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4 Key Ingredients to a Successful App Startup

What makes an app startup successful? We outline the four components of successful mobile apps so you can strive for App Store success.

Success comes to those who persevere. It also comes by design and not by chance. Understanding this subtle, yet pivotal difference can set the direction of your efforts on the right path.

If you want to transform your innovative app idea into a sustainable business, there’s no secret method or ‘growth hacking’ technique that guarantees App Store success.

As an app entrepreneur, a well-crafted app development process that addresses market strategy, user experience and product execution provides the building blocks for a successful mobile app.

These are the four key ingredients that constitute those building blocks. An understanding of each component increases the likelihood that your app startup will attract a loyal user base and generate ongoing revenue.

 

Value

The building blocks of a marketing-leading app development process are laid down by identifying the value provided to its intended users. Every successful mobile app offers a solution to a problem that customers are willing to pay for.

Some of the most successful startups were established from problems that the founding entrepreneurs experienced themselves and then solved with an ideal product/market fit.

It’s not just about solving a problem, though. It is about whether iPhone and Android Phone users would be willing purchase your solution or shift from an existing app because you solved an intrinsic problem that no other app could.

Identify the core value the your app intends to provide to its target audience and validate whether there is a need to use the app a second, third and fourth time on a consistent basis.

 

Design

A key element in the success of any mobile app is a user-centric approach to design. The app’s design, experience and usability  should resonate with the target market.

As the late Steve Jobs succinctly put it: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Design can be broken down into two main aspects where one leads the other. The first is the functionality and form of the app. Once you’ve selected the first set of features that will comprise the app product, it’s essential that the flow from one screen to another, or from one feature to another, is as simple as possible for the user.

To make the navigation process more intuitive, you should aim to minimise the learning curve for the users. This part of design, commonly referred to as User Experience or UX, is the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability and accessibility provided by the interaction between the user and the product.

This is followed by the graphic design or User Interface Design (UI), which is the process of understanding of who the customer is – factors such as age, gender and geographical location play an important part in how the app will look.

Furthermore, the colour scheme of an app design is scientifically proven to drive certain emotions in people. This is why you see specific colours used in certain brand logos and product design.

 

Branding & Marketing Colour

Colour Psychology in Marketing and Brand Identity. Source: Visme

When you have an understanding of your target market, design an interface and experience that incites an emotion that you would like your user to feel.

 

Distribution

Distribution can literally determine whether your mobile app is successful or not. Getting your app into the hands of both iPhone and Android users is potentially the biggest hurdle.

There are multiple marketing channels available to spread the word about your app, including Facebook Advertising and Blog Writing. In my experience as a Product Manager across an array of app development projects, you need to start the distribution process by exploiting every market channel at the early stages of promoting your app offering. This is the only way you will discover which channels produce the best results.

Mobile App Marketing

Flipkart distribute their app to Android users that Google a product that is available on Flipkart. Source: Business 2 Community

For our apps, we research and develop a marketing strategy document with a comprehensive execution plan across all channels. We then study the results of our marketing efforts across all the channels over a quarter to half-yearly period. This provides a comprehensive insight into the most effective channel that delivers best user conversion rate and ongoing revenue stream.

Along with a marketing strategy, you should create a compelling story about your app that shows its value proposition clearly. Consider Instagram’s value proposition: “Capture and share the world’s moments.” When it comes to emotionally connecting with potential app users, it doesn’t get more clear and simple than that.

 

Scalability

Scalability is all about how adaptive and flexible you are to your users’ feedback. It’s also about your commitment you are to continuous product iterations, improving the app’s features and enhancing the overall experience it provides over a period of time.

A good way to approach this is to identify a narrow market segment to begin with. This could be within your own social circle or an extended network of people that are potential app users – randomly selecting a user base doesn’t help. Another efficient form of market segmentation is reaching out to customers within your city – similar to how Uber started.

This helps you to understand the behavioural traits of app users in a close and personal manner, while also highlighting the mistakes that need to be rectified more quickly. The faster you learn from your users, the easier it gets to deliver them a better solution.

The moment you are able to satisfy the app needs of this smaller market segment, all you have to do is scale your efforts to distribute your app offering to similar users with the confidence that your app provides an ideal product/market fit. And remember, a loyal advocate of your app startup is worth a million!

Looking to launch your app idea towards startup stardom? Contact us to find out what we can do for you.

4 Mobile App Trends for 2016

Mobile app development is at the top of the agenda for many entrepreneurs and businesses in 2016. We share our top 4 predictions for the year ahead on the changes in the mobile industry and app market.

2015 was a huge year for apps. Mobile overtook desktop as users spent more time on their mobile devices. The app development market experienced tremendous growth, profitability and expansion. Mobile devices became the new normal for delivering content, entertainment, transportation and much more.

App developers must evolve its strategy to be relevant across new channels and screens moving forward. We expect an exciting year ahead. Here are the top four app trends for 2016.

 

User-Centric Apps

Whenever we do a Rocketfuel Workshop with our clients, there is one key process that ensures we define a minimum viable product and lockdown their app concept’s product position: User Persona Modeling. Personas are an effective tool to create the right product for the app’s intended target market. This allows our clients to understand the motivation of their app’s target users and, in turn, define the product features that satisfy the market.

App User Persona

An example User Persona Model, including the intended user’s bio, motivations, personality and goals. Source: Xtensio

We apply this user-centric approach to app development because, now more than ever, entrepreneurs and businesses need to consider the complete user experience their app provides. With mobile apps now accounting for more than half (52%) of all the time spent on digital media, a user-centric approach to app development is crucial to creating a meaningful app experience.

However, you can’t just assume to know what your target users want in an app. You need to track and analyse relevant Big Data for it to become Meaningful Data that provides insight into your app’s potential consumers. This is essential to creating a user experience that caters to how your consumers are actually using the app.

At Launchpad App Development, our mission is to help entrepreneurs and business transform innovative ideas into successful apps. If you want to create a successful app in 2016, your target users should be defining the app product.

 

In-App Ads

Three of the largest players in the mobile space (Google, Apple and Facebook) have all been investing an enormous amount of time and resources into powering ‘virtual assistant’ type technology. Google created Google Now, Apple has Siri and Facebook is testing M. The goal of all of these companies is to become the best personal assistant you’ve ever had and in large part to provide personalised ads proactively before a user even makes a request. This represents a fundamental shift in the way we think about in-app advertising.

As businesses improve their ability to create data-driven experiences for their app users, the targeting of ads will greatly improve and consequently become much more effective. Once users have opted-in to a data program they will often provide a great deal of information regarding their preferences, as well as geographic and demographic information that can be quite useful.

By developing a data program, apps will be able to leverage the behaviour of users within the app to refine their experience with ads that are more relevant. Personalised in-app ads draw double the click-through rate of normal display ads and, in many cases, bypass ad blockers to reach the right audience in the right context.

With nearly three times more spent on in-app advertising compared to mobile web, personalised in-app advertising will continue to flourish in 2016 and beyond. By 2018, Juniper Research predicts it’ll reach $17 billion, making in-app the fastest growing sector in mobile advertising.

 

Mobile Video

Mobile video is growing quickly. IAB found that 58% of people watch videos daily from their mobile device. Clearly, quality video production intended for the small screen can be truly effective in reaching this growing audience. This makes businesses eager to capitalise on this trend.

 

As eyeballs shift away from the TV screen to the smartphone, advertising dollars are quickly following. As a result, redirect viewers to an app plays a key role in the growth of the mobile video format.

Mobile Video App

The explosion in engagement for YouTube’s smartphone and tablet app highlights the rapid shift to mobile video. Source: comScore

When it comes to mobile video, apps are clearly the consumers’ choice for viewing them. 48% of the respondents to IAB’s study confirmed they access video content via applications rather than visiting a mobile website. While only 18% indicated they would rather view video via mobile website. The mobile video market is expected to reach over $13 billion by 2020 and grew rapidly in 2015. It’s safe to say that we can expect continued substantial growth in 2016.

