August 22, 2012
Category: Business & Strategy
If the goal is for your app to go to a distribution partner like the Apple App Store or Google Play, you may need someone to help you navigate those waters. You will also need developer accounts with those outlets and may need to coordinate the launch with the marketing team. Planning should start at least a month prior to distribution.
For internal enterprise distribution you don’t need to worry about potential issues with the Store or Marketplace, but you may need help with distributing the app to your users in the field. Additionally, distribution and the communication plan surrounding it will need to be coordinated.
What are my options?
The storefront you utilize to get your app into the market will largely depend on decisions made early on in the process about the form and function of your app. For instance, if you decided to focus on Apple products, then the Apple App Store will be the logical choice. Similarly, Google Play, Nook and Amazon represent options for other hardware and software platforms.
There are four notable distribution options for your finished product—through online stores, ad-hoc distribution, enterprise distribution, or via the web.
People are most familiar with this option. You submit your app, it goes through a review and approval process, and is eventually made available for consumers to purchase. The proprietor of the store generally charges a percentage of your app’s sale price to appear in their store. Typically, there is a 70/30 spit with 70% of the sale price going to the owner of the app. Payments are made via direct deposit on a monthly basis.
Ad-hoc distribution allows developers to build and distribute apps directly to users. On most platforms, this type of distribution is restricted because app store operators prefer customers purchase apps from their marketplace.
For example, to distribute iOS apps ad-hoc, developers are required to specify the devices on which the app is allowed to run. The application can then be shared with up to 100 other iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch users. Ad-hoc distribution is intended to be used primarily for beta testing and not wide-scale distribution to customers.
Corporate entities building apps for in-house use may opt for enterprise distribution. It is similar to ad-hoc distribution in that you are able to distribute apps directly to users, but you do not need to specify the devices on which the app will run. With an enterprise license from Apple, app owners are responsible for limiting distribution to employees and users within the organization only. There is no revenue share or per-user charge for enterprise distribution.
If you build a web app, you may avoid the traditional distribution and installation process described in the previous sections. Instead, users will run your app by visiting a particular web URL. On most touch-based mobile operating systems, users can opt to install a web app by adding its icon to the home screen on their device. The icon is indistinguishable from native app icons on the device. When the user taps it, the browser on the device takes over and runs the app.
Regardless of where your app lands, it is key to keep in mind that store rankings have a direct impact on how many downloads you receive. Even if you decided on a pull marketing strategy your sales will still benefit from high rankings.
For those of you who hope to find success from random downloads, your rank will be of the utmost importance. According to Spreadsong’s “The Guide to App Store Marketing” good ranking can double your daily income from an app.
A great way to get your app more exposure is by targeting bloggers in your arena and sharing your app with them. Getting positive reviews from influential endorsers will certainly increase awareness and downloads of your product.
While the number of downloads is very important to the ranking of your app, it is not the only factor. Apple recently de-emphasized downloads as the only ranking factor to discourage “pay-to-install promotions” that inaccurately inflate an app’s popularity. There is also speculation as to how the ranking algorithm is constructed for Google Play. The bottom line is, downloads, positive comments, feedback from users, and word of mouth will inevitably help your app rise to the top.
This post is an excerpt from our book, Inspiring Apps: A Business Perspective on Building Mobile Apps. Want to learn more? Download your free copy from the iBookstore and gain a valuable business perspective on building mobile apps.
Don’t have an iPad? You can download the PDF for an equally informative yet slightly less interactive experience.
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