How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram?

Chad Mureta runs his seven-figure app business from his iPhone. (Photo: Jorge Quinteros).

I first met Chad Mureta in Napa Valley in 2011.

Two years prior, he had been in a horrible car accident. He’d lost control of his truck in at attempt to avoid a deer, hit a median, and flipped four times, nearly destroying his dominant arm in the wreckage.

While in the hospital for a lengthy recovery, a friend gave him an article about the app market. Shortly thereafter, Chad began designing and developing apps. His results?

“In just over two years, I’ve created and sold three app companies that have generated millions in revenue. Two months after launching my first company, one of my apps averaged $30,000 a month in profit. In December of 2010, the company’s monthly income had reached $120,000. In all, I’ve developed more than 40 apps and have had more than 35 million app downloads across the globe. Over 90 percent of my apps were successful and made money.”

After finishing rehab, Chad was able to leave his real estate company, where he’d been working 70 hours a week, to run his app business from his iPhone… in less than 5 hours per week.

“Apps” are the new, new thing, thanks to major successes like Draw Something (bought by Zynga for $210 million) and Instagram (bought by Facebook for $1 billion), among others. But for all the hype and promise, few people actually know how to create something that gets traction.

In this post, Chad will discuss his step-by-step formula for rapid app development and sales optimization. It covers real-world case studies and the details you usually don’t see: early prototype sketches, screenshots, how to code if you don’t know how to code, and much more.

Last but not least, don’t miss the competition at the end. If you’ve ever thought “I should make an app that…,” this one is for you…

Enter Chad Mureta

When you are on your deathbed, will you be able to say you lived a fulfilled life?

I nearly couldn’t.

I started my app business from a hospital bed, wondering if I even wanted to live. I had barely survived a terrible car accident that shattered my left arm. I had gone through two groundbreaking operations, and spent 18 months in painful rehabilitation.

With limited insurance, I had racked up $100,000 in medical bills. Even though I survived, I had no clue how to get out of the deep hole I felt trapped in. I was moved to a physical rehabilitation center and worked on reconstructing my body, my mind, and ultimately my life. While I was there, I read two books that made a huge impact: Unlimited Power strengthened my thought processes, and The 4-Hour Workweek inspired me to pursue lifestyle freedom.

During that time, a good friend gave me an article about “appreneurs” and told me I should consider getting into the business. I learned that most appreneurs were one- or two-person teams with low costs, and the successful ones were bringing in millions in profits. Still in my hospital bed, in a state of semi-coherence from the pain medication, I began drawing up ideas for apps.

Three weeks after my final surgery, desperate, broke, and grasping at straws, I borrowed $1,800 from my stepdad and jumped into the app business. Fortunately, taking that leap was the best decision I’ve ever made…

These days, my life is about doing what I love while earning easy income. I run my business from my iPhone, working in a virtual world while earning real dollars. I am part of a growing community of “appreneurs,” entrepreneurs who make money from applications that are used on iPhones, iPads, iPods, Droids, and Blackberries. As of this writing, the world’s youngest appreneur is nine years old, and the oldest is 80!

Appreneurs earn money while creating lifestyles of great freedom. Two of my appreneur friends spend several months of the year doing nonprofit work in Vietnam, while their businesses are generating seven-figure incomes. Another is taking his kids to see the Seven Wonders of the World, creating priceless memories with his family. Still another friend goes backpacking throughout Europe with his wife for most of the year. As for me, I’ve hiked in the Australian Outback, trekked with Aborigines across the desert, climbed in the Rocky Mountains, got certified in solo skydiving, heli-skied in Canada, walked on fire, and most important of all, learned not to take life so seriously.

No matter what your dream lifestyle is, you can have it as an appreneur.

The Opportunity for Appreneurs

There are currently more than 4.6 billion cell phones being used worldwide, enough for two-thirds of the people on Earth. The app market is literally the fastest growing industry in history, with no signs of slowing down. Now is the perfect time to jump into the mobile game.

What happened during the early days of the Internet, with the creation of websites like Google and eBay, is exactly what’s happening today with apps and mobile technology. The only difference is that we have experienced the rise of the Internet and are conditioned to react more quickly to the app revolution. This means that the app world is running light years ahead of the Internet, when it was at the same development stage. Developing apps is your chance to jump ahead of the masses and not be left behind, saying years from now, “I wish I had…”

Common Objections

“I’m not a tech person. I have no experience in this market.”

I was in the same spot, and I still don’t know how to write code. But I found successful people to learn from, emulated their models, and hired programmers and designers who could execute my ideas. If you can draw your idea on a piece of paper, you can successfully build an app.

“The app market has too much competition. I don’t stand a chance.”

This industry is just getting started– it’s less than four years old! What makes the app business unique is that the big players are on the same playing field as everyone else. They have the same questions and challenges as you and I will have.

“I don’t have the money.”

You don’t need a lot of money to start. It costs anywhere from $500 to $5,000 to develop simple apps. As soon as you launch your app (depending on your sales), you could see money hit your bank account within two months.

“It’s difficult… I don’t understand it… I’m not smart enough.”

Just like everything you’ve learned in life, you have to start somewhere. Fortunately, running an app business is far easier than almost every other type of business. Apple and Google handle all of the distribution, so you can spend your time creating apps and marketing them. And you don’t have to come up with new, innovative ideas. If you can improve on existing app ideas, you can make money.

Many people are joining the app gold rush with a get-rich-quick mentality and unrealistic expectations. Maintaining an optimistic perspective is important, but so is understanding that you will have to put in work. My goal in this post is to help you think like a business owner, and show you the map I’ve used to find “the gold.” This is not a one-time app lottery, and you can’t treat it as such. If you think of this endeavor as a long-term business, it will grow and become a sustainable source of income.

Still interested? Then let’s get started!

Step 1: Get a Feel for the Market

As with any business, your success will be directly related to your understanding of the marketplace. The App Store is the marketplace of the app business, so in order to understand the market, we have to study the App Store. This seems rather obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many developers I meet that don’t understand this concept. They don’t watch the market, follow the most successful apps, or try to figure out why those apps are successful.

In order to become a great app supplier, you must first become an app addict. That means spending at least 2-4 weeks researching the market while downloading and playing with tons of apps (give yourself an app budget of $100 to start). This training period is an investment in your expertise, which will become the lifeblood of your success. The more hours you rack up playing around and studying successful apps, the better you’ll be able to understand their common traits and what users desire.

So, how do you keep pace with the market? The best way is to study Apple’s cheat sheet constantly. The App Store displays the top paid, top free, and top-grossing apps (the apps that make the most money, including free apps), almost in real-time. Apple provides the same lists in the individual app categories.

These charts are golden because they tell us volumes about the market. The best part is this information is freely accessible to anyone, at any moment (unlike the market info for basically every other industry).

Review these charts frequently, and keep a notebook of potential trends you spot. Doing this repeatedly will educate you on successful app design, marketing, and various pricing models. The research you’re doing is simple, costs nothing, and it’s actually fun!

Here are some questions to ask while you’re researching successful apps in the market:

  1. Why is this app successful?
  2. What is its rank and has it been consistent?
  3. Why do people want this app? (Look at the reviews.)
  4. Has this app made the customer a raving fan?
  5. Does this app provoke an impulse buy?
  6. Does this app meet any of my needs?
  7. Did I become a raving fan after trying it?
  8. Will the customer use it again?
  9. How are they marketing to their customers? (Check out the screen shots, icon design, and descriptions.)
  10. What is the competitive advantage of this app?
  11. What does this app cost? Are there in-app purchases? Advertisements?

Most developers will build an app and expect tons of people to find and download it right away. That rarely happens. You have to figure out what people are interested in and the kinds of apps they’re downloading first, then you build your app based on that insight.

Once you’ve put in the necessary 2-4 weeks of research and feel you have a decent grasp on the market, it will be time to look back on the trends you discovered and explore some ideas for potential apps you can develop.

Step 2: Align Your Ideas with Successful Apps

How do you know if the market wants your app? Again, you’ll need to look at the Top Apps chart. Are apps like the one you want to create listed there? If yes, you’ve got a potential winner. If not, keep looking. It’s that simple.

Don’t hate; Emulate! When you follow in the footsteps of successful apps, you will have a better chance of succeeding because these apps have proven demand and an existing user base. This takes the guesswork out of creating great app ideas.

I can’t stress the importance of emulating existing apps enough. It’s easy for people to fall in love with their own idea, even if the market doesn’t show an appetite for it. But this is one of the costliest errors you can make.

Unfortunately, developers make this mistake all the time. They focus on generating original ideas and spend a lot of time and effort creating those apps. When it doesn’t work out, they go to the next untested idea, instead of learning from the market. Often times, they repeat this cycle until they run out of money and dismiss the app game. This doesn’t have to be your experience.

A personal example of how to successfully emulate competitors is my Emoji app. First, I took a close look at what the market offered and downloaded all the major emoticon apps. I liked what I saw, but noticed that there was a lack of variety and limited functionality.

Screenshots from a competing Emoji app. The app (left) is opened once to provide the user with instructions on how to enable the Emoji keyboard (right).

I wondered how I could improve upon these existing apps, given that the Emoji keyboard had a limited number of emoticons that couldn’t be increased. I was also curious how profitable these apps could be if they were only being used once.

I kept brainstorming until it hit me. I couldn’t add more emoticons to the Emoji keyboard, but I could include unlimited emoticons within my app that people could send as images via text message or email.

I created an app that not only enabled the Emoji keyboard, but also contained an additional 450 emoticons within the app itself, which could be shared via SMS, e-mail, Facebook, and so on. The app was used constantly since users had to return to the app to send an emoticon.

Screenshots of my Emoji app.

The Emoji app was developed in two weeks. It followed the freemium model, meaning free with an in-app purchase option. The app hit the number one spot in the App Store’s productivity category and the number 12 spot in the top free overall category within six days, raking in nearly $500 per day. Bingo.

Whenever you decide to look into emulating an app, ask yourself these six questions:

  1. Why are people purchasing this?
  2. Can I do something to emulate this idea and take it to another level?
  3. What other ideas would this app’s demographic like?
  4. How many other similar apps are in the market? (Visit TopAppCharts.com to find out.)
  5. How successful and consistent have they been?
  6. How does their marketing and pricing model work?

Step 3: Design Your App’s Experience

You’ve studied the market, you see an opportunity, and you have an idea that could be profitable. Great! Now it’s time to turn those thoughts into something tangible.

To convey your idea properly, you can simply draw it on a piece of paper. Maybe it will look like a 3-year old’s artwork, but it will still convey what you’re trying to do. Some people like putting this together in digital form, using Photoshop or Draft. Whatever you’re most comfortable with, and whatever will give the programmers the details they need, is the way to go.

For your viewing pleasure, here are the rudimentary drawings (a.k.a. wireframes) for my first app, Finger Print Security Pro. As you can see, it doesn’t have to be pretty!

And here’s how the app’s final design turned out:

To make the design process easier, I look at certain apps in the App Store and reference them to show my programmers what I’m looking for. For example, I’ll say, “Download the XYZ app. I want the ABC functionality to work like theirs. Take a look at the screenshots from this other app, and change this.” I take certain components of apps that I’d like to emulate, and give them to the programmer so that we are as clear as possible.

Highlight menu vs. Facebook menu

Notice any similarities? Highlight’s menu (left) emulated the style of Facebook’s menu (right).

The clearer you are, the fewer misunderstandings and problems you will have once it’s time to hand off your drawings to a programmer. The idea is to convey what the app will look like, where everything will be placed, and what happens if certain buttons are selected. This helps the programmer know what you want and will be a useful blueprint when designing your app. Do not be vague or ambiguous. You should know what every part of your app will do. If you don’t, you need to develop your idea more thoroughly.

You have to consider your design to be final before you can begin the coding phase. Inevitably, you will have ideas for additional features once you start testing the initial versions of your app. But if you decide to make major changes after a substantial amount of work has been done, it can frustrate your programmer. It’s like telling the builder who just installed your fireplace that you want it on the other side of the living room. The news will not go over well. Most people don’t realize this is what they are demanding of their programmer when they ask for big changes. That’s why it’s important for you to take your time and carefully plan every aspect of the app before you submit it for coding.

Step 4: Register as a Developer

You now have your idea drawn out. Before you go any further, you need to sign up as a developer with the platform for which you’re looking to create apps.

Don’t be intimidated by the word “developer.” It doesn’t mean you have to be the programmer. It’s simply the name used for somebody who publishes apps. All you have to do is set up a “developer account” so you can offer your apps for sale in one of the app stores.

Here are the links for each platform and a brief overview of their requirements.

Apple iOS *— Registration requirements include a fee of $99 per year and accepting the terms of service.

Android— Registration requirements include a fee of $25 per year and accepting the terms of service.

BlackBerry— Registration requirements include a $200 fee for every 10 apps you publish. You must have a BlackBerry World App Vendor Agreement in place with RIM (the creator of BlackBerry) to distribute apps.

* For your first app, I strongly suggest developing for Apple iOS, rather than Android or Blackberry. Simply put, Apple users are much more likely to spend money on apps. You will increase your odds of making a profit simply by developing for the iOS platform.

Also, don’t forget to go over the App Store review guidelines. Apple enforces these rules during the review process, and if you don’t follow them, your app will be rejected. For instance, you might remember seeing a plethora of fart or flashlight apps on the App Store awhile back. As a result, Apple has decided to no longer accept those types of apps. Knowing these rules can save you a lot of time and effort. If you see any of your ideas conflicting with the guidelines, reject them and move on to the next one.

Step 5: Find Prospective Programmers

Coding your own app, especially if you’re teaching yourself at the same time, will take too long. The likelihood of you getting stuck and giving up is very high. It will also be unsustainable over the long run when you want to create several apps at the same time and consistently update your existing apps. After all, the goal is to get your time back and escape the long hours of the rat race. Therefore, programmers will be the foundation of your business. They will allow you to create apps quickly and scale your efforts.

Hiring your first programmer will be a lengthy process. You’ll need to: post the job, filter applicants, interview qualified candidates, have them sign your NDA, explain your idea, then give them a micro-test… all before coding begins! But while this process takes time, it is time well spent. Making great hires will help you avoid unnecessary delays, costs, and frustration in the future. You’ll always be looking to add new talent to your team, so learning how to quickly and effectively assess programmers is an important skill to develop.

Let’s get started. The first part of this step is to post your job to a hiring site.

Top Hiring Resources

These websites allow programmers to bid on jobs that you post. As you can imagine, the competition creates a bidding frenzy that gives you a good chance of getting quality work at a low price.

Here are a few of my favorite outsourcing sites:

oDesk— Its work diary feature tracks the hours your programmer is working for you and takes screenshots of the programmer’s desktop at certain time intervals.

Freelancer— This site has the most programmers listed. They claim that twice as many programmers will respond to your ad, and I found this to be mostly true.

Guru and Elance. Both of these sites have huge lists of programmers.

 

Below is a template of a job posting, followed by an explanation for each of its components:

Click the image to enlarge.

Enter the skill requirements—What programming languages do they know? For iPhone apps, the skills I list are: iPhone, Objective C, Cocoa, and C Programming.

Give a basic description of your project—Keep it simple and skill-specific. Tell the applicants that you will discuss details during the selection process. Do NOT reveal the specifics of your idea or marketing plan. Use general descriptions, and request info on how many revisions (a.k.a. iterations) their quote includes.

Post your ad only for a few days—This way programmers have a sense of urgency to quickly bid on your job.

Filter applicants—I always filter applicants using these criteria:

– They have a rating of four or five stars.

– They have at least 100 hours of work logged.

– Their English is good.

Compose individual messages to all suitable applicants, inviting them to a Skype call for further screening. Most of these programmers will overseas, which can present issues with communication and time zone differences. Therefore, a Skype interview is an absolute must before you can continue. Disqualify anyone who is not willing to jump on a Skype call.

The Interview: Essential Questions to Ask Programmers

Don’t give away any of your ideas during this initial conversation. Whenever the topic comes up, say you’ll be more than happy to discuss everything after they sign the NDA (if you want a copy of the NDA template I use, see the bottom of this post). Here are the questions you should ask each applicant before committing to anything:

– How long have you been developing apps?

– How many apps have you worked on? Can I see them?

– Do you have a website? What is it?

– Do you have references I can talk to?

– What’s your schedule like? How soon can you start?

– What time zone do you work in? What are your hours?

– What’s frustrating for you when working with clients?

– Are you working with a team? What are their skills?

– Can you create graphics, or do you have somebody who can?

– Can I see examples of the graphics work?

– What happens if you become sick during a project?

– What if you hit a technical hurdle during the project? Do you have other team members or a network of programmers who can help you?

– How do you ensure that you don’t compete with your clients?

– Can you provide flat-fee quotes?

– What’s your payment schedule? How do you prefer payment?

– Can you create milestones tied to payments?

– Do you publish your own apps on the App Store?

– How do you submit an app to the App Store? (Can they verbally walk you through the process, or do they make you feel brain challenged?)

Finally, mention that you like to start things off with a few simple tests (creating/delivering your app’s icon and a “Hello, World!” app) before coding begins. You need to tell them this upfront so they aren’t surprised after they have provided their quote. Most programmers are happy to get these tests done without a charge, but some will want a small fee. In either case, be clear with this requirement and have them include it in the quote.

During the interview, pay attention to how well they are able to explain themselves. Are they articulate? Do they use too much techno babble? Do they speak your native language fluently? Do they seem confident with their answers? How is their tone and demeanor? If you have any issues or worries, you may want to move on to somebody else. But if you can communicate with them easily and your gut is telling you “Yes,” you’ll want to proceed to the next step.

In either case, thank them for their time and mention that you will follow up with an NDA agreement if you decide to move forward.

