The App Developer Business Kit

Learn how to grow your app idea into a successful business.
Explore Introduction

From an idea to anaApp

Understand the principles for success, and hear advice from some of the world’s top app developers.
Explore From an Idea to an App

Growth

Attract more users, expand into more markets and use analytics to improve your app.
Explore Growth

Thinking Big

How to go from one great app to a portfolio of great apps, and important considerations for expanding your business.
Explore Thinking Big

Nine Tips

Quick tips to help you shape your app project.
Explore Nine Tips
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Expanding your business
and sustaining innovation

How do you go from a lone engineer with an idea, to a business employing five or six others, all working towards the same goal? Here we consider why you should expand your business, explain how and share developers’ thoughts on innovation.

Why expand your app business?Unless you have a compelling urge to socialise with other people, chances are you’ll want to hire more people into your business to increase revenue. Only you can decide when’s the right time to do that, but here are some of the drivers that may influence your decision.

The network effect
While it’s possible to sustain your business with just one app, it’s more advantageous to have several apps. Having a network of apps enables you to cross-promote within your user base and transition users to a new app as they tire of the one that they’re currently using. Nearly half of users surveyed by AdMob say they stop using an app because they lose interest.[35] More apps mean more users, but you’ll need more hands on deck to help develop and maintain them.

Market Statistics
Reasons for Discontinuing App Use, by Country
Thinking about the apps that you have tried but no longer use, which of the following explain why you stopped using them?
Losing interest is the No.1 reason that smartphone app users in all markets discontinue app use
Question
of
Choose Question
Thinking about the apps that you have tried but no longer use, which of the following explain why you stopped using them?
1 – Lost interest
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
52
United Kingdom
UK
48
South Korea
S Korea
60
China
China
49
Japan
Japan
44
Thinking about the apps that you have tried but no longer use, which of the following explain why you stopped using them?
2 – No longer needed app
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
34
United Kingdom
UK
38
South Korea
S Korea
42
China
China
34
Japan
Japan
37
Thinking about the apps that you have tried but no longer use, which of the following explain why you stopped using them?
3 – Found better app
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
37
United Kingdom
UK
36
South Korea
S Korea
41
China
China
41
Japan
Japan
29
Thinking about the apps that you have tried but no longer use, which of the following explain why you stopped using them?
4 – Too many ads
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
28
United Kingdom
UK
25
South Korea
S Korea
34
China
China
40
Japan
Japan
18
Thinking about the apps that you have tried but no longer use, which of the following explain why you stopped using them?
5 – App did not fulfil purpose well
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
34
United Kingdom
UK
27
South Korea
S Korea
29
China
China
21
Japan
Japan
26
Thinking about the apps that you have tried but no longer use, which of the following explain why you stopped using them?
6 – Difficult to use
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
22
United Kingdom
UK
20
South Korea
S Korea
27
China
China
34
Japan
Japan
20
Thinking about the apps that you have tried but no longer use, which of the following explain why you stopped using them?
7 – App had technical problems
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
32
United Kingdom
UK
26
South Korea
S Korea
20
China
China
28
Japan
Japan
15
Thinking about the apps that you have tried but no longer use, which of the following explain why you stopped using them?
8 – Lack of fresh content
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
19
United Kingdom
UK
17
South Korea
S Korea
31
China
China
41
Japan
Japan
9
Thinking about the apps that you have tried but no longer use, which of the following explain why you stopped using them?
9 – Finished/Completed game
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
19
United Kingdom
UK
18
South Korea
S Korea
21
China
China
23
Japan
Japan
10
Thinking about the apps that you have tried but no longer use, which of the following explain why you stopped using them?
10 – Didn't have time for use
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
15
United Kingdom
UK
9
South Korea
S Korea
19
China
China
15
Japan
Japan
16
Thinking about the apps that you have tried but no longer use, which of the following explain why you stopped using them?
11 – App became too costly
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
6
United Kingdom
UK
6
South Korea
S Korea
12
China
China
24
Japan
Japan
5
Thinking about the apps that you have tried but no longer use, which of the following explain why you stopped using them?
12 – Friends stopped using app
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
7
United Kingdom
UK
4
South Korea
S Korea
10
China
China
11
Japan
Japan
2
Going cross-platform
To increase your market reach, you need to make your app available across multiple platforms. If you don’t possess the skills or have the time to learn, you’ll need dedicated developers for Android, iOS and other platforms.

