Lately, there has been a lot of talk all over the web from frustrated independent app developers. Do any sort of research about developing apps or making money from them and you will be sure to find at least a few websites or forums with fed up developers ready to throw in the towel. The reason these developers are upset more often than not is that their apps aren’t selling well. To be blunt – their sales suck. The overwhelming majority of these discouraged developers claim to be the victim of one thing: an over-saturated app market. Could this be true? Could I be diving headfirst into an industry that is dying? Let’s take a look at some facts:
As you can see from the graph above, there has been tremendous growth in both the Apple App Store and the Android App Market over the past three years. And note that this graph only goes until October 2011. More than 6 months since then, you can bet that those numbers have gone up significantly as well! So we know one thing for sure right now: there are a lot of mobile apps available to consumers! Let’s keep in mind though that these claims developers are making are not new at all! People have been saying that the mobile app market has been over-saturated since the very beginning in 2009! It’s amazing to think that at “only” 30,000 mobile apps available total, people were already pronouncing the industry over-saturated! Over 820,000 apps later, we are still debating the same damn thing! With people predicting “the end” every day, how do we know how many apps it takes for the mobile app market to be too saturated to be considered a legitimate source of income for independent developers? Obviously, nobody knows for sure and if anyone tells you they do, they are either delusional or lying. With that being said, this is my opinion from the research I’ve done and my past experiences with mobile apps.
I’m going to make my opinion here plain and simple – I do NOT think that that mobile app market is too saturated at all. Like I mentioned before, people have been claiming the “mobile app sky” has been falling since the very beginning! And personally, I think that the opposite is true: the world of mobile apps and mobile technology is just beginning! What I think that the problem is for 99% of people who are claiming that the mobile app market is too saturated, is that the game is changing but they are not changing with it. Technology is constantly moving forward and if you’re not constantly moving forward with it, you’re moving backwards. It’s as simple as that.
The main thing that most of these naysayers don’t understand is that the gold rush is over. Back in 2009, it was a lot easier to just release an app without any marketing and see success. However, today this is not the case anymore. To put it bluntly - the days of iFarts are over! Now please don’t get me wrong, iFart was a clever idea made into a simple and fun app, and it is still definitely possible to have an insanely popular app which is simple and fun. However, please don’t rely on any app idea, no matter how good you think it is, without having a marketing plan to go with it! Like I mentioned before, the game is changing and I think that marketing is a huge part of succeeding at making money with mobile apps today!
However, some of these negative developers have the opposite problem. Instead of creating simple apps and expecting them to take off with no marketing, they go ahead and spend months upon months and thousands upon thousands of dollars on the development one app which they try to make as “cool” as possible. Usually these ridiculously expensive apps are in-depth games with intense graphics and tons of features. Sounds like a winner right? Wrong! Take a look at the top 50 apps in both the App Store and Android Market and take a minute to analyze why apps those apps are selling well. Try and figure out what makes each app popular. The top apps are usually very simple, sharable, and solve a problem. Yes, even games solve a problem – boredom! Don’t make an app because it’s going to have lots of cool features and 20 different levels – nobody gives a shit about how many levels or features your app has! People are selfish and don’t care how many hours you put into your app or whether you were stupid enough to quit your job to work on it! They care about whether it can help them. It’s that simple.
Sorry to be very blunt there, but I firmly believe that what I’m saying is true. The app market isn’t dead – it’s just changing. The only thing that’s dead is the developers who refuse to change with it!