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 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:


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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


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 (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) 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 900 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

    An as yet unnamed weight tracking app.

    As of today the 10 of the top 50 Health and Fitness apps and 15 of the top 100 track either points or calories. One tracks photos so as to track calories. Research has shown tracking calories or pints to be ineffective way to lose weight, a far more effective way is to get people to simply thing about what they are about to put into their mouth by keeping a food journal, or even more effectively, taking a picture of what they’re eating (Zepeda and Deal).

    This app is designed to make it as easy as possible to do that, in the pro version, you open the app and you’re straight into a camera screen (, they take a picture and they go to a screen where they can add extra info if they wish ( or else if they skip the camera page they go to their records page ( which shows exactly what they’ve eaten today and has a top bar so they can easily see what they’ve eaten this week. There’s also a calendar button so they can see every meal they’ve eaten this week.

    So many meal tracking apps ignore the other side of tracking: weight, body fat and total inches, this app doesn’t. There’s also a records tab ( where they are able to add their current details and it gets tracked both on a calendar and as a handy graph so they can see all their weight loss progress in one spot. Also, when they add a new set of measurements they will be prompted to add a photo too. This means they can keep a visual record of their weightloss progress.

    There’s also a settings tab where they’ll be able to set up whether or not they want to auto share all their updates to facebook or twitter.

    This app in particular emulates three: the date bar from OmniFocus, the meal tracking from dietSNAPS and the weight tracking from TargetWeight. OmniFocus is an utterly different app with a cool interface. dietSNAPS is a cool idea but really poorly implemented, adding a meal is a pain and you have to manually fill details such as time and what meal it is; this app will assume if you last ate breakfast, your next meal is lunch! Likewise target weight is an alright weight tracking app but not very well implemented.

  2. Hi Chad and Tim,

    Truly inspiring story you have, Chad. I’ve messed around with the Emoji app in the past, and I’ve enjoyed it. I also have your book, “App Empire” on my wish list of Amazon, and I found through your website. I do have one question for you, though: I noticed on your website blog post “Finding Developers…” you mentioned avoiding royalties. Is there any situation where you think it’s a good idea?

    My idea is an application that gives you the opportunity to monitor the most important aspects of your Google AdWords account, including an overview of campaign performance (CTR, clicks); an overview of ad group performance (top and bottom performing ads and keywords), and a trended chart of performance of the campaign (two lines: clicks and CTR) over the past 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months.

    The reason I chose this app is because advertisers are *obsessed* with how their campaigns are performing, as they often put a lot of money towards advertising with Google. This app gives them an overview of performance, so they can quickly tell which campaigns, ad groups, ads, and keywords are working, and which aren’t so they can make quick adjustments.

    While doing extensive research through and, I noticed there’s an abundance of Google Analytics and AdSense apps, but no good AdWords ones. However, one app stuck out on beautifulpixels that I drew a lot of inspiration from: Analytiks, a beautiful and simplistic Google Analytics app (

    There are a few different screens on my app. The crude drawings I made are at the URL that follows, and the numbering reflects below. Drawing URL:

    1) Landing screen, similar to the Analytiks landing screen above. The user can swipe side to side for different campaigns, and the landing screen has an overview of CTR and clicks today for the campaign selected (with a percentage increase over the previous day).

    2) When you flip the screen sideways, you’re presented with a chart that trends the clicks and CTR of the campaign over the 1 w, 1 m, 3 m, 6 m time periods mentioned above.

    3) This is the screen the user sees when they double-tap anywhere on the landing screen, and it’s a more detailed breakdown of their campaign performance. You can see the three best and worst performing ads and keywords, and the percentage decrease or increase over the average in the selected campaign. Time periods are changeable as well. Lastly, in the upper-right corner, the user can click the arrow to share a screenshot of performance, and then email that screenshot. This is ideal if they’re working on a team, on the run, and they want someone back at the office to make a change.

    P.S. I kept a running log of how I went from 6+ ideas over the span of six days to this one final idea, as well as a journal of what I decided I needed to do each day and what I found. You can see it here: It stops on Thursday, because at that point I figured out what I wanted to do.

  3. 7 Minute Butt Blaster

    Firm and tone your buns in minutes a day

    Beginner, intermediate, and advanced workouts for every fitness level

    The best glute exercises: proven by EMG

    There is similar apps to this in the HEALTH AND FITNESS TOP 25, there is a lot of room for improvement in exercise selection the UI’s could be slicker.

    The cheesy 7 minute name is in the tradition of hugely popular fitness fads ie: thigh master, except 7 minute butt blaster actually works the entire body and produces results

    The base app will be free an include 1 workout/ fitness level with the option to purchase more

    A digitized drawing similar to this wil provide the icon

  4. I’m a Chief in the Navy 17+yrs and I find myself raising the youth of America and other countries who join the Military. How bout an App that gives people help with their questions when MOM and DAD aren’t there, like what “THE CHIEF” does.

    How to set up your bank accounts, buy a car (what to look for), how to cook, what to do in case of an emergency (stabbing, fall, broken bones) and of course the Military side of it:

    How to take care of your family from across the world (tie all the resource website for the military to one app.) , college and you, medical benefits, your career and evals, and Instructions/manuals

    Name: Ask Chief or Need Help? Icon: Anchor Developer I’d use: ANDRIOS they’ve done some other Military apps

  5. Good day Chad,

    I just wanted to first thank you for the opportunity to present my idea to you. Your post was very inspirational to say the least. I read it at work, and then immediately went home, and have worked nonstop on my proposal. I am very excited to have read your article in time to still get my submission in.

    App description:

    My proposal is for an application that is similar to the pattern lock of an Android phone. I am tentatively calling the project Color Lock. Basically, it gives you the ability to set up a password on your phone that locks it until the specified sequence is entered. What is unique about this app is that the password is colors. For example orange, yellow, blue, red. Green could be your unlock password. This would be visually represented in the app.

    Marketing and features description:

    This app would use the freemium model. The free version would unlock a basic 5 entry password from which you can pick a few colors. The paid version would include an expanded selection of colors, and the ability to set the length of your password. The paid version would also include the ability to include contact information on the lock screen, so that a lost phone can be returned to you. The paid features would replace an advanced nag screen that would be included several times through the primary process of locking the phone. When you change your password, you will be sent a reminder email to an email that you designate. This will let you get into your phone should you forget the password.

    Future Development Possibilities:

    I have additional options that would be included in the paid version as development budget permits. Just a few ideas are ability to name password, speak password, different types of icons, ability to use own pictures, password individual files, take a picture and send out a location alert when the wrong password is used, and many other options. I have designed the basic functionality of the app so that it is easy to include additional features in future development cycles should the app be a hit.

    Alignment of ideas with successful apps.

    The UI of the app will be heavily influenced by popular apps. Items that have been synthesized from varied apps are the location and sizing of the various features, color schemes, and design and layout.

    I believe that there is a market for this product for the following reasons:

    1.) I believe people would buy this as it is an enhancement of a basic phone feature.

    2.) The competition offers only a very small enhancement to this feature. Our app would offer a much greater change to the basic experience.

    3.) My app would have cross-demographical appeal. Depending on marketing strategy we can also target additional niches to enter with this app. People who want to save battery power for instance. Setting a shorter lock duration, would help with battery power. The most popular battery power app has 199,886 ratings for example. And this is just one of the battery power apps out there. There are additional examples of cross-demographical appeal as well.

    4.) The competitors are highly ranked on the charts. And they are very consistently high ranked. I have reviewed the highest ranked similar apps on, and they have been #1 in utilities, and 15-18 in top I-phone apps. This seems to be an indicator of a very large market.

    5.) I have a marketing advantage in that my app is the only free to use model. If the value is there, people will upgrade at a large rate to a premium version. Making it free will increase the size of my user base. And once you have tried my app, I think that there will be a high possibility that you will purchase the app.

    Additional entry to market justification:

    Of the top 120 applications in my category, there are 6 that adding functionality to the pattern lock. These 6 applications have a total of 10021 reviews. With the highest ranked one having 5246 reviews. Even when I take into account a smaller market penetration rate, I am still guaranteed to make my investment back. Quite likely this is going to represent an understatement, as not all paid users will leave a review. The best thing is that we are going to achieve a much better download rate because we are using the freemium model. The competition does not. All 6 of them cost money to download.

    In addition, our application is the only the only that offers a great deal of enhancement to the pattern lock feature. The others merely change the color, or sometimes image of the dot. All of the competitors still use a dot base.

    Market analysis of #1 Competitor

    1. Why is this app successful?

    ? This app is successful because it is a upgrade to a feature that many people use. It is an upgrade to a basic phone feature

    2. What is its rank and has it been consistent?

    ? It is ranked consistently #1 in utilities, and anywhere from 15-18 in top apps.

    3. Why do people want this app?

    ? People buy this app because they want the ability to change the look and feel of their password. This is phone personalization.

    4. Has this app made the customer a raving fan?

    ? Not really. Several users report issues with using the phone. The five star review rate is only 80%. I think I can do better.

    5. Does this app provoke an impulse buy?

    ? Yes. It is affordably priced, and it prompts the user to upgrade as the functionality of the app is being used.

    6. Does this app meet any of my needs?

    ? It allows for more phone personalization, it can also offers additional security for your phone. Security is one of the basic human needs.

    7. Did I become a raving fan after trying it?

    o It was not what I expected when I downloaded it. It did not change the basic password protection, but instead gave the ability to lock individual files.

    8. Will the customer use it again?

    ? A customer, who uses this app, will use it frequently. It prompts to use it every time you view a locked file.

    9. How are they marketing to their customers? (Check out the screen shots, icon design, and descriptions.)

    ? They are using it to emphasize the fact that you can hide pictures that you may not want others to see. I think this is an excellent marketing strategy, and will be including it in mine as well. Many of the competitors images show files that are sexually suggestive. I will take a different tact of emphasizing this feature, but the emphasis will be there.

    10. What is the competitive advantage of this app?

    ? I would say that the competitive advantage of this app lies within the lock graphics. This app is crisper, and includes more colors and a better graphic design for the pattern lock.

    11. What does this app cost? Are there in-app purchases? Advertisements?

    ? The app costs 0.99, but it is marketed as being on sale from 3.99. There is no other monetization.

    I have posted a youtube video here explaining the app,

    I have posted a picture here to show the app’s customer experience and workflow here.

    This is a basic mock up, and additional graphical work does need to be done to make it more appealing. But I think this gives a good overview of the vision.

    I would like to thank you again for letting me present my idea.


  6. I drew my idea on paper and scanned it. Having non-erasable ink and limited writing space forced me to be concise and not procrastinate by editing and re-editing.

    Basic idea: Sometimes you really need to memorize stuff. As I learned in grade school with an Apple //e, a drill/quiz program can be a useful tool for that task. My idea is to start with user-defined data files: Spreadsheet, one row per concept, each column is a different way to represent that concept. For example, columns with the English word “dog”, the Chinese character for dog, how to pronounce that character in Mandarin, hiragana, romanized Japanese…

    The user opens that spreadsheet in my app, chooses which column is the question, then which is the answer. The app displays the question with 1 right answer and 3 random wrong answers. Tap an answer, get right or wrong feedback, move on to next random question. Continue until the user taps “end”.

    This is similar to how Rosetta Stone works. Except mine would be MUCH cheaper and text only. (Other media – maybe in a future premium version?) The user would have complete control over the data, which is ideal for studying less popular languages or a particular course’s vocabulary list. Also for memorizing math tables and learning new alphabets. Some useful sample data would be available for download.

    See the file linked above for screen sketches and logical flow.

  7. Today’s urban guy is career-oriented, fashion-forward, and trend-savvy.  He also is confused as hell when it comes to dating.  Drinks first or dinner after?  Classy or casual?  High energy atmosphere or quiet and intimate?  And once you have those answers, WHERE, besides the three sushi joints you call for takeout, do you take her?

