NOEL DE MARTIN

My AppsWorld 2014 Digest

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Last week I attended AppsWorld 2014 in London, a conference about mobile applications and the mobile industry overall. As I expected, It was a valuable experience, and I thought it would be a good idea to make a summary of what was said and what I learned. This will serve for myself as a way to process all the content and for anyone who is interested to see what happened.

My Point of View

First, I have to say it was quite a big venue with lots of talks and events. If you take a look at the agenda, you'll see there were many presentations, most of them overlapping. So my summary and my remarks will be based on what I had time to see, which is a combination of what happened in Developer Zone, Droid World and Gaming World.

The events I attended were the following:

Core Ideas

There were some core ideas repeated throughout multiple talks, which make them even more important. It's true that some of them are quite “obvious” and I've heard them like a thousand times already, but in my opinion that's a sign that they are so important. And should be definitely had into account.

Product Value & Idea Validation

What's the most important of a product? Of course, it is the value. The added value. This was repeated many times in different ways, but it is so hugely important to understand this, that I'm sure many applications live or die by this concept. The added value of a product is what makes it appealing to a user. It is simple, the user will be giving you money (or time, which is more important), so you have to give something back. Value is not features, so defining an application in terms of its features is mostly wrong, and it is something that us developers do a lot. So I am grateful to have heard the importance of added value 10 times this two days, so that next time I start thinking on an application I really see it from the user's point of view.

When in doubt, there is a simple question that tests the validity of an idea: Which problem does it solve? If you really cannot answer that, there is something wrong there. Users will download the application for that sole purpose, so it is important to really solve something well. In order to validate an idea it is necessary to pitch it to real customers, or run a focus group session. That's how you will really know if a product will work or not. Another way of seeing it is having a use case which defines the context of the application. All this is well expressed in the Lean Startup methodology.

There was something interesting mentioned for games, but I think it can be applied for any application. There are three aspects which need to be defined before starting to build anything: Mechanics, Monetization and Fun Factor (or Added Value).

I have something to admit, before listening to some of the talks I had quite a bad idea about application advertisement and discovery. My idea was simple: “spend money in advertisements and create visibility in social networks and users will come”. Now after listening some insights, I realize that a bad application can never succeed only with this (although it really makes you wonder what happened with Yo, but I guess there are always exceptions). But also, a good application cannot succeed without it, you really need to be able of communicating effectively and know your audience. So it really has to be a combination of both to have winner.

A good advice was to find out which is your addictive user base niche before spending money in advertisements. And also, advertisements that are detectable as the company having paid are not that good (I actually know for experience with Facebook advertisements). If we have to talk about good methods for advertisement and discovery of apps, there are three:

It was also noted the power of having a brand supporting the launch of an application, this can be obtained for indie developers with publishers. And depending on the brand, this can make a huge difference at the beginning.

Metrics

And of course, there was a lot of talking about metrics. Most of these are valuable to me as a baseline, because really I didn't have much of an idea about what determined a good or bad app (besides downloads and rating). I have to say that most of them were particular to game applications, so I am not sure they can be applied for all kind of applications. But as I said, it serves as a baseline (better than knowing nothing).

So these are some of the metrics I found useful:

Most of this was explained in the talk by Fuse Powered Inc, which can be found as a blog post here: The First 48 Hours: How to know NOW if you’ve got a hit or are DOA.

An interesting concept that was mentioned was having a “magic number”. It means having a metric that makes the difference for your business, for example in Spotify this metric is the time required to stream a song.

Pitching & Networking

There were also some other things to have into account from a personal point of view. In case of searching for investors, when pitching the idea you should know that you're pitching you and your team as well (that can influence a lot if the investor will go in or not). Also, at the beginning of businesses it is important to get into the community, attending meetups and doing networking to strengthen your contacts network and creating collaboration opportunities.

Conclusions

An that is a summary of what I found more interesting about all the presentations and discussions. It is obvious how important it is to get out of the comfort zone as a developer and start thinking about other important topics: Value, Networking and Visibility.