Coming up with the right business model for your mobile application can be tricky. Here are some of the key questions any good mobile application business plan should answer.
What kind of mobile application am I building and why should people buy it?
If you want your application to be a success, it needs to provide value to your customers. Specifically, you need to be able to explain how your application fills a customer need. You’ll also need to determine how will you differentiate your application from other, similar apps (the competition)? Try to be as specific as possible, down to the platform and exact handsets you are going to target. We call this the value proposition for your project.
Who are my specific users?
One of the biggest mistakes we see with fledgling mobile developers is not knowing the answer to this question. Give some real thought to who your ideal target customer is. Make sure the features of your application directly benefit your customers. Weed out any features or project costs that do not directly benefit these target customers. We call this the customer/benefit segments of your application.
How are you going to keep and grow your user base?
Once you’ve got a user, it’s important to keep them. Think about what you can do to retain your customers, keep them happy and build brand loyalty? Customer relationships are important, even in mobile where they are often overlooked.
How will I get my app on to my customers?
Will you use an app marketplace or direct-sale from your website? Will you install your application on target devices and sell the device to customers? We call these the distribution channels you will use to reach your consumers.
How will I make money with my application?
How will your application be priced? Will your application be free for users or will they be charged? Determine the appropriate pricing model(s) for your application. We call these the revenue streams of your application.
What activities do I need to complete to publish this application?
What are the key tasks that need to be completed for this project to succeed? Do you need to develop new technologies or leverage existing ones? Do you need to get approval for use of a brand? Do you need to create partnerships and accounts with third party partners?
What resources do I need to produce this application?
Do you have an in-house development team or will you outsource? Are you developing a brand or leveraging an existing one? Define the key resources and assets you require to get this app out there and complete all the activities you identified as important to the project.
Who are my partners?
Will you be developing, marketing and distributing this application on your own or leveraging third party expertise for certain aspects of the project? Will you hire consultants? Will you sell through a mobile marketplace? Will you partner with the owner of a brand? Who are the key players in this project?
What are the costs associated with producing this application
How much is it going to cost to produce the application? What talent do you need to pay? What materials do you need to purchase or license? What’s your marketing budget? Define the cost structure, in terms of time, money and materials.
Lauren Darcey is responsible for the technical leadership and direction of a small software consulting company specializing in mobile technologies. With almost two decades of experience in professional software production, Lauren is a recognized authority in enterprise architecture and the development of commercial grade applications. She has designed and developed applications for the Android, iPhone, Blackberry, BREW, and J2ME platforms.
Shane Conder has extensive mobile development experience and has focused his attention on mobile and embedded development for the past decade. He has designed and developed many commercial applications for Android, iPhone, Blackberry, BREW, J2ME, Palm, and Windows Mobile devices. He has also written and contributed to numerous articles and books about mobile development technologies.
The authors' book Android Wireless Application Development has been selected as the November, 2009, book giveaway by Google Subnet. Visit the Google Subnet home page for details on the monthly giveaways, or you can purchase the book now from InformIT.