What matters and not in the AppStore ? – Part I

Ever wondered about the success of apps in the AppStore.  Each time I have tried to catch the elusive trend, I have been left frustrated. Sometimes the only trend I see is that, there is no trend.

Following are the things I thought will work ( being proved wrong with each slight of the hand by the AppStore):

1.  Great UI works: This was one of the initial theories when I was childishly naive. I saw the likes of Let’s Golf, Oregon Trail and thought that great presentation is the secret of success. But then comes Cube runner, Bowman, Frogger, Mr AahH and so on. They don’t have gorgeous UI but still get the work done.

2.  Brand Sells: This has held its ground for some time. EA sports, GameLoft , FreeVerse ran amok in the store. (They do so even now).  Scores of articles hinted at this too.  But then some relatively new entrants made big on the store too. Flurry( the comments are quite erudite too) however came up with a good article to say other wise. All in all they claimed (with statistics) that brand did/does not matter. How could applications like iShoot, Koi Pond , Pocket God succeed.  Hmm… good point.

3. Nostalgia sells: This theory holds firm for now. Frogger, Bookwork, Scrabble, Tetris, Solitaire, NFS are some examples of it. These titles have been very popular in other platforms and hence have been successful in the AppStore too.

4. Games sell: Hmmm… I am still ambivalent on this.  If you check out the Top Paid Apps or Top Grossers a great percentage of them are games. At the same time, there are a great number of game applications in the store.  What percentage of these games have made it to the top?  Can we ,based on this say that games have a higher success rate?

5. Social networking /Map apps sells: In spite of the initial hoopla around this category ( featuring in Keynote and other Apple Events) , I am not sure whether the applications have done really that great.  Maybe I am being unfair here :-(.

I have tried to list the things that might not work in this part. In the next part, I would like to highlight the success stories.

In the meantime, I would eagerly wait for any comments on the above 5 points listed. You might have your own points to add.

iPhone for start ups.

There is nothing powerful than an idea whose time has come. This was very much true when the AppStore initially came into being. A developer with an “eye-catching” concept could just steal the show away. iShoot, Koi Pond, iBeer …the list goes on. Now with 75000 applications, does the idea really matter?.

As of now , it looks like the developer would have to spend more on the marketing of the application rather than designing and developing the application.  We fall back to the age old cycle. The application that is most visible takes all the attention and the dollars. This might not be an ideal situation for a startup. They have to invest a good deal of their money in getting reviews, promoting the application, pricing it low and so on. This means that the initial investment on the application is quite high. This also means that there is very small margin for error.  An entrepreneur better hope that he has put the money on the right horse …sorry the right idea.

But I feel all is not lost.  I still believe a great concept/idea can still make good. So when you choose to create an iPhone application, think well. Just do not estimate the time to design and implement the application. Take time to consider the marketing aspects too.  Basically think on how do you make your application stand out among 75,000 applications.