Let us start with discussing the enormity of the business – In 2012, 57.33 billion apps were downloaded for free, whereas paid app downloads amounted to 6.65 billion items. In 2016, free app download volume is projected to grow to 211.31 billion downloads.
In 2012, the global mobile app revenues amounted to 18.56 billion US dollars and are expected to grow to 76.52 billion US dollars in 2017.
These are the stats that excite an unprecedented number of people every day. As a result we see so many beautiful, useful and profitable apps everyday in our app stores.
There is an overwhelming amount of literature available on the internet on how to validate your idea, hire a developer or a dev shop and market your completed app. Surprisingly almost none of them focus on the idea!
There are many ‘eureka’ moments in a week. If we are on a roll, we get two or three app ideas in a day and with every idea, we feel we can conquer the world. The only thing that stops us is either somebody has developed an app and has started conquering the world or nobody is ready to be conquered; resulting in meagre downloads.
Can I too get an app idea?
People often define or understand creativity as creating something entirely new. I differ. In today’s tech scenario it is about creating something better. When Google launched in 1998, there already were search giants like Yahoo and msn present. Google did things differently and significantly better and we see where Google is and where the other companies are.
Talking specifically about apps, there were umpteen notes taking apps already there in the market but Evernote did a phenomenal job. Who suspected a small start up like Dropbox to take on and defeat the software giant, Microsoft?
The point remains, you do not have to be a phenomenal thinker to have an idea for an app. It’s more about connecting things you know and things people want and present them with the solution. Look what Uber did!
From where do I get an Idea?
Nobody, not even me is going to provide an app idea to you for free but what they would tell you; is the problems they face. Look around, when Travis looked around, he saw passengers who couldn’t get cabs and cabs who couldn’t get passengers. He built an app for both and today half the world is using it.
The internet has made us more social than ever. We let out our feelings, needs, wants and problems on either one platform or the other. A small analytical analysis of the social platforms at our disposal can reveal many a things about our target audience. I have listed down three famous social platforms which you can use for your research about your next app:
Reddit is truly the first page of internet. Everything you read on the internet, the people at reddit have already read it. The point is the ideas that have spread at reddit for a fact have crowd traction to them. The algorithm is too robust to be bypassed and the crowd at reddit is huge and fast.
Here, people essentially do not share full polished ideas on the threads. Most of the times, they are half baked ideas and a few times just a random wish.
With my short research on reddit, i would recommend the following threads or subreddits for you to go through to know what people like and want:
- The Mobile Subreddit: For all things mobile.
- The Ideas Subreddit: Just for ideas.
- The Mobile App Ideas Subreddit.
- The ‘Somebody make this Subreddit’: For non-existent things people want to get made.
Reddit not only proves to be a great source for ideas but a great validation tool as well. You can use the upvote/ downvote mechanism of Reddit as a validation process of your idea. If your idea has got potential or it interests the audience enough, you would know. Since the Redditors aren’t conservative of voting up or down a concept, the feedback can be taken to be useful to a great extent.
While you can argue that Reddit is just another social network and why should you waste your time on it, I would say that it is the USP of Reddit that makes it impossible to ignore. It is the ‘first page of internet’; every social network comes second.
Ads are undoubtedly profitable to facebook as a company, but in the next few steps I would show how you can use it for getting an insight into your audience.
1. After your facebook login, click on your name to open the drop down.
Click on the ‘Manage Ads’ menu displayed in the drop down.
2. In the Ad Editor, on the right side you will see “Audience Insights.”
Click on that to open the Audience Explorer.
3. In the Audience Explorer, first select the country you want to conduct your analysis on and then make sure you select the right gender, age, etc.
4. In case you want to focus on specific people with a specific type of interests, or other characteristics, then you can do that using the various options on the left sidebar.
This would enable you to specifically focus on the market you are targeting. At this level, you can choose the location, gender, age, likes and interests, relationship status, workplace and education of your target audience. If you have a Facebook Page, event or app, you can also target your ad to people who are already connected to you.
5. Finally, to look at the interests of the people you have narrowed down on, click on the Page Likes Tab.
The page likes tab would provide you with analytics about the target market you set in the options. It would reveal what your TG likes and cares about.
For example, if a large chunk likes to go to concerts or plays. You can make an app that books and organize meet ups about concerts.
Once you finalize your focus group for targeting, you can create a facebook ad to promote your idea and get feedback from the public. You can add a call-to-action button in your creative. For example, if you select Play Now, the button on the Audience Network will reflect the same.
Quora is again a knowledge sharing platform structured on the upvote/ downvote mechanism – the thing that makes it similar to Reddit. The thing that differentiates it from Reddit and other crowd based knowledge sharing platforms is – the industry experts that are active on Quora.
Quora plays host to the famous actor and app investor Ashton Kutcher, the celebrated venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and a long list of celebs, scientists and entrepreneurs. The best part is, everyone of them write answers about the questions or topics people care about.
To have a perspective, just look at the detailed answer a Quora user got from Adam Cook, Research Director at Fresh App Reports.
With people who know more than you, ready to answer and clear your doubts, I don’t think you can ignore Quora if you want to get an idea and check its feasibility.
The parent thread for the discussion about mobile apps contains many elaborate and useful discussions. They may prove to be a good point to start.
The list is obviously not exhaustive. There are innumerable valuable and actionable resources present on the internet; in the form of blogs, whitepapers, ebooks and others.
I would recommend going through them and taking as much knowledge we can before we step into the magical world of mobile apps.
If have something to add to the post, it would be immensely helpful for the community.