 

Apps Becoming Part of Our Lifestyles

The problem with app adoption in the past can be nailed down to one singular issue – mobile data. With data caps and overcharge rates, apps have been limited how creative and forward thinking they can be. As a result, we  restrict ourselves to apps that provide individual features. For example, an app for music streaming, an app for weather, an app for fitness tracking etc.

Expect apps in 2016 to become an integral part of your life. For instance, a fitness journal that displays the weather before your run and provides music playlists customised. Sound a bit far-fetched? Not to us app developers!

As long as there are forced restrictions on how much you can download, apps themselves play a pivotal role in positioning themselves as a lifestyle attachment, rather than a usable ‘thing’ that can quickly be uninstalled in favour of the next big thing. There’s only so much data that will fit in a mobile plan – better make sure your app is making the most of it.

What’s more, the apps you choose could very well communicate your values in terms of your lifestyle. The apps you use every day could soon tell people “I’m proud to be a _____ and that’s why I use (app).” The more attuned these apps become to our goals, likes and dislikes in life, the more they’ll find themselves being used likely far beyond what even us as developers envisioned.

What app trends are you anticipating in the year ahead? Let us know in the comments section below.

The Best of the Best: Mobile Music Streaming Apps

The rise of the mobile apps has led to an abundance of streaming services for us to get our music fix on the go. In this blog, we cast an eye over the current big name Mobile Music Streaming Services to find out which one comes out on top as the best of the best. 

A funny thing happened on my train to work recently. After noticing a fellow morning commuter’s swanky Beats Headphones, I had the sudden urge to finally listen to Dr. Dre’s new album (and also received a sudden lesson in cross-promotion). So I tried searching for the album on Spotify but could not find it. “Where is Dr. Dre’s new album?!” I thought to myself.

A quick Google search revealed that the album is exclusive to Apple Music and not available on Spotify. It was a disappointing revelation, but considering the incredibly crowded field of streaming services, it wasn’t a surprising one.

There is little doubt that the digital music market is moving away from downloads and towards streaming services. With mobile devices and apps driving the change towards streaming music, both big names and emerging brands have realised these huge opportunities in the mobile music streaming industry.

Apple Music launched its long-awaited streaming service in June this year, while Google continues to invest in expanding YouTube’s Music App. With much to gain for the winners, competition in the mobile music streaming space is intense.

So what’s the best streaming service for us app users? Well, if you asked me before that train ride, I would have said that Spotify provides the best mobile experience. If you ask me as I got off the train, I would have told you that Apple Music has the best catalogue of music, including access to exclusive albums and songs. However, if you asked me at work that day after chatting with our Graphic Designer Julian, I would have suggested that Pandora provides the best instant playlists optimised to your music preferences. That being said, I know that some of the people in our office at Launchpad App Development swear by Tidal’s excellent sound quality.

Despite my indecisiveness, I know that not all streaming services are made equal. Therefore, it’s about time I get off the fence and evaluate the marketing-leading music streaming apps to find out which is best for those morning train rides.

 

Spotify – The Best Mobile App

With over 75 million active users worldwide, Spotify is the brand many associate with music streaming. Boasting the top streaming service app worldwide, more than half of Spotify’s active users stream music on their mobile devices.

Spotify

Spotify’s mobile app cements their spot as the global leader in mobile music streaming. Source: App Annie

The Spotify mobile app is clean and simple, working in a similar manner to the desktop application. You can create custom playlists, and add tracks on the fly through search or while browsing. Users can also follow artists or other subscribers to keep up with their recommendations.

Spotify has a Freemium business model that, for free users, only offers shuffle playback of your playlists rather than track-by-track selections. Mobile streaming is only available in 96Kbps, 160Kbps or 320Kbps (the latter bitrate for iPhone and Android only and with Premium service). Furthermore, the free service is ad supported, which sucks for frugal users, but is effective for generating paid subscribers to the Premium service.

Speaking of which, Spotify offers three months of their Premium service for AU$0.99. After, it costs $11.99 per month and offers no ads, mobile listening and offline mode. For Premium users, Spotify also allows you to log in and keep listening to your music outside of your profile country if you travel.

The low-down:

Spotify is the genuine all-rounder and was one of the first ‘search for a song and play it immediately’ services available on iPhone and Android mobile devices. Despite missing out on exclusive artists and access to 24/7 radio services, Spotify offers a community where users can make and share playlists with other subscribers, add friends to share music with and see what other people were listening to. There are even playlists themed around what mood you are in or what activity you are undertaking.

Considered by many as the gold standard, Spotify is the mobile music streaming service that others are measured against.

 

Apple Music – The Best Music Catalogue

The new(ish) Apple Music has been built from Beats Music, which Apple acquired for a lazy $3 billion in 2014. So how is Apple trying to push aside the likes of Pandora, SoundCloud and – especially – Spotify to be the one-stop destination for all things music?

Well, having the largest music catalogue of 37 million tracks, along with exclusive access to artists like Taylor Swift and (cue defeated sigh) Dr. Dre is a damn good place to start. Add to this a new all-live worldwide radio station, Beats 1, and an artist-centric social network, and you’ve got an all-in-one streaming service app.

For the loyal Apple fans, there’s the added bonus of Apple Music being pre-installed on all iOS mobile devices for instant access to all iPhone and iPod users.

apple_music_screenshots.0

When you sign up for Apple Music, you get a free three-month trial with full access to all of the features. After that, it costs AU$11.99 a month, or you can get a family subscription for AU$17.99 which will allow six people to share the one subscription. Furthermore, Telstra is offering iPhone users on a 12- or 24- month Go Mobile Plan a year’s worth of Apple Music for free from the carrier.

The low-down:

Apple Music gets a lot right – a massive music catalogue, great voice control integration with Siri, and good cross-platform support (it’s coming to Android later this year). But with all of those features jammed into one app, Apple Music falls short on navigation and user interface – which is something of a surprise, given Apple’s long time focus on superior design.

Stuck in fourth place behind Spotify, Pandora and YouTube, Apple Music isn’t providing enough incentive for mobile app users to leave established streaming services. Apple have a long standing reputation for taking a wait-and-see approach with new technologies, but in an industry where the competitors have shown no signs of slowing down, Apple’s name recognition just isn’t enough anymore.

 

Pandora – The Best Internet Radio

The market-leading music streaming app in the United States, Pandora highlights the demand for Interactive Radio by offering users a way to consume music without choosing individual tracks. Pandora’s model is simple – enter any artist, genre or song you like, and Pandora will provide a stream of similar sounding music.

Pandora

Users can then give a thumbs up or down to refine their radio stations to songs they want to hear. You can save artists as favourites, with an option to by specific songs with link-out agreements. It’s more of a music-discovery service, or an instant playlist without the hassle.

The free service is ad supported with radio stations that stream at 64Kbps. The premium service (in the form of Pandora One) costs $4.99 per month and removes ads. With Pandora One, users also get more skips per hour and an improved streaming quality of 192Kbps.

The low-down:

Pandora offers a true radio experience with a simple and intuitive user interface. The iPhone and Android apps introduce you to a lot of new music and allow you to easily optimise your Internet radio experience.

However, the pessimist in me can’t help but have a ‘glass half empty’ view of Pandora. There are limitations, such as only being able skip 12 songs a day and large data consumption. Plus 1.5 million songs in its catalogue is not a lot when compared to other services.

Cue the trombone… Womp womp womp woooomp.

Pandora’s not the best streaming app available, but it’s never been an overall music service like Spotify or Apple Music. Instead, Pandora’s all about keeping things simple – push a button to listen to songs you like, without setting up playlists or searching for music. Internet radio doesn’t get much better than that!

 

Tidal- The Best Sound Quality

Tidal, formerly known as Aspiro, is the Swedish music streaming service that was recently purchased by Jay Z for a casual $56 Million in March 2015. The rapper/business mogul has vowed to create the first artist-owned music streaming service – owned funnily enough by some of pop music’s elite. Lets not talk about that bizarre press event, which has to be one of the worst marketing campaigns I have ever seen.

