25 lug 2014

Richard Branson on Building a Killer Mobile App

It has only been six years since Apple released the first iPhone, but
in that time, the device and its applications have transformed how we
interact with the world and each other. Those changes are still under
way: The app business is growing at a phenomenal pace, with more than
50 billion apps downloaded from Apple's App Store by May 2013, at a
rate of over 2 billion apps per month; a similar number are being
installed on Android phones via Google Play. Apple has paid $10
billion to developers since the iPhone's launch.

I don't usually include a lot of statistics in this column -- this
isn't about money, but how you can start your own business with a
great idea and a better attitude. My point is that at its core, the
app business is no different from any other type of enterprise:
entrepreneurs are creating apps out of frustration at a lack of

One young entrepreneur who made headlines with the sale of his app
this year was Nick D'Aloisio, 17, a British high school student who
created the news aggregator Summly. When he was preparing for his
exams, he found the repetition of information annoying and so he built
Trimit, an early version of his service that was downloaded more than
200,000 times. In March Yahoo purchased his invention for a price
estimated in the tens of millions of dollars.

What I find striking about Nick's story is that he started building
his app at home, probably in his room. A recent study by
Freelancer.com found that in Britain, "There has been an increase of
34 percent of businesses setting up in their spare time in the last 12
months, and all of them revealed they did so because starting a
business today is easier, saying that costs are lower thanks to being
able to start up online." They also found that of the respondents who
started their business in their spare time, 56 percent set up office
space in their bedrooms. We can be sure that many of those
entrepreneurs are creating apps -- you don't need a store front or
office space, just talent and the willingness to work hard.

If you have an idea for a "killer app," here are some tips to help you
move your idea off your kitchen table and into the mainstream.

1. Be ready to fail -- and try again.
When you're developing your idea, be honest with yourself about
whether your app, product or service will truly deliver value to
customers. Ask potential users for constructive criticism. If you are
not delivering something that makes people's lives easier, it's time
to start over.

2. Keep it simple.
Remember that your app should do a few things very well, rather than
lots of things badly. Simplicity will generate word of mouth.

Be very careful about any additional features you add - they must
bring value to your core offering.

3. Empower your customers through design.
Steve Jobs said: "Design is not just what it looks like and feels
like. Design is how it works." Once you've decided on what your app
does well, focus on what your users are trying to achieve and make it
easy for them to get the job done at every step. Never ask them to
stop and figure out how your app works.

4. Test, test, test.
If your app is flimsy or bug-ridden, people will delete it the moment
they encounter a problem, and they won't download it again. In today's
connected world, any badly made product or poor service gets bad
reviews, which can bring an end to any startup.

5. Plan to get noticed.
There are currently more than 900,000 apps available on the App Store
alone, so new entrants must work harder to get noticed. To get your
app on people's radar, think about who your potential customers are
and how they would prefer to learn about it. Whether they're looking
for high ratings or they make decisions based on TV ads, plan out how
you're going to reach them and then make some noise.

6. An entrepreneur's work is never done.
No matter what business you're in, you should never consider the
design of your product or service "finished." Make improving it part
of your everyday work.

7. To get ahead, listen.
The ability to listen to customers is the most important skill an
entrepreneur can have. Don't just rely on metrics - find ways to
connect with the people using your app and learn what they think of
your offering and how they're using it.

Remember, your idea doesn't have to be the next Instagram or Angry
Birds - one of our former employees, Lance Stewart, left a few years
ago to build his own app business, and has evolved his company Wavana
from a developer of travel products such as Tube Exits (which helps
you plan journeys on London's underground) to one that is trying to
shake up the way people plan and organize conferences, called
Showcase. He created that business because he was frustrated by
missing the good stuff at trade shows! (Learn more about his business
at showca.se.)

Most great business ideas are right under our noses, just waiting to
be discovered; you may be developing one right now, under your own

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