So we've released a free iPad app to the App Store. And from what my project partner and I are thinking, that is a pretty innovative and useful app.
But so far, no feedback. A few downloads over the first three days when it was listed under the "new applications" category, and then, basically nothing.
And I fear that is not an exception. There are just too many apps. So to stand out and effectively test the idea, we need to involve the right people. And our friends are obviously not enough. To get money out, you need to put money in.
May be it was different at the beginning, at times the Apple App Store contained only a few thousand apps, similar to the situation Microsoft's Store is in right now.
But for Apple's App Store, I guess only aggressive PR and Marketing will bring you in the headlines, which brings me to the point of seeing that, though the Internet isn't, its traffic is already owned. The traffic that flows for the particular interest groups goes from the news sites to the stuff that sells.
And as with so many comparable situations, it's the convenience of the users that caused it.
This traffic path has been solidified beginning with the early days of the HTTP based Internet. And with the plethora of Internet based offers, over time, global search went broken. We got lazy, and we look for products in established channels.
Developers need to accept that they have to pay to reroute the traffic to the product's site, either by putting in a lot of time and contacting the right people, or by paying for ads. I've already did some tests with ads, and - given that I had a pretty limited budget - it simply does not work. It won't get you the traction you need to get your product popular.
But I don't give up. This is not part of me.
At the moment, I have the following ideas to make a product popular, and I will try each of them over the next year:
- Use a pretty big budget for PR and Marketing to promote an application.
I personally don't like this approach. In my idealistic world, a product has to be so good that it gets traction just from its users. But may be I am wrong, and no matter how good, or how useful a product is, people don't care as long they don't see a news sites writing about it.
- Sell a product to a new market.
A friend of mine had an awesome idea to close a Windows 8 gap and we've prototyped 4 tools in 5 days based on this idea. We've already submitted the first one, and the second one should be ready this week.
Here, the idea is that people actually understand how to use the Windows Store. Hopefully, trial periods motivate people to try new apps, and - because of the limited apps available - they may actually search for solutions and don't wait for someone to tell them what they need.
Probably a little too idealistic, but it's an experiment.
- Sell a mature product and take over an already existing market.
I am a big fan of concept mapping, and I think I've already built one of the best app for it. The problem here is, that not many people recognize the difference between mind mapping, concept mapping, or even diagram editors.
There is already a variant of concept mapping that gains popularity. The products that let you enter just nodes with arbitrary connections between them, but no labels. These guys made a pretty smart move, they sell their products under the name of mind mappers. Admittedly, in the sense of the words "mind mapping", every app, including diagram editors would fit the description, but mind mapping is a method that is centered around a single idea, which is fundamentally different compared to concept mapping.
So I will try that too, get people what they look for, but not quite. Just to get them interested and hooked.
- Create a product that blows minds.
Yes, the ultimate goal, the product you don't have to sell. The product that, when people see it, they want it, they can not continue their lives without being part of it.
I can imagine a few features for my concept mapper, which would look pretty awesome. But may be concept mapping is just not awesome enough to get a wider audience.
So I wait for the day when I wake up and feel goosebumps all over me, and I know, I will rock some worlds. What I already know is that it needs to be fast, vast, and 3D.
Until then, I do experiments :)
Well, this looks like that there is quite some work ahead of me, so I'd better continue working right now.