    Search “dating” or “date planning” or “dating ideas” in the app store and literally hundreds of results come back for connecting, hooking up, getting free advice, and my personal favorite, “Pocket Hypnosis” (don’t even want to know).  However there is no simple location-based app that sorts your date-destination options according to your personal needs.

    Introducing Date Rate, the first ever dating-specific app for selecting bars, clubs, restaurants, coffee shops, and other venues.  

    How it works:

    Like Urban Daddy or Yelp, basic categories narrow your search field:

    Venue (i.e. drinks, cuisine type, etc)

    -1st, 2nd, nth date

    -Noise Level




    -Energy level

    -Dress code

    -Outdoor seating, rooftop access, good view, etc.

    -Exclusivity (how easily can I get in?)

    MOST importantly: users reviews.  

    Simply put, most men like nudging elbows and getting tips. Having the strategic advantage and confidence of knowing what to expect ahead of time let’s us focus on what actually matters: getting to know the woman you’re interested in.

    This is a free app and will be marketed to men ages 24-45 in major U.S. cities. Revenue will be primarily ad-based, though there will eventually be premium options for businesses.  Users with a DR account can rate on the above categories and can leave personalized reviews.  If a business is not yet in the system, users can write reviews and submit to admin for listing.  Non-business entities such as parks and other public spaces will also be included.

    In-the-venue details are encouraged, but keep the bedroom talk to yourself!

  8. My idea for an app is to create a better URL shortener like or My URL shortener would make custom links. have a customize option for their links but they still have the in front of what you customize and words get taken for only one such url. My app would allow you to use the customized word that other people might have already taken because it would be linked to your account. This app would customize any text words you would want to turn into a link. This would save you the characters if you were tweeting the link or posting on a social media website.

    Example: version: volunteer beach clean up tomorrow at tasker’s beach. complete the waiver and I’ll see you there

    -the link is at the end, looks ugly and takes up characters.

    My version: volunteer beach clean up tomorrow at tasker’s beach. complete the *waiver* and I’ll see you there

    -in this case the word waiver would be the hyperlink used, this looks clean and saves you the characters.

    This app is simple and would make the use of the url in social media more appealing. If I don’t win this contest, you welcome for such a great idea.

  9. Tim,

    Thanks for being who you are and if I had the 30 mins, I would like to roll with you sometime.


    Thanks for the inspirational book, I am now setting my sights on being free.

    * * *

    App idea: Take my temperature / Take my mood app

    This is app is a simple design modification / tweak to some other apps that have been selling in the top 50 apps in the basic Entertainment category.


    Launch the app.

    A black, plain screen is up or any color that is selected from the settings.

    A user swipes, touches, strokes, blows into the mic, or taps the screen.

    Screen feedback of multiple colors occurs, then a random temp or mood is presented back to the user.

    Similar to Crazy 8 Ball responses, mood rings, etc …

    Built in moods or temps can be manually set by the user or left on random. For example, boy meets girl. Girl swipes the phone, ipad – mood / temp comes back, ” I’m ice cold. Don’t bother …” Busted. But, boy is trying … OR …

    The mood / temps are manually programmed by the end user. Also, an image / logo can be uploaded to be used in the opening screen. A deeper use of the app could be like: The club host, meets a group of people, launches the ipad app, someone in the group touches the app, and it comes back with something like, ” You are warm like a baked muffin, 50% off your first beer.”

    The app can be use for simple fun, or creative openers / marketing for all kinds of situations.

    Thanks for the opportunity guys.


  10. I have been looking for something to help direct me as to pricing items that I make. I have scoured the app store looking for pricing “techniques” and can’t find any. I have come up with 4 basic steps to determine cost of an item.

    1. You need to know the cost of your supplies. ( For a necklace I used $29 worth of supplies )Have one page to punch in those numbers.

    2. Labor is the next page. You need to figure out a fair hourly wage for yourself and then add in Social security, taxes, sick leave, medicare. Multiply your time in making a piece by the hourly wage you desire. (For me, I decided $12 an hour + $6 an hour for taxes etc. The item took me 4 hours to make so that is $72)

    3. 3rd page is Overhead. This may take a while to figure out but once you are done, you can use the same number most of the time. You need to take into account: rent, water, heat, light, advertising, shippiing, packing, tools, etc. Total your overhead for a year and divide by the number of hours you put into your business a year. (I used: rent $30, Adv. $10, Shipping $40, tools $30, computer/internet $30 which equals $140 a month or $1680 year. I work 6 hours a day for 250 days a year which is 1500. $1680 divided by 1500 = 1.12. It takes me 4 hours to make something so over head is $4.48 and finially,

    4. Profit. You choose how much profit you want to make whether it is 3% or 150%. (I chose 6% which makes my cost for the item I made $111.80)

    I really think that having something like this app would make it so much more simple for the artist to determine how much they should charge for an item. Plus they could plug into it anytime and just change a few of the numbers for the price of another item. It could be used by crafters, hobbyists, and artists alike. Thanks for this contest. It really got me to think about apps in a new way.

    Thanks so much for getting me inspired about apps. It truly IS the way of the future.

  11. Great article Chad! I figured it’d take you up on your offer.

    *Here’s my entry for the app contest.*

    The app could be called something like FitTracker. The basic idea to for people to be able to log their workout real-time while at the gym. Most everybody who is serious about fitness will have their iPhones with them to listen to music while working out.

    I want to make it simple for people to record their workout and weight training progress real-time instead of trying to remember it later or by lugging around a pad and pencil.

    Now, there are a couple of apps out there such as iFitness and GOLift that help record people’s workout routine, however, the apps seem clunky and complicated. I think it can be made easier by cleaning up the interface a little bit.

    An interface like epicurious would allow people to quickly add exercises based on the some of the most commonly used or those that the individual user selects most often. With this, people could built out a workout prior to heading to the gym, and just mark the steps as complete as they go along. Also, it could allow for on the fly input in case you were super motivated and did an extra 5 push-ups at the end. Additionally, a workout calorie counter running total would give people the motivation to know exactly what they achieved that day at the gym.

    I think there is definitely a market out there for a mobile workout planner and scorecard. Also, future releases could include the ability to ‘share’ your workout with friends via the app or facebook.

  12. I took a look at the top grossing apps. At the time I Checked which was 2 days ago 17/25 where social media multi players. most of these were also role playing games in the style of funzio crime city or dragonvale. what I did notice was that there was plenty of these castle,dragon, ancient mystical games but no space game. 

    so my app is a social media multi player built around a space theme.

    My players will have the option to either command a humanoid ship or a alien ship. object is to expand the power,size and weaponry of the ship. their will be challenges and missions  to get more energy, more matter ,more air and more crew. also players will be able to battle each other for more points to move up in class. as they move up in class rank they will also be able to start building a fleet. 

    the app will be distributed as a freemium app. Were players will be able to buy upgrade packages for their ships if the they want to make a more powerfully ship quicker. Its simple straight foward story theme. Player will have option of creating a account or logging on using Facebook. I’m aware that the concept is old but the when you take a look at the top grossing apps the concept works very fine. 

  13. Hi Chad, finished your book ” AppEmpire about a month ago “> I had been contemplating the opportunity for a time now until your book gave me the last push I needed.

    So here is what I came up with after research:

    After reviewing the app store (A prolonged data analysis of rankings) at my iphone I realized that people were spending a lot of time playing trying to be successful at something. You see an app for managing a bakery, a restaurant, taking care of a pet, a barn, a house, town… you get the point) I even added a name to it “digitalpreneurs”. I also notice that there is a correlation between this types of of complementary lives and how people spend money in apps.

    As usual I started criticizing society for not spending the same time and effort towards their real life. But hey… trends are trends.

    So I refocused and came to this Idea, I remember when I was around 5th grade a pocket size digital pet caring game was taking over in all of the schools of my country of Puerto Rico. Which made me realize that it is easier for people to fail in a “re-startable” life than in real life. So they somehow feel realized with this 2nd life task…..

    So going straight to he point here is the app idea I came up with so little time to research, think and post it.. So here it is:

    {It needs to be a free app . The concept is as follows:

    – The app is about how successful can you raise a person to be from a baby to old age.

    – You start by taking care of a baby (feeding, nursing, medicines if necessary….) all through the stages and ages.. The baby then turns into a kid-teenager- college- adult – retired till it finally dies..

    – The Idea is to care for him and make decisions on how to spend your character’s time.

    – Every certain time (24-48 hours) it’s your character’s birthday.. Situations and decisions change with time, depending on your character’s age…

    – You will have basic decisions and solutions to choose from, but for those aspects of life that you want to enhance or cover for those things you didn’t do enough you can buy (i.e. working out for because your character got obese for eating and sleeping to much; paying to get at least in a class B university for not studying enough during your teenage years). You need to be successful to retire a very wealthy and realized life.

    – You will have a score upon retirement or death, your score will be posted in the app’s community (hopefully facebook one day) so that people can brag about their successful life.}

    That in a nutshell is the app….

    Hope you like it. I have much more information if requested..


  14. AWESOME Post, Tim ! As a fellow appreneur I love every single bit of info here.

    I teach people how to create app empires of their own myself and have to say everyone NEEDS to pay attention to this post. Absolute gold guys!


    Billy B.

  15. Here’s my contest entry…thanks for the opportunity !

    My Fashion Colors

    The story:

    My wife’s shopping life and style completely changed the day she had a stylist tell her what her ‘colors’ suited her. She got interesting recommendations and was surprised by some of them. They all turned out great though!

    The app idea:

    Provide women with a color palette tool they can use in any situation, particularly in stores, to get an idea of which clothing color to buy, what matches it, etc.

    Why is this a good idea? :

    – The concept worked for my wife and was influential in her shopping habits. She paid a pretty penny for the service (and doesn’t regret at all) so I believe other women would gladly pay a few bucks for a similar service

    – Some related ‘Style guide’ apps rank well in the Lifestyle category of the app store. See ‘Hairstyle’, ranked as #70

    – Almost all the apps I found in the app store that were ranked in this area kinda sucked, excuse my French

    – There are straightforward ways to expand on the concept of this app. A few cool features include:

    1. An up-sell to see what glass color & shapes suit your face or jewelry recommendations. The app already had color info, why not use it for something else

    2. Affiliation to clothes/accessory stores to buy stuff in your colors or book personal shopping appointments

    3. Build in social sharing of your colors and the ability to share it with friends of similar complexion, hair color, etc.

    4. Regular emails with style inspiration quotes and tips (as evergreen as possible to allow automation)…the list goes on.

    Here’s a short video with simple wireframes:

    (let me know if doesn’t work)

  16. My app idea is rather simple. Android and Apple don’t have a way to create groups of text messages…and make this personal. Say I want to text 6 friends, because they are my bowling friends, and want to ask them if they want to go bowling Friday night…I have to add each of their names each time to a text, which is a hassle with 6 friends, but lets say I want to invite all of my friends to a party via text…I have no way to categorize my friends groups and text them all at once. It would be great if I had an app that could do that, and would take their first name in my address book if I use …or something like that to make it personal for that individual.

    1. I wanted to say…but the text markup fixed me they would have ” somewhere in the text message, which would make it personal

  17. For those who liked this article, I highly recommend you pick up Chad’s App Empire book. It really follows the 4HWW philosophy of reading top how to style books by people who have actually DONE what you want to do. I read it in two days and it has totally changed the direction I was planning to head with my app business.