Step 6: Sign NDA, Share your Idea, and Hire Your Programmer

You must protect your ideas, source code, and any other intellectual property. These are the assets that will build your business, so you need to have each potential programmer sign an NDA before you hire them. Yes, it’s rare to have an idea stolen, but it does happen (read the bottom of this post if you want a copy of the NDA that I use).

As you’re going through this process, you will be getting feedback on your programmers’ responsiveness. For instance, if it’s taking too long for them to sign the NDA, it might indicate how slowly the development process will move. Buyer beware!

Once the NDA has been signed by both parties, you can share your idea and designs with your programmer. At this stage, it’s critical to ensure they have the skills to complete your app. You do not have any wiggle room here, especially on your first app. Either they know how to make it or they don’t. You want to hear things like, “I know exactly how to do that” or “I’ve done similar apps, so it will not be a problem.” You don’t want to hear things like, “I should be able to do that, but I have to research a few things” or “I’m not sure but I can probably figure it out.” If you hear those words, switch to an app idea they are confident about or run for the hills.

After you’ve found the best programmer for the job, you can commit to hiring them. Establish milestones and timelines during the quoting process (break up the app into several parts), and decide on a schedule for check-ins that you’re both comfortable with (ask them directly how they like to be managed). You will need to periodically review their work, from start to finish. Most applications go through multiple iterations during design and development, and I won’t release partial payments until I’m fully satisfied with each milestone.

Step 7: Begin Coding

Rather than jumping haphazardly into a full-fledged project, I prefer to gradually ramp up my programmer’s workload by starting with a couple smaller tasks. You need to assess their graphics capabilities, implementation speed, and overall work dynamic (e.g. communication, time zone, etc.). If you’re underwhelmed with their skills, you need to get out quickly. Remember: Hire slow, fire fast. It will pay off over the long run.

Here’s my three-step process during the coding phase:

1. Icon—Ask the programmer to create and deliver the icon of your app. You will probably have several ideas for icons, so pass them on and ask for a finished 512 x 512 iTunes Artwork version of the icon.

2. Hello, World!—Ask the programmer for a “Hello, World!” app. It’s a simple app that opens up and shows a page that displays “Hello, World!”, and it will take them 10 minutes to create. The idea here is not to test their programming skills, but to determine how they will deliver apps to you for testing. This app should include the icon they created, so you can see how it will look on your phone.

3. App Delivery—When the programmers are ready to show you a test version of your app, they have to create something called an “ad hoc” (a version of your app that can be delivered to and run on your iPhone, without the use of the App Store). This ad hoc version of your app needs to be installed on your phone before you can test it. The initial installation was a bit cumbersome in the past, but a new service called TestFlight has simplified the process. I ask all programmers to use this service even if they have not used it before. They will be able to figure it out, and you’ll be able to install your test apps with a few touches on your phone.

The first version of your app is finished and delivered, and you’re now staring at it on your phone/tablet. Give yourself a pat on the back — you’ve made serious progress! But don’t get too caught up with yourself, because now it’s time to begin the testing phase.

Step 8: Test Your App

If you were having a house built, you’d want to make sure everything was in working order before you signed off. You would check major things like the roof and plumbing, all the way down to minor things, like crown molding and paint. You need to do the same thing with your app.

To start, your app must perform as expected. Pull out your initial design document and go through every feature. Never assume that something works because it worked last time you tested the app. Test each feature every time, especially before the final release.

Most importantly, don’t be the only tester. Your app makes sense to you, but it might not to others. You need to get everyone you know, from your 12-year-old nephew to your 75-year-old grandmother, to test your app.

The time you spend on testing is crucial because you will see how consumers use your product, what features are intuitive, what they don’t understand, and their patterns. They will have questions that won’t occur to you because you designed the app and everything about it is obvious to you.

Hand the app to them and say, “Hey check this out.” Don’t mention that it’s your app, what it’s supposed to do, or how it works. Give as little information as possible and watch as they try to understand and navigate through your app. This experience will be similar to the one your real user will have, because you won’t be there to explain things to them either.

Watch them testing your app and ask yourself these questions:

– Are they confused?

– Are they stuck?

– Are they complaining?

– Are they using the app the way you intended?

– Did they find a mistake or a bug?

– Are they having fun?

– Are they making suggestions for improvements? If yes, which ones?

Get them to talk about their experience with your app. They will be more honest if they don’t know the app is yours. Don’t get offended if you hear something you don’t like; their feedback is priceless. Assess each response to see if there’s a problem with your app, then ask yourself these questions:

– Would other users have the same issues? If yes, how can I fix them?

– Should I move things around?

– Should I change colors to improve visibility?

– Would adding some instructions help?

– Should I improve navigation?

Testing and debugging will take several iterations, like the design and development stages. This is all part of the process. Don’t forget to use TestFlight to save lots of time with the mechanics of installing test versions of your app.

Just remember: If you keep tweaking things and adding features, you might unnecessarily increase costs and production time. You need to get the app on the market quickly and in a basic form to test the concept. Only redesign during this phase if you feel you have a good justification for it. Otherwise, add the idea to your update list and move forward with development (I keep an update list for each app and refer back to it when the time is right).

Step 9: Post your App to the Market

At this point, you’ve had all of your friends and family test your app, taken the best feedback into account, and wrapped up any final changes with your programmer. Congratulations – it’s time for you to send the app to the App Store for review!

It’s a good idea to have your programmers show you how to submit your first few apps. Do not give out your developer account login information to your programmer or anybody else. The best way to have them show you how to submit your app, without having to giveaway your login, is to do a screen-share over Skype or GoToMeeting and have them walk you through the process. As your business grows, you might want to delegate this task to someone on your team.

Below is a screencast on how to upload an app to the App Store. As you’ll see, it’s a fairly confusing and tedious process. Best to leave this task to your programmers:

The amount of time Apple will take to review and approve/reject your app will depend on whether you’re submitting on behalf of yourself or a company. If you’re an individual, it will usually take 3-7 days. If you’re a company, it will likely take 7-10 days.

The real fun begins once your app is approved and available for download…

Step 10: Marketing Your App

The App Store is filled with thousands of great apps, but most developers are not skilled when it comes to marketing. Meanwhile, many poorly designed apps rank highly because their developers have figured out the marketing game. How do they do it?

You really need to focus on a few key areas to effectively market your apps, which will allow customers to discover and download them. Understanding how an app’s basic elements are marketing opportunities is essential to being successful in the app business. Your job is to create a seamless flow from the icon all the way to the download button. Let’s take a closer look at these components, which you can adjust at any time from your developer account:

ICON

The first thing users will see when they are checking out your app is the icon — the small square image with the rounded corners to the left of the app title. It’s also the image that users will see on their phone after they install your app.

The icon is important because it’s how the users will identify your app. It needs to look sharp, capture the app’s essence, attract the users’ attention, and compel them to investigate your app further.

Great app icons are clear, beautiful, and memorable.

Many developers create icons as an afterthought and focus all of their effort on the app itself, but the icon is the first impression you will make on the users. The old expression “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” applies here. Make sure you have a quality icon that represents your app and makes the users believe it has value.

APP TITLE

Over 80 percent of searches in the App Store are related to an app’s functionality, rather than an app’s name. Therefore, it is critical that you help users find your app when they perform relevant keyword searches in the app store.

Source: Chomp.com

Each word in your app’s title serves as a keyword, much like keywords in search engines. You can think of the title as your URL. For instance, if you type “angry” into the App Store search field, the Angry Birds apps will return as a search result.

DESCRIPTIONS

Having a compelling description for your app is like having a great opening line — people are more willing to learn about you once you’ve piqued their interest. The first chunk of your app’s description needs to be packed with the most relevant information customers should know.

If applicable, use statements like “Top App 2012” or “One of the Most Addictive Games in the App Store.” Follow it up with a call-to-action, such as, “Check out the screenshots and see for yourself.”

SCREENSHOTS

Screenshots are great marketing tools because they give users a visual of what they will experience. Think of them as the trailer for your app. Here are a couple examples of effective screenshots:

Nike+ GPS screenshots.

Free Music Download Pro screenshots. Note the use of captions to explain the app’s features.

Many people shopping for apps won’t read the description, but will instead scroll down to the screenshots. The screenshots need to convey the main functionality of the app without showing too many details that may confuse users. If your screenshots are cluttered, it will be as ineffective as a realtor trying to sell a house with messy rooms. The brain gets overwhelmed and buyers have more trouble seeing the product’s true value. Therefore, the screenshots you include should be clean, appealing, and informative.

KEYWORDS

Unlike your icon and title, keywords are not something the users get to see. When you submit your app to the App Store, you’re allowed to provide keywords relevant to your app. When users search for one of the terms you entered, your app appears in the search results.

For example, if you type in the word “kids” or “game” on the App Store, you will find that Angry Birds is one of the search results. The terms “kids” and “game” are not in the app title. The makers of Angry Birds most likely chose those keywords to associate with their app.

A good example of effective keyword usage is an app I created called Flashlight. Since the name is Flashlight, we came up with keywords, such as “bright,” “help,” “light,” and “camping.”

One time, I added the term “phone” to the keywords of my free prank fingerprint app. This seemingly minor change propelled the app to the number one top overall free category, which moved the company’s income from $1,000 per day to $3,000 per day. This is the power of refining the marketing components for your app. Simple changes can dramatically increase your revenue.

CATEGORIES

The App Store organizes apps into specific categories to help users find them more easily. In addition to the top overall rankings of all apps, each category has its own top rankings and, therefore, generates a certain amount of visibility based on these charts. Users looking for certain apps often browse through these category charts without looking at the top overall charts. For instance, an app that doesn’t show up in the top 200 overall might still be in the top 10 of a particular category.

When you’re submitting your app for review, make sure to select the most relevant category for your app. On the other hand, many apps can be classified into more than one category. You have to choose one, but you can always change the category during an update.

One of my apps, Alarm Security, wasn’t performing well, and I was trying to bring it back up in the rankings. I initially tried changing the name and keywords, but it didn’t move much. The one thing I hadn’t tried was switching it out of the Entertainment category. The app contained various alarm sounds (like loud screams and gunshots), so I assumed users would use it more as a goof than as a tool. I was wrong.

Once I moved the app into the Utilities category, the number of downloads skyrocketed. After five days, the paid downloads had tripled, and it was only because of a category change.

Just as your app will always need certain refinements due to consumer demand and competition, so will your marketing. For most of my apps, I have changed the icon and screenshots three to five times and the title and description between 5 and 10 times. I change keywords almost every time I update apps. I always switch the categories when it makes sense. Keep an open mind and continue to be inspired by your observations during your market research.

Finally, there’s a simple rule of thumb I follow for making changes: Tweak once per week, then measure. You have to allow ample time to see the effect of any changes you make. Measure your results, then make adjustments based on your data in the following week. Your goal is to increase traffic and revenue, all while improving your users’ experience with the app.

Bonus Marketing Tactics

FREE APPS

After you’ve taken care of the basics, your best marketing tool will be offering a free version of your app. It will generate traffic and visibility that you otherwise wouldn’t get.

Free apps create the most traffic because they have the smallest barrier to entry. It takes five seconds to download, and it’s free. Why wouldn’t you push the button? Once the free version of your app gains some traction, you can use it to advertise the paid version of the same app. This is like getting those free food samples at the supermarket. If you like the sample you tasted, you might buy the whole bag and become a long-term customer.

NAG SCREENS

Nag screens (pop-ups that remind users to check out the paid version of the app) have been the most critical marketing tactic for my business. You might worry about annoying users with these ads, and that is a valid concern, but you need to think of nag screens as adding value for your users. If they downloaded your free app and they are using it, a percentage of your users will be interested in buying the paid version of your app. For those who don’t, a quick pop-up message is a small price to pay for using the free version.

You have to accept this and not shy away from this type of marketing. If you’re still on the fence, consider this: When Apple launched its iBooks app, it used a nag screen within the App Store app. If you had an iPhone at the time, you may remember seeing that pop-up inviting you to download iBooks. Well, you were nagged by the one and only Apple.

Basic nag screen (left) vs. Advanced nag screen (right). Advanced nag screens typically have three times higher click-thru rates.

When adding a nag screen, explain to your developer what you are looking for, and reference specific examples of other apps that have nag screens. Be sure you can change the nag screen without submitting a new update to the app store. To do this, tell the developer you want your nag screen to be dynamic. This will allow you to change your marketing message redirect your app’s traffic within seconds. This is an absolute must. Your nag screens will lose a huge part of their effectiveness if you cannot change them on the fly.

How do you assess the effectiveness of your nag screen? All you have to do is keep track of how many times you show a particular nag screen and how many users click “Yes” to check out the app(s) you’re promoting. This is called your click-through rate, and the higher the percentage, the better.

Final Thoughts

This is the first time in history when so many of us have the tools and access to knowledge that can quickly lift us out of the rat race. Your background, gender, race, education, and situation are irrelevant. All you need is the desire and a game plan.

You don’t have to wait till “someday” to fulfill your dreams. You can start right now…

Contest and Bonuses

We’re throwing a contest for any readers who are ready to dive into the app world. Whoever comes up with the best idea for an iPhone app (as decided by me and my team) will have 100% of their development costs covered. That’s right: You won’t need to spend anything to have your app made – all it will cost is your time and effort. This will be a great learning experience for the winner, so if money is all that’s holding you back, we want to help you get started.

Here are the details:

– You have 1-week (ending Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9am EST) to research and design your app idea. Your app should try to fill a void in the market or improve upon apps that are currently available.

– Once you’ve decided upon your idea, post a comment below with a detailed explanation of the app you want to develop. Bonus points if you can show us (with a drawing, video, etc.) how your app will function. More bonus points if you show us the research you did to prove your app’s potential for success.

– You can only submit one (1) idea (one entry per person), so make it good!

– Up to $5,000 USD of your development costs will be covered. 100% of all revenues earned will go to the winner.

– Winner gets a 1-hour phone call with me (Chad) at any point during development or marketing.

For those who are worried that someone is going to steal your idea and make a million dollars with it– you don’t have to enter the contest! Just remember: my success in the app store came from emulating successful apps. In other words, borrowing proven ideas and trying to make them better. If someone else can succeed by taking one of my ideas and improving upon it, that’s only fair game. Don’t let the fear of losing prevent you from trying to win.

Contest deadline has passed; Winner (Alex K.) has been contacted. Thanks, all!

Finally, for those who’d like a copy of my NDA template (along with the checklist I use when hiring a new coder), email a copy of your receipt for App Empire, my comprehensive book on app development and marketing, to bonus (at) appempire.com. The book goes into depth on advanced marketing and monetization techniques, including how to put your business on cruise control (automate).

We look forward to seeing what you guys come up with! Talk to you in the comments 🙂

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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952 Replies to “How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram?”

  1. Contest entry:

    Chad,

    The text world is boring and too simple, yet everyone does it every day (large market). when you type in your text it shows up in a little blue bubble and when someone responds it shows up in a little gray bubble. Why don’t we make those little bubbles the bubbles you see in a funnies comic, for example dilbert or calvin and hobbes except people can make their own character (avitar) and change them (in app purchases). Basically the text messages between you and a friend would turn into your very own comic strip!

  2. Hey Tim and Chad!

    Just wanna say thank you for again sharing unbelievably valuable insights!

    Just one thought (maybe you decided not to mention any details about this): what would be interesting to know are business and revenue models within the app world that are not based upon paying for the app or advertising…

    Cheers!

  3. This was a great article and very inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing–I just bought the book!

    One thing I’m wondering is, can you get access to the iOS App guidelines without purchasing access to the Apple’s Dev network? I know it’s only $99, but it’s an investment I’d like to avoid if possible for just doing research. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

    Thank you again!

  4. ****App Idea****

    (Obligatory plug)

    Tim: props

    Chad: props

    Idea: Google drive is rolling out today, 5gb per user.

    I currently have 8GB with dropbox (full), and skydrive is also out there.

    Let’s create an app called “CloudRAID” that acts as a single storage location, but in the background manages your google drive, dropbox, and skydrive accounts and stores your file in the best location to prevent you from running out of space. When you locate/open/read/execute the file, CloudRAID works in the background to retrieve the file from the service that is hosting it.

    The name comes from the hard disk file resiliency feature of “RAID” and combines it with “Cloud” based storage offerings.

  5. Hi Chad! Entry for Plan My Week: A task/calendar integration tool

    I love calendars. A lot. But they all fail me in some way, most notably in the way they integrate tasks. To date, Google calendar is the best I’ve used, with iCal in close second. I still find the task list awkward, however, and so I end up printing the week and then writing my tasks in. What I want is to be able to create useful, project oriented task lists (like in Toodledo), and then drag my tasks onto my calendar. The task would remain in the task list until actually completed (many tasks take more than one day or one session). Link to an example week from my own calendar last fall: http://calendarapp.blogs.rice.edu/

    Each course could be a parent ‘project’ with the tasks for that course listed. Other activities can also be divided up in whatever way the user wants. Then, instead of handwriting my tasks onto my calendar, I could simply drag from the task pane to the calendar slot where I want to actually do the task. It would not be an event, with start and end times and occupied or whatever nonsense and 20 options to figure out. Just drag, drop, done. Ideally the tasks would appear as text only, with no times indicated. The goal is to have a list on my calendar, a roadmap for my week.

    On the phone, the week format plus task list will take up too much space, but I think that 3 days and a task list could reasonably be displayed on the phone horizontally. On an iPad, the full week and task list could be easily displayed. Once the week (or whatever) is set, the user moves to calendar view and starts knocking items off the list. (I am also quite fond of checkboxes ~ did I do what I was supposed to?) This system would eliminate the worst part of current calendar abilities: Tasks can only be placed on the calendar on their DUE DATE! Who waits until the due date to start a task? (Rhetorical, but NOT ME!)

