Sure, you have a great app idea: But will it really make you any money?

Alexander Johnson
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People consistently overestimate the value and demand of their app. In-depth market research is crucial. (Source: Getty)

I've been at the helm of a few firms in my time – mostly those focusing on web and app-based products and services.

I’ve certainly learned a thing or two – how to do it right, for one. But also, naturally, I’ve seen the other side, when people totally miss the mark.

It got me thinking about how ambitions often don’t live up to expectations. You might have a great app idea, but will it really make you big money?

Here are seven industry secrets to help you on your way:

Money over data

Time after time I hear people overstate the holy value of data. It can be a deadly mistake. Few apps rise to a scale whereby user data has enough financial value to be meaningful.

If you can achieve a colossal level of magnitude then, of course, advertising and cross-marketing opportunities do exist.

However, for reasons ranging from the legalities of data protection through to the sheer scale required, it is easy to prioritise incorrectly.

Find a way to monetise directly from your app. Take a great idea and add some kind of payment barrier. If the service is good enough, people will pay.

Complex simplicity

People are used to certain interfaces, payment screens, paths. Deviate too far from familiarity and you have lost the battle from the start. Each and every task that a customer undertakes should be as smooth and quick as possible. However, you have to be perfect with the micro details to achieve that efficiency. Steve Jobs built his empire on a mantra of elegant simplicity. Complex perfection should be easy on the eye.

Location, location, location

Certain nations are leaps and bounds ahead of rivals. Do not underestimate the importance of outsourcing key tasks. Israel has a clever industry, pumping huge amounts of money into marketing and awareness.

Germany is advancing at great pace: clinical and aggressive. Russia is on the rise: hard-working and comparably cost-effective. The UK is changing rapidly, people are hungry and there is a good base of technical knowledge, but weakness remains on the app marketing front.

Don’t be afraid to look far afield if you want the best odds of success.

Critical evaluation

People consistently overestimate the value and demand of their app. In-depth market research is crucial. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Be hypercritical of your product. Use extensive research to refine and perfect. If you can collect data from the right places and correctly interpret it then you are a step ahead. It is not enough to believe something, you must demonstrate it through statistics.

Build with a genius

Your app developer must be top class – consider only the very, very best. There will be many available options, but do not ever be tempted to take shortcuts with this decision. The difference between the best and the very best is colossal. The success of your app rides on that early decision. Look for fresh and hungry people with a strong recent track record.

Scale, scale, scale

You can have the greatest app in the world, but if people do not know about it then you are dead on arrival. Spreading the message is a prerequisite, as is scaling upwards when required. Proportion your budget accordingly; there is no point in spending a fortune on a brilliant product and then not having enough funds to tell the world that it is there. Marketing and scale is built into the DNA of app industries in many other countries – that is no coincidence.


Be religious about your updates. It is easy to fall behind the pace. If you do so, your customers will punish you. Apple will punish you as well – they removed 47,000 apps from the store last year alone for that very reason. 16 per cent of apps haven’t been updated in the last three years. They will die or be killed. Have a system in place to implement speedy updates. Pay attention to reviews and feedback. Users are willing to give you key information that you would otherwise have to pay for.

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