As I have worked with clients of all shapes and sizes, it has become apparent that there is a disconnect for our clients between conceiving of an application and recognizing that that application is a real business investment. We started the discussion in my last blog entry Lemonade Stands and Mobile Applications.
With over 300,000 applications on the App Store for iPhone, there really are very few "million dollar" app ideas left out there. So anyone interested in succeeding with mobile application development must go through the Lemonade Stand process.
1. What is the product?
2. Who is the user/customer/consumer/audience?
3. What is the expected ROI?
What is the product? What is the lemonade? What good or service is provided by the application? What value does it bring? How lasting is the value? Lemonade is cold, wet, sweet, tart, thirst quenching on a hot day, and needs to be purchased again the next time the customer is thirsty. An App likewise, should be practical, meet specific needs, and therefore bring value, and provide the end user with the opportunity to use it again and again.
I spoke to a very nice lady at a company that provides treatment for sleep disorders. Her company was interested in an iPhone app diagnostic tool, that would enable the user to self diagnose a potential sleep disorder and then provide location based services to help the user find a local sleep clinic. As we discussed the product nature of the application, I was able to help her realize that the nature of the product she wanted to invest in was self-obsoleting. It was a one use application. Once a user self-diagnosed and either found a clinic or not, there was no impetus to ever use the application again.
Another client, a cleaning appliance manufacturer had an existing web tool that would allow a user to find instructions regarding cleaning stains on carpet or furniture. The web tool would instruct the user both how to use the company's equipment, or old fashioned around the house supplies to clean the stain. The client wanted to port the web tool to an iPhone application. The product in this case had immediate and long term relevance. The user may have a specific issue today that they want to resolve, but there is great likelihood that there will be another need in the future.
Understanding the customer, the user, will be the subject of our next Lemonade Stand entry.