    I did a small survey of people I work with asking how much they would pay for my app. Four would try it if it was free. Three were not interested as they do not use this kind of tool at all. One would pay $30 for it. While the sample size is too small to say anything quantitative, there is an important trend. Most people will not be interested in the app, and many will try it if it is free. A few will pay a large amount (compared to other calendar apps) assuming the thing works, doesn’t crash, etc. I myself would pay at least $20 for such an app. This should be our target market: People who really like calendars and schedules and goals and order. These people are willing to pay large amounts of money for tools that work. Get Things Done (for Outlook) is popular, costs almost $80, and does not look all that useful to me. (Of course, I don’t use outlook.)

    In investigating current apps (iOS), the closest I can find to this sort of task management integration is Smart Cal ($4.99) by Left Coast Logic. In reading the customer reviews, it became apparent that the tasks are assigned by the computer, not by the user. My idea would put the task management into the user’s hands. Additionally, there are lots of complaints about crashing. The iPad version may not be any better.

    Also, the Schedule Planner Pro by Intersog (Free) allows the user to create events and tasks, which then display in a list format. Unfortunately, all entries in the list take the same space, so that the amount of time an event will take is missing, as well as how long there is between events. If a task needs more than one time slot, it must be entered separately. Syncing the calendar was also clumsy (I have not succeeded). Even so, this app is at the top of the free productivity apps. This would indicate that people are really searching for a better task/calendar integration system. There are also two paid calendar apps and a grocery list app in the top 25 productivity. No calendar apps appear in the top 25 overall. We could change that.

  6. RoundTable:

    This app is a discussion based application that allows users to create a topic and have friends, or random people, give their input. The idea is that friends can have discussions about all different things in one centralized location.

    A user will log in via facebook or twitter and through these outlets will have easy access to invite friends to RoundTable discussions. There will also be an option to create a public discussion where people on the RoundTable network will be able to add their opinion to your discussion topic. For example, say there is a movie you want to see but don’t know anything about it, you can create an open discussion and have get opinions from anyone on the RoundTable network.

    The main screen will prompt you to either go to a discussion in progress or create a new one. Once you go to a discussion, you will be taken to the RoundTable screen.

    The RoundTable screen will be a large, round table, and the users will be placed around the table as they enter the conversation. People at the table will be identified by either their user name or, if they download the paid version, their custom avatar. When you tap on that user’s name, avatar, Their notes on the topic will pop up. Users can then give a thumbs up or thumbs down if they like or dislike the comment or suggestion made by the user. The top rated and lowest rated comments will be automatically displayed in the RoundTable lobby of that discussion. And in their comments, users will be able to add links to outside sources, such as the website for a restaurant they are suggesting, and they will also be able to create a googlemaps location that will show up in the comment if they choose to.

    This app can be used as a pure discussion based tool (like the movie example above), or as a social or business decision making tool.

    Social Example:

    It’s Friday night and friends are planning to go out on the town. However, no one can decide where to go for dinner. Normally, people would be texting back and forth and usually these texts don’t allow everyone to get their opinions in. In RoundTable, a person will start a discussion entitled “Where should we eat tonight?” (there will also be a little description that further explains the topic such as: “let’s all plan on meeting wherever we decide at 7”, that will pop up if you tap on the center of the table where the topic is located?See attached, poorly drawn picture.) Then, the user will invite all the friends he/she is planning to attend. Then, everyone can have their own say in the conversation and decide where to go for dinner.

    Business Example:

    A business that has people that do not work in a central office can use this to get their employees to weigh in on a decision without having to organize a time consuming meeting.

    For a poorly made drawing of what the app could look like, please give me an email address to send it to.

    Monetization:

    The free version of the app will have banner ads running across the top, the paid version will be ad free. There will also be in app purchases that will allow for customization of the background, table, and users will be able to create an avatar that can sit at the table and will be able to change this avatar via in app purchasing as well.

  7. RoundTable:

    This app is a discussion based application that allows users to create a topic and have friends, or random people, give their input. The idea is that friends can have discussions about all different things in one centralized location.

    A user will log in via facebook or twitter and through these outlets will have easy access to invite friends to RoundTable discussions. There will also be an option to create a public discussion where people on the RoundTable network will be able to add their opinion to your discussion topic. For example, say there is a movie you want to see but don’t know anything about it, you can create an open discussion and have get opinions from anyone on the RoundTable network.

    The main screen will prompt you to either go to a discussion in progress or create a new one. Once you go to a discussion, you will be taken to the RoundTable screen.

    The RoundTable screen will be a large, round table, and the users will be placed around the table as they enter the conversation. People at the table will be identified by either their user name or, if they download the paid version, their custom avatar. When you tap on that user’s name, avatar, Their notes on the topic will pop up. Users can then give a thumbs up or thumbs down if they like or dislike the comment or suggestion made by the user. The top rated and lowest rated comments will be automatically displayed in the RoundTable lobby of that discussion. And in their comments, users will be able to add links to outside sources, such as the website for a restaurant they are suggesting, and they will also be able to create a googlemaps location that will show up in the comment if they choose to.

    This app can be used as a pure discussion based tool (like the movie example above), or as a social or business decision making tool.

    Social Example:

    It’s Friday night and friends are planning to go out on the town. However, no one can decide where to go for dinner. Normally, people would be texting back and forth and usually these texts don’t allow everyone to get their opinions in. In RoundTable, a person will start a discussion entitled “Where should we eat tonight?” (there will also be a little description that further explains the topic such as: “let’s all plan on meeting wherever we decide at 7”, that will pop up if you tap on the center of the table where the topic is located?See attached, poorly drawn picture.) Then, the user will invite all the friends he/she is planning to attend. Then, everyone can have their own say in the conversation and decide where to go for dinner.

    Business Example:

    A business that has people that do not work in a central office can use this to get their employees to weigh in on a decision without having to organize a time consuming meeting.

    For a poorly made drawing of what the app could look like, please give me an email address to send it to.

    Monetization:

    The free version of the app will have banner ads running across the top, the paid version will be ad free. There will also be in app purchases that will allow for customization of the background, table, and users will be able to create an avatar that can sit at the table and will be able to change this avatar via in app purchasing as well.

  8. Really awesome post.

    My idea for an app is “Call Center Madness”, a “whack your boss”-clone, which is Android app, where you basically can find out 20 ways to kill your boss.

    Every time you click on a piece of office equipment you you see another violent sequence of the employee killing the boss and let’s face it who didn’t like to kick the ass of his boss in real life. The Android App has more than 1 million downloads and the iphone app “Kick the boss” has been ranking #1 in the categories arcade,action and top games as well as top apps in April 2012.

    So who else is very annoying and deserves a beating, which you would never do in real life but love to see on your iphone? Call center agents – that’s right! So I would also have a cartoon style design with a guy who gets called goes mad and goes from room to room in a call center. Every room looks different, as they are trying to sell different stuff. In addition to finding out all killing ways there will also be combos.

    Regarding the monetization, I go for a free version with upgrade for more rooms and in-game buys for hints to find out all combos/kills (I know it will be out there in the internet at some point but will just make additional money on impulse).

    That’s it 😉

    -Gerd

  9. **Contest Submission**

    After reading Chad’s article, the first thing that came to my mind was “I should finally turn Noval into an app!” Noval is a card game I created while in the military. Card games are a normal part of military down-time and I was able to piece together elements of various games to create Noval and then tested it over the years with dozens of my comrades. The common response was “it’s kind of like UNO, but much more addictive” – so after I got out I decided it was time to bring my game to market. I’d read Tim’s book 3 times and listened to the audio version several other times, but still I went against his advice and immediately quit my job and sank $25k into a full printing of the game and a trip to Toy Fair to show it off – not smart. I’ve been able to sell several hundred and win an award, but nothing like I expected – people (especially kids) do love it but now the feedback is “this would make a great app” …d’oh! So I’ve spent the last couple days since this article posted looking at other card game apps (UNO and Phase10 are the most popular). With the right social functionality and the great game mechanics I’ve developed – Noval will be quite popular …and much cheaper to develop.

    Thanks for all the insight and incredible information – good luck to everyone with building your app empires!

  10. Contest submission:

    “Remember when” app – takes random photos posted or tagged on Facebook, Pinterest, etc. and displays them at random. Allows you to click through if you want to comment on the photo or status or send it on to a friend.

    Social apps that are “shareable” do really well and this adds that level of nostolgia. A picture might pop up from a past trip to Italy and I could send it on to my cousin who I was traveling with at the time and say “Remember the pizza we ate that weekend, I can still smell the delciousness!”

    Research – Facebook and Pinterest are two top apps, pictures are easily shareable and evoke many emotions.

  11. The idea is to build an app ,not only  to track your biological data but also and more importantly to determine your own biological limits allowing  you to dramatically improve the detection of a biological signal and be more predictive about the occurence of a disease.

    In 3 easy steps:

    Enter your gender, date of birth and height 2. Enter your biological data and 3.You view your personalized data ranges   . As many as 24 vital biomarkers could be  available , including glucose, glycated hemoglobin, good and bad cholesterol, weight, body mass index, blood pressure, hemoglobin, heart rate etc.We will use  the same proven algorithms used in the renowned ‘Athlete Biological Passport’ for biological monitoring of elite athletes. First, the algorithms take into account your age, gender and other information you have entered in The app.This allows to compute stratified ranges. Second, the algorithms take into account the biomarker data that you entered to define your personal limits. The process is iterative and your personal limits are refined every time you enter new biomarker data. This exciting technology can be made available to you so that you can enter biological data to determine your own personal limits.You can also share the monitoring of your personal biological data with your medical doctor to improve your health and live better whilst keeping control of your health.Coool?

  12. OVERVIEW: an app that shows all EVENTS going on in any specific location and date / time.

    In other words, you open the app and fill out this information: zip code, distance from zip code you are willing to travel (5 miles, 10 miles, 20 miles, etc.), the date (and time), size preference (50-100 people, 101-500 people, 501-1000 people, etc.), and an optional category box where you check off all types of events you want to include in results.

    Here are the events categories:

    wine tasting

    seminars

    concerts

    sporting events

    festivals

    protests

    town meetings

    parties/functions

    college/school meetings

    school level sports

    fraternity/sorority

    special interest club meetings

    ladies nights

    job fairs

    performing arts

    ALL

    The results page shows all specifics for info above (zip code, distance, date and time, size of event / anticipated guests, and category), plus cost, details, venue / location, whether the event repeats (weekly, monthly) or not, some level of measuring how good the event is (Facebook “likes” and “shares”) and other details, like a link to the event website, pictures, etc. (the Facebook “likes” and “shares” serve as promotion for the website).

    ______________________________________

    PROBLEMS THIS APP SOLVES: This app solves typical scenarios like:

    Group of friends going out at night: “We’re going to the same bar we go to every Friday night…can’t we do something new? What else is going on in this city?” They end up at same bar.

    Group of friends during the day: “I’m so bored! Let’s do something!” “Like what?” They watch TV.

    Group of friends on road trip: “Well we’re here! Now what?” “I don’t know…what is there to do in this city?” They end up at a bunch of tourist spots that are lame.

    A couple on date night: “It’s Friday and we’re both off…what should we do!” They can’t think of anything and stay home.

    You get the idea of why this would be so useful for people looking for new things to do.

    _______________________________________

    EXECUTION / MARKETING:

    The beauty if this app (and unlike all other events apps, websites, etc.) is that this one would be USER-GENERATED content. Just about every major website / app category has user generated content…Facebook for social, Yelp for restaurant / business reviews, Amazon for products, etc. The most successful and best ones are all user-generated.

    The main providers of the content would be the promoters of events – they would have to register for an account. They would do so gladly, however, because (most) people promoting events want as much exposure for their events as possible. A regular user does not need to sign up for a profile, they can just use it. This is great because people have such fatigue over signing up and registering for so many services – this one just works instantly without having to register.

    With this app, we are targeting fairly large events going on (not random get-togethers between friends or small parties, etc.).

    Also, to get the ball rolling, we can autofeed information into our system from major events companies like Ticketmaster, Livenation, etc. Once the app grows into a small user base and word starts getting around, the promoters will start adding more content and the app will become more useful. Users will also have the option to follow their favorite promoters, etc.

    In other words, promoters of events and participants of events will do a lot of the marketing for us.

    ______________________________________________

    MONETIZATION:

    This app can be monetized in MANY different ways (although testing would be required to figure out the best one).

    1. Affiliate commissions through ticket sales directly through app.

    2. Sponsored events to show up at top of results.

    3. Advertising on the app itself.

    4. Charge for the app itself is an option (although I would probably keep it free).

    5. A combination of the options above.

    Basically, events draw a lot of people (and therefore, draw a lot of money).

    _____________________________________________

    I have a screenshot of what the main “results screen” would look like, but couldn’t put it in this reply box!

    If I am being considered as a finalist, please email me and I will send it over!

    Mike Omar

    P.S. – This is the first time I’ve ever commented, but I wanted to mention that the four hour work week changed my life – the past two years I’ve been living off of a passive income business I developed based on some of your teachings from that book (nothing mind blowing, but enough to get by and now I have FREEDOM!). Can’t thank you enough!

  13. Great Post!!! Very inspiring. I have had a lot of great App ideas recently and this post really hit home for getting the wheels in motion. I have a complete business plan and strategic outline I can provide upon request.

    The Idea in a nutshell: Create a Travel App for Vacation Rentals that searches the major vacation rental sites at once and provides you the top results based on Rates, availability, location and reviews. Think Kayak for Vacation rentals.

    Would love the opportunity to talk further!

    Tyler

  14. Thanks for this article I am sooo hungry for this and I have been wanting to get in to the app market for so long but i have been too scared and too poor to even try.

    I have a lot of ideas for apps but this is one of my ideas that I think can really be helpful to customers. Its a review app that pushes notification to the user based on the the location they arrive at. They need to first turn the push notification on. Then for example lets say they walk into a restaurant they will then be pushed a notification on there phone telling the the ratio of positive to negative reviews on that restaurant. When they access the the app it will show comments on the place such as try a certain dish or terrible wait staff. This app would be driven by the costumers themselves for content but If enough people participate they could really become a useful tool.

    I would call the app iRate.

  15. Hi Chad & Tim,

    Thanks for what you’re doing, I think it’s great when the barriers and excuses are removed for people – good things tend to happen.

    My app idea is to create a mobile listing tool for real estate professionals, allowing them create, manage, and send well-designed listings to clients and customers without having to go back to the office.

    More detail here: http://goo.gl/Yd0IN

    Mockup here: http://goo.gl/O5Uzy

    Thanks!

  16. Dear Chad,

    Here is an idea: Simple and easy is what im thinking but I haven’t been a member of the app building club. My idea is drawing on post it note. This app will let you draw multiple drawings over a set of post its(like I used to do when I was a kid, and still do). And you finish it you will be able to play back and edit what you like. Sounds fun and simple and Hopefully you read this.

    Thanks again,

    Sam

  17. Thank you so much for this article – it is invaluable advice and given me the confidence to start developing my own apps.

    My idea for the competition is an argument app – for those who want to vent their anger, blow off steam, get something off their chest or just get better at arguing. The app has different characters you can argue against depending on what mood you are in or how you feel – example characters are street thug, grumpy granny, snooty boss – you essentially verbally battle against each character and score points against them, or them against you depending on what you say (type) and how well you argue or insult each other.

    The character gets larger and larger till it’s in your face and wins – or you beat it with your words till it runs away. Revenue can be made by buying extra characters. There can also be a ‘clean’ or ‘adult’ version depending on the use of swear words and phrases allowed.

    This will be a great way to let off steam, it can be cathartic or just a bit of fun :))

    Hope you like! 🙂

  18. Added to my previous comment – the argument app, the app could be made into a game, you start off with an easy arguing partner, a junior schooler for example, and go up a level each time and battle harder characters, a soccer mom, a mafia boss etc till you complete each level and eventually become an argument expert and win the whole game :)))

  19. Dear Chad and Tim –

    I think this is a great contest and an awesome blog post but like many others here I am worried about having my idea ‘stolen’. Don’t get me wrong…I feel that collaboration and thinking out loud is beneficial for brainstorming, fine-tuning etc but usually within the confines of a trusted group of friends or partners. As much as I want to believe in the altruistic nature of humans, I think the app world is like any other world…dog eat dog…except at 7 times the rate. 🙂

    You mentioned that ‘my success in the app store came from emulating successful apps. In other words, borrowing proven ideas and trying to make them better’ but were those great ideas you built upon disclosed for the world to read first? My idea definitely borrows from proven ideas from several different apps in a way that is unique and extremely useful, but I just can’t get myself to spill my brainchild’s beans.

    As much as I’d like to participate in this (not even for the sake of winning) with a bunch of creative people with some truly awesome ideas, I think I’ll refrain since the rules have already been set. However, when and if you decide to run a second contest that offers more disclosure protection, I’ll be the first in line!

    Keep up the great work!

    -Tankstar

  20. Thanks for writing Chris,

    My app idea, created only today after researching the market:

    Name: Addictive slots

    What it is: A slot machine game with very cutsey graphics. 5 different slots (each with different graphics, odds, gambles, bonuses, and lines) and a plethora of powerups (such as slowing down the slot so you can pick when to stop the spin, double odds of winning, etc) given out randomly & for purchase.

    Why it has a chance: Social slot machine games are rapidly growing right now. Several of the top 50 grossing apps are gambling. Two are slot machine games, but they aren’t all that fun. Two of the fastest growing facebook games are slot machine based. The creation of such a game is not complex.

    Revenue Model: Free download, allow users to buy coins. Coins regenerate every hour, but the game includes money sinks like powerups and of course, gambling.

  21. I’ve got a terrific idea for an app that meets all of the requirements in Chads post.

    The Problem: Millions of iPhone users still can’t access their work email on the iPhone because the IT department won’t allow IMAP access to their Outlook exchange server. So they are stuck using the horrible Outlook webmail interface in Safari. I know this sucks from experience.

