What’s that? You have an amazing idea for the next big mobile app?
No, you don’t.
It’s not that your idea is really bad (although I’m sure it is); it’s just that the golden age of app development is long gone. You missed it. I missed it. And your “Mommy Carpool” app ain’t making money anytime soon.
Like most middling stand-up comics, I have also been a moderately unsuccessful mobile app developer for about eight years. I too shared the dream of overnight success in the burgeoning mobile app world. The year was 2009 and I can remember it like it was eight years ago. It was the Oklahoma land rush of app development, when crappy app ideas were viable retirement plans. Beer drinking simulators and lightsaber apps dominated the market. The very best fart apps (I’m talking cream of the crop) were raking in $10k per day.
My burning desire to strike it rich and spend the next 50 years of my life doing as little as possible jolted me into action. I purchased an iPhone development book, dusted off my programming skills, and then immediately perused the internet for private islands in the $4 million to $5 million range. Nothing too showy.
I just needed a crappy idea. First up: Gaydar! – a novelty mobile app inspired by my friend Terry Ray’s short film by the same name! How could this possibly fail? Oh, yeah. Apple claimed Gaydar was offensive (it wasn’t) and never allowed it on the store.
Next up: Ice Cream Man! Wouldn’t it be hilarious to crank “Pop Goes the Weasel” through your car stereo in order to fool children into thinking delicious frozen treats were right outside? Surely the power of this app could never fall into the wrong hands. Clearly, I was about to retire. Ice Cream Man! hit the market and…every five and a half weeks or so, like clockwork, a desperate parent struggling to pacify a screaming toddler at Applebee’s purchases it.
Eventually, I did find some success developing mobile football games. Pocket Passer QB is a simple “flick” style passing game, which led to small development deals to create the fairly popular GameTime Football series. I had created Ice Cream Man!. How hard could it be to develop a Madden-style football game by yourself on a shoestring budget? Pretty hard, actually.
Equally difficult is the marketing and monetization of your idea, no matter how great or, most likely, terrible. There are now over two million apps on both Google Play and the App Store. Every crackpot app you’ve thought of has already been made, and getting your “Punder” app (Tinder for Pugs) discovered is unbelievably expensive. To make matters worse, the initial app gold rush congealed into a plutocratic mirror of America. According to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence, the top 1% of publishers account for 94% of the App Store revenue and receive 70% of downloads. Also, don’t forget, in order to make the most money, your mobile app needs to be FREE. Of course. Duh!
So, tell me. What was your amazing app idea again?