Sometimes it can be difficult to find the hidden value in the app store. That small niche where your business lives might not seem to stand a chance when facing up to the big hitters. You’re not going to be able to compete with the FAANGs of this world. But look hard enough and you will be able to find the hidden value in the app store. Find the value to be had by digging deep. It could be financial value. It could be a way for customers to discover your services. Or it might be an internal tool delivering time saving value. The app store is like an iceberg – the peak of which is made up of the major app brands churning through huge chunks of revenue. Below them are the thousands of other apps. Apps that can deliver value.
When I explain the app store landscape to our clients I talk about icebergs. Check out the Apple App Store and Google Play store and you’ll probably experience a sense of deja-vu. The same apps are promoted. The sales charts and top download lists look identical and by and large the same viral apps will explode onto the scene before vanishing in a puff of smoke (or a cloud of competitors). And of course you have the good old reliable apps continue to rock up millions of downloads (seriously who is still downloading Facebook so often?)
The app store ecosystems are essentially identical. The tip of the iceberg is where the big money is made. The build a rocketship and head to Mars money. The dating apps, the gaming apps, the streaming apps, the advertising-friendly social services, the big consumer apps, the ecommerce apps and the banking apps. They are all generating serious, serious revenue. The models might be different, but they’re still raking it in. It might be in-app purchases or subscriptions or micro-transactions. Or it might be the data you hand over to take part.
Once you start to look at the overall financial stats around the app stores you might be forgiven for thinking that with the usual suspects taking so much money that what’s left for all the hundreds of thousands of other apps is negligible.
And you’d be wrong.
Big consumer apps are here to stay. But what’s flying under the radar are the apps built for increasingly specific purposes. Niche apps. Apps built for employees rather than customers. Apps built to help users carry out a specific task faster, more efficiently on a device that is cheap and that they are familiar with. It’s the apps built by businesses for their staff. Apps that are replacing the need for laptops or paperwork or (shock, horror) purpose built devices that used to be handed out to engineers or staff. It’s the type of app that we build all the time. I’ll wager you’ll have seen them out and about. You just might not have noticed them.
Delivery drivers now use mobiles. They don’t need a specific handheld device to track their routes, manage their drop offs and even collect signatures. Roadside assistance and break down crews tend to arrive on the scene with a tablet to process payments and detail their visit. Waiters now head to your table with a phone, rather than a notepad. Which makes getting orders to the kitchen quicker and helps manage stock requirements.
Smartphones are cheap. Much cheaper than investing in bespoke equipment. And everyone knows how they work. They are easy to replace and can be updated on the fly. Your customers know how they work almost instinctively. Your employees don’t need extensive training courses to learn how to operate them. And with the right app a simple mobile phone can overhaul your business.
The appstore iceberg impacts what we build
Apptaura build apps like these. We specifically target the hidden value in the app stores. For us that is where the most exciting examples of development are happening. These hidden business apps have fuelled our growth because they have the potential to be so transformative for the businesses who approach us. We love building apps that a handful of staff download. Especially if that app can then eliminate costly paperwork or provide instant payments and realtime reporting.
Bespoke business apps that don’t require the huge upfront investment they used to, which will be saving your business time and money within months. No archaic IT infrastructure. No paper or receipts.
Our most successful app? Downloaded fewer than 50 times. It has saved thousands of man hours, and cut down on carbon emissions by reducing survey trips. In 2020 app utilisation grew 654% as an unintended benefit of local lockdowns. It helped a major business continue to serve their customers at the height of a pandemic. It’s nothing revolutionary. It won’t win any awards for lush, beautiful UI. It’s simple. It works. And we’re so bloody proud of it. Look for it in the app store top downloads lists and you’ll not find it anywhere. Yet it has delivered astounding value to one of our clients.
For us the future of app development isn’t the tip of the iceberg. And what an exciting future it looks like.
This article is adapted from one written by Apptaura CEO Thom Gibbons for Medium.