    The solution: An App that uses the webmail connection instead of IMAP to retrieve the user’s Outlook mail and calendar items. This is a much better experience for the user.

    Business viability: There are already apps that do this in the app store. In fact one of them (Outlook Web Email) is number 13 in the top paid business apps. So we know there is a market for this. I currently use that app and it is usable, if unexciting and lacking in some important functionality. The current apps in this space have boring design similar to the native mail app, and limited calendar functions. Outlook Webmail, for instance, doesn’t have a week view, only day and month. Everyone knows week view is the most useful.

    My app proposal: An app with the functionality described, but a UI that borrows from the best UI designs in the app store. An email component that is as fun an intuitive as Sparrow and Tweetbot, and a calendar component that shows a week view in landscape mode like the native calendar app.

    While aiming initially for the set of users that can’t connect to their work email directly with the native apps, the goal would be a design that is so appealing it would be the app of choice for Outlook users.

  22. Best article on the internet today. I wish I had this a year ago when I started in this business. If someone is interested in creating an app, this should be your bible. I am going to print this post and place this under my pillow ever night.

    OneBasketball is a new app on the iTunes market that has a rating of 5 stars. We just hit the market recently, and we would love to get feedback on our idea. The idea came about when we were researching the top three reason on why basketball players all over the world do not train effectively and efficiently. These problems are:

    1). They do not know exactly what to do

    2). They don’t know how to train effectively and efficiently

    3). They do not have the ability to track their progress

    This application solves these problems.

    OneBasketball is the first-of-its kind and the most comprehensive mobile basketball training system ever created.

    140+ drills with video demonstrations and step by step instructions for each

    16 fully structured progressive workouts to guide you to become the complete player

    Revolutionary “Shot Tracker” system that allows you to record and track your progress for each drill

    All drills can be performed by one player, with one ball, on one basket which allows the athlete to improve anywhere anytime

    The main reason why we are posting in this competition is because we are struggling with the marketing of the application due to lack of funds. We also want to expand into the Android OS market, considering they have a huge market share of the mobile app industry.

    The basketball market is growing exponentially and is at the same rate of the mobile app industry.

    According to FIBA, 450 million play basketball in grass roots or in an organized way in 2010.

    There are 882,342 total men’s basketball players across the Junior High School, High School, and College levels in the United States.

    There are 738,707 women’s basketball players across the Junior High School, High School, and College levels in the United States.

    Here is our Promotional video with screen shots of our application:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WBhEEV33bU

    iTunes URL for screen shots and extended description:

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/onebasketball/id486259384?mt=8

  23. Excellent post. Only wish we could publish our app ideas privately!

    Anyways im happy to share my idea(s)

    Two app ideas have been playing around in my head for some time, and ive done a bit of mock design on them both also. Plans can be provided.

    Ill keep it short and simple.

    1) Serial Number Vault:

    Allows users to store serial numbers (text or photos), purchase dates, invoice numbers etc of expensive assest in their house. Some similar apps are around for this allready, but none are simple to use, and have to ability to access your database without you phone via a webpage. Excellent for company assest tracking and personal insurance use. – If your house burns down your not going to have receipts on hand…

    2) Crime & Threat notifications:

    People can (easily) post, using geolocations, recent crimes and threats are their neighborhood that have occurred, anyone within a 5-10km radius of that geolocation with the app gets the notification also. (alot more detail on this but ill hold back). This is personally, i think a real stunner…firstly it can be used globally and secondly, just look at the amount of crimes and threats in any given country per day.

    I have done a fair bit of work on this already (number 2), including market research, design, database design, and webportal also and would love the ability to take it further with funding.

    Thanks again for the great post.

    C

  24. Great article! One thing that struck me sideways a little was that you pointed out to always have a programmer sign a NDA before releasing or sharing any sensitive info about your App and then you post a contest where you ask people to disclose their App ideas to the world! Is it just me or is that slightly contradictory in nature and how does one reconcile that? Thanks!

  25. Great article – I just downloaded your book on iBooks.

    App Idea: Message Plus

    Message Plus improves on iMessage and What’s App by:

    Adding in status updates like BBM

    Allowing users to add pictures like BBM

    Adding location services to be alerted if your friends are near by – this adds an entire social element to the app. “Tom, I was just notified that you are 1 mile away. We are at the sports bar watching football – come join us”. This also encourages you to have your friends download the app.

    Add Voxer functionality

    Free version operates as a standalone app.

    Paid version allows you to message through to other users iMessage, What’s App and other popular messaging services within the app. This means that the user only uses your app and is much more convenient than having to jump from iMessage to What’s App etc.

    iMessage and What’s App are two of the most used daily apps on the iPhone and this app improves on them both.

  26. My app idea is an extension of the QR functionality.

    So in a movie theater there is always some trivia for the movie your about to see, right? Instead of the minute long trivia filler, a QR code floats the screen… It changes angles and planes in frames so that everyone in the theater can have a straight on angle for their phone to register (crude bar napkin sketches available upon request). Once a phone picks up the code, it transfers them to a website where that movie’s triva opens up. Your first time the site will ask to register. Questions in the trivia are much more in depth than standard moive trivia. The results will be posted to our website for any browser to access; and users can choose whether to post to their Facebook.

    Though this sounds like a browser based endeavor utilizing QR and less like an app, the app ability boseomes useful when you have the ability to access your score while in the theater. The app can also recognize your theater and location, leading to marketing via the specific theater, geographic location, or movie genre. I have other diagrams, details, goodies to suggest if interested.

  27. Contest Entry:

    A social app that lets you create an event (party), invite your friends and coordinate who will bring what.

    Users will have the ability to add all of their friends on the app. User will create an event and send out an invitation to all their friends or selected friends. Event creator will also have the ability to create a registry for things they would like invited guests to bring to the event (beer, wine, food, entertainment). Invited guests will be able to reserve items on the registry that they would like to bring.

    App will send reminders to invited guests as the party approaches. It will also remind them that they need to buy their selected item on the registry. Once they have purchased the item, they can update the registry item to a status of purchased to let the planner know the item will be at the event.

    Monetization Opportunity:

    Sell advertising to businesses that provide items listed event registries. If a user has registered to bring guacamole to their friend’s party, they might see an ad for the best guacamole in town.

  28. ~Contest Submission~

    A Habit Training app

    There are a number of apps that try to train the users out of bad habits or into good habits. Most of the habit-trainers are cumbersome and overpriced.

    The idea is to create an app that is fun to use and affordable. It will reward the user for continuing good habits. This will create a upward cycle of positivity.

    The app will also try to motivate the user through various means.

    It will have a great graphical design that will keep the user coming back to check on how heshe is doing.

    It will give instant (or near-instant) gratification to the user (the kind everybody craves nowadays). Turning the relatively boring task of making good habits into a game. This will help to keep himher on track with making the new habit stick (or bad habit fade)

    Could add a social element (tie into existing social platforms, maybe), keeping a group of selected friendsusers to be notified by the app when doing well. This will allow people to motivate each other by telling the person how well they are doing and to ‘keep up the good work’

    keywords: new habits, habit, trainer, tracker, quit smoking, exercising, motivation, productivity, new-years resolution, etc

    This app will appeal to people that are trying to better themselves and would do well all-year round (especially new-years when resolutions are being made)

    Thanks for the opportunity

    Dan Coleman

  29. Contest Submission

    App Name: “Undecided”

    What is it?

    This app recommends an activity from a database of activies for people who are bored, planning events or have some time to kill.

    The best feature is that users can search for activities based on gender, weather and mood/occasion. This allows the user to get far more relevant suggestions and tailor their results to their current situation – which similar apps fail to provide.

    There are 3 nominal options for refining your results:

    – Gender (Male, Female, Unisex)

    – Weather (Sun, snow, wind and rain)

    – Mood/Occasion (Dating, Partying, Socialising, Relaxing, Exercising and Creating).

    The User can refine their results by choosing an option from one or all 3 of the options – from very broad (choosing unisex gender only) to very refined (selecting gender, weather and mood/occasion).

    Some rough sketches

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/80327682@N00/6968668400/in/photostream

    This first page is a simple design containing the logo, name and very simple instructions with a “Begin” button.

    The second page displays the nominal selection options of Gender, Weather and Mood/Activity. One can select the options they choose (1-3) and then hit “Go”, or they can clear their selections with a shake or second touch.

    The third screen will come up with a suggestion, and a new suggestion can be displayed with a shake of the phone.

    Suggestions have the options of:

    – Adding comments to a suggestion (E.g. add an address or place name to a suggestion such as “go for Chinese food” or “Play Beer Pong”)

    – Adding a new suggestion to the database +

    – Adding a suggestion to a “to do list” which could be placed on screen 1 or 3 for things people want to do in the future.

    – An X button to hide the suggestion from future suggestions (for example “do some gardening” is useless for those without a garden or access to one)

    – A Find button that can link a place or activity with google maps to locate the closest available options.

    Although this is not emulating top apps based on concept, the app can incorporate sleek UI concepts found in some of the top Apps today, such as Clear, making it fun to use.

    This concept outlined above is by no means exhaustive, and more options could be added. But, for the puspose of the submission, I have kept it simple.

    Thanks

  30. Pick’n iT-Perfect Fit

    Unlike other fashion guru apps, this one is a custom fit for any shape or size! This app, will increase the accountability of being an accurate look, style, and fit. It’s one of a kind, something even grandparents could have fun fiddling around with. Remember the time when going to the local shopping stores was fun and relaxing. Now, there are so many people, cluttered dressing rooms and not to mention all the crowded parking lots, it seems like where ever you go, everything turns into more then just a 15 minute trip. That is why I came up with the idea, a Virtual Dressing Room. Online shopping and over the internet purchasing will never again be the same, I don’t know why the idea has not been imported already! You may never want to leave your room or computer screen again, except to answer the door.

    Let me lay it out and you may take it as it is, a changer of ways.

    The Virtual Dressing Room would be featured in mobile shopping category; an app featuring name brand clothing or various accessories from stores and styles. Now, let me first explain my pattern of thinking, this app allows you to upload a picture of yourself or measurements conducting a similar body figure, so you may try on clothing over the internet. Yes, you heard correctly, a virtual way of trying on clothing, before purchasing them, over the internet. The two choices for doing so would be to take a picture of your full body in a tank top and shorts(to get the idea of the person’s body shape), or enter your measurements; such as height, weight, and width in certain areas. The program then can identify the person on a individual basis. The data in which the customer imports is then, given options of trying on different materials of clothing from various wardrobe companies. I realize it may be difficult to formulate such a endeavoring code. But, then again we do work with the most brilliant minds of our time, all I know is that it can be done and evidently it shall become a daily tool we will seemingly use.

    Everybody wants to be an individual, when going through all these pictures of models and cartoons, none of them really gives us as human beings our own satisfaction. We go on wondering oh, she has my cheeks, but my nose is bigger or my hips are wider. How is your sweater going to look if every time you buy it over the internet, you make someone else try it on? It doesn’t make sense and the concluding matter is a rather silly mistake.The idea isn’t to banish models world-wide, the idea is to become our own clothing models. Trying on what we are attracted too and fitting it custom to our body type. Where the customers have the power of conducting their own clothing photo ops, virtually, they get to be their own models for the clothing they wish to purchase. Among other things, dress up is rather a fun sport!

    Everybody wants a good style and different looks, individuals wants to wear and rock it in their own category of flare. Fashion is always changing and technology is always growing and this is something that can be very beneficial to consumers world-wide. It especially is going to revolutionize the way Agoraphobics’ do their commercial shopping! No fear.

    People pay to be different and to stand out. What better way is there then to have a little you trying on your clothes as a virtual avatar model. Many of the beauty apps out there you will find yourselves wondering which model looks more like you, if they share the same body type or facial features. Ultimately, we all have unique body masses and structure’s that no one can really replace the fact that we don’t all look the same. There are several dress up applications that use dress up models and clothes that are cartooned, but this is real life and we need real life dress up, now! i guarantee, that when people use this app, they will have no choice but to buy, buy, buy!

  31. Great article Chad and action inducing as well.

    In the link is my quick pitch for an emoji creation app. Emoji is successful as is well known and literally everyone I know has the app on their phone and uses it daily. It’s going off your suggestion on taking something that is out there and taking it to the next level.

    https://vimeo.com/41055228

    Thanks again!

  32. Great turnout so far, it actually took a very long time for my browser to render the page. That’s saying something.

    But, onward for my entry:

    APP IDEA

    Using the wonderful SCAMPER Technique, I finally settled on Eliminate – I’d like to eliminate as many features from the standard camera app as possible.

    The Polaroid camera was a hit for a reason – it was fast and easy to use, and I’ve heard numerous complaints along the lines of ‘How do I use this app’ from the elderly, to teens saying “I’m just waiting for my camera app to load.”

    With that in mind, I figured it would be an obvious solution –

    *No interface elements.

    *Tap anywhere on the screen to take a photo.

    *Defaults to the rear-facing camera

    *Stripped down interface and features should significantly decrease load-time.

    *Anyone can use it. Just like a Polaroid camera.

    One last point to consider for the app – camera apps are some of the most-downloaded apps (free and paid) on both the Apple and Android marketplaces. Most suffer from feature-bloat.

    MARKETING/PROFIT

    Let’s face it, it would probably need to be a free app, but one nag screen could be included after first use, then another nag screen per update to ask for developer donations.

    If nothing else, the nag screen could offer a platform for the development and marketing of new apps.

    As long as the nag screens don’t interrupt the user when they’re trying to take that split-second photo of their ferret twisted into an impossible shape, I don’t think it would bother the end-user.

  33. App Contest Entry: Call Sheet Iphone App for Indie Filmmakers

    App Description: Sends call sheets out to actors and crew containing all of the details for a film shoot on the following day.

    Main Competitor: Pocket Call Sheet – Price $6.99

    Competitor App Info: Pocket Call Sheet was featured in MovieMaker Magazine and many other indie film magazines. It’s a widely used Iphone/Ipad app among indie filmmakers and producers. There are no competing Call Sheet apps out there.

    Competitor App Cons: Learning curve. Too much info to enter. Time consuming. Confusing for cast & crew to read. Doesn’t send out text messages. Doesn’t support photos or videos. It’s not micro-budget friendly.

    My Call Sheet App Competitive Edge: I am an established indie filmmaker and founder of a small indie production company in Boston. I use Pocket Call Sheet (competitor’s app) every day. Many of my filmmaking friends use it and complain about it. Pocket Call Sheet is designed for larger production where it’s normal to spend 30-90 minutes sending out a call sheet. I want it done in 2 minutes. Maybe we should call it “2 Minute Call Sheet.” Haha. My Call Sheet app will have a simple user interface that’s fun, easy use and easy to read on the receiving end.

    I have been making movies for 8 years and I love going out to shoot. It’s like a high for me preparing for my next shoot date, packing my gear and sending out call sheets. I want to make that experience better. I will put just as much passion into the Call Sheet app if you give me the opportunity. Thank you for considering me as a winner for this contest!

    Readers: Please comment if you like my idea to help me get noticed by Chad and Tim. Thank you very much.

    My Video Pitch:

    http://vimeo.com/41062794

  34. Marty’s AMAZING APP IDEA- BLINGBLING! (Billy Mays, the deceased Oxy Clean guy, will be your inner monologue for this pitch):-D

    BlingBling, is the hottest new app for your smart fizzle, it adds all the savings of retailmenot, group on, coupons and promotions- with out the HASTLE of surfing the web or reading your email.

    How does it work? A completely new idea on how we shop- Location Based Business Bidding. But wait, WTF is that? I’ll tell you-

    Imagine you’re walking through your local food court and you being the creature of habit, pass up all the other chow stations, for your tried and true japanese teriyaki bowl, when BLINGBLING gives you a buzz and lets you know that if your have lunch at the pizza parlor in the food court, that you can have free soda of your choosing. Think that sounds like a deal? It looks like BlingBling is also letting you know, that if you ditch teriyaki bowl, you can have a healthy fish taco with 2 sides of your choosing AND a FREE soda for 4 bucks, at Baja Fresh, also in the food court- now thats a deal. You being the healthy penny pinching suave guy you are, choose to take door number three, and find out that those fish tacos blow away your old USUAL choice away, and you are now a customer for life.

    But who wants their phone BLOWING UP ALL THE TIME? NOT ME OR YOU, thats why the BLINGBLING, has an awesome ON OFF switch right on the app start location, turn it on when you want it, off when you don’t. All you have to do, is set your market type,( food, mens/ women’s retail clothing, etc.), and turn it on when you want it. That’s right folks, just set it and forget it, flick it when your wit it!

    (Billy goes back to his grave)

    BlingBling is actually two apps- one free for your the user. And one paid one for the seller. The user can add favorites to specific merchants, and opt to receive messages constantly if they choose via push notifications. Also, the user can specify party size, it’s possible that merchants may want to advertise to bigger parities( dinner for two, families of four). Social networking could also play a role, just imagine your friend was at the mall when you made your lunch decision. The user could also send a message via Facebook, or any social network, to join the user at the fish taco spot with the current location based promotion.

    All the while, the seller is gaining customers, moving dead-stock and adding revenue by REAL TIME BIDDING for walking traffic. No more spending high dollar amounts in print media that might hit your target, use BLINGBLING to get that walking traffic NOW!(and their friends).

    Of course, this product scales to much wider markets, (retail, services, technical, educational, professional). What do you guys think?

    Blingbling- the ultimate bargin shopping experiance.

  35. Hi Tim and Chad,

    Thanks for the great post. I love it. I went out and bought Chad’s book right away and finished it by the next day.

    It was great. It got me just as excited as the 4HWW. However there is one big hurdle for me that was missing in both of the books. I am not scared of becoming a developer and I can get over the fear it would take to take the initial plung. What scares me is becoming a business owner. What kind of business types are there and what ones worked for you? What ones would you recommend when getting into the app business. What are the pitfalls of starting a business and what lessons did you learn? When is it a good idea to register your business? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Even if it’s just pointing me in the right direction.

