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Tips for Aspiring Mobile App Entrepreneurs
Consumer demand for mobile applications continues to surge. A recent forecast from market research firm Frost & Sullivan projects app store downloads will reach 6.67 billion per year in 2014. More than half a billion iPhone and iPod touch application downloads took place in Q3 2009 alone, Apple's App Store reported. And developers continue to stream into the mobile space hoping to strike it rich--Apple adds there are now more than 125,000 registered developers in its iPhone Developer Program. Nor is the iPhone the only mobile platform generating developer interest: Android application project starts increased 94 percent between last September and October, according to mobile in-application analytics provider Flurry, a leap attributed to Verizon Wireless' launch of Motorola's Android Droid smartphone.
GetJar founder and CEO Ilja Laurs says there's still room for even more aspiring mobile entrepreneurs. "Only a tiny fraction of the subscriber population is heavily into mobile apps right now, but in the next few years, it could grow to the size of the music industry," Laurs says. "If you look at mobile software development, the effort is similar to producing a song. Look at how many musicians the entertainment industry supports--there are a number of highly successful musicians that make millions."
Here's more expert advice on mobile application development:
"The key is coming up with a product that consumers want. That may sound intuitive, but we see hundreds of apps come through every week. And while the overall content and execution are getting better, some developers still don't have an idea of what the market is about or what consumers are looking for," says Patrick Mork, GetJar vice president of marketing. "Developers should talk to consumers, carriers and app stores to see what they want. You would be surprised at how many people don't do this. They also need to consider the situation where the app will be used and how to make it better to fit that occasion."
"It's very important that developers be aware of the complexities within the mobile space--there are so many platforms, so many operating systems and so many form factors," says Opera Software chief strategy officer Rolf Assev. "Everyone is looking at the iPhone, but how do you get your message through when you're one of 100,000 applications? You have to be careful."
Tobias Kemper, Nimbuzz vice president of North American operations, says: "Pick which platform you want to concentrate on and understand your distribution channel or else it gets incredibly tough. You can't ignore the iPhone--it's a successful device, superior distribution system. But if you want to speak to anyone outside the U.S., the iPhone isn't going to save the day. The rest of the world is still 40 percent Symbian," the dominant operating system on Nokia devices.
Chicago-based writer Jason Ankeny is the executive editor of Fiercemobile content, a daily electronic newsletter dedicated to mobile media, applications and marketing.