Want to launch an app? Buckle up, it can be a wild ride!

Smartphones have taken over the world. Almost anywhere you go you’ll see people with their eyes locked deep into the warm glow of the screen on their hand. The modern day gold rushers have long envied the ability of this relatively new technology to capture people’s attention. The business potential is almost unlimited. Perhaps the best part is that it gives developers an almost unlimited playground to bring their idea to life. It seems like life will be a bed of roses until some of the realities of creating an app show up.

The first question to ask is-what is the specific goal that you are trying to accomplish? Are you looking to boost sales for your company? Create a new way for people to connect? New game or other form of entertainment? Once you have an answer to that, research what is currently available that is close to what you want to do and try them out. Ask your friends/colleagues to test them also. Pay close attention to the feedback, and especially whether or not it is something they would use frequently enough to want to keep. If you think you have a unique idea, start to proceed….cautiously. Besides the reality that it is costly to create an app, especially since it can cost extra to build for both Android and Apple, the real challenge begins once your app is approved and officially launched. The million dollar question then becomes-How are people going to find out about you?

One of the most important financial numbers for a company is the Cost Per Download. This number determines how much advertising money is spent per person that downloads the app. The number in the beginning can be a lot higher than what many people anticipate. Before launching your app, you need to have a marketing strategy in place. Every few months there are stories about a creative app designer who strikes gold by having the latest viral hit and tech world watches as their download numbers skyrocket. This is a terrific example of hard work paying off, and it definitely can for you too, but it is important to prepare for the challenges that you will have in getting to that level of success.

The first thing to make sure you understand is that it can be very difficult to get people to download your app. There are many roadblocks that can prevent this from happening. It can be surprising to those who work in the tech community, but many people have not ever downloaded an app because they do not know their itunes password, nor how to reset it. Memory storage is also frequently an issue as many phones get loaded up with photos/videos etc. to the point that they have zero space available. It is crazy to think, but some people still have the iPhone 3G or one of the original Droids and have an old version of the iOS or Android firmware that does not support what you need to run your new app.
The reason these factors are important to consider is because many times it makes more sense to build your idea into a website that has an excellent interface from a mobile device. It can be much easier to engage with new users by having a link to your site that you can email, text, tweet, post or link to on a blog etc. that people can easily access than it is to convince them it is worth the effort to find and download an app. It is also much easier and quicker to update and add new features on a website than an app. There is always the opportunity to build an app after you already have an established customer base. However, sometimes you do need to build an app to fully control the user experience and provide unique levels of service that are not available elsewhere.

Once you have decided on the best path to proceed it can be of vital importance to connect with the local tech community in your area and promote your new product. Many times great new ideas or partnering opportunities can come from attendees of networking events like those created by Tech In Motion that can take your business to the next level. Carrot Pass is a new app that uses beacon technology and encourages people to be more active by providing financial incentives for them to do so. I think it is a great idea and have also been working with them lately. We were fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to present at one of their recent events and the exposure and contacts we made will be incredibly valuable once we are able to expand into the Toronto area. Whatever your vision is, you can be successful doing it as long as you prepare and plan for the challenges. The potential market is HUGE. People love using their smartphones and are always excited to find a new reason to turn it on.carrot

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