Want a star app? Here's how

2014-01-30 09:40
Apps have emerged as a driver of smartphone adoption. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Apps have emerged as a driver of smartphone adoption. (Duncan Alfreds, News24) (Duncan Alfreds)

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Cape Town - There is a secret to developing a gaming app that can potentially be a hit, industry insiders have revealed.

"The best answer to that is to look at game theory, and in particular Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's concept of 'flow'. Game designers use that concept to ensure that a game is geared at the right level to achieve that 'stickiness'. Too complex and players will abandon the game, and too simple and they will get bored," Lionel Moyal, Intervate managing director told News24.

The advent of smartphones and the ability to customise them have seen two further developments changing the mobile ecosystem: Customised applications that use increasing amounts of data and the ability to monetise the apps.

However, some developers have taken the idea of paid apps to a new level by seeking to exploit people with expensive apps that offer little in the way of functionality.

One Android application, Most Expensive App by Tall Pixel costs a whopping R1 938.74 and offers virtually no functionality, except to have the app on your smartphone.

Expensive apps

"Featuring a minimalist and self-adjusting motif set on a matte background, this application will do little more than stoke the raging fires of your already inflated ego," the app description reads.

Another expensive app, Im Rich costs R3 022.25, while there are at least two versions of 100 Dollar that costs R1 286.49 and R1 518.72.

Other applications like Blue Diamond have retail prices that vacillate, sometimes in excess of R2m.

One area that has emerged as a way to ensure an app is successful is to offer immersive functionality, but with encouragement for the user to buy additional content.

App developer Prezence Digital warned that developers have to invest in in-app purchasing that makes it easy for app users to buy content.

"The positive for both developers of service apps and customers is that by making the payment experience seamless for the app user, they’re more likely to make purchases," Lynette Hundermark, Apps Business director at Prezence told News24.

Active marketing

Arguably, one of the best ways to ensure that an application is a hit is to make sure it can rise above the "noise" of hundreds of thousands of apps in online stores.

"This is very difficult to achieve with consumer apps. Developing the app is the easy part. Getting adoption is where the real challenge lies," said Moyal.

Hundermark argued that active marketing is required to inflate and application above the clutter.

"There is a lot of 'noise' clamouring for a limited amount of attention when it comes to apps. At Prezence, we not only develop the app for our clients, but as a value add, actually work with them when it comes marketing it."

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