    Contest Idea – Video Home Monitor – Wireless IP/network cameras with such features as night vision, 2 way audio, and remote movement have become quite affordable (for example, the Foscam FI8918W runs about $88). Paired with a good app for your phone or tablet, you can view a room in your house from down the hall or across the world. The closest common off-the-shelf solution would be a video baby monitor which runs about $250 and up for a lot less features and no remote access. Such baby monitors are also pretty much only useful while your kid is in a crib, since they can’t pan around to view a whole room. Similar solutions targeted towards businesses are even more expensive and usually lack any sort of hand-held viewing device.

    Additional Feature and Sketches

  18. My app would be called ‘They Said What!!!!’

    When I was at college a million years ago a group of us Physics geeks maintained a quote list of what we or our professors said, being horny geek adolescents most of the quotes were taken out of context and in our own little world were hilarious…not so much when I think back now but there you go.

    So the app would allow anyone to create as many of their own geek/ niche groups as they want. They could invite whomever they want thus giving that person reading and adding privileges.

    Any quotes added would obviously go to out to the group members. There would also be a context field for adding background if needed.

    A group member could see quotes from a particular group thay they founded or are a member of and also in a live feed of all quotes from all groups that they are involved in.

    Like facebook but not….like twitter but not. This would not be social media where you broadcast to as many followers as possible or hundreds of ‘friends’ and less beauracratic than setting up circles or groups or whatever they call it on facebook and google.

    This is designed for small intimate groups which each have their very own social and context parameters.

    A group could also be of one person who needs to track maybe the conversation of a overpowering boss or soon to be ex spouse.

    The comments/ quotes could be input by keyboard, audio or video recording or by picture as we know sometimes no words are needed.

    I could see this app being used by students, by office co workers, by collaborative groups, by 4HWW-ers

    Now I just need a devloper and your money – if the latter doesn’t happen thanks for your post – I know where I am heading now.

  19. Hi Chad, first of all thank you for the article, I loved it!.

    My husband is a chef and I’m not much of a cook, I’ve been always impressed with the easiness with which he creates any meal out of anything we have, and they are over the top.

    So my idea for an application is this:

    Name: Menumaker

    How it works: there will be a list of ingredients – and you just check on all or just some of the ingredients that you have in the refrigerator and the pantry, including spices. And then it will come up with the recipes of the foods you can prepare. Also it should be able to save it to a database and you can update it as you add or subtract ingredients, also there should be a little icon with the basic ingredients and spices you should always have in your kitchen, and the alternatives for it. It will give you recipes with very little ingredients and the more you add the more recipes will show up. For example: Let’s say you have eggs, vinegar and lemon – it will give you a recipe for a vinaigrette – add lettuce and now you have a salad with a vinaigrette, etc. It will be developed by a professional Chef with the best recipes.

    I think we could add more features to it too. I didn’t see anything like it, and I believe it would be a great help to anybody that needs to cook.

    Please let me know what you think! Wether I win or not I would love to hear your opinion on this category! Thank you for the contest!

  20. ClockStar Alarm Clock

    Warning: this alarm clock will go completely apeshit on you.

    Most alarm clock apps have a ton of options, or added bells & whistles. Some have tried to copy or improve upon SleepCycle’s idea of using an accelerometer to pick a time to wake you up. But all have one thing in common: once the alarm goes off, you stop it by simply hitting a button on the iPhone’s touch screen. This is easy to do and allows the user to go back to sleep after briefly rolling over to hit the off button.

    ClockStar would use the accelerometer in place of an off button. When the alarm goes off, you could (if you select this option) be allowed to hit the snooze button once. But to actually deactivate the alarm for good, you don’t hit a button. You pick up the phone, get out of bed and do some calisthenics while holding the phone. ClockStar uses your accelerometer to recognize that you’re doing the required exercises, and turns off the alarm when you perform the required motions. By this point you’re well and truly woken up and won’t go back to bed.

    I originally chose jumping jacks as the exercise to use, but people’s phones could fly out of their hands, so I am going with wood choppers (swing left shoulder to right hip, and vice versa) at first. I want to add several exercises to choose between such as lateral raises, bicycle crunches and squat thrusts, because some people may have injuries preventing them from doing certain motions. Eventually I will add the option to select a mix of several exercises as the “off switch.”

    Also, the alarm sound would not be up to the user. There will be several sounds, such as gunfire and explosions, barking dogs, a bunch of voices talking, death metal and construction noises. One will be selected at random each morning, so that the user never gets used to the alarm and becomes able to tune it out. And if you don’t like the sound your phone is making, that’s all the more reason to do your damned exercises and get it over with. I’ll add a new sound to the rotation every few months, just to keep users on their feet (literally). I’ll be testing this part extensively; I’ll make the random shuffle optional if enough of the early users hate it.

    In the long run, I’d like to add an optional functionality like SleepCycle has for timing the alarm to go off during REM sleep. For now though, I just want to get a working version made with this new innovation and get rolling.

    Research: There are a ton of alarm clock apps, and many are popular. SleepCycle, which I love, is number 2 in health & fitness, and costs $.99. Alarm Clock HD (Free), Alarm clock HD ($.99) and Alarm Clock Pro ($.99) are 3, 4 and 5 in utilities, respectively. My Alarm Clock ($.99) and Alarm CLock Free (Free) are 16 and 18 in utilities. Nighstand Central musical alarm clock is 18th in Productivity at $2.99. Sleep Time is 23rd in Health & Fitness at $.99, and there are a ton of other paid alarm clock apps ranked in the top apps, but I’ve stuck to the top 25. Utilities are the biggest categories for alarm clocks, but a number of successful ones are also in productivity and health & fitness.

    The following research paper shows that the iPhone can be used, and has been used, to recognize gestures involving much smaller and more precise motions than would be needed for ClockStar. This proves that ClockStar is well within the iPhone’s technical capability.

    Most alarm clock app icons just look like an actual clock. The icon for ClockStar would look like an anthropomorphic clock face. It would be orange, making an angry face and looking like it was yelling. Other alarm clock app icons are mostly green or blue, with a couple being orange or yellow. SleepCycle, the top paid alarm clock app, is orange-yellow. This is an action color, and not coincidentally the color of most Buy Now buttons on the internet, so mine would be similar but just slightly darker, to stand out slightly while achieving the same effect.

    The interface would look very similar to the iPhone’s built-in alarm function. Basically just a new color scheme (probably orange background, black text, maybe some grey trim) plus the added option to select which exercises you want to do to act as the off button.

    I’ll charge $.99 for the app at first. I thought about starting at $2.99, but I want to make a lot of initial sales so I can get some reviews. Also, total downloads influences an app’s search ranking, supposedly quite heavily, so I want to get as many downloads as I can, as fast as I can. I’ll probably even make it free for the first couple weeks while I badger my friends to download it and give me good reviews. I’ll include a warning that the price is $.99 for a limited time only, then try raising the price after a while to see how revenue changes.

    I originally titled this Clockageddon: The Ultimate Alarm Clock, but I noticed that when you search apps in the app store, it only displays the first 15 characters of the name, including spaces. I wanted people to see the word “Alarm” in the name when searching apps, before they even clocked on it. So ClockStar Alarm Clock will read “ClockStar Alarm…” I think Clockageddon is a way cooler and more appropriate name, but it’s more important to be understood, so the word “Alarm” has to be displayed.

    Most alarm clocks try to be user-friendly. And that’s good- right up until it’s time to wake up. At that point, you need your alarm clock to kick your ass.

  21. Contest Entry:

    Based on my research, the top charting and grossing apps are games. My app is a simple game which has the option to be played solo or against friends (either directly against them or to compete via a Faceboo-linked high score table). The game is simple enough, it’s a variation on the Six Degrees game. The app presents you with two random movie starts and you have to content them by movies and co-starts in as few a links as possible. The fewer links you have, the more points you get. There can also be staggered levels of difficulty. (E.g. the quicker you make the connections, the better your score). For actions fans, we can stick within that genre – same for comedy fans, noir addicts, etc. There can be different graphics/sounds depending on the genre. (This aspect of the game could be an optional purchasable upgrade).

    To make the competing against friends version more interesting, in addition to the standard head-to-head version of the above, people can also challenge their friends by naming the two movie stars they need to connect. Friends can then try to outdo each other in difficulty.


    Thanks for the interesting blog Chad. You inspired me to download your book and so far it is fascinating. Cheers.

  22. My app would be called ‘They Said What!!!!’

    When I was at college a million years ago a group of us Physics geeks maintained a quote list of what we or our professors said, being horny geek adolescents most of the quotes were taken out of context and in our own little world were hilarious…not so much when I think back now but there you go.

    So the app would allow anyone to create as many of their own geek/ niche groups as they want. They could invite whomever they want thus giving that person reading and adding privileges.

    Any quotes added would obviously go to out to the group members. There would also be a context field for adding background if needed.

    A group member could see quotes from a particular group thay they founded or are a member of and also in a live feed of all quotes from all groups that they are involved in.

    Like facebook but not….like twitter but not. This would not be social media where you broadcast to as many followers as possible or hundreds of ‘friends’ and less beauracratic than setting up circles or groups or whatever they call it on facebook and google.

    This is designed for small intimate groups which each have their very own social and context parameters.

    A group could also be of one person who needs to track maybe the conversation of a overpowering boss or soon to be ex spouse.

    The comments/ quotes could be input by keyboard, audio or video recording or by picture as we know sometimes no words are needed.

    I could see this app being used by students, by office co workers, by collaborative groups, by 4HWW-ers

    Now I just need a programmer and your money – if the latter doesn’t happen thanks for your post – I know where I am heading now.

    Apologies if this is a duplicate my ipad crashed midway through submission

  23. Name of the app:

    Probably Not

    Emulating the time killer Draw Something, but used as a social interactive between those more comfortable with words as expression A pair of random words (noun, verb) sent to first person initiating game..send completed sentence to next selected player who embellishes the story with their word pair, and so the end perhaps Shakespearean quality, but probably not .

  24. This will need a lot of programming, but is a long tail idea that matches the Ferriss brand……

    An app that translates into subtitles- when watching a movie, tv show, into different languages. Watch tv in Hong Kong? Manderin to english… or german….. or something.

  25. Hi, my name is PJ and I am an aspiring appreneur. I have been playing around with tons of app ideas for about a year now, and now that my college student loans are becoming a crushing burden (over 100K!) I have decided that my talents are best used in the technology industry and therefore, apps. Over this past week I brainstormed dozens of apps using your process from the article. I found your method of finding apps that attempt to perform a desired function, and making it even better. I also thoroughly enjoyed reading about the games and utility apps that are in the running and wish everyone the best of luck, and remember even if an idea doesn’t win, many of these exciting app ideas should still be made available. So +10 Internets for the creation of this article; it has inspired not only myself, but many.

    With that said, I unveil “BlackBox” (working-title). In a nutshell, BlackBox turns your phone into a covert, personal security device for use during any number of emergency or crisis situations. BlackBox will wait in the background rather than making you open the app to activate its security functions like most “panic button” apps. This is a major improvement over any security apps of a similar function on the market now which could jeopardize much needed time and sometimes secrecy. The covert nature of BlackBox also allows it to be applied to more complex situations where open phone usage to call emergency authorities may endanger your life (abductions,muggings, hostage situations, domestic violence, etc.) rather than, “help I just got in a car accident and instead of calling 911 like a normal person I had to use an app”. Typical apps that offer similar functionality do not truly have any advantage over just calling the authorities manually since they are time consuming and terribly obvious.