Better customer support
It’s important to build an efficient support system to keep your users happy. Even the most simple, non-transactional app can yield support questions, and your ability to respond can impact how users rate your app. In our five-market survey, we found that on average, 42.5% of respondents contacted an app’s customer support team for help. The top reasons for doing so included app crashes or certain features failing to function as intended.[36] Inevitably, these enquiries will increase as your user base grows.
Market Statistics
Reasons for Contacting Customer Support
Why did you contact customer support?
App performance issues are top reasons for contacting technical support in every market
Question
of
Choose Question
Why did you contact customer support?
1 – App was crashing/would not open
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
51
United Kingdom
UK
39
South Korea
S Korea
41
China
China
39
Japan
Japan
31
Why did you contact customer support?
2 – Specific app features not functioning properly
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
33
United Kingdom
UK
33
South Korea
S Korea
44
China
China
47
Japan
Japan
37
Why did you contact customer support?
3 – Needed help understanding how to use app
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
23
United Kingdom
UK
17
South Korea
S Korea
24
China
China
31
Japan
Japan
22
Why did you contact customer support?
4 – Forgot my username or password
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
17
United Kingdom
UK
9
South Korea
S Korea
8
China
China
9
Japan
Japan
6
Why did you contact customer support?
5 – Needed help updating the app
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
17
United Kingdom
UK
16
South Korea
S Korea
15
China
China
27
Japan
Japan
6
Why did you contact customer support?
6 – Suspected app was infect with virus/malware
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
12
United Kingdom
UK
12
South Korea
S Korea
9
China
China
27
Japan
Japan
6
Why did you contact customer support?
7 – I wanted a refund
% Selecting Reason
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
7
United Kingdom
UK
5
South Korea
S Korea
8
China
China
7
Japan
Japan
4

Manage and improve an existing app
As we’ve mentioned here, losing interest is the number one reason why users discontinue using an app. Developers need to keep their apps fresh to keep users interested and engaged. You should continually update your apps to make them more user friendly, intuitive and to keep up with platform-specific design principles. In our research, we found that most users expect an app to be updated monthly.[37]

Market Statistics
Preferred Frequency of App Updating, by Country
How often should an app be updated to improve the experience or add new features?
App users in all markets most prefer app updates to occur monthly
Question
of
Choose Question
How often should an app be updated to improve the experience or add new features?
1 – Weekly
% Specifying Timeframe
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
25
United Kingdom
UK
18
South Korea
S Korea
40
China
China
33
Japan
Japan
32
How often should an app be updated to improve the experience or add new features?
2 – Monthly
% Specifying Timeframe
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
43
United Kingdom
UK
50
South Korea
S Korea
47
China
China
44
Japan
Japan
50
How often should an app be updated to improve the experience or add new features?
3 – Every 2-5 months
% Specifying Timeframe
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
15
United Kingdom
UK
14
South Korea
S Korea
11
China
China
18
Japan
Japan
15
How often should an app be updated to improve the experience or add new features?
4 – Every 6 months, or less frequently
% Specifying Timeframe
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
1
United Kingdom
UK
3
South Korea
S Korea
0
China
China
1
Japan
Japan
0
How often should an app be updated to improve the experience or add new features?
5 – Does not matter to me
% Specifying Timeframe
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
United States
USA
16
United Kingdom
UK
15
South Korea
S Korea
2
China
China
4
Japan
Japan
3

Consider too that if you have a global user base, you should localise your apps to give them the best experience. See chapter six on app localisation for tips and best practices.

Challenges that you’ll face as you expand, and how to tackle them.Hiring good developer talent
Recruiting the best talent is the first step towards success. Ilkka Paananen, the CEO of successful games app developer, Supercell, attributes the success of his company to the caliber of his team, all of whom had at least a decade of experience in the gaming industry. “When you set up a company, the only thing – the only thing – you should care about is getting the best people” he says, “From that, good things will happen.”[38].

Family and friends.
Recruiting friends and family is a great way to find people that you know and trust. Due to their familiarity, they may make a better cultural fit, but you may not be recruiting the best employees.

Staffing agencies.
A staffing agency can help you recruit from a wider pool. The advantage is they do the work for you: posting job descriptions; screening applicants; and, setting up interviews with candidates deemed most qualified. However, as with any external service provider, hiring a staffing agency will incur fees.

Professional networks.
Another way is to recruit through your professional networks. Present and former co-workers make good candidates because you already know what they have to offer and what their weaknesses may be. You may also want to consider networking sites like LinkedIn, Quora and Github to find talent.

Building a sales team
If your passion is app development, and you want to continue focusing on that as the business grows, hire people who can put energy into other areas of the business, such as sales.