One thing Tidal is doing right is pledging to pay higher royalties to artists, songwriters and producers. If this is true, it may see bigger bands and artists removing their music from Spotify, which in turn may help smaller bands that are struggling to make ends meet. But lets get down to what’s on offer with Tidal.

Tidal

Tidal’s star-studded press conference. Source: Engadget

Tidal offers the highest quality audio on the market, something that will appeal to a number of listeners out there. Tidal HiFi, Tidal’s superior streaming service, offers high fidelity lossless CD quality audio – FLAC 1411 kbps – for $23.99 a month. It makes sense for subscribers to subscribe to Tidal. Why buy an expensive set of headphones if you aren’t getting the best sound out of them? The FLAC 1411 bitrate audio offers a fuller sound with much more detail. There is also Tidal Premium, which features standard sound quality (320 kbps) for $11.99.

Tidal’s music catalogue is over 35 million, with a few noticeable gaps, but will give access to exclusive content and is ad free. Unsurprisingly, the Tidal app is very sleek and modern but a bit buggy. There is a 30-day free trial to give Tidal a shot but no free service like what Spotify offers.

The low-down:

Tidal actually has a lot more going for it than just being owned by some of the world’s biggest artists. It offers up the best sound quality, with that lossless CD audio being far superior to its competitors. Furthermore, its extensive music catalogue and access to exclusive content from artists is a real eye-catcher.

However, at a cost of $24 per month, I can’t help but question if what Tidal offers is worth it. At $288 a year, it’s double the cost of a Premium Spotify service and an Apple Music subscription. Not to mention I am already paying for Netflix, Foxtel and an expensive phone bill each month.

Can a guy catch a break?

With no free option, Tidal is positioning itself as the highest quality and aiming for the audiophiles market. Does helping ‘fledging artists’ pull at your heartstrings or does Tidal’s cost makes it seem like too much of a hit to the bank account? I think I can feel my back pocket burning…

 

The Best of the Best

Let’s face it, no music streaming service is going to offer everything we want in a mobile app.  Spotify provides great user experience and extensive music catalogue, but means missing out on exclusive content. Choosing Apple Music subscription ives you exclusive content, but forgo Tidal’s FLAC 1411 quality audio. You might get an excellent Interactive Radio with Pandora, but a lite catalogue of music to listen to.

No mobile music streaming service is perfect.

For now, Spotify remains the best option available. The app is user-friendly, has a great music catalogue, and lets you make and share playlists. Not to mention that it’s free if you can put up with those pesky ads.

FYI I’m a Spotify user and ended up buying a CD of Dr. Dre’s new album. Who knew that music could still be a physical product??

What music streaming app do you use and why? Let us know in the comments below.

 

The 4 Myths of Mobile App Development

“For an industry that’s built on science, the technology world sure has its share of myths.”

–David Pogue, Founder of Yahoo Tech.

The app market continues to evolve as developers and users explore the possibilities of mobile technology. In 2015, the number of mobile-only internet users surpassed that of desktop-only, with people now spending at least 54% of their digital media time interacting with mobile apps.

As the top digital disruptor in business today, it comes as no surprise that everyone, from first-time entrepreneurs to multinational corporations, is sensing the urgency to break into mobile in a big way.

However, there are so many misconceptions around mobile app development that a lot of entrepreneurs and businesses end up squandering time and money they simply can’t afford. In my experience at the helm for numerous app development projects, I’ve been able to observe what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating a best-in-class app product.

If you’re looking to create an app that innovates rather than regulates, here are the top 4 myths that you need to bust to do mobile right.

 

MYTH #1: Developing apps natively per platform is a waste of time and money.

REALITY: 

If you want a five-star app, build natively. Period.

The benefits of building a cross-platform app seam clear. You only have to code some once and you can push it out to everyone using any device. Sounds simple. Logical. Facebook thought so initially, as did LinkedIn. But the ease was countered by some pretty dramatic downsides. How dramatic you ask? Well, Mark Zuckerberg called Facebook’s over-reliance on HTML5 as opposed to native as “the biggest mistake we made as a company”.

In comparison to native apps, a cross-platform app is worse across every important metric: functionality, performance, UI etc. When entrepreneurs and business go the easy route of app development, they don’t realise that all they’re doing is creating a crappy experience for everyone everywhere.

But cross-platform approaches still lure startups that don’t want to invest more time and money developing separately for iOS and Android Operating Systems. Instead, they rely on HTML5, hybrid applications and cross-platform toolkits, but none of these work well enough to build the high-end mobile experiences users expect. They will eventually, but they don’t right now.

Each of these solutions come with their own set of drawbacks:

  • HTML5: Cross-browser compatibility issues are difficult to resolve, which means that you end up needing to optimise for each platform anyway.
  • Hybrid Apps: There’s a leaky abstraction layer (E.g. “Is that a URL bar refreshing in the app?… Seriously??”) and the communication layer between the app and web view is complex and littered with errors.
  • Cross-Platform Toolkits: Require large amounts of custom code per platform, making it easier and faster to write native code for each.

The takeaway: Instead of going broad and writing something once, spend the time and go deeper on your most popular platform first. Then expand from there. You want to pick the platform that resonates most with your users — whether it be iOS, Android or both. It all depends on what you want the app to do and the audience it’s designed to reach.

Figuring out your optimal platform means you need to dig into the demographics of your user base. In a previous post about validating your app idea, I discussed how researching the size and shape of your market is a critical step in influencing the direction of your app concept. You need to see firsthand that different users’ habits are largely driven by the platforms they use. Android users look for functionality in different places than iOS users, and so on. From both a speed and quality perspective this is the only way to go.

 

MYTH #2: My backend server is ready to support mobile apps.

REALITY:

You will need to change, upgrade, or completely rebuild your backend to create the best mobile experience.

Most companies still aren’t used to building the type of backend server that creates top mobile apps. Without the right API design and implementation, an app will perform poorly in the real world. Some companies see increases in mobile traffic that are 200% higher — or more — than their website. Take banks as an example: Whereas customers can now check their account 10 times a day on their smartphone. Your server needs to be able to handle that kind of workload.

To avoid crash issues due to increased mobile traffic, here’s a checklist to consider when integrating a mobile app with your web server:

  • Maximum Payload Size: In mobile, the best experiences are the ones where the minimum amount of data is sent. A good API for mobile should allow the client to specify the maximum payload size returned from the server (4 KB is usually enough).
  • Retry rather than Redo: Given the flakiness of network connectivity, users should be allowed to send the same API call to the server multiple times for certainty. Retrying the same API call should not mean two calls on the same server end (E.g. Posting the same Facebook status message twice).
  • Low Latency: Bandwidth isn’t the only networking issue when dealing with mobile devices. The lower the latency on each API call, the snappier your app will feel.
  • Single API Call per Screen: This requires tighter coupling between the mobile device and the server, but can make for a very compelling mobile experience. Ideally, every screen on mobile would make at most one API call to the backend. To loosen the coupling, the API could be designed to allow variable return data, with much of the heavy lifting done on the server side.

 

MYTH #3: You can develop your mobile app internally as fast as an outside company.

REALITY:

Developing your app yourself will take 3x longer.

Throughout my time helping entrepreneurs and business embrace mobile innovation, lots of folks have asked how long their app will take to make. I may assess that an app would take three months to develop for one platform. Sometimes they’d come back with the decision to develop the app internally. Keeping tabs on these app projects, it comes as no surprise to see them finally launch almost a year later in the App Store.

If you want to develop an app, you can’t make the mistake of thinking just because you have HTML, CSS and JavaScript capabilities that mobile will be plug-and-play for you. Unless you have a dedicated, built-out mobile team, this will probably not be the case. And very few entrepreneurs and startups have this luxury. When they decide to go internal, they’re essentially choosing to pay with time instead of money.

Why does it take startups so much longer to do it on their own? They don’t anticipate their most critical need: Hiring.