    When Blackbox recognizes your personalized activation code (entered using the physical buttons on your device) it will set your phone into crisis mode(confirmed by a single small inaudible “pulse” of vibration).This instantly makes your phone seemingly dead(display “power needed symbol” or nothing at all) and nonfunctional to outside users(assailants) until the custom code is entered for deactivation begins a data stream from your device to a Google App Engine server and then is made accessible from our single purpose distress signal response website ( [will not be used for app feature lists/etc.]) to your customized In Case of Emergency Contacts through a recovery code. Said recovery code will be distributable to authorities through the ICE contacts rather than directly which would limit developer liability and other various issues that I have taken to task in my detailed proof of concept. This data would include interval gps locations, video and audio, etc. This is where BlackBox becomes helpful and stands out from the apps already on the market. Gps location of the origin of any incident allows for authorities to find eyewitnesses or evidence at the scene of the crime giving you, your loved ones, and law enforcement and emergency response authorities a vital edge over the situation and increases your chances of coming out of any crisis situation alive.

    Furthermore the integration of various well established social networks (Facebook,twitter,google +), mobile communication networks(Skype,Voxer), and potentially “home” security systems(ADT,Onstar) will allow pre-customized “Distress Signals” to be sent out. These could(privacy options allow customization for each individual medium) include gps alongside other information inside of a message that would read something like this ” THIS IS A DISTRESS SIGNAL FROM BOB’S IPHONE, PLEASE ALERT LOCAL EMERGENCY AUTHORITIES. THIS MESSAGE WILL CONTINUE TO BE POSTED AT REGULAR INTERVALS UNTIL BOB DEACTIVATES BLACKBOX SECURITY SYSTEM. THIS IS NOT A TEST/JOKE”.

    All of this may seemed a bit cluttered or underdeveloped but this is just a basic overview of the features. I know some may question the use of hardware buttons due to firmware limitations but I have devised a complex yet simple workaround that will allow this essential and defining functionality. Further details will be released in a clean and organized pdf format upon request from Chad or any other parties interested in being a part of the development process (PROGRAMMERS!).

    Thanks for your consideration and constructive input,


  26. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states mobile phone related distractions have led to an increasing number of automobile fatalities in the last 5 years, while at the same time the U.S. Census Bureau reports that commute times are on the rise with the average American spending over 100 hours in the car in 2012.

    Read it to me! will let you keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road while it reads aloud your facebook activity feed, twitter trends, or most recent emails or texts. It also has the capability to read traffic updates, ebooks, web articles or any other text you choose to display on screen. This app allows you to keep up-to-date with all of your social media connections while on the road or in any situations where you can’t view your mobile device (like getting ready in the morning, brushing your teeth, at the store, etc).

    If you’re leaving work late on a Friday and need to catch up on what your friends and family have posted on facebook, simply click the facebook icon from Read it to me! and it will start reading all the latest updates on your activity feed. It’s a great way to be in the know, while you’re on the go!

    Read it to me! is also great for on-the-go Moms who need to get the kids to soccer practice and don’t have time to sit and catch-up on emails from friends and family. You can have your email read to you while you drive and even get up-to-the minute traffic updates so you’ll never be late again!

    Avoid the wreck and drive safely while staying connected to your social world.

    App Specifications: The initial app will be free and includes intelligent text-to-speech transcription for all of: facebook, twitter, email, text, traffic, web and ebooks. It will lead marketplace with its high quality “human-like” voices and its slick interface. Revenue will be generated from intermittent audio advertisements. There will also be a premium version costing $1.99 that will remove ads, provide customized voices, and the ability to “learn” speech patterns and dialects to name just a few features.

    I hope this gives you a good general overview. Obviously, I don’t want to give everything away here but if selected I would love to share the rest of the features with you!

    Here’s a quick “mock” example screenshot I created showing the homescreen:

  27. The summer between my junior and senior years of college was an isolated one. Instead of enjoying concert and friends, I was studying for the LSAT, which is the law school admission test, at a now defunct coffee shop. Unfortunately, none of my friends joined me on this quest.

    Four years later, I had another isolated summer while studying for the bar exam. I attended law school in Alabama. After graduation, most of my friends had dispersed between Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida. I’m a Nashville native and returned home for the test. Once again, I knew very few fellow test takers.

    I thought to myself, “Man, I wish I had someone to bounce ideas off of. Why isn’t there an AroundMe for test takers???”


    Not only would this have cured my blues, but everyone preparing for a standardized test (ex. PCAT, GRE, GMAT, MCAT, college finals, and so on).

    My idea touches on the education, lifestyle, and social networking apps. My vision is for an interface that looks a lot like Yelp or AroundMe. This app would find people who post where and what they are studying (ex. I’m at Starbucks studying for the PCAT. Hit me up!!). The searcher could then click on the post and find directions to that location. Perhaps, there could even be an instant messaging platform for added convenience.

    I think this app would generate revenue for three main reasons. First, lifestyle and social networking apps dominate the marketplace and are integral to how people function. Second, the demographic is large and targeted. And third, the target demographic is accustomed to buying educational aids.

    I. Lifestyle and Social Networking apps dominate the marketplace.

    From what I can tell, “Lifestyle” apps are any tools that make your life easier and “Social Networking” apps are anything that puts you in touch with other people.

    My app combines popular elements of both. It makes it easier to find like-minded people around you.

    Since we all understand the widespread popularity of social networking apps, I’ll focus on lifestyle apps.

    Just a couple of quick stats:

    • Yelp made 30M in revenues in ’09 and its app is currently #98 of all

    free apps.

    • AroundMe has over 6M unique users per month and is currently #18 in

    free lifestyle apps (that’s remarkable since it’s been an app since ’08).

    Now, I don’t believe my app will generate these kinds of numbers since it is for a more defined audience; however, I use these stats to demonstrate how many people use AroundMe and Yelp’s interfaces. These interfaces simplify the user’s life by providing him or her with directions to the closest place he or she is looking for. Since this tool is now integrated into so many people’s daily routines, why not use it to find a study buddy?

    II. The demographic is very large and targeted

    Let’s look at the numbers of people taking some of the major standardized tests:

    • The Bar Exam 80,000

    • GRE 600,000

    • GMAT 260,000

    • LSAT 130,000

    • MCAT 68,000

    That’s an audience of over 1 million without digging too far into the world of standardized tests!

    III. Standardized test takers are accustomed to buying educational aids.

    So, what’s a few more bucks???

    Let’s take a quick look at the prices of some very reputable test prep programs:

    • BARBRI (bar exam prep) CA course $3975

    • TestMasters (LSAT prep) $1450

    • Princeton Review GRE Program starts at $1199

    • Kaplan PCAT Program $1399

    These figures do not include extra prep materials, additional tutoring, the actual costs of taking the test, or the amount spent on the taker’s education, and so on.

    Since the cost of these programs and materials is such a major investment, I believe most of the demographic won’t hesitate to spend an extra $1.99 or so.

    IV. Conclusion

    All the stats above fail to account for the strongest reason this app will work: the app puts people with a similar problem in touch with each other. I see this being a way to find a study group on campus or so new friend to cram for the GRE with. On one level, it’s a school aid. On another, it’s a way for people to meet those facing the same hurdles. I think this social aspect will attract users because it allows them to make new friends with similar interests.

    Thanks for checking out my idea. There are some great ideas on here and I look forward to finding out who won.

  28. Job: Develop monster app for me.

    Concept: I will tell you if you are approved once you send in your ideas.

    Timeline: Two weeks.

    Compensation: Name listed in the credits of the app.

    Any takers?


    Seriously, would any self-respecting coder/programmer answer any add to develop an app for a stranger?

    Why would someone sign a non-disclosure agreement without knowing any details?

    If the app is not developed to completion, is the developer still paid for his work?

    Also, if the app isn’t developed, does the app “creator” get to keep the code as intellectual property?

    Why can’t the “creator” and the developer(s) split all income 50/50?

    I swear this whole “geographical arbitrage” thing is a 21st century Ponzi scheme for people in second and third world countries to fall victim to. The nerve of people paying guys a few hundred dollars to create an app that could generate millions!

    Oh well, it’s only money.

    1. In response to why developers don’t agree to split income 50/50 with the founders:

      Most apps fail. As a programmer, you work by the hour. If you decide to split income on an app you take a big risk as developing something for free for 2 months might fail and not generate any money.

      If, on the other hand, you develop an app for a few hundred or thousand dollars that turns out to be huge, you stand the chance to become a fulltime dev and earn more.

      If you think about it, the founder is the risk taker. He decides to bet his time and money on something he believes in. The programmer doesn’t risk anything by making the app in exchange for pay, he just does his job.

      For a programmer to get a share of the pie if the app turns out well, he needs to either invest free time or contribute otherwise to justify such an arrangement.

  29. Hi Tim & Chad,

    B E L i E V E

    “I BELIEVE” is an App based on the Kickstarter model, it uses crowd funding to raise money for spiritual, cultural, social development projects all over the world. From a family member that may be ill – to a community that may need to build a new roof because of the intense rain, to a school in need textbooks, etc.

    I am a Freelance Designer, Writer, Volunteer from Mexico City, which we all know, has been in a pretty harsh state for a while (to put it lightly). There are 113,423,047 million inhabitants in my country, more than 50% of which live in extreme poverty, the other 20-30% of our population live on a $4.50 USD aprox. wage per day, less than what most people in the “first world” make an hour. What this means is that over 70% of the population does not have sufficient income to cover basic health, education, living, public transport, housing, clothing needs. Another interesting fact about Mexico is that this oppression most likely comes from a corrupt political system and/or other institutions (i.e. a misinformed-politicized church, lack of quality in public education, I won’t even mention healthcare, add on current drug war, etc.) You can imagine, or not really, what it’s like for most people here.

    So why Spiritual? Cultural? Social?

    82.7% of Mexico’s total population is Catholic (second after Brazil); God, speaking democratically, is our common ground. I’ve been talking a lot about Mexico, this place has always inspired me, but what about BELIEF in a broader-global sense, which is where this App would like to go and exactly where it would mostly help?… I BELIEVE, apart from being a source of Free Information involving specific cases that need attention from certain institutions… Approximately 88% of the worlds population believes in God. A Believer mainly seeks peace (even if he/she doesn’t know it yet), he/she looks to relate in his/her own suffering/pain/joy/happiness/etc. with others; that’s what makes us human, another democratic common ground. “I BELIEVE” SEEKS TO BE AN INTERRSPIRITUAL PLATFORM THAT MAY CONNECT ANYONE WHO BELIEVES IN GOD THROUGH PRAYER AND THE POSSIBILITY OF BEING ABLE TO ANSWER.

    * This God I speak of is a LOVING one, which by way of Jesus is what I BELIEVE in, just in case anyone was wondering. LOVE is the intersection of all spiritual beliefs; at least this is the God I’ve always known.

    How does it work?

    The Prayer Network: Existing App that may be emulated

    The Prayer Network is composed of 5 tabs, you first need to create a profile: name, email, and location. After, you may access the main screen, this is where you share and type in your prayer, the second tab is the prayer feed (similar to twitter), there is a global and a local feed, you may follow/unfollow users, anyone can then either pray for you or comment your prayer. I’d use these two windows as a model, the App, profiles and prayers have no cost. The way the I BELIEVE model differs is that each prayer is tagged and mapped by color into a “Zoom” tab: worldwide/continent/country/state/city, and these tags can be linked to similar projects. Subscribers may browse projects they’d like to contribute to through similar tags, view rhizome-like maps by color and region, and see what’s happening close by or far-off. I BELIEVE is also an aesthetic, creative experience, design and graphics are simple yet sleek and colorful.

    Each person who wishes to upload a project to receive contributions must do so in his/her own profile page, tagging their project with the color tags provided (family, work, housing, food, health, shelter, education, transport, clothing, miracle) it will be up to each person to promote via social networks their specific project, and as in Kickstarter there will be a pre-established monetary goal to obtain and a time limit, the purpose is to have clear, specific, realistic, and obtainable goals. People can pledge money, but also their time and their skills. For example, if I live in a town in need of an architectural development, an architect might see this as an opportunity for pro bono work. If I am an environmentalist and I see a project related to a place with resources but outdated methods, I might pledge my time and skills to go and teach sustainability.

