Until or unless you are an Electronic Arts Inc (which puts in a lot of money, effort & promotion in building an app), it doesn’t make sense to build apps to earn money. You could give it a shot, but you will stand almost no chance. Just in case you didn’t know there are already 225,000 apps on iPhone, 70,000 on Android, 13,000 on Ovi Store, and 11,000 on iPad.

Now, if you aren’t building it for money…there can only be two more reasons for you to build an app:

  • To acquire new users
  • To ensure your existing users can access your product from their iPhones
  • Now, let me explain why you shouldn’t build apps to ACQUIRE new users. On iPhone alone 16.7 million apps get downloaded in a day (August figures) and on an average these users have 37 apps in their mobiles. Now, you can imagine the logitivity of these apps in usage terms. I also once had an iPhone, and let me tell you after downloading an app…its lifetime is at the max one week or ten days. Unless…it’s the Facebook app or Linkedin app.

    Now let us come to the point where you build apps to ensure your existing users can access your product from their phones. This could be your best excuse to build an app (iPhone or otherwise).

    For convenience sake, let us take the iPhone ecosystem.

    We know that 25% of all smartphones in the US of A are iPhones. If we include the global data, let us assume that this number falls to 10% of all smartphones in the World. Since we have already assumed the iPhone penetration amongst smartphones….lets now also assume that you are a platform-agnostic product and you user base is 10 million+. (To put things in perspective, let me tell you that Linkedin’s userbase is 60 Million & the crowd favourite Twitter’s userbase is 115 Million. Know More)

    Now, let us extrapolate the percentage of iPhone users out of the total smartphone owners to your userbase too…which means only 10% of yours userbase will be interested in the iPhone app you built. If we assume that 50% of this 10% of your 10million users download the iPhone app…it works out to half a million downloads for your app. Now, you take a call…is it worth it?

    You might ask, Electronic Arts Inc has a mobile division that makes only games for smartphones….they never had a user acquisition strategy via another platform before building mobile apps and acquiring users. Well, that’s true…but that was 3-4 years back when the mobile apps were just starting off. You lost it, for you didn’t foresee the trends as well as EA saw.

    The most popular apps on smart phones are: Facebook, iTunes, Google Maps, Weather Channel, Google Search, Pandora, Youtube. So, what is common – they all had solid foundation on web before they became app successes. If you are as big, by all means…go ahead and build an app.

    This piece is just to make you think before you go about building an app. The intention is not to give you concrete answers, because even I am looking for the answers.