Mass Market Misdirection

bgrThere’s an article at BGR on how pranksters who run the YouTube account Dit Is Normaal loaded Android onto a fake iPhone and asked people what they thought of the new iOS 9. The video is entertaining and shows how people, even Apple and Samsung fans, were easily mislead. As BGR says…

“There are plenty of people out there, however, who don’t pay all that much attention to these things and who buy iPhones on the basis of Apple’s brand power.”

The video concludes with the message…

“It doesn’t matter what Apple release because people are going to think it’s prettier, bigger and better than the competition anyway.”

That might be so. However, if it were possible to put iOS on an Samsung device I am sure the mass market would be equally mislead.

For developers, this is more of a lesson that the mass market of people that use smartphones, and hence our apps, don’t have the same attention to detail as those of us who are, as BGR says, “really into technology”. It would be good to do a study to see if all the design elements (e.g. new navigation schemes, animations, Material design) we put into apps make any difference to real users or are just tech nonsense. Remember, only ten years ago, it was perceived wisdom that phones without hardware keyboards would never be popular because of lack of haptic feedback and smudged screens.

Mobile, Agile, Lean and Startups

jeffpattonFor the last few years I have mainly worked with startups. Of the many companies I have worked with, very few, only about 10%, have used Agile. Does it matter?


On the one hand, we have a few Agile tech speakers and consultants who will tell you if you don’t do it their way you’re stupid or incompetent. On the other we have people such as Jeff Patton, who previously won Agile Alliance’s Gordon Pask Award for contributions to Agile Development, saying common Agile practice isn’t for startups. Jeff’s article is thought-provoking because he says, for many startups, learning velocity is more important than delivery velocity.

leanstartupLean startup

Martin Fowler has an related article where he says “You don’t do agile or lean you do agile and lean”. I am not sure this is always true as, in practice, Agile invariably results in a significant upfront investment in additional unit testing – but I suppose it strictly need not when mixing Agile and lean.

You really need to consider your project. Is learning velocity important? Agile and better testing came out of a time when there were huge projects that were failing. Is your mobile project that huge/complex (it can be) or are you over-engineering? What’s your initial budget? What’s the anticipated lifespan of your software? Will the code ever have to be handed over to others to continue to develop? Is the project mission critical? How many people will be developing the project and how experienced are they? How much do you trust your current development process if you have one? How quickly do you expect things to change and by how much? Answering some of these questions might help you decide how much Agile matters for your project.

New Developer Economics Report

developereconomicsThe latest 9th version of VisionMobile’s Developer Economics report is now available, based on a survey of 13,000 developers, that covers desktop, IoT and cloud services as well as mobile.

There’s a very interesting chart showing what mobile developers are currently working on…


VisionMobile conclude that “iOS-only, or even iOS-first, may no longer make sense”. 37% of all mobile developers target both iOS and Android, increasing to 44% when hobbyists and explorers are excluded. The report also says… “Android remains by far the most popular platform overall; targeted by 71% of all mobile developers”.

Latest Mobile Market Research

I continue to regularly update my mobile market research site. Recent additions include…
  • IDC: Worldwide Tablet Market Continues to Decline; Vendor Landscape is Evolving
  • Counterpoint Research: Chinese Brands Dominate As Huawei Becomes The Third Largest Mobile Phone Brand Globally For The First Time
  • IDC: Worldwide Smartphone Market Posts 11.6% Year-Over-Year Growth in Q2 2015, the Second Highest Shipment Total for a Single Quarter
  • CA and Oxford Economics: The Battle for Competitive Advantage in the App Economy
  • Argus Insights: US Consumer Smartphone Demand is Plummeting Despite the Introduction of Flagship Phones

iOS vs Android Revenue and Download Performance

openxcellOpenxcell has a useful roundup comparing Android and iOS for those developers trying to decide between iOS and Android. The summary is…

“Developers, who are primarily interested in ‘making big revenues’, target iOS and those who prioritise ‘wider audience’ over revenue, target Android. But as much as it is about your ‘primary’ interest, it is also about the audience you want to cater to and the investment you need to put in to make an app for Android or iOS.”

I think the comment about ‘the audience you want to cater to’ is the most important part. If you can, survey your prospective users and determine what devices they own. It’s not about what phone you, your marketing manager, your sales manager, your app UI designer owns – think about your end users and put in the appropriate effort into supporting the particular phones models, not just the OS platform, that are actually being used by end users in your industry.

Competitive Advantage Using Apps

catechnologiesThere’s some research by CA and Oxford Economics that shows companies now consider software-driven business models to be the key to competitive advantage. More specifically, organisations are looking to API-enabled software and mobile apps.


The report says there’s an emphasis on bringing more development back in-house or using mergers/acquisition to improve development capabilities. I believe this shows a maturing of the mobile development ecosystem. As mobile development becomes more mainstream, more companies will seek to control it better and more directly. Having outsourced or offshore development can add a level of hidden indirection to communications and I have often, but not always, seen that indirection slow things and cause misunderstandings.

In 2011, in Rise of the Mobile Development Intermediary I explained how I was seeing an increase in intermediaries and the associated problems. For the reasons explained in my previous post, I have always preferred working for companies developing their own software or at least controlling the features of a product used by their clients. Maybe we will start to see a decline in the number of mobile development intermediaries.

Serving Mobile Addicts

flurryLast week I highlighted how, with in-app purchases, 1.14% of paying customers generate 30% of the sales. This links in well with a recent report by Flurry on Mobile Addicts. These are super users that use apps between 16 and 60 times daily. Flurry has worked out that this class of user has grown by 34% over the last year…


This group of users isn’t necessarily that small. Flurry says…

“If the number of Mobile Addicts there were in 2014 had been the population of a country, such country would have been the 8th largest in the world last year, slightly below Nigeria. In 2015, the growth of the Mobile Addicts population would have propelled that country to the 4th spot, just below the United States”

Here’s what these people are actually doing…

What does this mean for 3rd party developers? First, I think it vindicates the use of ‘Messaging & Social’ if it works within your kind of app. It also shows that there’s plenty of opportunity in ‘Utilities & Productivity’.

As well as thinking about short term retention, think about longer term users. Try to design your app to also help your best and longest users. How? For example, let them save things, let them see what they have done in the past, allow searching when data gets larger, allow old or unwanted data to be purged to save space. Reward your longer term users with things like larger quotas or extra features. Over time, migrate their existing data as the app gets updated. Allow them to backup data so they can use the app when they upgrade their smartphone. Think longer term.

In-App Purchase Characteristics of Top Apps

amazonAmazon has a new informative slideshare presentation ‘What the Top 50 Apps Do with IAP that the Rest of Us Don’t’ with insights into in-app purchasing. While the insights have been obtained from the Amazon app store, they are just as applicable to all stores and all OS platforms.
amazoniapHere are some of the learnings and consequent recommendations…

  • Start cheaper and increase price(s) over time to about 60% of the original price.
  • 48% of purchases happen within 1hr of previous purchase. Hence, make sure you offer an IAP within this time.
  • 37% of users who will purchase, purchase on the first day. Again, engage the customer early.
  • Offer between 1-5 price points for the best conversion. More prices points can confuse the user.
  • Apps with tutorials have a 2.5X higher conversion rate,
  • 1.14% of paying customers generate 30% of the sales. Cater for your best and longest customers by differenting your IAP offering.
  • As with non-IAP apps, retention is the only important metric. Give them a reason to come back, for example use social, leaderboards and achievements.