    90% of contributions will be given to the project, 5% will be collected to keep I BELIEVE going, 3-5% to credit card, Paypal platform. Evidently, parallel to this App, a website will be designed and constructed to reach more users.

    Why would this work apart from the sentiment?

    33 million people in Mexico have access to the Internet, 12.5% of these have smartphones and tablets. The worldwide numbers are: a total of 4 billion cell phone users, 1.08 of those are smart. 100% of my friends are amazing people, we are part of the remaining 10-20% of the middle and upper class in Mexico, we are the people with the resources to help, we want to contribute but sometimes don’t know where or how. I actually BELIEVE in selflessness, it is what I seek to inspire in anyone who’d like to be part of this. The idea of selflessness may sound utopic and I won’t lie, I’m constantly working at it, but there is true beauty in doing something for another person without expectations, just for the simplest reason of DOING…. And that’s where the sentiment ends and any hint of truth might begin.

    A really intelligent person once told me “GIVING ENDS ONCE SOMETHING IS GIVEN”. Suffering may be avoided when beliefs are set aside and we look towards a common good. This has the potential of being global concentrate. An invite to worldwide solidarity through PRAYER regardless of what you BELIEVE in.

    Thnk You,

    Michell Halley

    Research & Bibliography:

    Top 10 Fundraising Apps-


    Mayor Religious groups-

    Internet in Mexico-

    Mobile Worldwide-


  30. Hi Chad,

    My idea is based on a top 20 app in the Entertainment category – Palm Reader. My improvement on this would be adding the ability to prank your friends – similar to Fingerprint Scanner, having a secret button to rig the scan to be crude & funny.

    Some stats on Palm Reader:

    The paid version has been ranked in the top 50 since 3/11 in Entertainment.

    The free version has been ranked in the top 200 since 3/11 in Entertainment.

    This app clearly has demand based on it’s high position in the market and little to no competition. The other apps that do this have terrible UI’s and none of them have the twist that mine would with the button rigging.

    Thanks for your time.

  31. My app idea is for a package tracking app that has uses for both receivers and shippers called “Track Pack.”

    Through my research, there are many apps dedicated to tracking a package that is being sent to you. Even Avery, the label maker, has an app for package receivers. This app would emulate all those apps and offer package tracking, but would also allow for social package tracking. Basically, the app, through push notifications, would keep you up to speed on the packages delivery status. It could also automatically tweet or post on your wall the status and what you’re getting delivered. You could customize those messages, and of course if you didn’t want people to know what you were getting, you don’t have to post. That would just be a fun feature and really make this app unique.

    The biggest difference between this app and the existing ones, is that it would offer functions for for people shipping package. You would be able to schedule pickups from UPS or other package shippers, and then track the package to its receiver. The app could also have eBay integration and be used by sellers on that site to keep all their shipping in one place.

    Basically, this app is a one stop shop for tracking and shipping packages. It has functionality whether you are shipping or receiving, and some fun social media aspects as well.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this and for offering this contest!

  32. App Name: Music Memory

    The game will be offered for $0.99. A free version that allows you to play against a computer will also be made available with a nag screen after each round to upgrade to the live version.

    The analysis for Music Memory:

    I review the top 50 apps listed in the Apple App store and here’s what I found…

    – 36 of 50 Top Paid Apps were games!

    – One of the most successful was Music Quiz

    – However you can only use your own itunes library, Music Memory will allow you to use your friends. It will also feature songs in the Top 50 current songs provided by

    – Most top apps used bright icons that were predominantly blue, red, or orange

    – The quickest rising apps (e.g. Draw Something!) involved interaction between multiple players, currently music app is single player with my app you can play your friends.

    – Apps that are consistently on the top have some type of puzzle that increase or varies in complexity

    – Popular apps add captions to their App Store screenshots

    – Top apps use LOTS of text in their App Store description

    – App descriptions start with raving reviews for top apps (this is why I added these above)

    – The most common price for Top Paid apps is 99 cents

  33. Hi Chad,

    Thanks for running this contest. Here’s my entry:

    Market Research: I see that your expertise lies in creating novelty apps for $0.99 in the entertainment category. That seems to be a good choice as these can be developed quickly (and within budget!) and can generate quick, impulse buys. So I thought I’d focus in this area, in order to benefit from your experience.

    Using your advice, I took a look in the Entertainment category to see what apps are currently ranking in the top grossing, that could be improved upon. I found one called Volt – 3D Lightning that fit all your criteria. It’s currently ranked #11 in the top grossing entertainment apps and #108 overall. It has an overall 3.5 star rating with lots of suggestions provided by users on how it could be improved. This app has been around for a couple of years, ranking consistently in the top 300 of entertainment, although it’s shot up much higher in recent months, which shows that the concept has staying power!

    Concept: Touch the iPhone screen and see a lightning bolt strike where your fingertip is. Along with that, the phone vibrates and a sound of electricity is heard.

    My Version: Use the same concept that they have employed but focus more on the novelty / gag aspect of fooling your friends. While this aspect is marketed in the app description, it’s not as developed as the reviewers seem to like. I have attached some mockups that illustrate the changes I’d make.

    Hope you’ll consider it. Thanks!


  34. My app idea:

    A pacman game variant: You eat things or follow dots or items to clear a screen, in typical pacman fashion. For each level, the map has a new shape for you to maneuver around.

    The twist: for the main character, you get to upload a picture from your phone or facebook profile to use as the small eating machine (just the head, very similar to Jib Jab uploading). For the enemies that chase you, you get to upload 3 friends from facebook and their profile pictures show up to chase you around the screen. You can also take a picture with your phone to load directly into the game.

    Moving the character is easy – you have the option of arrows on a touch screen or using arrows on a keyboard, but the default will be for touch screens – simply place your finger in the direction you would like your character to go (up, down, right, left) and it will head in that direction until it cannot move or until you touch in a new direction.

    There can be unlimited amount of levels, themes, think Angry Birds with the variety of gameplay. You can be in a neighborhood, in the clouds, in a zoo, etc. There are also different things that can happen to your enemies when you clear a special item, such as a cage forms around them, they freeze, they become eatable, or they explode.

    There is also the option for “stock” characters instead of personalized photos for people who can’t or don’t want to use that feature.

    Easy, addictive, endless games are still one of the leading app types in the market, with Angry Birds proving its continual appeal despite very little variety. The ability to include social network and personalization is a plus, and pacman is among the famous and was one of the most highest grossing arcade games of all time.

    This app has appeal for every market, age, and country. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it does have a guarantee for instant addiction!

  35. Hey guys – I’ll make this short, the link to my video where I explain a bit more is at the end of this comment.

    It may sound like a simple or “done before” idea — but I’ve done a lot of looking around this week (and in the past) and trust me, there is nothing totally comprehensive out there when it comes to mobile twitter apps. We want to make it simple & “minimalist” at it’s core, but with lots of options in terms of what, how, when and where tweets are posted and read.

    In short, it will integrate various features of several popular twitter apps into one, with a great, usable, simple interface. I want to build on all of the other twitter apps and the like and make one awesome app that people will love.

    The business model is also simple – to have a free or .99 version with upgrades for some advanced/future features (still thinking through this one, and want to test it, of course).

    Finally, a little testimonial as to why I am the right dude for this job:

    “Trust me, very few have studied, scrutinized, and/or cussed about various twitter apps, and their counterparts, than Bill has.” ~Bill’s wife

    Thanks again for your time!

  36. Great Article! My friends and I have talked for years about creating an app called Blackout Buddy that would GPS track where you go on a night out so that if you drink too much and “black out” you have a chance of piecing together exactly what happened the night before! Hopefully this app will bring back many lost nights to thousands of college students and drinkers all over the world, helping them to find lost belongings and relive all of their hilarious antics!

    Here’s the idea:


    * Activate Blackout Buddy and it starts tracking you immediately or you can set it to activate at a specific time when you think you’re likely to blackout (e.g. 11pm)

    – At 11pm Blackout Buddy will then activate and starts tracking you with GPS

    * Tracks where you go and shows the locations in Google Maps

    * Gathers your phone use and displays it with your locations on a timeline

    * Automatic microphone recordings throughout the night to record surroundings

    * Accelerometer rates your drunken balance

    * Advanced options include different user prompts throughout the night to aid recall further:

    – Camera prompts you take a photo at a user-set interval (every 15,30,45 or 60 minutes)

    – Microphone prompts you to record a microphone message at a user-set interval (every 15,30,45 or 60 minutes – karaoke strongly discouraged lol)

    – Video prompts you to record a 30 second video at a user-set interval (every 15,30,45 or 60 minutes)

    * Helps you relive and remember exactly what happened last night!

    * Emails you stats at the end of the night plus last recorded location should you ever lose your device

    In the morning your memory may be gone, but you’ll be able to view a timeline of your locations, calls, sent/received texts, audio recordings from your night, any photos or videos taken from your phone that night along with any of your other chosen options.

    *Premium version:

    – Allows easy Blackout sharing with social networks

    – Can anonymously upload your Blackouts to the web for others to rate.

    – Ad’s removed


    Thank you for helping this idea become one step closer to reality. Any feedback you have is greatly appreciated!



    1. Reply to Dominic Forth’s Post: Wow! This is a great idea for an app! I just wish I had it in my college years, although it would still be really entertaining in my later 20s 🙂 This would appeal to men and women and would be so much fun to peice together the evening the day after a big night out. Great idea and best of luck in the competition. Hope to see this app out soon. I will definitely be purchasing this one 🙂

  37. If you have ever seen or experienced something horrendous that you needed to forget ASAP before it is stored in your long term memory, you will appreciate this app. When you click on this app and you are treated with a preset of images audio/music for a short duration designed to divert your attention back to a wholesome place, and hopefully rid your memory of the offending mental picture before it is permanently embedded.

    At its core its basically a photo gallery designed with a specific purpose. WIth the click of an icon, or gesture, it will launch a predefined sequence of stimulus for the purpose of getting you back on track. I am calling it Brain Bleach, the concept is well known in the virtual world, and is a popular meme, however I have not found an app that handles this specific need.

    The way I picture the app working is once launched the app it goes to work immediatly to rid your memory of the offending material before it can permanently embed itself into your long term memory. Alarms should sound and a public service announcement type voice should narrate the whole process (ie, “Immediate brain bleaching has been initiated!” until finally near the end all goes quiet and it resets itself though some sort of animation.) Along with the auditory aspect, images ranging from puppy dogs to bikini clad models on the beach should display in rapid succession, the user will have the ability to adjust all of this before starting the app by long pressing in the middle of the app while it’s running. The key of the app is to have it instantly accessible when needed. They should not have to select anything for it to start working.

    The app would be free and come with a handful of ‘feel good’ images and music meant to drown out whatever is on your mind in about 30-40 seconds. The paid version would allow you to use your own images and adjust the settings. I think another way to go may be to make the app free by default with all features unlocked and allow people to purchase image sets or music for a small fee though the app.

    Because brain bleach is a concept that a lot of people are already familiar with, people who see the name will instantly know what to do with it, and those who don’t will be intrigued enough to try it out. Either way it will create conversations among people and the meme will finally have an app all to itself.

    I did a quick render of what the app icon could look like.

  38. I’m redoing this explanation because I put my url in the comment box. Here’s a short explanation…

    This game is emulated from “Draw Something”.

    A Person chooses an emotion and then takes a picture of themself acting out that emotion. The camera gives you 3 second and then automatically takes the photo. You have the option of redoing the photo. Once you are happy, you send the photo off. The person on the other end has to guess how you are feeling. If they guess correct, they get heart points. If they guess wrong, nothing happens. After 10 heart points, you earn a free body language reading tip that you can apply in real life. Play online with friends on twitter/ facebook. Offline mode has an option where you simply choose a computer generated face among over a dozen, and guess their emotion. This will be called practice mode. No heart points are earned during practice mode. A free version will be available, and within that, a paid version for 1.99 will be available. The game will be called, “What am I thinking?”.

