It’s no secret that producing great content is vital to becoming a successful developer. But too often, developers become so focused on creating a fantastic app that the other side of the equation — making sure that your app generates revenue — is just an afterthought. If you’re hoping to become a professional developer, though, a keen understanding of monetization is essential.
As Senior Director of Emerging Platforms, I’ve been lucky enough to work with hundreds of bright developers over the years, helping to guide their apps from production to distribution. During those experiences, I’ve seen patterns of success — and failure — emerge over and over again. And I’ve learned that if you want to take your development from a hobby to a career, you need to avoid these three common mistakes at all costs.
- Only Being Present on One App Store
You probably already know that the vast majority of the world’s 2.6 billion active smartphone devices are powered by Android, and how critical it is to reach those users. But there’s a pervasive misconception that the best way to reach the Android community is by publishing solely to Google Play, the app store with the most monthly active users. In reality, finding success on Google Play is becoming more and more difficult. With about 1.4 million apps and 1,000 new apps to week, there are few barriers to entry — but discovery is a tremendous challenge.
With how competitive the mobile app market is, developers truly need to capitalize on every opportunity at hand. The millions of users found on app stores like Amazon, SlideMe, 1MobileMarket and, of course, Galaxy Apps, vastly expand potential reach. Additionally, certain stores present unique opportunities to developers. Maintaining a presence on multiple platforms allows you to take advantage of each of these to their fullest extent. The key to developing great content is keeping the user’s needs in mind, and distributing it is no different. You never know where your app might resonate until you publish it there.
- Spending Too Much on User Acquisition
Developers often invest heavily on user acquisition in order to compete with top brands that already have the benefit of an established reputation and prime visibility. But no matter how much they invest, bigger brands can and will outspend them. In fact, top brands regularly spend as much as $20 per user and tens of millions of dollars per month. For indie developers and smaller development companies, that kind of budget just isn’t possible. Even if they choose to spend a more modest amount, the revenue generated from in-app purchases, ads and premium content that comes as a result of user acquisition is rarely enough to make up for the initial investment.
So instead of investing big in saturated markets, think about where you can attract the most users for the least amount of money. In Galaxy Apps, we want to make sure that our users have access to the best content, not just the content coming from companies with the deepest pockets. That is why we only feature 3,000 hand-curated apps at a time, giving established developers and indie devs alike the opportunity to be discovered. And with Galaxy Apps coming preloaded on all Samsung mobile devices, those who publish to our store have instant access to millions of users at no cost at all.
For us, it’s a win-win: When our editorial team approves a Galaxy Apps submission, we make sure that only the most innovative developers — regardless of their reputation or budget — get featured on our store. Maintaining an exclusive, but fair app selection process allows us to guarantee that our users are only presented with the highest quality content.
- Having Mobile App Tunnel Vision
With the mobile app economy expected to reach $143 billion in 2016, it’s no wonder that developers want to get in on the action. Unfortunately, the vast majority of that comes from only a handful of the top development companies. As a result, the chances of striking it big as a relatively unknown developer are statistically pretty slim. But instead of trying to wedge yourself into a crowded mobile app market, you should be thinking about where the untapped opportunities can be found.
It comes down to the classic red ocean, blue ocean strategy — why compete when you don’t have to? Wearables, VR headsets and IoT devices are exploding in popularity, but the available content is pretty limited right now. This means that the probability of success is that much higher. And with highly specific capabilities, developers can make sure that their content goes to the most relevant device. Think about having Waze preinstalled in cars, or Amazon preinstalled in your printer so it can automatically reorder ink cartridges.
Becoming a successful developer is no easy task. It takes artistic vision, technical skills and an acute entrepreneurial instinct. But it’s far from impossible. And now, with more demand for content from developers than ever before, it’s never been a more realistic feat. So if you truly want to take developing from a hobby to a career, the time is now — just make sure you take advantage of the right opportunities.