The Lesser Ambitious Breed Called “Indian App Developers”

Why do I say this (the lesser ambitious breed)? Because most of independent Indian app developers believe that their job ends with submitting the app at the app stores. For a typical app developer, 100 downloads/month (or lifetime?) or 100 reviews of their app is what makes the app worthwhile.

Sorry. But I don’t buy into this weekend app development business anymore.
Why?
Not because it’s wrong, but because there is a huge opportunity and a lot of Indian app developers are letting it go because they are drinking their own kool aid. Actually, many of them aren’t able to see the big picture and have set really low targets for themselves.

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If you are a serious app developer, here are a few questions you really need to ponder upon:

How many Indian app developers actually plan to build an app business?
In fact lets step back a bit – what is an app business. It is not JUST writing an app, testing the corner cases and stability and putting on the app stores. That is just the start.
A business is defining the persona of the users who would be using the app. Is it targeted towards consumers? If targeted towards consumers, is it targeted towards 18-24 young and mobile users or is it targeted towards users who are in a job (24-40)? Most app developers we have talked to say its targeted towards “Everyone”. The Spray and Pray approach is the biggest roadblock towards adoption of apps.

How many of them actually have a ‘Back of Envelope’ business plan for the app?

Do most apps have a business plan? Mostly, the answer is no. In a typical business – even the Marwari types – it always helps to gauge the sources of revenue / usage of an app. Even if the app is free, the developers should keep in mind their monetization (selling ad inventory? having a freemium version? differentiation of features for freemium vs free, in app purchases?)

How many of them actually focus on UX? Focus on “When And Why” of App Usage?

In general most products coming out of India care two hoots about the UX. That is just plain sad. Not to preach, but look at the UI of Facebook – even though millions use it every day, FB constantly keeps updating the UI. Sometimes the changes are minor and sometimes the overhaul causes major customer (negative) feedback – but the stress on the UI is something that is noteworthy and to be understood in depth. How easy is it for my customers to find the top 3 features of my product? How does it look on a phone? Are the menu items prioritized according to the main features? These are some of the many questions an app developer HAS to keep in mind.

Release Timing?

A lot of apps are targeted towards a specific user segment. And releasing when the time is right is critical for getting new users. Even the biggies like Apple target timelines like Thanksgiving or Spring break for releasing new products because customers are more likely to buy products around the same time. Planning for release rather than just sticking to fast development and release is a business ethic most Indian app companies have to imbibe.

Release Readiness?

In general, testing readiness is a tough job. It is difficult to “certify” that a product is ready for the mainstream market. Indian companies – both large and small – do not test indepth about the “readiness” of an app. Also the concept of Alpha is not only usually glossed over – but also sometimes not even considered before release. It is the pride in one’s work which reflects in the app – and unfortunately we havent seen many great examples of that.

Last but not the least : Target Phones

Accepted that the iPhone and Android app stores are the easiest to write apps on and post, but India especially has a significant number of Java enabled phones apart from Blackberrys. The call to release on which phones is usually decided by timelines and ease of development rather than which target audience and phones makes the most impact. Similarly it is surprising to see not many on-deck applications (especially with some kickass OEMs like Micromax, Lava, Maxx being based out of India).

[Image credit: Chris Devers/Flickr. Article written by Pratyush & Ashish.]

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