    I researched the top 50 reviews of a dozen games including:

    Angry Birds

    Angeof Stick

    Dot Line

    Smash Police


    Draw Something


    Some trends I came up with include:

    -people want something that relieves stress

    -easy to use right away, no need to develop a skill


    -something that makes you think, and something mindless as well


    -a way to connect with friends

    Those were the bigest hot buttons.

    My idea is basically emulated from “Draw Something” with a differen twist. Instead of drawing, you get 3 seconds to act out an emotion and have your friends guess what it is, while recieving points to earn practice social skills.

  39. So you say you have a problem with oversleeping? No alarm clock seems to do the trick? Keep hitting that snooze button?

    Well, do you think you’d be able to drag your lazy ass out of bed if you knew that the penalty for oversleeping was to have the following message be broadcasted from all your personal Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus accounts?

    “OMG!! I just woke up and realized that I must’ve had explosive diarrhea in my sleep, because my entire bed is covered in wet human dookie!”

    I thought so. Now get yo ass outta that bed!

    The App Idea: “Get up… OR ELSE”

    There are all types of alarm clock apps on the market: Alarms that gently wake you to the sound of your favorite song. Alarms that will force you to donate money to charity if you hit snooze. Alarms that measure your sleep cycle and wake you at just the right time. Etc, etc, etc. Blah blah blah.

    All boring and all extremely ineffective.

    My app idea, “Get up… OR ELSE,” raises the stakes a bit. You set “Get up… OR ELSE” the night before, for, let’s say, 7:00AM. The next morning, the alarm goes off…. just like any normal alarm clock.

    But this is where it gets interesting. You now have 20 seconds to shut it off or else one randomly selected embarrassing message will be posted to all of your social media accounts. Examples:

    • “Does anyone know a good proctologist? I got it stuck again.”

    • “Does anyone have any other home remedies for hemorrhoids? This honey mustard just seems to have made it worse.”

    • “Don’t believe the hype! OxyClean does NOT work on certain types of human discharge.”

    • “Would you people recommend heat or cold for a sprained penis?”

    • “I should’ve known it wasn’t a good idea to meet my eHarmony date at a interstate rest area.”

    You turn off the alarm (and avoid extreme embarrassment) by either entering in a randomly generated 10 digit number, shaking the phone until it turns off, or simply hitting an off button – you never actually know which method will turn it off until it is going off and the 20 second countdown has started.

    Also, you have no idea which message or picture will be broadcasted out. All you know is that if you don’t wake up and turn it off, you are going to be in for a very embarrassing morning.

    A paid version of “Get up… OR ELSE” will allow you to better customize the messages, pictures, and methods of shutting the alarm off. You’ll be able to choose PG, PG-13, or R-rated messages, and even enter your own custom messages. Choose anything from: “I’m lazy and can’t get out of bed” to “This morning, I not only clogged the toilet, I literally shattered it. Glad I have insurance.”

    You can upload embarrassing photos. For example, if you know that you really need to be up early, you can upload an old drunk college pic of yourself puking in a dorm toilet. Knowing that this picture will be broadcasted to hundreds of people will definitely “help” you get up on time.

    Bottom line – You will wake up when you use “Get up… OR ELSE.” You’ll either wake up when the alarm goes off, or you’ll wake up as you are sitting at your computer frantically trying to delete the embarrassing posts that just got sent out. Either way, you’re up! Good morning!

  40. My app idea comes from many days with my kids where we were at the park and it started to rain- and we needed something to do, close by- right away. There still is no app available to do this. Here is my idea:

    Save My Rainy Day

    The initial search screen would allow you to enter your zip code or location and choose from a drop down menu of:

    Play Inside

    Play Outside

    Watch Something

    Make Something



    You can then enter how many people you have:


    Choose a Budget





    Enter ages of participants

    Kids under 10

    Kids older than 10


    The result would be a list of the top 5 activities happening closest to you, soonest.

    Ideally it would produce, as an example from a local park near me,

    A library story time

    A kid friendly restaurant with a kids eat free lunch special

    A gymnastics establishment with an open gym time in 1 hour

    A family friendly coffee shop

    A movie theater option

    The closest apps I can find to this all offer a calendaring function- so are not what I am seeking. I don’t want to put it on my calendar, I need it solved NOW.

    The closest thing available online to this app is the Yelp site- but it does not offer the time or location option on your phone that I can find.

    Also, Yelp is limited in its offerings for kids and families. This app would ideally sync (in my local area) with and to provide family friendly activity ideas in real time.

    This app is one which could help a family stranded at a soccer tournament for a weekend in need of something to do for 2 hours between games, it can help parents with kids on vacation stuck inside because of rain, it can help parents of teens who are bored find something to do, NOW.

    I have been working on this app idea for some time and am still looking for a good one to use as start material, however, I read your contest and thought it was a good time to chime in and see what happens.

    I will be researching this app with your guide from this email, but would love the opportunity to see it become reality. I believe it will help many parents and kids have happier days and connect them with great activities just around the corner they might be missing!

    Tried to load a sketch of my app, but it wouldn’t go in this screen. Please go to my blog to see the image at:

  41. Great post with lots of good information. I was unable to come up with an app idea in time for this contest, but my 10 year old daughter and future entrepreneur has one. She has apparently tested a number of fashion games on her Kindle Fire and found them wanting. Below is her idea for a fashion game, in her own words.


    Girls ages 8 and up are really beginning to get their own idea of fashion and creative ideas. My app idea is a fashion app that will really catch their eye and make them want to let all of their creativity flow.

    *Hair Style: You would start as a basic outlined model. You will design your hair style. There are no limits to hair styles. You can pick a given color (red, brown, black, etc.) or mix your own color. The style of your hair depends on your three choices. Your first choice would be the length of your hair. You get to pick from the three choices they have. The three choices would be chin length, shoulder length, and back length. After doing that you also have a choice of using different tools for your hair ‘style’. This would be a curling iron, a straightening iron, a crimper, hot rollers, or to leave it the way it is (the way it would look on other models, just brushed and straight.) Your last choice would be what accessories you have in your hair. This is the fun part. Your choices have a wide range from bows to barrettes. After selecting the basic accessory you get do decorate it. You are given patterns that you can use (Leopard print, zebra print, etc.) and you can select a print. There are also colors, lace or fringe, or even an art pen that you can use to draw on it. You now are complete with hair style and moving on to facial features.

    Facial Features: For facial features you would do your eyes, mouth, and cheeks. Eyes are very simple and self-explanatory. You select an eye color, your type of eye lashes, and your eye shape. After doing that you have a choice of wearing glasses. If you select glasses you choose the color of your glasses and the shape. Next you do mouth. You select your mouth shape and tint (color). Now you do your cheeks. You can do freckles, blush, and moles. These choices are self-explanatory. Now you do apparel.

    Apparel: You have a choice of clothing outfits. You get plain white outfits and add patterns and any color you can think of to use. When you design your clothing you have the option to color it without using the patterns given.

    *the first step would be to give your character a name

    Opening your store: Now that you have designed your character you can open your store. You get a basic outlet store and you give it a name. Inside you have a choice in wall paint or paper, floor color and tile, wood, or carpet, and anything else you would see in an outlet store. You may also add decorations such as a fountain, a picture frame, etc.

    So what do you do now? : After doing all of those steps you are a fashion designer running your own store. You design outfits and put them out to sell at the store. (Unlike some fashion games you design only one and it replenishes itself- you do not have to do the same thing over and over). Everything you design is either drawn by you or using patterns given- or both! You can also make jewelry (after making at least $100.) And sell it also. Any time you want to change your character or your store you just select the side bar and select what you want to change. I hope you like my idea.

  42. Hi there,

    This may sound like a silly question but I have an android phone (Nokia N9) so to test an Apple iPhone app that I make do I just need to buy an iPod rather than an iPhone? This would be cheaper for me as i am just starting out.

    Thanks Rich

    1. Hi there,

      As an Objective-C programmer Apple supplies software to view how you app will look and how you can interact with, this is piece of software is Xcode and provides the simulator to test your apps before releasing it. And yes it also allows you to test it on iPhone but it is not entirely necessary. I would still suggest getting an iPod.

      Good Luck

  43. App Name:

    Personalized Voicemail Messaging

    Have you ever wished you had specific voicemails recorded for different people? This app would provide the option of 4-6 different pre-recorded voicemails. This utility app would be specifically useful to people who would like a voicemail for their buisness(es) and for personal use.

    This would be as a freemium app. When the phone rings, the icon would apepar on the accept/deny screen. You would have the typical options, or the option to click on the icon. It would then take you to another screen (the choice screen) where you would have the choice to send the caller to one of the specific pre-recorded messages.

    When you pre-record messages, you will have the option to name the voicemail and choose a picture to match it. Then, when you are on the choice screen, the picture and tagline would appear. You click the one you want, and that person hears the specific voicemail.

    Ex. You own a moving company, are a salesman, want a personal voicemail, and want one to let peole know you are in the movies.

    Your message for the moving company has a picture of a truck, the message for your other buisness has a dollar sign, your pesonal voicemail has a picture of friends, and the last has a picture of popcorn.

    Easy identification allows correct allotment to each voicemail.

    The pro-version would offer people the availabilty to pre-select which contact would receive which voicemail.

    There would also be an option to have an overriding voicemail for a specific time period. Record a message easily, set the timer for the time period, and it overrides for that timing only.

    If you will be in a meeting for 3 hours, record the message, set for 3 hours, and it will automatically return to your basic voicemails after 3 hours.

    There are currently no apps like this. Many offer voice to text, but I haven’t found one that offers multiple voicmail options. The app would be simplistic in design and would become like a feature of the phone itself.

  44. App idea: Talking Heads (the Dummy Friend)

    Turn any of your friends into an animated cartoon

    Market research: the highest ranking apps at the moment are drawing apps, games with finger-swype motion, and picture-taking apps. Let’s combine all three!

    The app would combine photo editing, drawing-like motions, and easy-to-animate commands. Any photo that you’ve taken on your phone can be turned into an animated message you can share with your friends.

    How it works: Snap a picture of your friend, and turn her into a “talking head.” Using a “slice” motion, create a dummy mouth across the photo of your friend. Select from prerecorded voiceovers and send a hilarious message to your social network using that original photo of your friend’s face.

    Similar to existing apps:

    – This app would be similar to the Elf Yourself app, where you can animate yourself into a dancing Elf and send as an animated card at Christmas time (

    – This app would have similar features as Instagram – you would have access to a menu of cartoony backgrounds and animated affects to add to your photos, in addition to the voiceover.

    Paid premium

    – Type in your original text for the “talking heads” feature and send a message to your friends (your photo can say anything that you want!)

    – Insert cartoons (fire breathing dragons + fire, ninjas, falling rocks, gas, chomping dog, bird)

    Fun, easy, and an appealing Freemium model.

  45. It seems that Family Feud is the top grossing trivia app, yet there are few other apps that really seem to nail the trivia niche. I like the idea of a music trivia app that simply focuses on actual music instead of the usual ‘fact based’ trivia. Individuals or teams are pitted against each other to correctly answer the song and artist title before their opponent. The app would have a simple visual interface that includes a big, red buzzer and point totals. The users can enter into different genre and time period competitions to show their prowess or sharpen their skills. This app incorporates 3 successful themes into one app: the quick draw game, music, and trivia.

