever, whenever and however they like? Think about it, ideally taking the long-term view, looking 10, 25 or 50 years ahead, and you’ll be heading in the right direction. 9 Think ahead. What will happen with your app and your business around the app if and when mobile phones get ten times faster? If screen resolution becomes ten times higher? If they can store ten times more data? If they go 3D? If they can be used as ID or a wallet? 10 App development is a business opportunity, not a religion. Forget what it says on the phone, or what the experts say, or what the newspapers say, or the latest technically hyped abbreviations. Follow the money. Claes Magnusson is the principal at Malmö Yrkeshögskola, a college that provides training in app development and mobile e-commerce.
“35% of all smartphone users use an app before they have even got out of bed”
HOW by Sara Ponnert
s you have read in this publication, there are a lot of reasons to create an app. You might want to build a brand, think you have an idea that will meet a widespread need and that people are willing to pay for, or already have a service that’s transferable to an application. Whatever you want to do, there are a lot of pros out there who can help you develop a good product to fit your specifications. We’ve put together a list of a few we can recommend in southern Sweden. AppByrån, Malmö www.appbyran.se Specialty: System solutions Appcorn, Karlshamn www.appcorn.se Specialty: Location-based services and shops Binary Peak, Malmö www.binarypeak.se Specialty: Location-based services and maps Cocmoc Apps, Malmö www.cocmoc.com Specialty: Apps and games Color Monkey, Malmö www.colormonkey.se Specialty: Design
Crunchfish, Malmö www.crunchfish.com Specialty: User interface and Android Do-fi, Malmö www.do-fi.se Specialty: Location-based services & design Extransit, Malmö www.extransit.com Specialty: Platform independent Ixagon, Malmö www.ixagon.se Specialty: Augumented Reality Jayway, Malmö www.jayway.com Specialty: Backend Jonas Knutsson Roos, Tomelilla www.vappster.se Speciality: Developer Le Petit Garcón, Malmö www.lepetitgarcon.com Specialty: Design LikaBra, Malmö www.likabra.se Specialty: Developer
Malvacom, Ronneby www.malvacom.com Specialty: Management system
Raviteq, Lund www.raviteq.com Specialty: Image Processing and Android
Mandelform, Malmö www.mandelform.com Specialty: 3D-graphics and games
Renée Backe, Malmö www.apptoyou.se Specialty: User interface
Marcus Lindblad, Malmö www.makkafella.se/apps Specialty: Design
Social Factory, Karlskrona www.socialfactory.se Specialty: Design and usability
Metafish Production, Malmö www.metafish.se Specialty: Sports and news applications
The Supsy, Malmö www.thesupsy.com Specialty: Design
Mobenga, Malmö www.mobenga.com Specialty: Developer
ustwo, Malmö www.ustwo.co.uk Specialty: User interface
Noisy Cricket, Ronneby www.noisycricket.se Specialty: Strategies and tech
Videocent, Lund www.videocent.com Specialty: Control of systems
Peachlife www.peachlife.se Specialty: Concept, design, programming
Vitamin, Malmö www.vitamin.se Specialty: Motion graphics
PopDevelop, Malmö www.popdevelop.com Specialty: Location-based services & design
Webworks Sverige, Malmö www.webworks.se Specialty: Server integration
WHAT by Claes Magnusson
Trends in the app industry
“app production is going to get less expensive“
We think Android is going to change and be â€œforkedâ€? or divided up into different variants, by a manufacturer for instance, but perhaps most of all for other uses, such as appliances, TVs and cars.
With a quarter of a billion registered, credit-card-carrying users, we believe Apple will expand to new kinds of purchases, such as building in modules for Near Field Communication (NPC) and enabling purchase of bus tickets and similar.
The new Google phone has NFC
We see a risk for greater market elimination among many of the current mobile phone makers, since the industry seems to be endlessly topped up with new challengers offering lower and lower prices but can offer the same experience through Android. Summary The money for paid apps and media is currently with Apple The major user volumes will be with Android Apps will become even more important and will spread to other devices Hybrid apps and Cross Mobile publication skills will be essential App development prices are going to drop Breakthrough for mobile e-commerce when Apple activates NFC in mobile phones Risk for greater market elimination among mobile phone manufacturers: betting on the right horse will be important
GLOSSARY by Media Evolution
About this publication This publication comprises texts previously published at www.mediaevolution.se. The idea is to repackage our regular analysis as focused in-depth looks at areas that we think the media industries need to understand a little bit better. We release four publications annually. At our web site you can download or order mail copies of previous and future editions. App app app app app is published under the Creative Commons licence by-nc-sa. Read more at creativecommons.se
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