    Thanks,

    Brad

    1. Hey Brad,

      Just noticed your post. “Starting a business” is as easy as going to Legalzoom.com or a site similar to that. You can set up a tax id number, register you business name, and cross simplistic hurdles in starting an LLC(preferred if your going to be a one man band) or S-Corp. They actually explain both on the sight in great detail. It costs under 200.00 depending on your state. and i would 100000% recommend it if you plan on “hiring” anyone for outsourcing, if you get auditted and uncle sam asks where all your dinero is coming from, youll have to buck up. They can explain the tax margins as well and how NOT to get scammed. More importantly, it protects you from legal action if somehow you violate a copyright as well and vice versa, you can choose to copyright something (that costs more) but then if someone wants to use your technology or even idea YOU can come with a dollar amount you feel its worth, obviously thats why most companies are purchased, EX: Instagram. I would set your LLC up first and move on to the next steps of brainstorming, creating, and hiring, plus you have to ability to “write off” anything that you use for starting your “business”, ie laptop. ipad, the subcontractor or programmer that requests you to take him out for a 1000.00 dinner,(seriously it happens). Its a smart choice and eventually be imperative if you pursue owning any business.

      in fact if i were chad and tim, i would have legal zoom or put an add on the site for a kickback on all the people pursing the 4 hour work week or offer copyright services, similar to an NDA, but a step further…if they read this im sure they have already considered.

  36. Hello, and thanks for the great article. I’ve had this idea for an app for a while and feel like I’m ready to make it happen.

    It’s called NameTagger. “Remember Everyone”. The Icon looks like a “Hello My Name Is” name tag, and the purpose of the app is to help you remember people’s names. It’s really important to me to start off on the right foot with the people I meet, and there’s no mood killer like the awkward, “tell me your name again…”

    In the app, you enter peoples names as you meet them, and the app uses location GPS to drop a pin in a map, which is stored in a database for later recall. At the map screen you have the option of typing in a location name “Bob’s house”, etc. or picking from location names provided by facebook registered check-in points.

    The next screen asks you “Add to contacts?” Selecting “Yes” takes you to your address book. On this page eventually I want to have the option to publish your meeting to facebook or twitter.

    Lastly, you’ll be able to search your tags by list, like an address book (names or places sorted) or by map (imagine pins all over your local map of places where you met people)

    I currently use evernote to do this adhoc, but I find it cumbersome. I know they have a similar app, but the amount of information you have to fill out is creepy for a first encounter. Also, they suggest you take a picture of your new acquaintance. Great way to end a friendship before it starts.

    I’ve seen other apps that try to do this, but are designed poorly. I also see apps like Namerick, which was featured in Wired magazine, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and it is just a memory trainer. I don’t want to train my memory. I want my phone to remember everyone I meet. It should be quick and simple and fun.

    I can’t wait to get started.

    PS -I have layouts of the app pages available upon request.

  37. An app that connects locals in a city to visitors that share their interests. For a fee, those local residents can take those visitors around and introduce them to experiences they might have missed otherwise, or just give them a locals perspective instead of the typical tourist traps.

    It’s like AirBnB for experiences.

  38. NightPass is positioned to be the premier stop for bargoers nationwide when planning their night out. NightPass will serve as an e-commerce marketplace and social network for bargoers to research, plan, and pay for their nights. Customers can research cover and bottle prices, expected crowds, nightly events and music, user reviews, and available tables. After deciding on a bar, users can pay for covers and bottle service using PayPal and use services such as FastPass to skip the line, all on each bar’s specific page. While the current process for planning a night out involves searching the internet for deals in your area with limited information on each bar website or contacting promoters at specific venues, NightPass will serve as a one-stop hub for researching entertainment options in your area, a fast and convenient way to connect with other bargoers in your area, and paying ahead for your night. Concordantly, NightPass will enable business owners to connect with their customers more specifically through daily and instant deals and events, while specifically targeting new customers. Revenues for NightPass will be driven through advertisers, transaction fees, and a percentage of daily deals.

    -Interactive Table Finder and Reservation System: This will enable bars to add a floor plan of the available tables, with the availability operating in real-time. This will allow users to carefully select and compare tables at your club before purchasing.

    -Online Transactions: This will enable customers to pay for bottle service and table fees ahead of time using credit cards or PayPal accounts.

    -FastPass: This will enable customers to pay for covers and set an arrival time online. Customers will be able to skip the line and need for an ATM, while bars will be able to plan for influxes of crowds throughout the night using this tool. Ticketing at the door would be similar to Megabus’ strategy (list of all confirmed confirmation, bargoer shows on phone, checked off the list).

    -Daily/Instant Deals: Barowners can offer daily deals similar to GroupOn’s model, specifically directed to whichever users they prefer. Barowners can also instantly send deals to users anytime, letting them in on deals. This model is similar to LivingSocial’s InstantDeals system, in which bars can set a deal only a few hours beforehand with a short expiration time. For example, a bar using the system could see low attendance expected for a night, so they could send out an instant deal for the night to specific users, offering a deal such as an “all you can drink” event or “no cover.”

    -Point Systems: NightPass will track the bars you’ve been (you can set as private). Users can collect “points” at each bar, enabling them promotions (example: X points gets you free cover).

    -Multimedia: Night pass will enable barowners and users to upload videos and pictures from events, as well as music samples and videos for upcoming bands.

    -DJ Playlist: Bars can choose to display the “last five songs” played throughout the night at a bar. Users will quickly be able to check a bar’s music scene for that specific night, rather than just a broad genre on a website.

    -Real-time feedback- Users will be rewarded points each time they comment on a bar’s scene. When deciding on a night out, users can see exactly what bargoers are saying while they are that establishment, rather than relying on outdated yelp reviews.

    -SmartPhone Application: Barowners and users can use the free NightPass app, which will have all the functions of the website including payment options. InstantDeals will be shown on a map wherever the user is in the city. The application will also have POS interfacing capability, similar to the TabbedOut application currently being used in Columbus, Ohio. Participating bars will allow customers to keep track of and close personal tabs via the application.

    THE MARKET:

    As a $20 billion industry with 45,000 establishments nationwide and growing, the nightlife market represents a huge untapped opportunity for a network. Social networking has grown 24% in the last year, while the bar and club sector is again growing after several down years. The core target market for users of NightPass are aged 21-30, single, white collar individuals living in urban areas with disposable income with salaries of $35,000 and above. Our core individual travels in groups, has ample free time, and is a fun-seeking, smart-shopping, and trend-setting individual. While this is the core markets, events supported by NightPass including bachelor parties and bar mitzvahs will incorporate other groups as well.

  39. Photo Duel

    Is a real time test of observation and speed between you and a friend or up the ante and challenge all your friends.

    After signing into Photo Duel you choose your opponent(s) through a list of other who have downloaded Photo Duel (a la Draw Something).

    When your opponents are selected you send them the challenge.

    The selected parties receive a glove slap message challenging them to a Photo Duel.

    Your opponent(s) can either “Defend Your Honor” or “Run Away”.

    Once they’ve accepted both you and your opponent(s) will receive prep screens that will count down from 10.

    After 1, a zoomed in photograph will be appear with the 5 different options of what it might be. Photo Duel will slowly zoom out revealing more of the photo. The first person in the duel to correctly identify the photograph wins.

    The app will come in different versions:

    Lite: will be free but have half the photographs so that it’s more likely to have repeats, and it will have ads while the players prepare to duel.

    Paid: will offer more photographs and not have ads.

    With the dueling theme, multiple versions of the game can be released based on the same concept different photographs and art work associated with the different version: Western, Elizabethan, Samurai, Skulls etc.

    The option of crowd sourcing would be a great feature in the game too, giving the players the opportunity to take their own pictures to be added to the game and then downloaded by others to use.

    Here are some quick drawings of what I’m thinking of:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/77657850@N02/6969674092/in/photostream

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/77657850@N02/7115754597/in/photostream

  40. TIM! These posts just keep getting better somehow!

    Here is my app I created for $500: Political Party Scanner Pro

    It was meant to be a joke app to get in on the election drama of 2012.

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/political-party-scanner-pro/id464760923?mt=8

    The app takes a picture or scans a picture to see if someone or something is a Republican or Democrat.

    For a youtube view: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODC431dMkoE

    I’ve marketed it on some app review sites, but am currently trying to get it into the mainstream press and on some political blogs.

    Chad, how would you market this app?

    I know the UI could be better, but it only costs me $500.

    THANKS!!!

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/political-party-scanner-pro/id464760923?mt=8

    Political Party Scanner Pro

  41. When was the last time you interviewed a plumber by asking him to plaster your wall? I can’t see how asking a developer to design your app logo is going to help in the slightest.

    It belittles both developers and designers to think that “it’s all the same”. I know logo designers who have done nothing else but design 128x128px logos for years and years and they’d consider themselves average at best. As a developer I’d walk away from your job interview at that question, which could potentially cost you a creative and innovative coder.

    And the NDAs….

    But aside from these issues, quite an entertaining and informative article.

  42. My daughter and I came up with a game app. Not too original, but games seem to be soooo popular. It’s called “Flying Pigs”. The basic idea is that the pig runs thru an obstacle course (running, jumping, sliding, etc) and it’s raining colored gumballs. The pig has to catch the gumballs, which will make his wings grow bigger and eventually fly. Different colors will do different things and give different point values.

    Green = jumps higher (able to reach blue gumballs at this level)

    Blue= grow wings (each gumball makes the wings grow bigger and bigger until the pig flies. Extra points for flying – then goes to the next level)

    Yellow = go faster

    Red (avoid) = makes wings smaller

    The ICON would be an animated pig with wings.

    Basic enough, but we have found these silly games to be quite addicting.

    Let us know what you think! 😀

  43. This is my entry for the contest. I have found your book very inspirational. I have been in the military for 13 years, and the points of view there as you can imagine are vastly different than the perspectives that you offer. Let’s just say that I like your perspectives better. Working for myself instead of for people that have fundamentally different ideas of what efficiency is is very appealing. On to my submission!!

    Find the money!! – Game

    Virtual reality can be fun. Reality is much more fun! Life is a game!

    Use this app to make money, while trying to beat your old high score!

    Search for Craigslist items and immediately evaluate whether you can make money with them. Works for yard sale treasures also! Post your auctions or ads instantly, and make your deals faster. Scoring works on the amount that your bankroll increases. The higher your score, the more money in your pocket! Learn about deal analysis, marketing, reselling, persuasion, and more! Program tracks the status of each deal, no more items building up in closets or garages.

    Pages needed

    My Deals Page – Spreadsheet style page to include cost, shipping, advertising, fees, price, profit, and selling route. This page will calculate values used in the rest of the program. Also tracks the status of deals, to remind you to take the next step.

    My Profile – Personal information and allows people to specify their tolerance for deals by either percentage of profit or by dollar amount. Shows personal best and worst deals.

    Craigslist Deal Page – Uses filters designated in the inventory section to search craigslist. Program uses the tolerance levels based in personal preferences to color code the deals by desirability. Allows adding of items to personal deals.

    Yardsale deal page – allows you to run a custom search right then, on Ebay auctions, google shopping, craigslist, and on similar items you have sold. Possible link to google goggles?

    Inventory – 2 sections: First allows you to define filters in plain English for searches.

    Second allows you to track your inventory, and keep notes on various items. Also allows entry of any value on the deals page. Items are linked to filters so that similar items can be found. Sets an instant buy alert level also

    Keywords – value to be entered manually or pulled from completed auctions on ebay with similar keywords, add shipping cost per item (link to inventory)

    Fees and shipping page – contains fee structure for ebay, and a shipping calculator. Also allows entry of shipping costs to be associated with completed deals, so that new deals can be compared by linking to filter.

    Link to Navigation program – takes address from ad or manually entered, map multiple destination routes

    Helpful Hints – Tips from ebay sellers, garage sale sites, shipping companies, etc.

    Future Upgrades –

    Support multiple sites (shopify etc.)

    Support outsourcing to taskrabbit if % profit high enough

    Support automatically calculating gas required to be included in final cost.

    Apps to get ideas from

    Craigslist app – search by keyword and min price

    Ebay app – search refined auction by keyword to get average selling price

    Yard Sale Treasure Map – multiple site navigation option, ability to scan craigslist ads for specific information

    Features

    Send alert when deal over x dollars or x percent profit is available

    Send alert when Auction is complete

    Allow instant posting to auction site or online store

    Contacts – add a link to contacts for repeat sellers

    Cool to hot color coding of deals based on percentage of resell profit

    Marketing

    -Graphics interface should show expected profit in big green letters across deals

    -Keywords: Ebay, craigslist, auction, resell, yard sale, collectibles, transactional management, reality, inventory control

    -Use Nag screen, restrict some options for the automated parts

    Main Page – Find the Money!

    Note: Thanks for using SCRIBD in your post, good find!

  44. My idea for an app draws off how celebrity obsessed we are as a culture. Especially because I live in LA, I see famous people all the time. However, a lot of times I know what films or shows that they’ve been on, but I can’t remember their name.

    I think a good solution to this would be an app that identifies celebrities by entering in their attributes (gender, race, approximate age) as well as what movies in which they starred. So for instance, you’re at Starbucks and you see the guy who played mafia boss Peter Abruzzi in Prison Break and the water gypsy in Nacho Libre (“The eggs, they give me no power, they give me no nutrients!”). Punch in some fields and you get a filmography, background and overview of the actor Peter Stormare… who incidentally is one of the great character actors of our time.

    IMDB has an Academic Performance Index (API) that’s available to the public and harnessing this database would provide the data needed for lookups. I also thought that crossmarketing opportunities would be very good by easily incorporating ads from Netflix and other streaming entertainment sites into the celebrity lookup pages. Finally, I thought about different price structures and I think that it would be feasible to have both an all-you-can-eat price structure at a fixed cost and a cost per search model.

    I don’t foresee “Who Dat” as an app that’ll topple Angry Birds. However, I do think that there is a built-in market for the product that will allow for steady downloads and plenty of opportunities for cross marketing that will make it a long term winner.

  45. How detailed do you want contest submissions? You mention the importance of NDA in your article a number of times. Thanks. 🙂

  46. *Contest Submission*

    My app idea is for a combination utility / prank app.

    Name idea: Butt Dialer

    Icon idea: cartoon butt sitting on mobile phone with %!#@ characters coming from the phone.

    Utility function: locking the phone to prevent accidental butt/pocket dialing.

    Possible alternative utility feature to record self reminders for later playback.

    Prank / fun function: Ability to record snippits of sound, or choose pre-recorded sounds, which can be layered into one recording clip which would be played as a joke to friends. It is difficult to put into words so here are some ideas and examples to help clarify….

    Pre-recorded sounds could be things like

    -the sound of a mic rubbing against jeans (simulating being butt dialed)

    -a voice saying “GOT CHA!” or “You’ve been Butt Dialed by_______!”

    -Random animal noises

    -Random screaming or riot noises

    -etc.

    The user would have the opportunity to record their own snips of sounds, as well as choose recording lengths in 20,30,60 second intervals.

    Let’s say Amy has Butt Dialer App and she wants to play a joke on her friend. She clicks the app, selects (or records) whatever sound files she wants to layer, previews the layered file and has an option to save it and then chooses which contact to play it to.

    The receiving friend may hear something like the sound of a phone rubbing against jeans while in the distance the sound of elephants and people rioting. And just when the receiver thinks “Wtf??” They hear “You’ve been butt dialed by Amy”.

    I picture the app being a touch to select sound bits, then seeing all sound clips on one “page” with the ability to adjust volume level of each layer.

    It may be a silly idea but some silly apps make it to the top (like ugly meter for example) so why not at least try it.

    I currently do not have the funds to pursue the idea because I’m laid off. 🙁

  47. APP TITLE: The Fluency Game

    Description: The ultimate app for anyone trying to master a second language! Sharpen your listening skills as you translate phrases from hundreds of native speakers. Race the clock, or go head-to-head with competitors from around the world.

    There are dozens of language apps on the market, but they are all essentially variations on either flashcards, or lessons. The Fluency Game fills a huge void in the niche of language apps, namely: Access to a vast collection of real, native speech. (As opposed to the exaggerated pronunciation by a professional voice talent that you get in a typical language course.)

    The Fluency Game truly plays like a game, as you try to transcribe the phrases you hear. No typing required…you choose each word from a pull down menu. Point system based on number of times you listen, speed, etc.

    Modes for ‘Practice’ vs ‘Play’. Also can choose your level. Game gets progressively tougher as phrases get longer, and as the “listening environment” changes. (Varying enviroments of background noise, starting from a whisper-quiet library in ‘Scene 1’ to a crowded cocktail party in ‘Scene 10’) It’s real, and it’s challenging. (This mimics popular games like ANGRY BIRDS or CUT THE ROPE, as they continue to add new elements to make things progressively more challenging.)

    The real genious of the app is that the content will be primarily user generated. My language company has enough pre-recorded phrases from English speakers, Russian speakers and Japanese speakers to get the ball rolling and launch the first version. As language learners get the app to practice one of those three languages, they will submit their own recordings to join the community, (and to get free upgrades.) This then builds out the other languages. In time, it would become a huge database of real, native speech for the major world languages….a very valuable asset.

    Another very cool aspect of the Fluency Game is the exposure to so many accents. For example, learners of English will be exposed to (and thus gain confidence with) U.S. accents like New York, Boston, and the Southern drawl, (etc) as well as English accents from all over…think: British, Scottish, Irish, Australian, South African, and so on. And the same goes for all languages. A Russian Moscow accent is very different from a Volgograd one, and so on. As a language learner and teacher, I would love to have this app!

    In short: The game challenges you with real language, from real speakers all over the world!