  46. Great Post!

    App Idea:

    At some point we all must come to the realization that someday we are all going to die. This realization, gives one a great sense of self awareness. In Nate Green’s Hero Handbook he talks about Memento Mori or Remember your Mortality. He talks about using a sheet of paper that is 52 blocks wide and 80 blocks tall.( memento mori) After every week, one would simply color in a block. The coloring in of the block causes you to reflect on the week and makes you aware of how little time we have and the importance of not wasting a single day.

    The app would prompt you every day at a designated time. The user would then have to physically color in the block on the virtual Memento Mori sheet. The app would also provide an inspirational quote every day about seizing the day and not wasting time or procrastinating. The app would also be a place to track and revisit your goals.

  47. My Idea!

    So the simplest way to describe my idea is, “MyFitnessPal” combined with “Evernote”.

    Basically I loved how with “Evernote” you have the ability to take a picture of text and with a simple search, find the desired text in all your notes. So i thought why not be able to do something similar with food.

    My idea would enable the user to take a snapshot of food, for example a chicken breast. The app would then be able to give you a breakdown of calories and macronutrient content. The initial version of the app could function on pictures of singular food objects, but the overall goal is to be able to take a picture of a plate of food and have all the macros and calories be calculated for you.

    The app would have a simplistic user interface, a tap and go navigation. you would also be able to log all your calories and macros in a food journal integrated with the app.

    The app could be marketed to anyone interested in health, fitness and food.

    I can provide sketches upon request I just wasn’t sure how to include them in this post 🙂

    Good luck to everyone! this is an amazing opportunity and thanks for your time!


  48. This app idea comes from my 10 year old daughter who is very excited about the contest. I thought her idea was pretty good.

    App Name: Entertain Me! (alternate name: Fun Finder)

    App Function: When activated, app finds fun activities to do within a specified range (20 miles for example) of the cell phone user. Activities are grouped by categories: parks, museums, movie theatres, live theatre, live music, festivals, sporting events, amusement parks, etc. Any activity that shows up on the list is something that could be done that day.

    How App Works: Home screen has one main center button labeled “Entertain Me!” that you press to start searching for fun activities. In lower corner is another smaller button labeled “preferences” (more on that later). When you press the main button, the App goes out and finds all of the activities within the specified range of your phone and then lists them. Each activity listing will include a brief summary of the activity, including location, time, and cost with a link to more detailed info and a GPS/map link showing how to get to the activity. Options for sorting activities include alphabetically by title only, by category, or by distance. There will be an option to hide any given entry so that it doesn’t show up in future searches. Search results displayed can also be controlled by preference presets. These presets include specifying which categories show up, how large a radius the app should search in, and a switch to only include free things.

    App Research: App is a specialized search app. We spent some time going through the App Store, but did not find anything obviously similar to it. It is possible that one of the travel apps has a similar functionality, but we weren’t able to find any in the searching we did. Will this app be successful? Hard to say, but I think it has potential. Mapping and locating apps seem to do well as a general category. Similar apps like GasBuddy or Alltrails Hiking & Biking are top free Travel apps.

    Thanks for the blog post and thanks for holding the App contest.

    FYI, blog site does not display properly in my Firefox 12 browser, black text on black background. Impossible to read. Looks ok in IE.

  49. How To Turn Kids Into Authors – Flutterbooks App

    Remember those elementary school writing assignments? Picture yourself starring at a blank page or giving your teacher that look of despair. I hated feeling like I had nothing to write about or I didn’t know where to start.

    Now as a teacher, I want kids to be creative and find their voice. That is where the Flutterbooks App comes in. I’ve banished the blank page and given kids a place to start writing. With this app kids want to write!

    How Does It Work?

    Kids take their favorite Flutterbooks illustrated story and transform any page they want, at any point in the story they want. Storytelling mash-up style!

    We give them the power to make the story their own.

    Here’s what you will be able to do with any Flutterbooks story:

    • add or delete characters and text,

    • change backgrounds,

    • move characters around,

    • add anybody’s voice and words,

    • (the best part yet) change the character’s face to show real-time emotions!

    • Then share your story.


    Toontastic is one of the top grossing education apps. This app allows kids to move characters around a scene, record voice, and add music. It’s very much like a puppet show. On the site’s blog from last year, it was stated that there were 30,000 downloads (2.99 price point then) in two months. As it continues to be a top 50 grossing education app, I would assume the revenue is high.

    Another app called Playtime Theatre has a stage set and characters along with sounds and a recording feature. It has been in the top 100 education apps for long periods of time.

    Flutterbooks goes beyond what these two top apps do. Adding text and having the ability to create a new story gives kids a fun gateway to authoring their very own book!

    Check out the concept demo video here:

  50. In app market populated by standalone notetaking and handwriting apps multifarious, one app strives to become more than a compartmentalized dropbox integrated notebook.

    Enter stage left: HandRight, the next advance in handwriting/drawing apps. Using similar technology to the ever popular Notability’s “smart ink” and various other features to make handwriting effective and personal but then take it further. HandRight will allow seamless integration of touchscreen written “noteletts” (text, drawings, borders, graphs) into the popular web based document editing suite of Google Docs and possibly other text editing services such as Evernote or Open Office. Furthermore, HandRight could be used in conjunction with other products such as Microsoft Office, Apple Pages, and Adobe products(HAH!) replacing expensive and complicated drawing pads that most consumers have no need for. Simple device integration with Google Docs and other web based services(Facebook/Twitter anybody?) could be achieved through Google Chrome plugins or through simple image export/import capabilities that most apps and services currently provide yet fail to fully utilize. Multiple colors/clipart/stamps could be applied to add quality and style to the already attractive handwriting results . HandRight allows for signatures to seamlessly be placed on important documents such as resumes,forum posts, electronic autographs, and the like.

    Long story short:1. Draw something on your Ipad. 2. It shows up on your document in real time. 3. Sit back and thank your deity of choice for giving me the idea of HandRight.

    Of course there is more to it than this, and I have that all sketched out thanks to Chad and this awesome article. As for the rest of you I hope you have been inspired as I have to make a leap into the app development realm and hopefully a better life through smarter starter business.


  51. Thanks for the opportunity Chad & Tim!

    My app idea emulates to-do list apps such as Clear and AwesomeNote. In my app you will be able to create to-do lists (i.e. Grocery Lists, Christmas shopping, etc) but the primary function will help consumers achieve their goals.

    For instance, if one of your goals is to create an iPhone app you will type it in, set a date that will connect to your iPhone, Gmail and Outlook calendar, create benchmarks (smaller goals that will lead to your primary goal) along with reminders (so an alarm will go off x amount of days before your deadline to let you know that you need to focus and git’ her done NOW).

    Because I made my college career off of Extra Credit, click below for wireframes:

  52. **** Contest Entry ****


    This app is born out of many miles on the road and the need to find cheap gas. I have lost count of the number of times I filled up the tank thinking I got a good price only to find another station a couple minutes later with a lower price.


    To allow users to find best gas prices within two miles of a highway exit when traveling between cities. Can be used to plan refueling stops.

    User Experience:

    The user experience has been streamlined and optimized to get the information to the user, as quickly and as few steps as possible. Using the principles of 37 Signals, the feature set is kept to the bare essentials to allow the user to get in and out as quickly as possible. Once starting location & destination are set, the app will display the user the top 5 best gas prices along the route with the Highway Exit number & the station type. Selecting a station will show you a map of the station.

    UX Mockup:


    None of the competitors show lowest prices along a route, only around the radius of a predetermined destination or current location.

    Cheap Gas – station pricing provided by gas buddy. – unstable – free

    Gas Buddy – win prizes, good for gas around current location owns the data website – most popular. – free

    iGasUp – $0.99/year subscription purchase with an in-app subscription renewal. original pricing $2.99

    Thank you for a great article and the fun contest,


  53. Hi Chad & Tim – I’m a huge fan of you both!


    I was in the middle of rereading App Empire when I saw this. I have already begun executing your system (4 live apps now), but I would die at the chance to get to know you better (to me the 1-hour with you is more valuable than the $5k).

    My submission:

    Similar to what Outfit7 did with the Talking Tom series, there is another type of app that I believe is ripe for the creation of a themed series of apps: Fluik’s Office Jerk.

    According to AppAnnie, Office Jerk has been ranked 200 or better in the top Overall category for the last 2 years, many times spiking into the top 20. It has been consistently in the top 100-200 games and the top 20-50 Action & Simulation. However, there are surprisingly few clones out there so far.

    If you aren’t familiar with Office Jerk: There is a guy sitting at his desk, and you throw objects at him by swiping the object towards him (like Paper Toss). You get a few objects for free, then there are all kinds of other ones you have to pay for.

    My first release will be Class Clown. The app will be very similar to Office Jerk, but in a classroom setting. Additionally, there will be a way to rig the game when showing to friends so they always miss. After Class Clown, it’s just a matter of picking new places (e.g. courtroom, movie theatre, etc.) and release new versions of the app for each one.

    This one of of the apps I posted on guru and oDesk when I was choosing between a few apps to start on, and the bids came in between $2k and $5k. I ended up going with the cheaper SFX apps first but have wanted to get to this asap.

    I think there are some good submissions here already (though honestly a surprising number seemed to ignore your “Don’t hate, emulate” advice), so, if I don’t get picked: Are you interested in doing any consulting, for cash and/or equity? I would absolutely love the chance the learn from you in any capacity.

    Thanks for doing this contest, and thanks for the book!


  54. Here is my idea: Angry Race Cars

    2D Car racing as the game most of us played at school with toy cars, powered by either a sligshoot (Angry bird-style) or by flnger-flicking on the car (both alternatives on setup).

    You control your car in his crazy race in different modes (flick, slingshot). Flicking your finger across the screen sends your car on his way (power and direction).

    Take care as the road may have many risky and challenging parts. A number of obstacles—changing terrain, oil, trainrails—stand on your way, but other objects—shortcuts –escape roads—can help you on your journey to win.

    You can play alone and online with up to 3 more angry racers!!

    Like all good physics puzzles, levels become more complex and challenging to solve, as you progress through Angry Race. That bolsters the game’s replayability. Not only you have to master the skill to advance from one level to the next, but also you’ll find yourself going back to already-completed levels to try and improve upon your score.

    With 10 levels across four landscapes—and the promise of more to come—that’s a lot to keep gamers coming back for more. (The game offers a $1 in-app purchase where you can get many features to improve and delight the experience for getting past trickier levels as well as unlock a bonus game)

    Why it is an awesome idea: It combines a popular real-life game with a high-selling application (cars) and the addictive functions and skill requirements of the best-selling game.

  55. I live in Taiwan and understand the challenges for Westerners learning Chinese. Our app combines high-value, high frequency Chinese vocabulary with an optimized graduated-interval repetition algorithm with the intention of effectively encoding the selected vocabulary into the user’s long-term memory, and has many in-app purchase opportunities. A similar, but limited app in the app store has 10,000 downloads per month, but we can materially improve on its functionality, icon, and design. It is an app just waiting to be surpassed.

    Our proposal:


    Students of Chinese number in the tens of millions and there is double-digit increases, on the order of about 25% yoy, in people taking the HSK, which is the official language proficiency exam used by students and professionals alike.

    The HSK exams test knowledge of Chinese characters, and break down into 6 levels, with Level 1 being the most basic. There are 5000 characters in the entire HSK list. We would offer the a portion of or the entire Level 1 character list (150 characters) as a lite version, with subsequent lists being in-app purchases. There is the opportunity for high retention rates since each in-app purchase is designed to meet the needs of a subsequent test.


    There is currently a similar app which exists in the app store. It also uses an algorithm, which is its key competitive advantage. However, it is missing key features, most importantly an audio pronunciation of the character (critical) and a similar audio input to speak your answer, thereby confirming your pronunciation is correct. While most comments are enthusiastically positive about the app’s algorithm, one sentiment keeps creeping up: limited.

