Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007 and the subsequent boom in smartphones, mobile apps have become a hotbed for new businesses.
While the mobile market is a growing area of interest for entrepreneurs and existing companies, it is also a crowded and competitive marketplace, and therefore not an easy one to break into.
While it’s true that anyone can develop an app, very few mobile app developers actually make any money, so you need to hone your offering if you plan on making a profit. StartupSmart did some digging to see what’s involved.
What is it and who is it suited to?
While you need an original idea for your app, you don’t need to be an expert developer. However, you do need to know your market.
It’s also important to note that developing an app doesn’t come cheap and can be a very time-consuming process, so be prepared to put in the hours, not to mention the money.
Rules and regulations
Apple has a set of guidelines to help its app developers prepare their iOS apps for the approval process.
“The app approval process is in place to ensure that applications are reliable, perform as expected, and are free of explicit and offensive material,” the company says.
“We review every app on the App Store based on a set of technical, content and design criteria. This review criteria is now available to you in the App Store Review Guidelines.”
Research and competition
Before you begin developing your app, you need to decide whether you want to tie it to a particular gadget such as the Apple iPad or iPhone, the Android or BlackBerry.
Many companies choose to launch their app across multiple platforms as this approach can offer more earning power.
If you are developing the app yourself, you will require technology that is appropriate for the platform on which you’ll be launching.
Whether you build and test the app yourself or work with a developer, you need to invest a great deal of time in the development stage. Many apps take up to six months or more before they are ready for market.
Dimension Data Learning Solutions, a corporate IT education provider, offers five-day courses providing knowledge and skills required to develop apps for Apple devices.
According to DDLS, it is the first commercial iOS development course offered in Australia by an Apple Authorised Training Centre.
The courses, which will focus on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices, is aimed at both beginners and experienced developers.
“The popularity of these Apple iOS devices is increasing dramatically and there’s a significant demand from programmers for an Apple training course to keep them up-to-date with both programming and publishing for these devices,” DDLS vendor alliance manager Michelle Dowling says.
Graham Dawson, founder and director of app development house Ajnaware, says the demand for iPhone apps is on the rise.
“Although all smart developers should consider this course, the influence of Apple’s application development goes right to the heart of all business growth, so savvy execs should be on the case too.”
In addition to sourcing the technical knowhow, you’ll need to enlist the services of some exceptional marketing and PR people to promote your app to the right audience.
Costs and earnings
According to Aaron Maxwell, founder of mobile web design agency Mobile Web Up, there is no such thing as a “typical” app, so it’s difficult to estimate an average cost.
“But as a general working figure, we can say it costs at least $30,000 to design, implement and deploy a brand-quality iPhone app,” he says.
“I haven’t found published studies for the equivalent costs for Android and BlackBerry but since the device fragmentation is greater, it would make sense that the costs are at least similar.”
In terms of revenue and pricing, the platform generally takes a percentage and the publishers take the rest.
For example, Australian company Cloud 9 Comix – which recently developed an app for the iPad – sells its comics for between $US1 and $US2, which it splits with the author and iTunes.
“With digital comics in general, we’re encouraging impulse buys, so we’re trying to work around a 99 cent model, just like music tracks from iTunes,” Cloud 9 Comix founder Ben Slabak says.
“Obviously, you don’t get anything tangible in your hands so we don’t expect people to pay much more than that.”
An average day
Slabak says it took about six months to build the Cloud 9 Comix app.
“We studied what was out there already and we took some elements of what worked and what didn’t,” he says.
“We worked on the actual interface design and just tried to make it as simple as possible… But the iPad is not easy to develop due to hardware limitations – we had a lot of trouble with it.”
Dimension Data Learning Solutions
Australian Government Small Business Support Line
1800 777 275
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
02 6273 2311
03 9668 9950