Getting Started in the Business of Mobile Application Development

A mobile application begins with an idea.

A mobile application begins with an idea.

To take a mobile application from an idea to the marketplace requires that idea, then specifications for that idea – design of the app, how it will function, and the graphics that will be integral parts of it – developing and writing code for the app, testing and debugging, fixing or redeveloping the app, creation of the graphics and accompanying text required to prepare the app for market, business infrastructure such as developer and merchant accounts with app stores and markets, placement of the app in those stores, and marketing the app.  If the app has sales itself, generates ad revenue, generates in-app sales, or uses other revenue-generating models, expenses are deducted from revenue to determine profit.

Our proposed Network of Women Mobile Application Developers will create mobile application development skills among its participants.  Once the participants reach a certain level of mastery, they’ll be ready for business.

For individuals and companies with ideas for mobile apps, the current challenges are 1) having the know-how to create the app themselves or in-house, 2) finding a developer to create the app for them, 3) paying that developer to do so.  (Here’s our research on how much a mobile app costs.)

For the mobile app developer approached by individuals and companies with ideas for mobile apps, the challenges are 1) lack of specifications for the app, i.e. the answer to the question, “How will the app work?” is “It’s a great idea!  Can’t you figure out how it will work?!”, 2) ability to create the app but not the infrastructure to take it to market or to market it, and 3) getting paid.

Ah.  Paying and getting paid.

I see several options for business models that may be ways to address the funding challenges facing those who want mobile applications made and those who can make them. 

Getting Started in the Business of Mobile Application Development is a two-page white paper (.pdf) that includes an expanded version of this post and a table showing potential business models for the new mobile application developer beginning business as an independent contractor or as the founder of a mobile application development business or company. 

Our company, Handshake Media, released its first mobile application on August 9, 2010.  We released our most recent mobile application, Foto Puzzler, on February 18, 2011.  We’ve learned much along the way and hope sharing some of our trial-and-error learning with those entering the mobile application development industry can decrease their challenges and increase their opportunities.

Added 2/25/2011:  More to consider on the business of mobile application development from Mashable: Is Developing a Mobile App Worth the Cost?


We're delighted to announce that thanks to the generous sponsorship of Coldwell Banker, Townside REALTORS, First Bank & Trust Company, and Hutchison Law Group joining us at Handshake Media, we will be able to host a reception for the very first meeting of the Network of Women Mobile Application Developers.  The meeting will be on Monday, March 7, 2011 in Blacksburg, Virginia.  Please email me, [email protected], to receive an invitation.

Coldwell Banker, Townside REALTORS(R) and First Bank & Trust Company are clients of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

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