If you are planning to build internally, you want to be confident that you already have the people and skill sets you need to execute. This isn’t just about coding talent either. You need to have people with mobile product experience, mobile Quality Assurance (QA) testers, and mobile UI/UX Designers. You need all of these people working together to put out a great product. Otherwise your developers may head down one road only to discover they had the wrong product vision, or they hadn’t even thought of QA.

When you bring in a development company, you are provided with experts in all of these areas who can work in parallel to iterate quickly and deploy internally. Having a Mobile Product Manager keeps you focused on the three to five (maximum!) core functionalities an app should have.

Speed isn’t just important for its own sake either. The sooner you get your app into the App Store or on Google Play, the sooner you get to see people’s reactions to it. The faster you can gather that feedback, the closer you are to your next release.

There’s also the chance that you’ll realise halfway through that your company simply doesn’t have the people or resources to finish an app it’s started. Then you have to call in a company for what we like to call “a rescue.” It doesn’t sound good — because it isn’t.

This doesn’t mean that working with any outside developer will do. When choosing an app development company, you’re really choosing a partner. To make sure you end up working with the right partner, we suggest asking every company a series of probing questions:

  • How do they learn as they develop new mobile capabilities?
  • How do they capture and leverage the data from their previous projects and experiences? What have they learned from working with other clients?
  • Do they offer the ability to co-innovate (pairing their own staff with the client’s to develop, design, and test)?
  • Do they follow agile methodologies (test driven development, quick iterations, constant communication)?

For all of these questions, the ‘right’ answer is not a one-size-fits-all, but the one that best suits your business. At agile development companies, internal knowledge sharing is accomplished through a combination of human and technical means: lunch and learns, demos, company-wide standups, an internal project management site, and rotating staff across projects to expose them to a wide range of experiences. You want answers that make it clear that it’s easy and encouraged for you to participate.

 

MYTH #4: If I outsource to a mobile development company, I won’t have to do any work.

REALITY:

For the best outcomes, clients need to be heavily involved with the company they’ve contracted.

Sometimes we have clients who just say “Hey, pretend to be me and make the decisions you think I would make”. In other words, they just want to hand the whole project over. At Launchpad, what we’ve found is that to do the best work, we need as much information as we can get as fast as we can get it, and that requires client participation.

In my experience as a Product Manager across a wide variety of app development projects, the greatest apps I’ve been involved with resulted from the client working very closely with the design, coding and QA teams. Ideally, they have the opportunity to collaborate with the client to see what everyone wants and envisions.

The best case scenario is actually having our client sit with us to work toward building a solution — not just trading emails or checking in every so often over Skype. We call this co-innovation, as it allows the key stakeholders to build together.

When you work side by side with someone, trust forms so much faster. It’s so much easier to make decisions and work through issues. Simply put, the ability to be co-located with someone and to co-invent is a key factor for app development success.

Ultimately, busting all of these myths depends on finding the right partner. You want someone who gets you, gets your app, and is just as invested in your success as their own especially if you’re at a smaller startup or a company that is only beginning to invest in mobile. Given the increasing importance of these platforms, finding this exact fit could not only make or break your mobile strategy, but your entire business.

Do you have any questions about mobile app development? Feel free to ask in the comments section below.

5 Top Strategies to Get More App Downloads

All app entrepreneurs want the same thing: to increase the number of people that download their app. Growth hacking should be one of everyone’s top priorities. So, what can you do to increase app downloads? In this post, we provide five strategies to app growth that inherently increases user retention and product success with the App Store market place.

We’ve all heard the naysayers complaining about how competitive the app market is today, and how you’re app is likely going to fail. However, you need to brush this negativity aside and continue to push forward with full momentum if you plan on being a successful entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that developing an app is easy – in reality far from it. But in my experiences, everything in life that’s truly rewarding requires hard work and determination, and creating your own app is definitely no exception. 

If you agree with the statement above you already have a head start on the mindset you’ll need to be successful. This will keep the passion alive and maintain your determination and willingness to do whatever it takes to see your app become as successful as possible when it hits the App Stores. 

If you were to come by my office tomorrow looking for advice on how to get enough downloads to propel your app into the ranks of Startup Success, I’d tell you six things. One, you’ve come to the right place! The next five things would be my 5 top strategies for increasing app downloads.

 

1. Use Smart Banners to convert Mobile Web Browsers to App Users

Mobile web remains very important for mobile apps. Developers use it to drive brand awareness and traffic on mobile devices in ways that apps (currently) can’t. There are two main ways that users end up on a mobile website: through organic search or a link.

On a mobile device, web search is one of the best ways to get discovered. Hopefully, when someone enters a query in Google (or Bing, ha!), your mobile site pops up. This is why it’s crucial you have a strong web presence with indexed content. Google will not automatically return your app content on search. Skip to step 4 for more on that.

If you receive organic traffic to your mobile website, it’s up to you to design an experience that will drive people to your app. The best method for this is a smart banner. As simple as this seems, smart banners continue to drive mobile downloads. According to Branch Metrics, an analysis of 12 million link clicks found that 15.5% of smart banners clicks resulted in an install. That’s actually pretty high in comparison to most channels.

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Click-to-install rate by channel.

The second way users find themselves on a mobile website is from a link click. Sometimes, the mobile web is used as an interstitial before a new user is routed to the App Store. In fact, compared to sending someone directly to the App Store after a link click, sending them to a mobile web splash with a View in the App call-to-action converts users 2 to 6 times better. Web banners work because of Cialdini’s principle of reciprocity. By giving users a preview, or a free sample, of the app content you want them to see, they are more inclined to give the app a try.

 

2. Provide a personalised App Onboarding experience

Onboarding continues to be a crucial step in converting valuable users. In summary, the App Store is a huge barrier to entry, but so is a generic welcome flow. By giving users a personalised experience, you provide them value right off the bat. 77% of mobile users downloaded an app in the past six months because of a recommendation from a friend or family.

Why not remind users that they came from a friend’s recommendation when they open the app for the first time? Gogobot did this by showing the name and profile picture of the referring user and saw a 78% lift in conversion to sign up.

Now, I know what you’re probably saying to yourself: “The title of this blog was about driving app downloads. Onboarding is after my users have already downloaded the app.”

But what good are app downloads if they don’t convert into active users? Spoiler alert: none. Well, except for maybe costing a lot of money and providing you with some vanity metrics.

tu225

You don’t need Condescending Wonka telling you how important user retention is.

The best-personalised welcomes rely on deep links to pass information through the App Store that you want to show a new user. The newest research shows that day-1, day-7, and day-30 retention rates double for users who come from a deep link.

 

3. Give Desktop Users direct access to your App

Links created from desktop via a text-yourself-the-app feature have the highest conversion to sign up rate compared to other deep linking features.

Let me explain why this is the case. If users have spent the time to enter their phone number, open a text, and click on a link, they’ve probably already made up their mind that they want the app. This is why we see an install rate of about 42% when it comes to text-me-the-app link clicks.

This is also why text-me-the-app is the default for branch link clicks on desktop. But how can we make this the default when so many apps are mobile-first and don’t have a website?

As mentioned in my 3 Steps To Validating Your App Idea post, we recommend creating a desktop landing page that is built seamlessly into the user experience provided by the app when you click ‘Download Now’. Instead of relying on the badges below to drive web traffic to your app, get potential users to enter their phone number to be texted a link to the App Store.

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App Store Badges on Desktop.

4. Make your App discoverable

App discovery is the hot new topic when it comes to driving downloads. Leading the charge are Apple and Google with their App Indexing and Spotlight Search.

Although these are still unproven channels for driving app downloads, you have two of the most valuable companies in the world, who also happen to control the app ecosystem, working hard to make app discovery a possibility. I’d bet on seeing some significant improvements in app discovery very soon.

