The iPhone’s greatest asset is the number of apps on the platform. At the same time, I sit and look at certain apps that are trying to make it big, and wonder what the developers were thinking. MG Siegler nails it on his piece, The App Wall.
His basic rule, make something great:
if you truly believe you have the absolute best app in the space, you must go for it. Put everything into it, and don’t stop until you prove it. There’s definitely some element of luck involved, but in the end, the cream often rises.
It’s about building the filter. Making something great.
I love his concept about “features.” In the end it’s not about check-ins or sharing. It’s about what your app does. It’s about the hook that keeps people using it. They can’t be copied.
Here’s a simple test: if you have to copy features from a competitor, you’re not the best. That’s not to say the best don’t copy. Of course they do. But rarely does a startup get to be the best by copying — they do it to stay the best, and because they can (sad, perhaps, but true — and it only works if mixed with even more original innovation; see, again: Facebook).
The features that make a startup the best can’t be copied because they’re not actually features, they only appear to be to competitors. Instead, these “features” are a deeply woven fundamental that is vital to the fabric of the startup that came up with it. To put it another way: these “features” are often something that was dreamed up from the inception of a product, not something that was tacked-on (as it would be by the copying party).
In the end, a successful product isn’t just a collection of features, it’s a group of functions that are interwoven in it’s ability to run. I can tell which apps feel like features that were thrown together without more thought.
The thing is, mobile is so new and uncharted, that there is no reason to build a me-too app.
The mobile space is absolutely the right space to target. New form factors and freedom from the traditional bounds of computing means that there’s so much possibility for what can be done. We’ve really just scratched the surface.
At the same time, it is a harder surface to scratch. Because there are so many apps released each day now, every mobile user is inching closer to the app wall. This means that new apps not only have to be good to get traction, they have to be great.