    Monetization is easy: Within the app, ads for high-dollar language courses can precisely target the users, each of whom is a very qualified prospect. Can also sell upgrades for more content.

    I have the entire presentation detailed in a 20 page doc with detailed pcitures and diagrams of the flow, and laid out in script form, for the demo video. There is a great social aspect to The Fluency Game, as well as cool secret bonuses for reaching certain milestones. (Again, think of the Golden Eggs that you get in ANGRY BIRDS) but I won’t detail these extras here.

    Thanks for the great article, Chad!

  48. Great article Tim & Chad. I am teaching myself to build apps at the moment. Although I have moved to the wonderful Caribbean island of St. Maarten, I still work 9-5. No creativity involved. I’ll be studying in my free time and hope to come up with something in a while.

    I love that in this industry, you don’t have to know about distributing et cetera… it could be a lot harder. Great opportunity to learn about markets and entrepreneurship.

  49. Title: Clique (or something along that line)

    The basic idea for this app is a group social gathering.

    I know there is E-vites and groups on Facebook. But I wanted to create something for the general public as a whole.

    I came up with this idea because I ride a motorcycle. My close friends got rid of their motorcycles so I am left alone. I always find myself posting a group meet or ride up on Bayarearidersforum.

    I would like to go on motorcycle rides with other people. And not always ride alone.

    So here would be the basics.

    login, and then you would post the activity. date, time, and meeting place. people can search based on area and activity.

    for example: 1: search by city or zip code.

    2: search by activity (Motorcycle Ride, Yoga Class, Sales event at a small retail store, Grand openeing, etc…)

    You then will be able see whoever posted an event and you can Rsvp on the app.

    As an event creator you will be able to post your setting and give a description about your event. You will also be able to put the min and maximum # of attendees.

    As an attendee you can just click on that event, read about it and then click to join or say you are attending.

    This can also help for small businesses such as a yoga instructor and open classes of some sort.

    I think it can be a great marketing tool for any small business.

  50. App idea: Music Geocaching

    App: “Cache” songs at various locations throughout the world. You would tag a location with a song that has some meaning to you and provide a brief description. People could tag inspirational music for nature areas, soothing music for traffic jam areas, music you heard where you had your first kiss, etc.

    -Users would tag their own songs and find other’s songs (you have to be at that location to hear the music).

    -You could have public tags and private tags you would share with your friends.

    -Create your own private music tags for roadtrips or personal running/biking routes.

    -Facebook integration to show everyone a new song they found

    -People could add comments to other tags leaving their “mark” adding to the user experience at that location

    Monetization: Free app, ads and affiliate links to iTunes for songs. “Virtual real estate”. If someone already tagged a song in a location you wanted, you could pay $0.25 to overwrite their song and place your tag-price would go up to $0.50, $1, $2, $4, etc to override the previous song. This could come up in dense areas like NYC. Local businesses could also pay for “sponsored” music caches to advertise some sort of deals or coupons.

  51. For starters: The worldwide demand for mobile health could translate to $1.3 billion in revenues in 2012, according to a study by research2guidance, mobile researchers and consultants.

    With that in mind…

    TRUE HEALTH app. This app educates and inspires you to strive for true health each and every day. I know there are apps that do things like encourage you to move or eat well – but they are all separate apps, separate downloads, separate settings, etc. This brings everything into one amazing content filled app.

    Included in it are 6 Components of True Health

    Proper Posture: Reminders to sit and stand correctly. Videos on stretches/exercises to promote good posture that can be done at work.

    Nutrition: includes True Health Grocery List of nutrient dense, fresh, whole foods which promote optimal health. Split into (Meat & Seafood/Veggies &

    Fruit/ Spices & Herbs/ Nuts & Seeds/ Fats & Oils/ Super Foods/ Liquids) also includes True Health Recipes

    Exercise: includes daily Exercise of the Day, these will promote whole-body functional movements as opposed to isolated body movements.

    Rest: Reminders to stop and breath, rest, meditate, can include functionality to turn off phone for short periods of time during the day.

    Positive Mental Attitude: Daily positive affirmations, photos, reminders, quotes.

    Brain-Body Connection: Reminders/recommendations to keep the pathway between brain and body clear and promote greater neurological health, prevention of spinal degeneration, optimum range of motion, and high performance. These would include Massage, Chiropractic, Functional Medicine, Acupuncture, Naturopathy,- with information and explanations of “terms’ you need to know for each field. As well as help in locating a qualified professional in each field (ie Paleo Physician Network).

  52. Thanks for the great article, good ideas so far.

    Here’s an idea for an app that would save lives – a designated driver app. This app would connect intoxicated people needing a ride home with sober volunteers willing to give rides. There would be a feedback/rating system (to help weed out the serial killers); drivers with an established feedback score could vouch for friends just starting out as a driver with no feedback.

  53. Hi Tim & Chad – fantastic post chock full of amazing information I printed mine off just so I could really get a good idea of this ‘appreneur’ concept.

    Here’s my app game idea –

    My current 9-5 is as a copier technician for large corporations, military installations and medium-sized office. If you work in an office setting you’ve probably had a run in with your office copier…we’ve all seen Office Space 🙂

    And because I do this as my day job I know how frustrating it can be when you have to get something finished only for the stupid copier to jam…and jam…and jam….makes you wanna just Crush it….

    Enter the game Crush the Copier.

    A game designed to let you finally take all those frustrations out on the copier without getting fired or actually damaging that $2500 machine. The object of the game would be to get your ‘job’ complete….points would be given for every complete job. But…hardly any job will get complete, so when the machine jams…or breaks down you can select an offering of weapons…err…. office supplies to crush it into finishing your ‘job’. Different office supplies will help it work better, while others will make it work worse. Choose your supply of choice to get your job complete.

    Once complete you move onto another level, which would be another type of copier, larger more productive (supposedly), but also equipped with more ‘bugs’ and jamming problems.

    It would be the ultimate release of frustration and anger towards the one office equipment you wish you could crush every single day.

    Crush the Copier would be along the lines of Whack Your Boss – lots of anger releasing, lots of destruction…and in the end the perfect stress reliever.

    Thanks for doing this Chad & Tim, your lifestyle paths are inspirational.

  54. Nice article Chad!

    My passions:

    I’m really passionate about behavior change and health and figuring out ways to make getting healthy fun. I’ve studied many of the behavior change paradigms and have applied them to my other app that was previously featured as New & Noteworthy in the App Store.

    Idea:

    My app idea is “Monster’s Mile.” Think Turntable.fm meets Draw Something meets Pedometers. Monster’s Mile is a game to see who can travel 2000 steps first. Walk or move to earn coins and win battles against friends. When you download the app, you have the option to sign in with Facebook or with your email address. The next step is to make your monster.

    At first, you have 3 simple options to choose from. There is a simple on-boarding process that teaches you that when you walk, you earn coins (this also provides an immediate variable reward mechanism, and hooks users around the move/earn relationship in the game).

    Now it’s time for a Battle. You can start one by getting paired up with a random user like Draw Something or Words With Friends, or you have the option to invite a Facebook friend to a battle as well. You can join multiple battles at the same time similar to how you can have multiple Draw Something or WWF matches going on at once.

    Your homescreen on the app monitors how your battles are going by showing who is ahead in terms of steps. Click into the individual battle for a chat with your opponent or to “drop a bomb.” You can exchange coins for bombs to slow down your opponents progress. There is an obvious call to action button within the battle to buy more coins so that you can buy bombs to slow your opponent, or buy a new monster (similar to how you can upgrade your avatar in Turntable.fm) Also, monitor your stats by clicking on your Monster’s Profile to see your Win/Loss record as well as your all time coins.

    Not only is this a fun, simple, and interactive game that shows off many of the iPhone’s native features like the accelerometer (which Apple loves), but it also has a positive impact. It incentivizes people to get up and move and to have fun doing so. The design will be similar to Turntable.fm or Toca’s Kitchen, which is a fun Japanese style that plays on people’s need to earn cute monsters as their avatars.

    Market:

    The market for this app is huge. One of the more popular Health/Fitness apps is Zombie’s Run – and it’s $7.99! Searching Pedometer’s on the app store shows a ton of options. The cool thing is that it could be included in either Health & Fitness or Games. Kids will love it 🙂

    Pricing & Monetization:

    Free & ad-supported

    $.99 & no ads

    Both versions will utilize in-app purchases when it comes to buying coins to blast your opponent with a bomb or upgrading your monster to the countless cool options.

    Initial User Acquisition:

    -Viral acquisition through the Facebook channel

    -Affiliate promotion with other popular Health/Fitness apps or games

    -Tech/health & fitness press b/c of the new and unique angle of the game

    UX sketches available upon request!

  55. ParentsPulse.com is a web app (currently undergoing major redesign and development, don’t judge by the current site!) that I will also be building out into a Mobile, Tablet and Facebook App.

    Becoming a parent forces us into a new reality that non-parents cannot comprehend. The responsibilities and demands consume much or most of the average parents’ time and resources; their social realm, free time, buying decisions and much more are all colored by parenthood. As such, this group’s needs and interests are often completely different from non-parents. Parents are also a very powerful demographic in terms of purchasing and spending. For these reasons, there should be significant opportunity to organize parents around similar interests and capitalize on that audience.

    The main mission is to facilitate collaboration between parents to encourage the village type connections that we no longer have in society, to make parenting more balanced, rewarding and less stressful.

    A parent entering their zip code opens up the site’s functionality:

    – Reveals parents in the proximity

    – Aggregation of anonymous check-ins to see what’s “happening” for parents on that day

    – Q+A

    – Local deals

    – Reviews and Recommendations

    – Events

    – Meet-ups

    – Play dates

    – Swapping

    – Buying / Selling?

    – Baby-sitter co-ops

    – Baysitter profiles and reviews

    – etc.

    Main Components:

    (1) Meaningful Interaction

    – Deeper discussion between parents in a Quora like environment, focused knowledge sharing and casual advice

    – differentiated from Facebook. Not surface level communication

    Site Example: Quora.com

    (2) Relationships for Utility and Connection

    – Parents have many reasons to connect for practical purposes

    – Parents also desire to form ‘groups’ for connection and utility, for a variety of reasons

    Site Example: Meetup.com, Swap.com

    (3) Local Activity and Event Aggregation

    – Technology: aggregation via APIs, crawling

    – User generated content: ‘tips’ and reviews from other user

    – Mobile: check-ins (anonymous to non-network) which leverage child age data for recommendations

    Site Example: Yelp

    (4) “Pinterest for Parents”

    – The profile needs to be more about the kids than the parents

    – While most social networks are about almost self-indulgence, this is other-indulgence.

    – Parents want to talk about and show off their kids and family life. Hence the “brag board” concept

    Site Example: Pinterest.com

    * Once again, I am already developing the functionality with a programmer I hired, funded by an ex-employer (on a shoe-string budget though). Looking forward to developing the apps and then starting to market in the next 1-2 months.

    Thanks for your time Tim! Been a long-time fan…

    Phil

  56. Hi Chad,

    My friend Dan and I were building on an idea. Here are the basic details:

    RadiU App Design Concept

    Jeff Macbeth | Dan Pingle

    Premise: Music Sharing – gives the functionality of being able to stream music via bluetooth/wifi/3G/LTE between friends or groups in real time. Individual devices play from one playlist or song. Ability to create an individual “channel” for others to listen to your playlists. Sharing channel adds a social media aspect.

    Similarities:

    Apple TV – this app would use a similar concept as airplay – where each device can stream music and track information to one another.

    Instagram/Twitter but with music instead of pictures/Tweets

    Usage: conceptualized for use on ski hills where everyone is listening to their own music with headphones or earbuds but is still in a social environment and with friends. Could also be used for trainers streaming to clients at the gym, celebrities/artists to share music with listeners (followers), use as a podcast type sharing center for professors or other pre-recorded lectures- just tune into the right station and listen in from home. Also ability to share voice notes, other audio files.

    Functionality:

    Would be integrated right into the iPod output selection – selected as a device like bluetooth in a vehicle or Apple TV

    Invitations to join could be established via text message invites, direct bluetooth connections or through a social networking interface.

    link to iTunes for each song allowing listeners to purchase songs they like – will increase purchases for lesser known artists encouraging viral awareness.

    Thanks for the consideration!

  57. Evo.

    Play for five, fight to strive.

    Evo is an old game taught new tricks and spiced up with wonderful graphics and a new concept.

    Ever play one of those games where your only goal is to grow? EA released it as a level in Spore. Countless online flash game producers released it with the fish in water paradigm. Essentially, the player goal is to consume smaller entities in order to grow their own.

    Evo is the first endeavor of this type of title to make it’s way to the appstore. Based entirely on tilt, evo rids itself of the menu and any buttons whatsoever.

    Launch.

    Evo begins immediately upon launching the app.

    Game

    The player navigates a planet through a sandbox level of stars, comets, asteroids, etc. in order to consume smaller space entities while challenging ones self to avoid gravity pulling stars and black holes. Small comets and asteroids cause the player to grow, large entities cause the player to shrink.

    Goal

    There are two goals for players of evo.

    One. The self satisfaction and frustration of growing one’s planet and advancing through the stages outlined further down.

    Two. Base don speed and size, a player is awarded a score at the end of each play cycle which enable them to compete via leader board or even locally with friends and colleagues.

    Play for five, fight to strive.

    Evo.

    For concept art, ideas, and more in depth discussion on Evo gameplay mechanics, visit attached website.

  58. Hello.

    My idea is an app that can change the wallpaper for not only the iPhone but for the screens of the other computers as well. I have two points:

    I have done research to know that:

    – The wallpaper market is huge. The most popular wallpaper app I saw had 20k+ ratings which is more than 86% of the apps in the top 25.

    – This feature is unique.

    How it works:

    -The user selects the picture they want from their photo library or from the camera.

    -This would then set the background of the iPhone and any other computer linked to the app.

    For instance (as shown in my drawing) The user selects a flower as their picture. Instantly they will see their background on the iMac/Macbook/iPad change. This would use a dropbox-esque system to be seamless between the devices.

    A bonus feature could be to change the background of the iMac and macbook separately.

    Here are the drawings.

    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/171/photo1ak.jpg/

    Thank you for this opportunity and good luck to all of the people here.

    -Richard

  59. Great post and timely — thanks for the video on provisioning the app store.

    I read 4HWW (twice) at the beginning of the year and resolved to do it. Of the 40 or so ideas I came up with to get myself moving, the first was an iPhone app. I choose it because time is of the essence, and the risk was so low, and it seemed like a great project to shake me from my 9-5.

    The app is still in development — at least two weeks from being submitted to the App Store, so Chad, I’m gonna ask you consider it for your contest because although the money is already spent, I would value your expertise. If this comment helps any other first time designers, that’s great, too.

    MARKET RESEARCH

    Looked at the App Store to see what was selling, why, and how, and got advice from successful app developers. I didn’t want to throw up a website and see if I got clicks on a fake “buy now” button, and it didn’t really feel like a Kickstarter project so I did Google keyword searches to see what people are looking for. I noted that there were three apps in the store that addressed the general area, but not from the same angle I planned. Keyword results and an idea in hand, I did some wireframes and asked iPhone users for advice on flow.

    PROJECT DESIGN

    I put together an extensive mockup (download from http://www.smalltalkofdoom.com/images/Layout%20Mockup2.pdf) to show potential coders exactly what I wanted (final art design resulted in some changes). This was really useful because it resulted in very accurate quotes and the explicit instructions helped narrow the field of potential coders by showing who could read and understand them. I built all the artwork myself to save money and time because (as has been noted in other comments) coders code, designers design. This was some great advice I got from Pat Flynn.

    HIRING

    I put the bid out on Elance and got good response. Narrowed the field on coders and hired someone. I did not do an NDA, but that was a considered decision. The coders are now working on the app, and I am happy with their work so far.

    MARKETING

    I am building a website to drive sales. This has been a great exercise in updating my skills and studying SEO techniques. Chad, if you pick me, this is where my hour with you will be spent.

    THE APP

    It is designed to provide you with fodder for talk about the 2012 apocalypse. The app contains a countdown to the winter solstice, fun facts about why you should or shouldn’t worry, a user configurable alarm, and the ability to look of the time of the apocalypse in different time zones.

    So Chad, that’s it. Thanks for the advice and…pick me!

  60. My app idea solves a problem, or question almost everybody asks themselves!

    What do other people think about me?

    But, w/out the BS!!! It’s a combination of Yelp for the individual, and LinkedIn “Recommendation” – But…all anonymous, so as an individual, you cut through the crap, and get to know what people really think about you.

    People will give their honest opinion about others if they can do it anonymously. I know that some people with a personal vendetta against someone would be giving an opportunity to vent…BUT…that’s why the comments about an individual would be voted on. People could rank what they think is the best representation of each individual.

    I realize there are probably some issues with this that would have to be thought out yet…and maybe not everybody wants to truly know what others think of them….but who knows…maybe it would create a better world with people wanting to serve and treat others well because, just like a business…they can get a bad review!

  61. This article is simply amazing! I almost can’t believe the level of insight you’re giving for free! First time I’ve found something so detailed AND inspirational! The fact that you are willing to give as much detail as you have and host a contest without taking a revenue percentage…REALLY?! You can’t be that bad of a guy! Lol kudos to you good sir…I think you are of a rare breed.

    That’s why I’m open to give one of my ideas…regardless of possible interweb thievery,

    Here goes nothing!

    What if you could combine the wide market of Pokémon style monster battle gameplay w/ the popularity of location based check-ins? That’s the basis of my idea. It could be a paid or FREE game with an unlimited supply of revenue generation possibilities that I am not willing to disclose because you’re obviously not interested in that part…but I am willing to discuss it more just FYI.

    THAT’S THE IDEA, A location based character battle game similar to Pokémon…but could go other routes.