Apple’s recent iOS 9 update allows developers to list content with CSSearchableItem and CSSearchableIndex (Before we get any further, make sure your iOS app is setup properly for deep linking… Done? Great!). Once you’ve done this 1) your app content can be listed on cloud and local search, 2) you can deep link directly from Spotlight Search results, and 3) you can start tracking clicks and downloads coming from Spotlight. Win-win-win.

For Google to properly index your app, you need to have a website with corresponding one-to-one mapping to the content in your app. Bit of a drainer, right? Before doing the ‘eye-roll, back-turn’ at Google, there is a solution that will host and configure your indexing tags automatically. Similar to Spotlight Search, this solution will allow you to list your app content, deep link from search results, and track and measure search results.

As I mentioned, these are still unproven channels, but indexing your app content now will definitely get you ahead of the competition.

 

5. Focus on valuable content

Too often I hear people say, “I want my app to be viral,” as if virality is a special feature you can simply switch on. Virality is a goal, not a choice. What entrepreneurs should be saying, or asking, is “why are some apps viral?”

Apps are most viral when they have good content. Good content is defined as content users think is worth sharing. The more your content is shared, the more users will download your app (assuming you build the sharing features for them to do so). It’s that easy.

Not only is it more shareable, but it will also become more discoverable, as app search engines will likely reward highly shared app content with higher search results. Creating good content is not an easy solution. It’s no get-rich-quick scheme (like App Store Optimisation), where you’re promised immediate results. It’s a solution for long-term success and discoverability.

We’re at a time when creating a mobile app is like creating a website before Google. Once app search and discovery becomes prominent, it will change the game for everyone.

Am I missing out on any strategies to getting more app downloads? Let me know in the comments section below.

 

Apple Wants YOU to Develop TV Apps

At their September Keynote event, Apple launched their fourth-generation Apple TV with a vague release date of October sometime. With a week to spare, it looks like Apple will squeak in their latest set-top box right before the end of the month.

Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage at WSJD Live to announce that “the foundation of the future of TV” is available for order as of today and that shipping will begin by the end of this week (Friday, October 30).

As discussed in my ‘Are Apps The Future of TV?’ post, the biggest new feature of the Apple TV is its new App Store. So that you don’t turn on your new set-top box to be greeted with a barren App Store, Apple has just started accepting app and game submissions from its development community.

Apple has provided app developers, like us, with guidelines for supporting major Apple TV features and submitting tvOS apps. Now they’re calling out potential app entrepreneurs and startups, like YOU, to change the way we consume and connect with television.

So what do disruptive app developers and entrepreneurs need to know about the fourth-generation Apple TV?

In this post, we examine Apple’s next big product and how you, as an early adopter, can create apps that change the way we gather around our big screens.

 

What’s in the Box?

Made entirely from glossy and matte black plastics, the new Apple TV looks just like its two predecessors, only around 50% taller with two rear port changes. All audio has to go through HDMI and the previous micro-USB port has given way to a USB-C connector. As iFixit notes, a giant heat sink inside makes it noticeably heavier than before.

The new Apple TV will also be shipped with a new Siri Remote, which is black on top and silver on the bottom. To make scrolling quicker, Apple has replaced the prior four-direction navigation circle with a small matte glass surface that can be used for navigational swipe and gentler positing. Gyroscope/accelerometer sensors are hidden inside the remote for future games, and not user within the main Apple TV interface.

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The evolution of the Apple TV Remote.

Four new buttons have been added to enable the Siri Remote to control your TV’s volume, activate twin built-in microphones for Siri voice input, and quickly return to the Apple TV’s main menu. Apple has also included a multi-month rechargeable battery this time that can be refuelled with an included Lightning to USB cable.

 

What’s the new Software?

Apple has substantially redesigned the Apple TV’s user interface with an ambitious, visually appealing set of improvements. Everything’s been whitewashed with a brighter colour palette, text has been flipped to Apple’s new San Francisco font, and drop shadows have been added. Translucent panes introduced in iOS7 have made their way to tvOS, with even better results.

One big change that isn’t obvious from screenshots is speed: the new Apple TV lets you zip rather than plodding through menus, thanks in equal parts to a considerably beefier A8 processor and the more responsive Siri Remote. Additionally, app icons and cover art images now wiggle in 3D thanks to an Apple mandate that developers include 2-5 parallax layers to create depth.

Much of the new UI, including Apple-developer widgets like Weather and Stocks that aren’t represented by app icons, can be navigated using Siri voice commands. You have to hold down the Siri Remote’s microphone button while you speak to get Siri to “hear” and process whatever you say. This takes a little adjustment, but is better than killing the Siri Remote’s by having it endlessly listen for the words “Hey Siri” or, even worse, trolling questions like “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuckwood”

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Siri’s answer to the age-old-troll question. Source: MacRumors

By holding down the mic button, Siri can be activated in the middle of pretty much anything, including videos. You can use Siri for voice-controlled navigation, “What did they just say?” type inquires, and lookups of information related to whatever’s currently playing.

Along with the new UI and Siri Remote, the biggest new addition to Apple TV’s Software – well, for us app developers and entrepreneurs – is the soon to be opened App Store. More than likely, the set-top box will arrive with only a handful of Apple-developed apps pre-installed, leaving you to choose which third-party developed apps will be filling up your Home screen.

 

What To Expect From TV Apps and Games

The A8 processor inside the new Apple TV is one year and three generations old, which is to say that it’s already been surpassed in power by the iPhone 6s/6s Plus’s A9 and iPad Pro’s A9X. But with at least as much horsepower as these other Apple products, the Apple TV will be well-equipped to play new games, as well as thousands of games previously released on iOS devices, assuming that they’re updated to support the tvOS operating system.

Expect the graphics in 3D games to be roughly on par with consoles such as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, with no shortage of ability to handle 2D games of any type.

One note of caution about tvOS games: for all of the set-top box’s incredible potential as a gaming platform, Apple continue to ignore requests from serious gamers regarding basic controller issues, such as allowing developers to offer games without support for the restrictive Siri Remote. It remains to be seen whether software and hardware decisions like this, which have upset many within the gaming community, kills the Apple TV’s ability to win over major game developers and their customers.

While apps are a lot easier to code than games, the Apple TV’s living room-focused interface hints that Apple’s not looking to see it turn into a cut-rate Mac. Basic widgets to extend the functionality of traditional TV features – watching sports, learning about the weather – will appear quickly, as will tvOS versions of Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu Plus and other channels.

However, don’t expect Apple to endorse creation apps, web browsers, or other Mac mainstays for the platform. Well, not yet, at least. Similarly, it will be interesting to see whether compromised apps with audio and/or one-way video calling take off in the absence of integrated FaceTime-caliber hardware.

 

Have An Idea for a TV App?

Even though prior versions of the Apple TV haven’t been mega-hits, the second- and third-generation models proved to be quite handy for everything from watching videos to occasionally putting FaceTime calls on the big screen.

I’m personally very excited about the fourth-generation Apple TV’s potential and think the next year will be a wild ride for early adopters. The first two or three months may be chaotic for developers and entrepreneurs as they rush to get hastily completed apps and games into the Apple TV App Store. In time though, the right kind of apps will change the way we experience television for the better.

What kind of apps would you like to see on a television platform? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

How To Optimise App Store Screenshots

To maximise your app’s conversion rate for the lowest possible user acquisition cost, it is crucial to understand how to optimise the sequence of screenshots on the App Store page. In this post, we examine those high-converting screenshots that drive more traffic to your app’s page and, in turn, lead to more app downloads.

According to research firm Forrester, 63% of apps are discovered through App Store searches. This makes App Store browsing the most used method for discovering and downloading apps. Consequently, if you’re not using App Store Optimisation (or ASO for short) to increase your app’s search ranking, you’re missing out on the largest discovery channel available to your app.

At its core, ASO is about increasing your organic installs by showcasing (or teasing) your app’s features quickly and succinctly. But to maximise your conversion rates for the lowest possible user acquisition cost, you must understand how to optimise the sequence of screenshots on your App Store pages.

