Why Vetting App Ideas Is Becoming More Important
Even though mobile app development numbers are sky-rocketing, statistics indicate that only a very small percentage of the applications actually make it big. In fact, the average shelf life of a mobile application is as low as thirty days.
While from an engineering standpoint teams may continue to explore ways to improve the shelf life and gain better market visibility with differentiating features, are there things that can be done at the app ideation stage? My manager recently wrote for TechWell about the need to “Validate Your Core Business Assumptions Early On." I want to take this one step further and explore whether formal vetting of app ideas is feasible.
A recent podcast on GeekWire talked about the application Waze, which Google acquired from an Israeli startup for one billion dollars—the largest acquisition ever in the Israeli startup scene. Today, Waze is in a love-hate relationship with users, where it is either very popular or completely condemned. Controversial applications are certainly on the rise.
Vetting an app idea with a core group of people is one task to start with, but does that always guarantee app acceptance in the marketplace? This is a very tough question to answer. If we were to take this one step further and openly discuss the app idea with a larger user base, the feedback elicited will certainly be valuable, but the risk involved in app idea poaching is huge. What if someone were to take your idea and implement it with a go-to-market strategy before you do? This is a valid concern and challenge to mitigate before you take your idea to a larger discussion forum.
The US patent office is quite regularized and offers security for patentable ideas—the process is also quite straightforward for anyone to apply—but often the idea has to be a pure innovation that meets a lot of criteria to ensure its protection. Also, so far it is the new technologies and innovations that have been considered for patents as opposed to app ideas. Although not impossible, this is still not a commonly used route, and even if it does become more common, whether it will be a scalable route is a big question.
In my opinion, this is a place where the app stores have a huge role to play. In fact, they need to work together like a consortium, where you can come register a specific app idea and then confidently take it to the market to vet before engineering occurs. This will need a lot of streamlining and alignment with governmental policies, but when this happens, it not only protects the app creators, it also improves the standard of apps developed and gives the entire mobile app industry a positive facelift in the right direction.