    Thanks for all of the insight your were so graciously willing to give – without even REALLY pushing your boo! You’re a great and brilliant guy in my eyes. THANKS!

  62. Hello,

    Great article, one of the best I’ve seen regarding app building advice. I completely agree with your use of outsourcing. On a tight budget it’s the only way to go. The more research you put in ahead of time into the product you need built, the better your outsourcing experience will be. On to the app I plan to build…

    Your generous offer of $5,000 is pretty spot on to the budget I require for the app I plan to build. A lean budget is challenging but it can be done. I decided to avoid the route of turn by turn gaming apps because of the extensive back-end database work required to store all progress between users. Although I have a few ideas I plan to execute in the future with this type of platform, right now I’m focusing my research on a simple app that is useful and can generate revenue.

    Problem: Throughout ever work week, there are so many things that pop into my head that I intend to tell someone specific about, but when I finally talk to them in person, I forgot what I wanted to tell them. I have asked several people if the same thing happens to them and indeed it does.

    Solution: A very simple app that allows you to add people as categories. Then under each person you can either record 30 second reminders of what you want to talk to them about or add text-typed comments. This app is capable of being opened while on a phone call since it will not require internet usage to function. Therefore, when the user meets with the person or is on call with them, they can pull up their reminders for that specific individual. Once they are no longer deleted, they can be removed from the list.

    The plan: I am currently in the phase of drawing up a wireframe for all the screens of the app as well as researching all the web/ios requirements that will be needed to run this app. If you would like documentation of this, feel free to let me know. Next, I will be outsourcing the work for the free app and a paid version without advertising. And finally I will use several avenues to get the name out to the target market I feel is best fit.

    Let me know if you have any questions, thanks for looking.

  63. What a great article, this is priceless

    APP IDEA:

    I’m actually working as a developer at a video game company in latin america and with my brother we are designing an app to sell for our own, Our idea for an app involves some augmented reality in android and iOS phones.

    we want to create a way to display presentations like this one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zYGxb5kFjI

    When I talk about augmented reality I mean something like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teKE5yy5iDk&feature=relmfu

    Instead of using QR codes I’m planning to use GPS coordinates, people will use their device iphone/android/ipod to visualize the presentation through it like watching through a window to other world, this presentations could be tributes, different animations, T-shirts ads by QR codes, could be advertisements like for example an advertisement campaign saying that 2 superheroes will be fighting in a certain beach at a certain time, this to promote a movie, the ad animation will be hidden to the public but if you use the app you can watch into this other world and checkthe huge animation that is happeing at that beach and enjoy the show like the castle in the video I pasted. I visualize it as a community following cool presentations like this one, gathering around places that will be promoted through the community to check this presentations. The presentations will be 3d models provided by the client companies that want to promote their products or will be provided by us as special events like google doodles to keep the people moving and with a eye on the community

  64. I would like to create a app that combines the aspects of the top social media sites and make if for GREEK letter organizations. I have found on a lot of Greek forum boards that when other Greek Fraternity and Sororities are traveling out of town they are constantly asking if anybody has any contact info for other members in the city they are going to visit. Most Greek Organization like partying with like minded people.

    I thought it would be nice to be able to allow Greek letter member the ability to find these members just by receiving updates as soon as their phones recognize what city they are in. They will also be able to check in (like foursquare) which will also allow members in the city to know are there. I also would like the app to be able to allow members to post events on a type of posting and people in that city or surrounding areas will be able to get notifications of any type of party, community service or relevant news from other Fraternities or Sororities (Facebook style).

    Lastly I would like them to be able to create a friend network which will allow them to keep up with new and current friends in the different states and towns they have visited (Facebook and Twitter).

    1. Hi George, we are working , testing , an app for finding your friends , where they are and so on. It will be very interestig to start developing this app for greek people. in case you can help us with the traslation from english to greek we can do somethink about that. write to me at aristel.ianolide@gmail.com.

  65. Working App Name: CrowdSurfing

    Quick Description: Crowdsourced photos and video of surf breaks in the morning with user submitted descriptions of the morning break.

    Potential Market:

    Approx 1 million surfers in USA. Plus more throughout the world. This number is not accurate, just what I read in a surf magazine, more research needed. Also much larger potential market of watermen and just general season beach goers.

    Detailed description:

    I am a surfer, I want to know what the conditions are like at my local break. I could go onto surfline.com and watch a crappy 20 second video and try to figure out what it looks like and read their minimally descriptive report for my local break which may or may not be accurate, depending on how thorough they decided to be that morning. Or with this app, I could view other people’s beautiful vivid iPhone/Android snapshots and videos of the break this morning from down in the trenches on the sand.

    The beauty of this app would be it’s extreme easiness to snap a photo, upload and the GPS automatically detects what surf break you’re at, and upload a photo. The user can then decide to write a short surf report or not. The incentive for the user is that the user can get their descriptions and images upvoted by the community at large and that user can become the Duke of that surfspot (similar to Foursquare). With his Dukedom will come many rewards…such as mermaids and such.

    One of the globalizing features is from my bed in the morning I can check the photos of the surf at my spot, but also at breaks in South Africa or France and I can view these in real time, not a week later in a Surfline article (much love to surfline)

    So yea there it is. CrowdSurfing.

    Respond with any holes you can poke in this. The kids and old salty dogs will eat it up. Maybe.

    Ohh here’s a drawing of it: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/22864034/CrowdSurfing.png

    1. I only tell my close friends when the break is good…don’t want things to get too crowded 🙂 A simple thumbs up/down could be helpful too.

      The check-in feature and badges seem like it could be cool. Maybe add some sort of meetup feature to see who else is going out?

      Or add some functionality like warm up drills before you surf or maps of local places to grab a good cup of coffee after you get out? You could also add options for general reviews of different breaks like “hot chicks here”, “territorial locals”, “good for longboards”, “rocky bottom”, etc.

      1. Haha great additions greg – definiely like the territorial locals and hot chicks idea. And yea that’s the major challenge with this app – surfers don’t want to encourage other surfers to come to their break. But that’s why maybe incentivizing it a bit would make it work. I could see some people giving fake reports to scare away others on a good day though 🙂

  66. Hello Chad, super article. I want to participate into the contest. Along with my son and his best friend we developed an app for iphone. the app is about finding your friends – locations – through this app. once you are in an area where you want to know how many friends are there – in a bar area for example – and want to join their group, just check in with this app and decide.

    I can send you more details , photos and description of this app.

    I just purchesed your book , got the bonus from you , Tks so much – and I will reed it in this weekend.

    Thank you and Tim for your inspiration and support.

    Aristel

  67. Hi Tim and Chad!

    Thanks for your detailed post(s)! Here is an idea for an app:

    Set Me Up!

    Internet dating websites are full of algorithms and formulas for how they will connect you to the love of your life. But there always seems to be something distant and remote about this sort of “relationship arithmatic” that the computer just can’t get right. The other option for internet dating is to just send out requests to random people you see whose profile seems like a good fit to yours. But this ignores social norms that have been in place for years regarding dating. Prior to the internet, it just wasn’t normal to randomly approach people to ask them out. Most people met by either being involved in a common activity or by being introduced by a friend. That is where “Set Me Up” comes into play.

    Set Me Up would be an app that would interface with your facebook data to create a community of referrals. The app will use your basic information and compare it to the basic information of the single friends of your friends. Things like age, relationship status, religion, political views, favorite TV shows, etc… It then sends you some possible referrals that might be good dating material. The twist is that instead of you contacting them directly, you send a request to your primary facebook friend asking if he/she can set you up. This allows you to talk with that friend about the person and see if they think it is a good fit. If it is, then they pass on the request to their friend, with a much higher likelihood of success since it’s coming from somone they know.

    Set Me Up answers the need for dating that is still connected to existing social circles – dating as it’s been done for hundreds of years.

    Thanks for reading and your consideration! Warm (actually hot!) regards from the country side of Cambodia,

    Neda

  68. ABOUT THE APP

    The app I am currently developing is called “Singing Vocal Warm Ups!” (SVWU).

    It is a portable accompaniment tool for singers to warm up their voices on the go, for use on iPhone, Android and PC.

    SVWU will include instruction for vocal warm ups, technical work and vocalises in nine graded and progressive levels.

    Specific target markets will include:

    1. Professional singers, singing teachers and singing students

    2. Amateur singers: regular performers, choir, karaoke, other arts practitioners

    3. General singing enthusiasts

    APP FUNCTIONALITY

    Please visit http://www.singingvocalwarmups.com/ for pictures of the current logo. To see the layout design, please scroll to the bottom of the home page and click on “App Designs”.

    Here you will be able to view the current design and layout for three pages of the app.

    I have been inspired by the layout and design of Tim Ferris’ 4 Hour Chef app for iPad and will be using similar functionality.

    ABOUT THE DEVELOPER

    Jade Leonard is a professional singer and singing teacher from Melbourne, Australia. She has identified a void in the app market for singers who need to warm up their voices on the go and also require piano accompaniment for singing technical exercises and vocalises.

    FILLING THE VOID AND MAKING IMPROVEMENTS

    The SVWU app addresses the requirement for accompaniment to warm up and develop the voice in spaces where a piano is not available, or where the singer is unable to play piano.

    While there are other vocal warm up apps on the market, SVWU will be the only vocal warm up application:

    – to offer a comprehensive free trial version

    – to offer nine levels for progressive and graded vocal development

    – that will address AMEB, ANZCA and VCE examination technical requirements specifically

    – with video content, including visuals for following the notes on the stave and keyboard

    – that covers the entire female and male vocal ranges with full vocal warm up, breath control, technical work and vocalises

    – with acoustic piano accompaniment

    – interviews with vocal professionals

    – detailed technical information

    While the app content will be accessible and useful to all singers globally, it is being made with a specific focus on Australian and New Zealand music examination standards.

    In the long term, I would like to make other apps specific for UK and USA standard vocal examinations.

    RESEARCH SUMMARY

    Secondary market research (focused in Australia, based on IBISWorld reports and ratings for singing TV programs over 5 years) suggests that 8% of the Australian population have a general interest in singing.

    Secondary industry focused research suggests there are 66,000 active singers in Australia. This encompasses singing teachers, professional singers, singing students and amateur singers in choirs. My professional experience and knowledge leads me to believe this is a very conservative estimate.

    I will be completing primary research next week, surveying 160 choristers to further refine my understanding for the desire for an app such as this.

    It is my goal to focus initial marketing and sales towards active singers with the aim of capturing 3-5% of this market. In 12-18 months, I hope to capture 3-5% in sales from general singing enthusiasts.

    IN CLOSING

    I am so very passionate about singing, teaching and developing the Singing Vocal Warm Ups! app.

    As with most app developers, the lack of finances required to fund the development of my idea means that self-funding slows the progress of development.

    Thank you for creating an opportunity for me to be able to apply for much needed seeding funding for my idea.

    I wish everyone the best of success in the competition!

    Jade Leonard.

  69. idea :my idea is very simple, is combining main purpose of facebook, fourquare, and latitude. to another level. My apps have two main function:

    first. is to know is there friends of mine who is in the area (1 miles radius or more..) and are they free to hangout or not.

    second. u can make friends with new people in the area surrounding you who willing to make new friends also.

    explanation for the first function ( knowing where your friends are)

    1.the apps let the user to invite their friends to also using the app

    2. after the users friends join than if they want to they can see each other position and their status.(r they busy, r they free, or loking for friends to hangout

    3. they can check in, in the place they hangout

    4. after they their friends position they can poke, chat etc…

    explanation for the second function

    1. the apps let user see if there is people who wants to be friends in the area (but wont reveal their location)

    2. they can set the status to looking for friends , looking for lover etc

    3. they also can build their on avatar

    4. they will set the condition of people they want to meet (like hobby, age, sex, etc)

    5. the apps will sort people who also use the apps who is also willing to make new friends and put it on screen apps

    6. a list of people will appear with thei avatar pic and the user can see their information and poke them, chat with them

    7. and if the user and the new friends want they can show their personal photo or more detailed iformation or meetup

    8. for security reason all apps user must enter their personal data and id number also

    9. and each user of this apps will have review from their friends and their new friends, ( the point is so user know who is the new friend their going to meet, and the people who got bad review know that maybe they need to improve their social skill or manner)

    this is the picture of the prototype http://s1232.photobucket.com/albums/ff364/adiprim/adi%20apps%20idea/

    and why this apps will succeed, a similar apps like this is gps friend finder , all friend finder etc, and its very helpfull to them but we improve it by making people not only meet new people judging on their look only (judge them by their profile picture) thats why we using the avatar picture.

    ok thats it. hope chad muerta team like it

  70. What a great post, and an exciting opportunity in the ‘appconomy’

    I am taking my ‘mini-retirement’ shortly and moving to Vancouver, and looking at developing some app ideas i have had floating around for a number of months. Tim’s Blog, the 4HWW and 4HB and its associated community are the inspiration behind this move.

    App idea:

    Like many of Tim’s readers, I am frequently traveling and looking for a place to workout, and often local gyms or crossfit clubs have a better atmosphere/facilities than the nationwide chains. I would love to be able to land at a destination, and between meetings/lifestyle activities find the nearest gym that is ranked highly by the community. I have apps that find me the nearest WiFi, coffee shop etc but would love to find the best place to workout.

    $5k for development would be fantastic, but the inspiration from this post and the community to work on a project that I am passionate about is more valuable.

    Best of luck to all the apprenuer’s out there, looking forward to seeing the ideas on this post turn into applications.

  71. App Idea.

    An app that is like Travelocity, that allows users to rate and suggest travel destinations and experiences. But also allows people to post photographs and videos of their time while traveling. And allows users to chat amongst each other so that they are able to share ideas in real time.

    Thank you for the article. Very inspiring.

  72. App Idea.

    An app that is like Tripadvisor (not travelocity- oops), that allows users to rate and suggest travel destinations and experiences. But also allows people to post photographs and videos of their time while traveling. And allows users to chat amongst each other so that they are able to share ideas in real time.

    Thank you for the article. Very inspiring.

  73. Hi Chad,

    your post literally let’s me brainstorm one idea after the other – thanks for that.

    One question (actually hundreds but this one seems to be important)… are there networks that do allow incentivised traffic? In internetmarketing some CPA networks do allow incentivised traffic. In many apps I see the options to download and install some apps in order to gain virtual credits.

    So can you tell us which networks would make it possible to sell virtuall credits for downloading other people’s apps and still earning money? And can you give us some average numbers, considering the payouts per download?

    Thanks,

    Gerd

  74. Hi Chad,

    I am a nurse in new south wales (nsw) Australia, there are 50,000 nurses in NSW alone, most nurses have iphones. There are very few fun apps for nurses/drs. Paper toss was a huge success as was Plumbers Crack the knock off.

    Google trends still has papertoss rating well http://www.google.com.au/trends/?q=paper+toss and plumbers crack rating even better with a sharp spike right now http://www.google.com.au/trends/?q=plumbers+crack&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0

    My idea is called Toilet Paper Toss and is set in a hospital “pan room” where they wash the bed pans in dish washer type washing machines. The nurse rolls up toilet paper into a little ball and tosses it into a (clean) bedpan sitting on a bench for points. I have ideas for different levels eg throwing paper into the narrow neck of a urinal bottle. Us nurses find this sort of thing amusing and word of it would quickly spread virally via nusring blogs, facebook (nurses love facebook), etc.

    This is a simple idea so would be a straight forward app game to build and would be popular with nurses, drs and general public (who use plumbers crack and want a new challenge). This app works on the cheeky (no pun intended) subject of a knock off game eg plumbers crack. I believe that this is a winning strategy for knock off or redeveloped app ideas. It doesn’t hurt to try nicheing a sucessfull app game when its a huge world-wide niche.

  75. Hi guys,

    I’ve been looking long and hard at engaging in a little lifestyle architecture,

    so let’s see if this helps…

    My idea is for an app that will restrict the functionality of the iPhone while driving. Since use of a mobile device while driving is the new drunk driving and given the fact that there are new laws popping up around the world restricting and prohibiting the use of these devices, I thought this might be a good idea…

    So, When the app is installed and activated in an iPhone, it will detect when the device is travelling above a set speed (and presume that the user of the iPhone is driving as result) and restrict the functionality to hands-free only.

    The user can adjust certain parameters like the speed at which the app auto-activates and the time below that speed that has to elapse before the return of full functionality.

    This could be a popular app among parents of new drivers who can install this app in an “invisible mode” to help improve the road safety of their kids. Of course there might also be some conscientious individuals out there who would appreciate the improvement in safety that it would provided themselves when installed on their personal iPhone.

    Also looking a little way ahead there could be in-app purchase options of speed monitoring etc for the parent who is concerned about their kids driving habits.

    For a couple of ideas for appearance that I’ve come up with check out:

    http://billmorrisonjr.blogspot.ca/

    Cheers and good luck to the other entrants!

    Bill M.

  76. As a user I would like to say to make the Apps simple.

    Personally, I expect my smartphone have lots of features. I expect an App to do one thing only and do it very well. I will not study a whole manual to use an app, because frankly for the time invested, there are better ways to do things. I get frustrated if an app is too complicated and will not give it a second chance, even though there might be a gold mine at the end of my struggle.

    That’s what I am looking for in an app. Thanks for reading.

  77. Thanks for the great post, Chad. You said that you can emulate and improve another app’s idea. Does it mean that we can use Fruit Ninja’s core idea, for example, and improvise from there without getting into trouble? Please clarify or give example.

  78. Hi guys, first of all: Thank You for the contest, it has really inspired me to think about this idea I’ve had in the back of my mind for a while.

    >>> CONTEST ENTRY<<<

    You can view the full VIDEO entry at: http://youtu.be/8D0NgQ_uTSY

    (You'll be able to see the mockups and hear a better audio explanation.)

