Success Secrets From Real App Developer Ninjas

Matthew Campbell, September 30th

Something big occured to me as I was sitting through the business presentations during the 360iDev conference.

The model that I and many others have followed over the past year has been to simply release a slew of apps, hope that one hits and then float off the revenue of our near misses.  For me, I have released wine tasting apps, beer tasting apps and even a real estate and poker assistant.  My app business does not seem to have a real focus; this has been partly a reaction to the impulse buying dynamics that the app store seems to promote.  But…

Most of the successful apps that I have seen at this conference have taken a more focused approach.  For example, David Whatley (geoDefense) showed how all of his apps hang together.  He has a Lite version, a version 1 and version 2 of what are essentially the same game.  But, each version drives sales to all the others AND they all have a constistant message and branding.

In retrospect it seems really smart to do things in this way.  David can now capture customers for a second time because when they play his games and look him up in the store they seem a bunch of other apps that have a similar look and feel.  This must result in sales: well, actually David proved that it did in his slides.

In Internet business I have learned (from some real Internet business ninjas) that keeping customers is much better than constantly looking for new ones.  This is what David seemed to do.  His second app just launched last week and it is already outselling the first by a factor of 3 (and the first was a  top 3 app!).  Honestly, I did not believe that you could do this on the iPhone.

This tells me that a mindful long term strategy is going to be key moving forward.  David knew that he needed to wow his audience with a polished app and it payed off because they are rewarding him right now.  He had a plan; it wasn’t just goo throwing.  Many of other app developers here seem to have plans of their own as well and all seem focused.

Another interesting presenter here was Dan Grigsby from Mobile Orchard.  He painted a sobering picture debunking the fantasy that randomly releasing 99 cent apps will make you rich overnight.  He really had a convincing argument that boils down to the fact that you need to get creative if you want to make this a business: add consulting (he suggests charging a minimum of $125/hr), create a product for developers, teach and maybe have your app on other platforms as well.

Before this post gets too long I just wanted to say that hearing these stories has inspired me to take a real hard look at my own company.  It think it is time to get some focus and move away from this “shooting and hoping” approach.  I’m not sure WHAT I will be doing and there are a lot of options in this space – but, clearly the time has come to mix things up and apply some of these app ninja lessons I am hearing around here.

If you have a big picture for you or your company and are willing to share please do so down below in the comments.  I’m curious if anyone else has done a better job of this than me.

Success Secrets From Real App Developer Ninjas…

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