Previously, we touched on how to pick the best ASO keywords for naming your app and designing your app’s Landing Page to draw in users and stand out once installed. In this post, we’ll go over what screenshots to place on your store page to convert views into installs, as well as the A/B testing you can do to optimise conversion rates.

So, without further ado, here’s how you find those high-converting screenshots to increase downloads on the App Store.

 

Making Screenshots that Showcase Your App

Whereas an icon might hint at your app’s quality and general utility, screenshots and videos paint a clear picture of what your app actually does. The best screenshots clarify your app’s unique value proposition and key selling points. How you demonstrate this, however, differs by app type.

Optimising For: Games

Angry Birds

Angry Birds 2 on iPhone shows off both gameplay and graphics. It doesn’t waste space showing how to launch a bird.

Games need screenshots that impress potential users with context about how fun the gameplay is as well as high-quality visual design. Angry Birds 2 is a great example that leads with its lively characters and physics-based gameplay, as established in the original Angry Birds. Adding key benefits at the top-left or bottom-right (e.g., “Multi-Stage Levels!”) is another best practice put in motion by Rovio’s designers.

Optimising For: Apps

CatchoftheDay

CatchOfTheDay on iOS tells a story to engage audiences.

For apps that aren’t games, we suggest showcasing screenshots that inform users how the app works. CatchOfTheDay is a perfect example. First, it hooks shoppers with the lead screenshot (beyond using Apple’s well-known brand and products, it also showcases being ‘Australia’s #1 Shopping Experience’). Then it proceeds to explain the shopping experience by visually outlining the main features the app provides to users.

 

Making Screenshots that Engage Users

Users are selective. You only have one to three seconds to get them to pay attention (Industry experts call this the “three-second rule”). There are several fundamentals to practice to convert the most installs.

Clumsy Ninja

Clumsy Ninja on Google Play leads with an entertaining video to engage Android users.

You’ll want to lead with at least one clear high-definition video. Keep it short and simple – ideally 15 to 30 seconds long. As a rule of thumb, your trailer’s duration should be less than half the time it takes to download the app itself on a 4G connection.

It’s even more important to leverage an app trailer on Android, as your lead video appears at the top of the Google Play store page. Clumsy Ninja does an excellent job of utilising this video top space with its engaging video.

For screenshots, always lead with the highest-converting image based on non-incentivised traffic. This may require some A/B testing, which we will cover later in this post.

 

How to Design a Great Screenshot

It’s very important to have concise and scalable screenshots, as users will be browsing on a range of devices including desktops, laptops, phones and tablets. File format is also a consideration — to get your screenshots onto Google Play and iOS App Store, they need to be saved as either JPEGs or PNGs.

If it’s your first time making App Store screenshots or you need assistance with your next project, you can use AppIconTemplate.com’s handy iOS and Android screenshot PSD templates.

One Minute Closer Apple iTunes

One Minute Closer on iPhone uses some text, while having a visual sense of hierarchy to explain the app’s core values. Source: iTunes

In general, text should be light and used to help frame the visuals. This translates to a font size around 65pts for the body and 100pts for the header. Overall, you’ll want to communicate visually and be supported by — not reliant on — text. Tinder employs this strategy by using text to enhance the visual message.

Screenshots should have a sense of hierarchy, displaying the app’s core features and unique selling points first. This way, the consumer can quickly grasp why your app is better than or different to competitors.

In the Tinder example, users quickly learn that the app shows local people, the ability to quickly like or pass and what happens when a match occurs. This helps it stand out against other dating apps.

Lastly, always make sure screenshots are consistent with the look and feel of the app UI/UX. Otherwise, users will become confused when they open your app and you’re likely to run into user retention problems.

 

Combining Design with A/B Testing

The quickest way to know you have the best screenshots and optimise conversion rates is through sequential A/B testing. However, how you execute this method differs by App Store:

  • Google Play – Android developers have it easy thanks to Google Experiments, which lets you set up tests and collect results within Google’s dashboards.
  • iOS App Store – For iPhone and iPad apps, we recommend using Facebook advertising campaigns prior to an app’s soft launch. The click-through rate for each screenshot will allow you to evaluate which ones drive traffic towards your app and, as a result, will lead to more downloads.

Based on you’re A/B test findings, you should optimise the order of your screenshots so the highest-converting one (among your target users) is first. Furthermore, you need to account for common behaviour across devices where your user views your store page. When they come across your page, they could be on their desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. To maximise your conversion rates, you must not only have the best set of screenshots, but also know the correct order to present them.

 

Key Takeaways

According to analytics firm App Annie, a 10% improvement in your conversion rate can lead to 10% more app installs or 10% less user acquisition to reach your target market. In short, optimising your screenshots will improve your user acquisition.

However, design principles and A/B testing methods differ between apps and Apps Stores, so be sure to keep our guide handy to help you through the process. In time, you’ll discover which screenshots are leading to the most downloads and, in turn, receive the fruits of your App Store Optimisation efforts.

Are there any ASO tools or resources with should be checking out? Let us know in the comments below.

 

10 Apps on the Right Path of Disruption: Part Two

Disruptive apps create a ‘new normal’ for consumers and businesses alike. They make life easier and often improve upon the traditional practices that came before it. We look at five new apps that are changing the way we shop, find a car park and do chores.

A disruptive app strives to challenge the status quo within an industry – so much so that the traditional way of doing business becomes obsolete. That’s easier said than done, and a lot harder than creating an app that follows market trends and consumer demand. So why are so many app startups aiming to innovate rather than regulate?

Well, as the late Steve Jobs succinctly put it: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

In the first part, I discovered apps that aim to change the way we live. For instance, grabbing a coffee, finding nearby friends and even monitoring our health. I also discovered that these app startups that are crazy enough to think they can change world, are the ones who do.

Related: 10 Apps on the Right Path of Disruption: Part One

In this second part, I examine five more apps that disrupt the way we live our lives for the better.

 

1. Witness

What if live streaming, like those that run today on apps like Periscope or Meerkat, could be used to save lives? That’s the premise behind Witness – An app that does everything your phone can do to keep you safe in an emergency. With one touch, the app broadcast your location, audio and video to your loved ones and emergency contacts.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Live Mobile Video Streaming

Winner of the TechCrunch 2015 Hackathon, Witness can be activated by launching the app and pressing the ‘Witness’ button. As soon as you activate it, it will call and text your emergency contacts.

In addition to alerting your friends and family, Witness will record your location, camera and microphone activity. It also streams it over data and Wi-Fi to your emergency contacts in real time. In the meantime, your screen fades to black so nobody can notice that you’re streaming what’s happening.

Witness App

Source: iTunes

Changing the way we stay safe in an emergency

What makes Witness a game-changer in the live streaming app market is that rather than having the stream sent out to the public via social networks like Twitter, only designated contacts you’ve previously configured in the app’s settings are alerted to the incident via phone calls and text messages.

“Whatever emergency I have, I pretty much always have my phone and my wallet with me,” developer Marinos Bernitsas explains. That’s why he says it made sense to take advantage of the smartphone’s camera, microphone and GPS to build an app that could help keep people safe.

Operating as a ‘panic button’ of sorts for your iPhone, Witness empowers individuals and law enforcement agencies with a secure and efficient way to capture and deliver digital media in an emergency situation.

 

2. Membit

While searching for disruptive apps, I found that one of the most difficult industries to shake up was social networking. Companies like Facebook and Google are always striving, and spending, to remain at the forefront of how we connect to one another. With that being the case, how can a startup disrupt an industry where the most powerful are also the most innovative?

Well, when your app has a feature that Snapchat filed a patent for, it’s safe to say that you may have the attention of Silicon Valley. That’s what Membit has – a breakthrough mobile image sharing app that utilises a patented Human Positioning System (HPS) to share images.

Membit is a new way to share memories by letting users unlock past clips (‘membits’ ), captured at a specific location.

Changing the way we share memories

“Membit is destined to become the world’s way of memorialising and sharing moments that matter.” It’s a bold statement by Membit Founder Jay Van Buren. But when you consider the patented form of augmented reality the Membit has for geo-locative photo sharing, it’s a statement that he can say with confidence.