A business development manager can help you identify new revenue opportunities. If your revenue model is based on advertising, you should expect your business development manager to create a core value proposition which is compelling to advertisers, and build up a portfolio of clients.

As your client list grows, you’ll have a more difficult task balancing the needs of your users versus the needs of your advertisers. For example, advertisers may want a larger ad unit to showcase their products, which you don’t yet support. Do you assign development time to that or to building a highly-requested feature from users? A business development manager can help define and prioritise these requests.

When you set up a company, the only thing – the only thing – you should care about is getting the best people. Ilkka Paananen CEO and Founder, Supercell

Investing in user acquisition
User acquisition should be treated as a science if you want to get the best results. Finding new users at the right price point, retaining them and maximising your income from each one, can take an enormous amount of effort.

An external marketing agency can help define the key metrics that will make your business successful and build a customer acquisition model. They can do this through in-app advertising campaigns, cross-promotions, social media and many other channels. If you don’t have expertise in this area, outside help can generate a positive return on investment for your marketing spend. A good agency will continually seek to improve marketing campaigns to make them work as efficiently as possible through optimisation, and apply learnings on an ongoing basis.

We base updates and games on user feedback. It doesn’t matter where the user is from, it’s about what they tell us. Toni Fingerroos CEO and Founder, Fingersoft

Innovating
One of the the hardest aspects of app development is improving an existing app, or following one successful app with another. We spoke with top app developers to understand how they approach this challenge.

Add new features
One way is to improve your existing app is by adding new features. Finnish developer, Fingersoft, did this by improving on its Hill Climb Racing game. They asked users what they’d like to see in the game and implemented the most popular requests, such as adding a tractor that users could race. “We base updates and games on user feedback. It doesn’t matter where the user is from, it’s about what they tell us,” says Toni Fingerroos, Fingersoft’s CEO.[39]

Build similar apps
It’s better to build an app that appeals to your current user base than to build an app that requires generating a different user base. Japheth Dillman is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Yetizen, a start-up accelerator focused on gaming apps. He explains, “If you already have a successful app, creating an app that is contrary to the user base you’ve already built is a waste of time because you can’t cross-promote in the network you’ve built.” Instead, Dillman encourages developers to figure out what they’re passionate about and build up a suite of apps based around that demographic.

If you already have a successful app, creating an app that is contrary to the user base that you’ve already built is a waste of time because you can’t cross-promote in the network that you’ve built. Japheth Dillman Chief Creative Officer & co-Founder, Yetizen

Identify trends
When building a new app, look at popular apps, identify their strengths and consider how to iterate on those to make something new. In fact, many innovative apps result from small tweaks in existing apps, says Japheth Dillman.

“If you look at some of the most innovative products that redefine a genre, they didn’t innovate the entire experience, they worked on a small part of it. For example they’ve combined two different experiences so their understanding was the combination of the two.“

Consider combining the best elements of two or three apps and tailor them to a certain kind of demographic. If people love to do one thing on one app and another thing on another app, an app that enables users to do both can have a unique advantage.

One example is Pheed, a popular social-media app that lets users share videos, photos, audio, and more in one convenient place. The app not only combines elements of other social media – Twitter, SoundCloud, Tumblr, Ustream, Instagram – but also expands on their capabilities. Pheed users can send longer messages, filter content, rate their own channels and copyright content.

If you look at some of the most innovative products that redefine a genre, they didn’t innovate the entire experience, they worked on a small part of it. For example they’ve combined two different experiences so their understanding was the combination of the two. Japheth Dillman Chief Creative Officer & co-Founder, Yetizen
Best
Practices
  • It’s more advantageous to have several apps. Having a network of apps enables you to cross-promote within your user base and transition users to a new app as they tire of the one that they’re currently using.
  • It’s important to build an efficient support system to keep your users happy. Even the most simple, non-transactional app can yield support questions, and your ability to respond can impact how users rate your app.
  • It’s better to build an app that appeals to your current user base than to build an app that requires generating a different user base.

Solve for practical needs.
Sometimes the best innovation comes from thinking about how an app could solve your own, everyday problems.

We spoke with Edward Kim, the developer of Car Locator, an app that helps users find their parked cars. “I came up with the Car Locator idea because I had a poor memory. I would park my car in the parking lot and not be able to find my way back to it after shopping. I thought that it would be cool to write an app to find where you parked your car.” Car Locator became a huge success, winning third place in the travel category of the Android Developer Challenge 2 contest.

“My advice is to just build something that you yourself want because its likely other people will want it as well. As long as you focus on that, the rest will fall into place. You don’t really have to push it onto others or convince others,” says Kim.

Continue reading to the next section: Nine tips.