How do I come up with a mobile app idea?

Jump in the app water!

Welcome to the exciting and fulfilling world of Mobile App development.  In this series of articles, I’m going to talk about the process for creating your own successful mobile app.

The first step, is to determine what type of mobile app you want to create.   As successful authors say, it is best to write about something that you know about.  The same is true of apps.  Think about where your passion is, what you are an expert at.  When you know the subject matter, it comes through in your app.

In my mind, there are two basic categories of apps.  First is the mass market app which will appeal to the broad base of the app market.  Angry Birds is a classic example of an iphone app with mass appeal.  All you have to do is look on the best selling apps list on iTunes or the Android Marketplace and you will see the types of apps which are top sellers — most of them are games.  This is where the big money is, and therefore, this is also where the big competition is.   Its a lot like winning the lottery to make an app like this. It takes luck, skill, resources, and dedication.

The other type of app is what I call the niche market app.  These are apps such as our own Walt Disney World® Transportation Wizard.  Its a unique app, there is no competition because nobody else has an app like this.  It fulfills a niche in the marketplace.

A niche market app is not usually going to sell a million copies because it appeals to a group of people with a specialized interest: for example, people who love Walt Disney World®.

Your first decision is this: are you going to go for the big bucks and play the lottery?  Or are you going to go for a niche market which you know you can dominate and which will guarantee you a certain amount of return on your investment?

Once you’ve made that decision, you will be ready for the next part of the series!

About AppWizard

Alan Moore has been living, loving and writing code for almost 30 years now. In that time, he has written everything from assembly language motor controllers, to a real time operating system, to Windows User Interfaces and customized Web Site e-commerce systems. For the last few years he has become obsessed with App development and fully intends to share his information with the world!
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7 Responses to How do I come up with a mobile app idea?

  1. I’m a niche- market kinda girl, myself… but I wonder if it’s possible to start with a niche market App and then mold it into mass market appeal?

    • AppWizard says:

      That’s a great question! It is deifnitely possible; there are a few apps that appear to have started out that way. Facebook is a great example of something that started in a niche market and then expanded out into the mass market. I think this is possibly the best strategy of all…

  2. Tracee says:

    why does it seem so hard to find apps for palms? Are they heading out of business? should I start searching for a new phone?

    • AppWizard says:

      Another good question! I will address the different types of phones in a future segment; but briefly I have to say that the palm is not a very popular platform for app development. Currently the iPhone and the Android are the two most popular, with Blackberry losing ground quickly. However, Palm was recently purchased by HP so things may change for Palm — definitely something to look out for. I can’t recommend Palm currently for apps, whether that is for developers or for app customers. The Palm OS is a wonderful platform but it just doesn’t have much draw.

  3. Dan says:

    I’ve had my phone for 2 years now and I use it all the time. More people I know are using tablets, too. Tablets have made this tech accessible. The key is to align needs with play. Another common quality of successful apps is a sense of humor. People seem to readily share something that makes them laugh or others laugh. Having it on their phone or tablet allows them to do that.

    Adding downloadable content also keeps an app fresh, reminds people to use it and, in some cases, opens new areas for commerce.

    For me the key is to always have a sense of play and to take advantage of the technology. Most people using this device have a camera and this allows you to scan or take pictures, integrated into the app. This is like the device’s eye to the world. It also has location-based features and is somewhat aware of its own physicality (the accelerometer, for instance).

    So far, that describes senses to me. Sight (camera), Touch (screen), Sound (microphone / speaker). With these “senses”, what can we bring to the user and what can we allow them to bring to others? That helps me to think of apps!

  4. AppWizard says:

    Thanks for the suggestion!