Membit photos know where they belong in the real world, and users can share Membits simply by leaving them in a particular place. Others can experience these images through a 3D interface or through their mobile devices at the Membit’s actual physical location. It’s a uniquely compelling way to experience and share photos.

 

3. Mallzee

Tinder-esque ‘swipe to filter’ interfaces (A.K.A. ‘Tinderfaces’) are in app vogue right now. ‘X app is the Tinder of Y’ has become the standard descriptive shorthand for this trend, named from the dating app Tinder which popularised making snap aesthetic judgements swipe style.

U.K. startup Mallzee is just one example of apps following in the gestural footsteps of Tinder by applying a Tinderface to high street shopping decisions.

The self-proclaimed ‘Tinder for Fashion’, Mallzee has captured the attention of fashion labels and investors alike. With a database that let’s you search over 2 million products from around 200 major brand retailers, the company has raised a nearly $6.7 million since being founded in 2013.

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Source: Student Fashion

Changing the way we shop for clothes

Mallzee’s personalisation technology and retailer analytics appears to be the biggest draw here. The former creates what the startup describes as unique personalised style profiles that make finding ‘the perfect outfit’ quick and easy. This includes sending you alerts when items you have swiped-to-like are reduced in price.

For the retailers, Mallzee provides a data insight tool, which claims to provide ‘actionable real-time knowledge’ of how their products. For instance, how they are perceived and used across various consumer demographics, such as location, age and gender.

It’s quite the innovative shopping startup, but it’s Mallzee’s clever social twist that’s shaking up the personalised shopping experience for users. The app lets you share the item you intend to buy with friends. If the consensus is a thumbs-down, Mallzee will actually prohibit you from making a purchase — the buy button becomes disabled — helping to avoid any potential fashion faux pas. This feature could prove to be a viral hit with the young demographic. Or just a bit annoying. Time will tell.

 

4. DoStuff

Algorithms can’t tell you what to do tonight. You need a local who knows about all the events and can tell you what’ll actually be fun. That’s why DoStuff hire natives from cities across the United States to power recommendations in its new event discovery app.

The app is smartly designed to find awesome local events that are the real deal. While most other event aggregation apps force you through the chore of sifting out what’s good (I’m looking at you, That’s Melbourne!), DoStuff has real humans curating the events.

Changing the way we… well, do stuff!

So how does DoStuff stand out from the heavily saturated event discovery market? “There’s probably been 87,000 companies that have tried to tackle this,” DoStuff’s founder and CEO Scott Owens admits. “Where we’re different is that we’ve become a part of the scene in those communities by partnering with people.”

DoStuff understands that it doesn’t have to build an empire to create a disruptive app. The fact is that the companies perhaps best equipped data-wise to nail event recommendations just don’t care. EventBrite only makes money by selling tickets to events on its system, so Owens says “they’re fighting against themselves if they surface other things.”

Owens thinks similarly about Facebook. “It’s not in their DNA to be a part of a local community. They’re a platform.” Facebook knows where your friends are going, just not if where they’re going is any good.

Event discovery may be saturated, but that just shows there’s a clear need for it to be done well. DoStuff have realised that it’s people that are needed to do that.

 

5. Parkhound

After publishing the first part of this blog, I had a mate astutely say ‘Cool apps bro. Any Aussie ones?’. Considering Launchpad is Melbourne-based helping Australians develop their innovative app ideas, he had a good point.

As such, this app startup is disrupting a something that most Australians can relate to: finding a car park!

Enter Parkhound – An online marketplace that connects drivers looking for parking with local property owners who have spare parking spaces. A 2014 Australian Mobile and App Awards nominee, the app aims to make sure you won’t have to drive around aimlessly looking for a parking spot ever again.

Changing the way we find a car park

Parkhound works very similarly to Airbnb, but as a marketplace for empty parking spaces instead of rent accommodation. Drivers reserve a parking spot in advance and parking space owners get to make extra income on the side.

As a Melbourne motorist that heads to the city every morning, here’s how I feel about this app…

Blog Meme

As indicated in the above meme, parking has been a major issue for all Australian motorists. Lack of investment in infrastructure meant that parking is either unavailable or is too expensive.

Instead of ignoring the issue, Parkhound has decided to challenge it head on. The solution? parking spaces need to be better utilised. Through collaborative consumption, here’s hoping that Parkhound can give the Australian parking industry the much needed shake-up it deserves.

 

Bonus App (Surprise!)

Apps like Tinder have gained popularity by shallowly focusing on physical attractiveness. It’s unfortunate, but also understandable. How is another way someone can find the perfect match with an app? Well, Oscar Mayer believes it has found the perfect equation for this and it all comes down to bacon.

Last month, the company released Sizzl, a dating app that allows lovestruck users a closed network of bacon lovers where they can scour for their ideal dates. This ‘totally real dating app’ allows people to “specify their bacon preferences in a customisable profile, upload photos and start swiping through profiles of local fellow bacon lovers, with the ability to message and meet up with other Sizzl users based on a mutual-matching system,” according to a company press release.

Changing the way bacon lovers find their soulmate

“In love, as it is in bacon, it’s important to be discerning when selecting your perfect match and to never settle for less than the best,” said Eric Dahmer, Oscar Mayer’s marketing director in a statement. “With the launch of Sizzl, we’re thrilled to give our true bacon lovers the chance to find each other and potentially meet their soulmates, in life and in bacon.”

This is a real app, and you really can attempt to meet your love match via a bacon-based matching service. It may not be disrupting the online dating industry anytime soon, but let’s be honest — it can’t be any worse than what’s already out there.

Are there any other disruptive (or bacon-centric) apps we should be checking out? We’d love to hear about them.

 

VALIDATE-MY-IDEA!

 

Rocket Icon

10 Apps on the Right Path of Disruption: Part One

‘Disruptive’ is a common word amongst app entrepreneurs and startups today. Everyone aims to have the next Uber or Airbnb in their respective industry. By what exactly is a ‘disruptive app’? And why are so many entrepreneurs and startups in pursuit of this title being bestowed upon their app?

A disruptive app is one that challenges the status quo within an industry – transportation, retail, lifestyle, etc. It does it so much that the traditional way of doing business becomes nearly obsolete.

In essence, these apps create a ‘new normal’ for both consumers and businesses alike. They make life easier, more fun, and often improve upon the traditional practices that came before it.

So what are the ‘game-changer’ apps that we can look forward to in the future?

During last week’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference, we got a glimpse of the next generation of innovative apps that aim to change the way we live.

Here are 10 apps that could soon change the way we travel, exercise, grab coffee, and much more.

 

10. Hopper

Hopper is an iOS and Android app that shows travellers where to go, when to fly and buy tickets. The app analyses data from billions of flights to determine the best time for purchasing a ticket and flying.

Hopper

Hopper has been building out its Price Prediction tool since 2007 to focus specifically on the challenge of helping users get the best flight deals. Source: TechCrunch

Changing the way we find flights

The aim of Hopper is to help consumers find the cheapest flights possible. It does so by using data sets comprising billions of flight prices to help app users find the best possible deal for the right destination.

As noted by Investopedia, Hopper doesn’t want to just be an app that provides available flights and price information. If it did, then it’d be no different to all the online travel companies readily available to consumers.

Instead, Hopper wants to give the data-driven results for the lowest possible flight prices. For all the consumers wanting to avoid the complexity of flight prices and just be confident in their purchases, travel apps don’t get more convenient than Hopper.

 

9. Foodful.ly

Automatic reminders and delicious recipes to help cook your food before it goes bad. That’s the mission a Foodful.ly – a mobile app that is designed to help users save money, time and food waste in their home. The app catalogues everything you have in your fridge – along with expiration dates – to send you timely reminders and recipes so you can cook your readily available food before it goes to waste.