    I'm also including a text version of the entry here for a simple overview:

    So the idea is simple: A Used Car Power Search: The equivalent of Kayak.com, but for the used car market.

    As you may know, Kayak and other similar websites allow users to simultaneously search many travel websites and better organize their search results. My app would do the same: it would allow users to search many used car websites at once, and then it would allow them to better organize all their search results (narrow, sort, etc.) but with a beatifully simple interface.

    HOW WOULD IT FILL A VOID / SOLVE A PROBLEM?

    1. – There are no iPhone apps currently doing this (that I could find.) I searched recently when I was looking to buy a used car. Since most of my searching was done from my phone, I found it frustrating to have to use a different app for each website. Then I couldn't remember where I had found a particular car, and it all got kind of confusing. So, I looked for an app that could search many sites at once, and didnt find one. I did find a website from my computer, but no iPhone app.

    My latest search in the app store for various terms yielded no working results besides the known AutoTrader, Cars.com, Craigslist individual apps.

    2. Solve a problem / inconvenience – Why have to look through various apps and websites, when you could easily do it all from one app that could provide a superior user experience and actual shopper advantages.

    HOW WOULD THE APP WORK?

    The video does a lot better job of explaining this since it has mockups, but in short:

    1. It would simplify the search by allowing users to type in their search query in a human readable way (ex honda accord or 08 toyota camry) OR it would allow them to bring up a list and manually select.

    2. It would automatically find your location to save you the time of typing your ZIP, unless you really want to.

    3. It would populate the search results from many different sources, and in a smart way, based on the 80/20 rule of popular search criteria (just to give the user something to start working with.

    4. It would allow the user to further narrow, customize, or sort their search as desired.

    5. Other options and features, but in simple, non-intrusive, user-friendly interface. These extra features could be Save / Export options, click to call, price & year ranges, etc.

    RESEARCH CONDUCTED / POTENTIAL FOR SUCCESS

    1.Currently very little competition in app store.

    a.) I actually needed an app like this and could not find one.

    b.) Recently performed many search queries in app and found no working apps to do this.

    c.) The technology allows it and some websites have started offering this functionality for car searches, but no apps yet.

    2. Basic analysis of other industries using this search model shows great success (Kayak.com, hotels.com, carrentals.com)

    3. Many other apps allowing for simpler searching have thrived in the App Store (ex: craigslist search apps that allow for more user-friendlyness. )

    MONETIZATION:

    The app has a potential for high traffic, which in turn could very easily translate into Ad Revenue. Another option can also be the Free / Premium app model in which for a small fee you can upgrade to an ad-free version.

    In any case, I think this could easily simplify the used car buying for many people and provide many options for future growth and expansion of the service itself.

    Thank you very much Chad and Tim, and everyone else for reading. Look forward to any thoughts and feedback. Talk soon 🙂

    Please be sure to watch the full video for more details.

  79. Contest Entry – Friedrich, Ben – 4/27 @ 10:18 AM PST

    Concept:

    An iPhone app where you can swipe through selections to pick a dragon egg from the “Hatchery” then screen cuts to a grassy castle courtyard where you tap the egg to crack it open and watch a dragon appear from a burst of flames. You can then talk into the iPhone’s microphone and the dragon will mimic what you say. Each dragon has a different coloring, shape, and tone.

    Free Version:

    3 – 5 egg selections. Each with a different dragon. The dragon then provides amusement by repeating everything you say. Several different actions will be decided as far as what you can do. (Pull it’s wing, tickle it, pour pail of water on it’s head to drench flame.)

    After you crack open all the egg selections you have a choice to either reset the eggs, or to buy the premium, paid version.

    Note:

    Depending on the costs upon further investigation and animators who I discover, the number of dragons could be scaled back in a 1/3, 2/5, 3/7, etc ratio.

    Paid Version:

    A choice of 20 – 25 dragon eggs which means 20 – 25 choices of dragons. Different backgrounds for hatching. More interaction choices. You can save a favorite to the “Dragon Den”, where the floor is strewn with gold coins and jewels. This way if you, or your kid, has a favorite then you can instantly return to it. You would also have the ability to record conversations.

    Interested?

    More details, app flowchart, and mock-up of home screen available at the brand new app website linked from my name above.

    Thanks for reading!

    Ben

  80. Hi Chad,

    Hi Tim,

    Great article on the app business, full of crucial info! I read your book from cover to cover and loved it, your story is so inspiring and the book is no less than a bible for the app creation. I already have an app out on the app store and also learned a lot from Trey Smith’s app system and Amish Shah’s App Code, both great marketers and ultra successful in the app business.

    I’m also an enthusiastic follower of Tim’s ventures and read 4HWW, which liberated me from the 9to5 ratrace, as well as 4HB which turned me into uberman (not yet 😉 Tim, I would love my «day in the life» to ressemble yours but with a small child it’s somehow a little different (meditation, gym, yerba mate and red wine I manage to do ;-).

    Now to the app idea.

    It’s not a secret games are raking in most of the profit on the App Store and I guess it will stay this way for some time. Research shows games make millions of downloads, they are all over the media (Angry Birds, Temple Run, Draw something, Words with friends, etc) but a lot of them require big budgets to make and are still out of my league.

    One of those successful games is Office Jerk (and also Plumber crack), a game based on Paper toss but taken to another level, which made 14M downloads (more than 5M for Plumber crack).

    Listening to Chad’s advice to emulate, I am in the process of developing a game called «Teacher Torture».

    It will be based on the proven gameplay of paper toss and office jerk, but taken to a class room. So the player tosses stuff at the teacher who has his/her back turned towards the class and is writing on a blackboard. There is a whole line of objects to be thrown related to the school world (books, pc monitor, ink bottle, paper plane, apple, sandwich, etc). There’s even a mirror you can play with to reflect light on the teacher’s (or other kids) head 🙂

    Something extra is you can also throw things at the other kids, including cheat papers to help them out.

    The great strength of this type of games is the emotions they unleash, and this helps to make them go viral very quickly. It has obviously a lot of humor in it but it’s also a way of releasing some steam, relieving the stress.

    Teacher Torture will be a freemium game with in-app monetization (mirror and other extras, characters etc). Another option is to have ads in the free version and an ad-free 99 cts version.

    The game is skinnable and can also be replicated in a military classroom with a US drill instructor, guns etc.

    I have already hired a great illustrator/designer who will make those characters come alive and need to find a great developer with experience in writing the code for this kind of game.

    Development costs will probably be more than 5000$ but this money would definitely help hiring a great developer and a 1-hour phone call with you Chad could be the decisive push towards a million selling game!

    I also thought about putting the project on Kickstarter but am still a little reluctant. What’s your opinion on going Kickstarter ?

    Thanks for your time

    Fred

  81. Don’t hate; emulate.

    App name:

    Mood Finger Scan (Prank!)

    Research:

    It baffles me to see the ranking of finger scanners, much like the one Chad created nearly 2 years ago. Even today, finger scanners that proclaim to guess someone’s mood simply by placing their finger on the iPod/iPhone screen are incredibly popular. One in particular ‘mood finger scan’ is ranked 33rd in the UK Free charts in the entertainment category and has over 13,000 ratings, though with an average rating of 2.5 stars, clearly there is still an opportunity to emulate and do a better job.

    Description:

    Everyone likes a prank. Unlike the original finger scanners which either allowed access or not, or “guessed” a mood, that was about where the entertainment ended.

    In comes my app – ‘Mood Finger Scan (Prank!)’. The app works in a similar fashion to other mood scanners, however, much like with Fingerprint Security Scanner, if the user knows how to bypass the ‘locked’ screen they are confronted with ‘open’ screen, delivering the illusion that the scanner really does work.

    With ‘Mood Finger Scan (Prank!)’ the app owner presses the hidden button and then places their finger in the designated area to be ‘scanned’. Because they know the trick, they are then confronted with the specified “you’re feeling awesome” screen. They then ask their friend to try. Their friend however, doesn’t know about the hidden screen and the prank is played when they are confronted with the “You are an idiot” screen with the ridiculous music which has been doing the rounds on the internet for years. Example here: http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/youare

    And thus the prank is played.

    Business model:

    Much like the original finger print scanners, this works on the viral appeal of the app and the desire to be the prankee rather than the pranked!

    There is a free app with ads and then the option to upgrade at the cost of $0.99 to an ad-free model.

    This also works for iPad – rather than just a finger, you could do a palm scan reader.

    Very simple, taking an existing idea and charging it so that it becomes more than a simple allusion but a way to have fun with your friends, much like when people inadvertently click on those links in forums and are confronted with the flash video and sound.

    Here is a sketch explaining my idea in more detail: http://i.imgur.com/TmC2s.jpg

    Thanks,

    Matt

  82. My app is a photo based app. It would allow you to put text into thought and speech bubbles and then position them onto your photos. There are already a couple similar apps on the market like that, the thing that would set mine apart from them would be the social sharing functions. you would then be able to message,email, post to FB, twitter, tumblr, dropbox, instagram etc etc

  83. Contest submission:

    Backseat Driver

    When your GPS tells you you’ve made a wrong turn, does it sound like HAL 9000 in its creepiness? Well, what if we made an app that could incorporate Google Maps as well as the location feature on the iPhone in order to make a GPS that sounds a little more human.

    I think this should follow a freemium model, with a short (5 second or single image) advertisement on startup.

    The initially downloaded product would include the GPS capability, two sets of voice options (one rude and one pleasant) as well as a feature that allows people to record their own directions or have a friend, child, or other loved one record messages in “template.” (e.g. “Turn left soon” would be a template recording)

    For the Rude and Pleasant voice settings, examples would include:

    Rude: “Turn around idiot, you made a wrong turn.”

    Pleasant: “You made a wrong turn, but you are still a valuable member of society.”

    Premium options would include different accents and settings. Who wouldn’t want a suave French guy giving you directions? Or how about an inspiring or humorous quote to accompany your directions?

    I think a lot of people would buy this app for the novelty. To my knowledge, nothing like it exists yet.

  84. Hi Tim and Chad,

    I work on an app at the moment and will read the book very soon.

    Here is another idea especially for the contest:

    A game inspired by the insulting parrot. 🙂

    You start the app, enter your name and the game starts. There is a small cartoon parrot on a tree, doing his thing. He notices that you are looking at him and starts insulting you with voice through the speakers: ” What are you looking at, you baby gorilla?” . And so on.. And he is saying your real name. So, you get mad and start punching him in the face with a tennis-rocket or something else. With a swipe move like in the Fruit Ninja App. But he tries to escape, similar to the fishes in the Koipond apps, goes off the screen for a bit and then comes back. And he continues to call you names. Your goal is to punch him 10-20 times on a game level and avoid punching other innocent animals on the screen. After every punch he looks more beaten up. He gets blue eye, band-aid on his beak and so on. At some point he can’t speak any more, but he don’t give up and starts giving you the finger… The important point is he starts to mess with you first, so it’s ok to punch him.

    3 Things that are particularly important:

    1. Good graphics.

    2. Creative and funny insults, so that the app is not rejected from the Appstore.

    3. The ability to enter your name and the parrot to say it. This is important for virality. Imagine you are sitting with a friend, you enter his name, start the game and say to him:”Hey, check this out :)” The parrot starts calling him names. And your friend starts punching the damn bird.(This scene can of course be a promo video for the game.)

    Market research: Everybody loves animals being dicks (animalsbeingdicks.com) and even more people would love to punch them in the face. This is clear 🙂

    Monetizing: Introduction price free, afterwords 0.99. In-app purchases: Other annoying animals – rhino, giraffe, baby seal, you name it – 0.99 pro animal or 4.99 for 10 new animals. I think it’s important that the animals have normal names – The Rhino Richard, The Giraffe Susan..(ok, may be it’s better to have just male names 🙂 )

    I have a couple of name suggestions for the game.

    Sure had fun thinking up this game :)). Thanks for the inspiring post.

    p.s. I just wanted to post this, when I found your site and watched your How to pick winning app ideas Video. Didn’t know about the talking friends apps. But no surprise at all that with so many apps there will be a lot of talking animals… So, there you have it.. don’t hate, emulate! 🙂

  85. App Idea:

    Stand-up comedy is the new rock and roll so we need an app for that.

    1. Record your bit

    2. Pick an avatar

    3. Pick a background

    4. Pick an audience

    5. Add effects (hecklers, mic feedback, applause)

    6. PLAY

    Watch avatar perform your set or bit.

    Applause meter, get ratings and feedback for your set or bit.

    Upgrade to Pro for more “serious” comedians.

  86. Chad-

    Excellent blog post. The content is thorough, yet fast paced. The examples are interesting and inspiring. And I deeply applaud the way you are “giving back,” by helping those of us a bit behind you on the appreneur path. Following your lead, we’ve been emboldened to take a step forward in creativity and contribution.

    Thank you.

    Here is my submission: http://youtu.be/HATuzQVv8WM

    The video is a brief description of my app idea which is geared toward the enormous real estate buyer and renter market.

  87. And the Winner is…

    Polish Tracker

    An app desinged to let women rate/share/browse nail polishes from all of the major manufacturers. 

    Some key features:

    1. Let’s user easily create a list of polishes they have used. And rate/comment/share them. (I can’t tell you how many bottles of empty nail polish my wife saves just so she does not forget the brand and color!)  

    2. Users can search listings for the most popular colors/brands, longest wareing, etc. And read the reviews of others using the app.  

    Why will this app kick butt:

    1. How many women don’t use nail polish? Duh. 

    2. Next to shoes it is the acessory women obsess about the most. 

    3. No where else can users find ratings and information about ALL major brands in one location. 

    Thanks for reading! 

       

  88. Thanks for the inspiring article!

    Win or not, I’m going to pursue this appreneur thing further…

    >>> CONTEST ENTRY <<<

    App : a stylish alarm clock, with white noise soundscapes and light alarm

    Idea :

    I really thought about your suggestion of looking at successful apps and improving them.

    Alarm clock apps immediately came to mind: they are installed on just about any smartphone and people them daily.

    Nevertheless, I felt there was ample room for improvement.

    Description :

    I combined key features to create an alarm clock that is all you need from dusk till dawn.

    – it plays soothing soundscapes to help you fall asleep

    – it looks great on your nightstand (vintage fliqlo style)

    – it simulates a natural sunrise to wake you up softly

    Please check http://appcontest.exigo.be for (a lot) more details!

    I did the graphic design for the main screen, made a mockup of the user interface and performed a quick market analysis.

    Any feedback is more than welcome.

  89. Contest Submission:

    My idea starts with a simple Calorie and exercise journal in the Russian Language, with ethnic Russian Foods and a few specialized Russian exercises as well. I would eventually supply apps that focus in the achievement of goals in different aspects of life. Below please find a crude drawing of what the app would look like.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/39360554/photo.JPG

  90. Stop texting while you drive.

    App uses the GPS to calculate distance/speed.

    Slows down text entry in all apps dramatically which causes less ability to text and reduces desire to text while driving.

    Can be shut off if car stops.

    Email me for the graphic.

  91. Thanks for that great information, its just what i needed to help me get started.

    My idea is based on the current highest rated apps on the charts, the majority of the apps being games. Knowing this I thought that this would be the best place to start for my first app. Then when I singled out all the games, the thing that I found that theme for most of them was violence; whether it was fighting, shooting or using some kind of weapon. I also took into account the most well know and therefore successful apps such as instagram and draw something all have the idea of sharing/involving other user from all over the world. So my idea is a fighting game app were you can have tournaments with fictional characters with in the app, or people you know or randoms via bluetooth or internet. As the user plays more the level of there character increases, therefore making there character stronger. When an tournament is won the user collects coins that can be then used to purchase things such as weapons, clothes, lives, ect. A user can also place bets on the tournament making even more coins.

    Thats a short overview of the app. I think that it has great potential to be very successful.

  92. Hi Chad and Tim! Thanks for the opportunity to present my app.

    My app idea is the popular game “Draw Something” but with MUSIC.

    The idea is simple, users will be presented with 3 songs to HUM/Whistle/Clap or whatever as long as no words are sung.

    They will be able to listen to a preview of the song and then record for 15 seconds.

    The opponent (Facebook friend) will have 60 seconds to guess among 5 multiple choices which song it is.

    Simple yet very addicting. The reason I choose humming instead of singing is most people are insecure about singing plus having no words makes it more challenging!

    My Research based on “Draw Something” since this app will have the same social gaming component.

    1. Why is this app successful? Because its simple and provides a social component. Playing with friends.

    2. What is its rank and has it been consistent? “Draw Something” along with other social games such as “Words With Friends” has been consistently topping the charts in games for months now.

    3. Why do people want this app? (Look at the reviews.) It will be have a fun factor, users wanted to see what kinds of drawings their friends will doodle next. My game will have users wondering “What will my friends hum or whistle next!”

    4. Has this app made the customer a raving fan? Yes Draw Something has fans raving.

    5. Does this app provoke an impulse buy? Just like alot of people downloaded Draw Something because their friends were on it.

    6. Does this app meet any of my needs? Social games are a fun way to connect with friends.

    7. Did I become a raving fan after trying it? I am addicted to Draw Something and Words with Friends.

    8. Will the customer use it again? Users consistently log back on games to play.

    9. How are they marketing to their customers? (Check out the screen shots, icon design, and descriptions.) Fun cartoonish icons, descriptions have lots of fun, social and interactive terms.

    10. What is the competitive advantage of this app? Social and fun!

    11. What does this app cost? Are there in-app purchases? Advertisements? I will have a a free version with advertisement and a paid version with different features like ability to make guessing easier like Draw Something.

    Here are some screenshots of my sketches:

    https://www.scribd.com/doc/91606830/Doc-4-27-12-8-07-PM#fullscreen

    Thanks!

    Tom

  93. Hi great post Chad. I have your book on kindle, it’s great.

    Here is my submission:

    happyhour.ie

    Short video will explain everything….please look!