They Laughed When I was Developing the App – So Am I Crazy? Can I Succeed?

Couple of months ago I got this idea for a video game (Words Puzzle 1000) that can be played on mobile devices such as iPhone or iPod. This game is a puzzle to go and I still think that it is a good idea. So after many weeks of hard work and coding I finally submitted this app to Apple store for review (to iTunes) on 26 September 2010. The app is still being reviewed. I am not sure how long this process takes. I guess I find out.

Now when the app is finished and I have a little bit of free time I really realized that there are many, many apps out there already – I would guess about 300,000. So if I do nothing and do not promote and market my app (Words Puzzle 1000) I will end up with close to zero downloads. The app will just be there like so many other apps and nobody will download it because nobody knows about it. It would seem that iTunes has become a very competitive marketplace and app visibility is a problem for almost everybody and not just me. Of course I am mainly concerned about my app visibility right now.

It did not take me long to realize that to make my app visible I must market and promote it. But how do I market such a low priced (i.e. 0.99$ or 2.99$) application? Traditional marketing methods do not seem to be financially viable as the economy is not there. What to do?

So I have began to research this. I looked at the various techniques other successful apps used to get into top 50 applications on iTunes. Some developers used AdMob marketing service on mobile devices which can be targeted specifically for iPhone and iPod. AdMob does seem to have a really good reputation but it is not exactly cheap. It might be easy to spend much more on advertising than to receive from the app downloads. This route seems to be quite risky – i.e. I might spend much more than I earn from the downloads.

On the other hand I think that the minimum buy is 50$ – so perhaps I could just test the waters so to speak and see what response I get and if it is worth continuing on AdMod. This is one option. However a many developers were successful promoting their application using this service.

Other iPhone apps, due to such low app pricing, did not spend almost any money on advertising and their popularity (i.e. number of downloads) was  achieved through an organic growth only – such as traditional SEO work – and they just went viral. It would seem that this organic marketing takes about a year in order to make the app popular. But this is just a guess – I have no proof of that. I think that some developers just got lucky or were the first on iTunes store and and their app went viral and became popular.

So me and my application seem to be completely insignificant. Nobody knows about it. It is such a huge task to market my app!

I seem to now oscillate in between two states:

– Despair: Nobody will ever find out about my app. It will just sit there and I get 2 or 3 downloads.

– Enthusiasm: I can do it – I will market my app and it will go viral and I get a lot of downloads.

I am trying to go with a positive attitude towards this. I will promote my application the best I can in variety of ways and see what happens. I wish I had some real budget to spend on marketing and had the ability to create some real buzz.

The way things are and the number of applications on iTunes bring up another point. Is iPhone mobile application development no longer accessible to individual developers due to high marketing costs to make their app visible? Is it now the domain of small and larger software houses who have the marketing budget to promote and market their new apps?

It would seem that success of an individual app developer on iTunes is a long shot today: I would put the odds somewhere in the area of 1 in 300,000 which is still much better than buying a lottery ticket. I have already developed my app so I give it a shot. Maybe I get lucky and get a lot of downloads.

One of the reasons I started developing this app is that I got charmed by the iPhone when I came in contact with it. LOL. What a fantastic product. I firmly believe that these mobile devices will change the web from the way we know it. I also believe that Apple is a fantastic company – they gave access to market and opportunity to so many people and developers. They helped so many people. What a fabulous thing to do. I wish there were more businesses like that who give opportunity to others.

I just wish I met the iPhone sooner. It would be so much easier to market my app 2 or 3 years ago when there were only few thousands of apps on iTunes.

Anyway I will keep you posted of my progress on my blog. I will either make it or crash and burn – i.e. zero downloads. So to conclude: while I wait for my iTunes application approval I will prepare and start up my organic / low budget marketing strategy. I am not sure how long the approval process is but I hope it is approved soon. Wish me luck!

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