App Developers, App Stores and Guerrillas

App BillboardAndroid ranks last in enterprise security. Oracle has sued Google for not securing a Java license before creating its mobile OS. And only 26 percent of apps come from developers who build them full-time. Is this any way to make a living? Or even part of one?

Well, yes and no. “Yes” because the growth potential for app developers is huge — and given the ever-increasing penetration of mobile devices, I’d say all-but inevitable. “No” because creating and selling apps is still a fledgling business which depends on a handful of gatekeepers and a whole lot of guerrilla marketing.

And marketing, alas, is the key today. You can produce the world’s greatest app, bringing peace to every corner of the globe except the American League, and no one’s going to download it unless you tell them it’s there. Being in the App Store and Google Play isn’t enough. You have to get the word out.

A lot of developers don’t want to spend their days chatting up the social networks in the name of 99 cent sales. But they can take some comfort in knowing that they don’t have to invent their strategies from scratch. It wasn’t all that long ago that print-on-demand technology began allowing authors to skip the middlemen and sell their work directly to readers. Now, venerable book stores like Borders are gone and the giant of them all, Barnes & Noble, is perpetually on the ropes. Amazon, of course, has much to do with the shift in book selling, but so do the writers marketing ebooks and actually making money — sometimes scads of it.

For the 74 percent of those creating apps part time, the opportunities are only going to grow. I dare say that authors are a good group to emulate as you develop the audience for your work. There’s no way you’re going to avoid getting your hands dirty in the marketing, but there are playbooks out there that will help you plan your attack with a minimal amount of pain.

What do you think? Tell me by posting a comment below, or send me a note at editor@dice.com.

Comments

  1. BY Liz says:

    How much work actually goes into creating an app? And what is the payoff? Can you make decent money at it?

  2. BY Dan says:

    I can confirm that small-time devs can make it. Even on Android.

    And really, this article is kind of misleading because you don’t always have to market your app past the app store. The number one key is positioning using the App Store/Google Play resources.

    Furthermore, a great app will usually get the visibility it deserves.

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