You’re on an app store; now what?

We’ve asked our speakers and sponsors to provide some blog fodder as a lead up to our WIPJam Session on October 8 @ CTIA in San Diego!

mitch_oliver_croppedThe following is brought to you by Mitch Oliver, vice president of ecosystem development for Qualcomm.

Although the mobile applications market has been evolving since 2001, the year Qualcomm launched one of the first app stores with BREW, the pace of innovation has picked up significantly over the past two years. Following the launch of the iPhone 3G in 2008, with which Apple became the poster-child for the modern day “App Store”, there has been a proliferation of market channels for mobile apps.

This competition for attention appears to be paying dividends for developers. Industry efforts to improve the quality of tools, lower the cost of testing and certification, speed time to market, and (most importantly) promote these solutions to consumers have resulted in an explosion of applications. While a catalog of several hundred applications used to be considered a well-stocked store, now the benchmark may be more like the thousands.

The problem is that it’s getting harder and harder for developers to stand out in today’s mobile app stores. A lucky few have a truly ground-breaking application, or sufficient negotiating power, to get featured in a national ad campaign or placed at the top of the store. What about the rest?

This is an increasingly well documented problem in the blogosphere. While a long-tail of content is ultimately good for the consumer, developers need new ways to manage the marketing of their application in a crowded space and consumers need better ways to filter their choices. Here, we’d like to offer a few thoughts on the things that developers should be asking of their app store partners to improve the merchandising and management of their applications:

  • Tools that allow developers to directly influence consumer purchase behavior. These can encompass traditional promotional vehicles such as in-store banners and microstores, but consideration should also be given to the use of externally driven tools such as deep-linking to content in the storefront from messages or third party sites (developer websites, social networks). Flexible pricing models, including trials, time-based “passes”, upgrades, and two-fers, in addition to paid placements are also important elements in the promotional mix.

  • A strong recommendations engine is a big plus. This exposes consumers to a broader range of content than they may have otherwise discovered while also managing the paradox of choice. By allowing the right content to find willing consumers over time, and moving from search to discovery, the overall ecosystem can support a greater range of viable, long-tail content . In Qualcomm’s experience content uplifts in excess of 20% are possible with good quality recommendations.

  • Lastly, reporting and analytics tools that allow developers to track their performance, understand revenue drivers and evaluate the impact of placement, campaigns and pricing models are key to bring this all together and optimize the marketing mix. These should be simple, straightforward and offer a way to compare different channels.

Qualcomm is addressing a number of these areas today with the Plaza suite of products. However, we also need to come together as an industry to truly realize the potential of mobile merchandising and marketing. Join me at the upcoming WIPJAM @ CTIA for a lively discussion on merchandising and marketing your applications. Look forward to jamming with you!

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robertphaslam at 2009-09-22T10:15:26Z: Interesting comment on companies trying to break into the mobile app world

3 Response to “You’re on an app store; now what?”

  1. 1 kais3rs0ze

    I hate app stores. We ISVs need to get smarter. I blogged about this here:

    For me, the issue is discovery. And if you’re not embedded by the OEM or part of a telco variant of that device, then its really tough: you’re relying on discovery tools, recommmendation tools (as suggested above)….but you’re still at the mercy of the adminstrator of the on device portal, which can cost money to get premium position on recommendations…and then mobile ODPs are just replicating the pain ISVs feel at web based app stores.

    So perhaps ISVs need to be clear about their product strategy: are they just going for the hedonistic, “one hit wonder” type apps where their business can handle the ups and downs of app store sales cycles or are they delivering really compelling apps to users …that users will subscribe too and allow the ISV to grow a business and really develop a great, compelling solution.

    I think we’ll see the latter group of ISVs offering mash ups on different levels: apps and services, mobile access and pc/web access to their solutions. Nokia Maps(the old Navteq) and envisage this but it also shows dichotomy in the ISV market: well funded ISVs vs small ISVs who cannot afford to build a brand or build such a compelling solution.

    Bottom line is: we’re all learning. We’ll try things and just get smarter!

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