iPhone or iPad, Android or Windows Phone 7? Why it’s important to have an app development strategy
Smartphone applications are a big part of our work here at Go Tripod. We enjoy working with fresh ideas and knowing that we are contributing to one of the most current, fast advancing and exciting industries out there. However, we also know how confusing the app market can be for those eager to branch out into this area for the first time – especially as new products and operating systems are launched, and the web becomes full of contradictory opinions on where best to focus your efforts.
Consequently, we believe it is important to outline an app development strategy at the outset of your project – and there are a number of key considerations which must be included:
Consider your goal first
Your goal, or at least an idea of what you want to achieve, should be established early – even before you start thinking of what kind of app to put into development. With the amount of buzz around apps and new technologies, it is understandable that many businesses might see their competitors launching an iPhone app, decide to do so themselves, and then are faced with having to develop an idea which will fit into an iPhone app shaped hole.
Check out what the competition is doing, then ask yourself what you want out of an app. This way you are more likely to work out the correct means of hitting that target – whether it’s reaching lots of people or making an app which is more complex/useful/important than any other on the market.
Consider your current audience and where they are
Are you creating this app for the target audience you already have, or are you using the app to reach a different demographic? This is an important consideration, as any mobile ad specialist will tell you that certain smartphones appeal to certain users – just try and think of a typical Blackberry fan or iPhone user. Understanding the audience you already have and the handsets they use will likely be a big factor in deciding what type of app to develop.
It is also important to think about where your prospective audience are. Recent AdMob data highlights country by country differences in popularity of devices and subsequent market share of iPhone, Android and others. In May this year, Apple’s iOS dominated the UK market with 59% share while Android was the second largest with 26% share – but judging by the US market, things are changing very quickly.
Consider the entire app market
As we know, the app market is advancing and diversifying almost before our eyes – and it goes without saying that we may all be surprised by what platforms take off and just how far-reaching/usable/fashionable each might be a month or two down the line.
The latest 2010 Q3 data from Canalys shows intriguing trends in the US market where the Android operating system has overtaken Apple’s iOS with 44% of smartphones using Android compared to 26% Apple.
This growth has no doubt been helped by Android OS being available on a number of handsets compared to Apple’s only iPhone. And though it is still fair to say developing an Apple-centric app may be naturally high-profile and more likely to reach a market of tech-savvy super-fans, some analysts such as those at Taptu are estimating that iPhone-only apps may exclude 90% of smartphone users by the end of the year.
With this in mind, the recently launched Windows Phone 7 will also be one to watch by those looking to develop an app over the next year, as Microsoft is set to invest an incredible $500 million in TV advertising for the product alone and claims to have 13,000 registered app developers already.
Only by keeping an eye on projected user trends and emerging technologies (including handsets and tablets such as iPad) and including this research into your app development strategy, can you be certain that your app is most suitable for the local and global market it is launched into – as well as ensuring the users who want it can get it, and that the app itself works as it should.