Changing the way we waste food

According to lunchalot.com, Australians discard up to 20% of the food they purchase. Furthermore, up to 40% of the average household bin is food, which equates to an average of $1,036 worth of food being thrown out each year.

One reason for this is that food is mistakenly thrown out before the use-by/best before date. We are also prone to not planning our meals and menus like we could to avoid such waste.

So how does Foodful.ly help to avoid such a state of waste? Well, let’s see what the app knows when integrated with your food purchases: 1) What food you have on hand, 2) What you like to eat, and 3) How much you save. With such seamless integration into the consumers’ lifestyle, Foodful.ly can change the way we save money and be less wasteful with food around the home.

 

8. Pull

Alright, I should note at this stage that I’m presenting these 10 disruptive apps in no particular order. However, Pull has firmed as a personal favourite from this very impressive bunch of apps.

In my ‘3 Steps To Validating Your App Idea’ blog, I examined the need to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to only include app features that address the problem you are trying to solve and demonstrate the core value of your product. Pull does exactly that.

Simply put, it is a location-sharing app without the map. The app lets you find your way to your Facebook friends that are within 1000 feet by using a compass instead of a map.

Pull

Pull allows you to navigate to any Facebook friend within 1,000 feet, using a glance-able compass.

Changing the way we find any friend

On most mapping and messaging apps, you can drop a pin to save and share your exact location. However, with the amount of data stored on such apps, users have become wary to their exact whereabouts being geo-tagged on a map. That’s where Pull gets it right.

Once logged in on Facebook, Pull only allows you to find friends when they are nearby. This is done so with a simple compass function to let you know how far they are and in which direction. Furthermore, you can select how long the location sharing last to ensure that your Pull session is readily available to your friends for only the applicable time required.

 

7. Café X

Australians are one of the world’s great lovers of coffee and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. According to industry Research Company IBISWorld, the cafe and coffee shop industry will continue to grow over the next five years by an annualised 2.6% to total AUS$4.96 billion.

Even though there seems to be a café wherever you turn in Melbourne, supply still hasn’t caught up with demand. The lines to get a coffee are getting longer, especially in the morning and early afternoon – right when you need coffee the most.

We could interpret this in two ways: 1) Us Melburnians need to scale back on the caffeine, and 2) the café culture is ripe for disruption!

That’s where an app concept like Café X comes in. The Café X app lets you pre-order and pay for any coffee right from your iPhone or Android Phone. After ordering, users head to the nearest Café X robotic café to pick up their premium coffee.

Cafe X

Café X designs and manufactures its Robotic Café to serve pre-ordered, premium coffee. Source: IT World

Changing the way we grab a coffee

Café X’s mission is ‘to accerlerate the adoption of robotics in the service industry to increase human productivity’. This is quite the mission statement for the HAL 9000 of Baristas, but it’s the type of advanced thinking required to create a ‘new normal’ for coffee consumers and the café industry alike.

Right now, the robotic café start-up is only established in Hong Kong, but the company is looking to expand globally into airports, shopping centres and university campuses. If it can make a decent Latte with one sugar in half the time and a fraction of the price, the Australian cafe culture could be disrupted a lot sooner than anticipated.

 

6. Supercharged

Based on 12 years of research in quantum biology, Supercharged was a featured participant at TechCrunch Disrupt. When you consider how the groundbreaking mobile app is aiming to change the way we look at health, it’s featured billing at the San Francisco event was more than justified.

When it comes out, the Supercharged app will be able to analyse your health based on the sound of your voice, combining voice resonance technology with machine learning to create a personalised health profile. The app then becomes your personal health and wellness coach with recommendations on how to optimise performance through innovations in quantum biology.

Changing the way we monitor health

“The way Uber changed transportation, this app changes healthcare. Like a personal health coach, it offers specific solutions to help relieve your problems and SuperCharge your health.” – Harry Massey, CEO and Founder of Supercharged.

It takes a bold App Entrepreneur to attempt a disruption of the healthcare industry. But Massey has streamlined the physics of biology and created a health performance product that is effective and affordable for consumers.

SuperCharged claims it can help users detect and correct their own health without going to the doctor or hospital

Now I don’t see myself replacing my local doctor with an app any time soon, but healthcare is the world’s largest industry today. When you consider its lag in innovation for almost five decades, the disruptive startups that are striving to revitalise and transform the healthcare system need to be given the attention they deserve.

The healthcare industry can be improved by enhancing the experience of care, bettering the health of populations and reducing per capita costs of healthcare. SuperCharged may have just launched, but it’s on the right path to revolutionising such aspects of the industry.

 

To be continued…

Later this week I’ll show you five more apps that aim to disrupt the status quo.

Until then, do you know of any disruptive apps out there that we should be checking out? Please share your suggestions in the comments below.

The Most Popular iPhone and iPad Apps of All Time

With Apple’s much-anticipated keynote happening today, a list of the most popular iPhone and iPad Apps has been released. We take a look at the iOS App Store’s history and your favourite apps in the past five years.

Today Apple announced three things coming this spring: an updated Apple TV, a gigantic iPad and new iPhones. With the iOS9, it’s extraordinary to see how far the iPhone has come in less than a decade.

When the original iPhone was released in 2007, there was no App Store at all. In 2008, the App Store was first launched with only 500 apps. That number has grown to over a million apps that are creating mobile experiences, enriching and empowering our lives.

So what are the iOS Apps that have stood out from the crowd to top the App Store rankings?

The latest report from analytics firm App Annie have crowned the most popular iOS apps of all time. We review the top downloaded and grossing apps to see how they have become so widely used today.

 

Top Apps by Downloads

Top All-Time Worldwide Downloads

Facebook, Google and Apple dominate the list of the top 10 most-downloaded apps with 8 of the spots. Facebook alone claims 4 of the spots. Along with their main app coming in first, others on the list include Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Skype and Twitter are the only apps from other companies, coming in at fifth and ninth place, respectively.

So what do these rankings tell us about the iOS app market?

Well, they do reveal that even as iPhones are updated and operating systems evolve, user habits have not changed much in the past few years when it comes to our favourite apps. Although most of the apps featured in the top 10 are over 4 years old, they all continue to attract millions of downloads per month.

Also of note is that over half of the apps are based around strong social networking and sharing features. This should be no surprise when most users install social apps first after getting a new iPhone or iPad.

 

Top Apps by Revenue

Top All-Time Worldwide Revenue

When it comes to the apps that make the most money, the top 10 is a lot different from the All-Time Downloads, with Skype being the only one featured on both lists. However, the winners on this list seem quite logical considering that most of the top-grossing apps are entertainment and dating apps.

When compared to the top-downloaded apps, the top-grossing apps are represented by a much wider selection of companies, with LINE being the only one to claim multiple top 10 spots. As noted by The Cheat Sheet, Pandora Radio’s top ranking was driven by the US, which contributed practically all of it’s revenue.

At $9.99, Apple’s word processer Pages is the only app featured that generated revenue entirely from paid downloads. All the other apps on the list apply a variation of the freemium model. To find out more about the monetisation models you can apply to generate app income here.

 

Top Apps by Usage

Using the top 10 most-downloaded and highest-grossing lists, all of the most popular iOS apps were compared based on monthly active users (MAU).

Tops App by Usage

When it comes to app usage, many of the most downloaded and top revenue apps are also ranked in the top 10 by MAU. The exception here is China where, quite remarkably, none of the 19 apps in the download and revenue rankings are among the top 50 apps by MAU. This can be attributed to users in China having a strong preference for local apps that provide similar functionality to their global App Store counterparts.

 

Key Takeaways

Everyone has their personal favourite apps.  Then there are those universal ones that seem nearly required for every iPhone and iPad, e.g. Facebook. You might have guessed the most popular apps correctly or been close, just by looking at your phone.

Also note that apps with strong social and sharing features take up over half of the top 10 most-downloaded list. Referred as ‘The App Effect’, mobile users are looking for the next app experience that will change their lives. The most popular iPhone and iPad apps provide this.

So what are some of your favourite iOS apps? Let us know in the comments below.