    Useful but limited – rkaufman27 on November 21, 2011

    Good but limited – sasha on January 7, 2012

    Would like to view already marked characters – riper on August 15, 2011

    Excellent. Improvement: add part of speech to definition and have sound available … david on May 19, 2011

    (The app’s last update was on April 17th, 2011)

    Despite this, and two underwhelming screenshots and a lackluster icon, the app has had at least 10,000 downloads in the past 30 days.


    Their limitations are where I intend to take advantage. The proposed app would have:

    – a graduated interval memory algorithm

    – pronunciation of the character

    – an option for audio input to confirm answer to recall quizzes

    – a settings option to view/review previously learned characters

    From a marketing standpoint, I have a couple of positives including:

    – a network of friends studying Chinese who are active in relevant online

    and offline communities

    – a friend who is the founder of GodGame, a successful online gaming and

    app development company in Taiwan.

    – a design for a striking icon and a great name

    Finally, this app would also serve as a test for a more advanced student-directed app with viral growth that I would like to try to develop. The number of people studying Chinese is accelerating, and there’s a ton of room to grow before that wave crests.


    * competing app – Chinese Character Trainer (No joke. That’s the name they chose.)

    * HSK test info –

  56. Find Me Fone


    The vision for Find Me Fone is a utility allowing Users to locate and retrieve a lost or stolen device. Users would load the app on their device and activate it (via another phone, a website, or other provided mechanisms) to locate it and initiate an alert. With a few exceptions, a main opportunity for a new entrant in the Android Market is provision of a good User experience.

    In addition to screenshots of main dialogs, an entertaining differentiator will be the cartoon character on the video marketing sharing how he uses the application to “find Me fone”!

    Subsequent to an initial release, additional functionalities such as tracking of other items (like keys or purses) or associated devices (like spouses or children) are planned. Over time, both free and paid versions of the app as well as ports to iOS, Blackberry, and Windows Compact Framework would provide a integrated set of functionality for Users.

    Comparable Apps

    Note: All research performed in Android Market.

    Where’s My Droid evaluated the best among the free options with Phone Locator Pro the best choice among the paid options. There are identifiable functionalities that Users would expect as well as numerous opportunities for up-sells and improvements in Android Market.

    Where’s My Droid (Functionality 6 | Usability 3 | Overall 4)

    Installs: 5M-10M

    Cost: Free / $3.99

    App Notes: Supports remote install (retrieval “after-the-fact”). Supports remote lock & wipe of device. Locator functionality worked as expected, but alarm sound was very scratchy. Screenshots were accurate, but no video.

    Website Notes: Built on Google App Engine. Looked very cheap and poorly integrated workflow that directed User in and out of their website (ex. Login screen was Google’s login.)

    Additional: Refrigerator magnet was an upsell.

    Android Lost (Functionality 5 | Usability 3 | Overall 3)

    Installs: 500K-1M

    Cost: Free

    App Notes: Supports remote install. Reports status of battery, IMEI, & SIM Card. Black-scale gives more up-to-date. Self-register functionality was nice. Screenshots were very poor & no video.

    Website Notes: Site integrated and functional, but grey-scale made it appear very dull.

    Phone Locator Pro (Functionality 8 | Usability 7 | Overall 8)

    Installs: 10K-50K

    Cost: $5.30

    App Notes: In defense of device theft, provides stealth mode & survives wipe or reset. Allows password lock to prevent disabling or uninstallation. Notifies in case of SIM Card switch & supports scheduled location polling allowing trace. User interface was very professional. Screenshots were best of breed & provided an active video slide deck.

    Website Notes: Best website of apps reviewed. Looked professional both functionally as well as support (FAQ, Help, Blog, etc).

    Lost Phone (Functionality 2 | Usability 4 | Overall 2)

    Installs: 100K-500K

    Cost: Unk

    App Notes: While available, looks the most dated and does not appear to be active. App had expected functionality, but it looked extremely unprofessional. Poor screenshots and no video.

    Website Notes: Website did not function.

    Road Map / Planned Functionality

    Release Alpha

    Support for Android devices

    Device App

    Alarm, stobe, and vibrate alert when activated

    Find device & activate alert by text message and website

    Create website for GPS location (Google Maps), remote activation, and help / support

    Release Bravo

    Support for iOS devices

    Device App

    Camera image & 30 second audio mailed to activating User

    Find device & activate alert by email and phone call

    Enabling GPS remotely (if disabled)

    Enable install app to device remotely

    Release Charlie

    Support for linked items (keys, purses, wallets, etc)

    Support for enabling relationships between main Account Holder & additional items (devices or other objects)

    Device App

    Find device & activate alert by toll-free call & associate / peer

    Allow time-delay of alert

    Allow lock and / or wipe of device

    Implement method for device finder to ship device to owner

    Release Delta

    Support for RIM / Blackberry devices

    Device App


    Release Echo

    Support for Windows Compact Framework devices

    Device App


  57. ***********************************************************************************************

    App Idea


    After reading this article I was so excited that I read through several blogs, articles, and tutorials about app creation and ultimately I read your book (it was a great read by the way). So following your advice of not falling in love with your ideas, I have discarded many more complex ideas and tried to emulate successes. I am a complete novice to developing apps so I am not exactly sure of the costs that will be associated with this app but, I have done my best to keep it under the budget and to keep it simple enough to easily outsource to a programmer.

    The Idea:

    The app store is filled with apps that promise custom lock screens that replace the mundane, “slide to unlock” screen. Many of these apps have enjoyed continued success despite the fact that they do not work at all. My idea is to take these successes modify it slightly and take it further. First, this app will be a “for entertainment purposes only” one, like many of your apps.

    The purpose of this app is for users to trick their friends and family into saying foolish or incriminating things into the app in hopes of unlocking it. While the friends and family are talking the device will secretly be taking a video of them, using the front facing camera.

    The app will present users with a secondary lock screen that features a siri like icon (for example see here: Above the siri icon will be text that instructs the user to answer a question or say a statement. For example, the text may say: “This Device is locked. To Advance say “I love Justin Bieber”.” The user can customize this text to be anything that they like, opening up a world of possibilities. To see an example of this screen and more details click

    While the user’s friends and family are trying to unlock the device, the front facing camera is recording a video of the user. The end result will be a video of someone saying “I love Justin Bieber.” This video will automatically be added to the camera roll.

    I also plan to create a website for this app (I am an experienced web designer/developer) so I will be able to do this at no additional cost. This website will feature hilarious videos taken with the app. To start I will fill it with videos of apps of my friends and family but over time users could submit their own videos. This website could serve as an excellent marketing tool and would be included in the description of the app.

    I have created mockups of each page of the app and included further descriptions and details on each page:

    Home Screen:

    Lock Screen:

    Help Menu:

    (the below links lead to the top app charts graph of the particular app)

    Is there a market for this application?


    I believe that this app combines aspects of several highly successful applications. First, users love to download applications that promise to offer a new lock screen. For example the app “Slide your phone” ( has fared very well despite not even coming close to delivering on its promise (and having a highly misleading description). Moreover, the app “Custom Lock Screen” ( promises users that they can customize their lock screen (with wallpapers, again the description is very misleading). This app has enjoyed continued success as have these similar apps: “Lockittizer,” ( and “Customize Lock Security” ( All of these apps offer (but do not deliver) the promise of custom lock screens and have enjoyed (to this) day terrific success.

    Many apps that have custom lock screen also offer the ability for users to take a picture of the perpetrator but none of them allow video. Moreover, these apps tend to protect “secret folders” not actual custom lock screens. For example apps see “Dot Lock Protection,” ( and “Dot Lock Security” (

    On the other hand, this app also capitalizes on the incredible success of Siri and voice recognition. Siri has been a cultural phenomenon and the icon is recognizable to most Americans. Several apps are capitalizing on this obsession, most notably “Voice Assistant” ( has been a top app on both the iPad and iPhone for a significant period.

    Another and one of the most attractive features is the ability for the app to create videos of the users. The demand for video creation on mobile devices is obvious. The apps “Viddy” ( and “Socialcam” ( both offer users a way to interact with videos similar to that of “Instagram” ( (for photos). Both of these apps have been top free apps for significant amounts of time. These apps are obviously far more complex than this app but, I feel that they demonstrate that users want to download apps that involve creating videos.

    All of these factors point toward the fact that the app store is ready for an application like this. Users love apps that entertain and amuse them and this app will do just that. Overall, I think that this app expands on many apps that have come before it and adds a killer feature in secretly recording videos.

    Monetizing the App:

    This app will follow the common freemium model found throughout the app store and described in your book. The app will have a paid (0.99) companion that gets rid of ads. Also, I have multiple banner ads throughout the app that will provide a source of income. I also plan to place affiliate links in the app in order to earn money through Apple’s iTunes. Finally, I have included a link to the promo page which will start to create my app network. This page can also be used to promote other developer’s apps until I have multiple apps of my own. Furthermore, I plan to include nag screens in the app, initially they will likely be the traditional alert style nag screen (to keep costs down).


    I believe that this app will be a success because it builds off of many other successful apps. I hope you can see that I have made many design decisions in order to keep costs down as I realize that adding features can cause prices to skyrocket. Furthermore, I hope that you can tell that I am committed to this idea and am willing to work hard to make it a reality and a success. I have enjoyed reading your book, and thank you for considering my idea.

  58. I’d first like to introduce myself, I am an 18 year old student at a State University in New York. I have been working for days, thinking constantly about my submission, and what I could contribute to the appmosphere. It didn’t come to me immediately, but I have finally come up with an idea that I am proud to present to you now.

    As a college student, I am forced to get online several times per day to check and/or make changes to my student account, which is located online, within my universities’ web page. Every university and college has one of these student portals, an area where students can view and pay bills, sign up for classes, make changes to their meal plan, and do hundreds of school related things. It is not always convenient to have to run to a computer to check a simple thing, and this is why I know that people will buy my app.

    My first thought, why isn’t there an app for this?

    My app idea is StudentPortal. An app that will connect you with your online student account, from your handheld device. My app will be universal, available to students from every college/university. A simple connection between the schools online system and the app is all that is necessary. After opening up the app, you will be prompted to register as a student of your school. From that moment on, every time you open the app, you will be able to make the same changes on your phone, that you would be able to make online.

    Some of the benefits of StudentPortal on your handheld device:

    -view academic calendars

    -register for classes on the go

    -change meal plans

    -pay e-bills

    -view messages from professors

    -submit housing applications

    -register vehicles

    -check out campus employment opportunities

    -sign up for graduation

    -and manage anything academic, financial, or school related!

    This app has great potential, and you should seriously consider it for these reasons:

    -It would be marketed to students, one of the largest organized groups in the world

    -With the support of individual colleges/universities it would be easily marketable and accessible to students

    -This app will be a great revenue generator, it can be sold to students, as well as to schools who are interested in advancing by bringing their student accounts to handheld devices

    Thank you for your time and this great opportunity, this blog has inspired me to be more creative and work with my ideas in a way I never have before. Best of luck to everyone who submitted.

    Ben Cramer

    1. Hey Ben!

      I went to SUNY Albany- not sure which one you attend, but good luck with your app! “MyUAlbany” was a huge pain in the @$$, I’m sure lots of students would benefit from your idea!


      PS- I hope you go to UAlbs- as I’m sure you know, Obama is there today!!

  59. Awesome Information Tim! Inspiring as always!

    App Idea:

    The idea is to create an application that will bring people together in a game. The games design will be a “plant growing” contest. Each player will select a plant to grow and the selected plants will be “planted in the same location”. Each player has access to the same environmental moves e.g. (Rain, sunshine, fertilizer, snow etc.) that will either help or hinder the selected plants. Players must learn which environmental factors will be most effective at creating a more fruitful blossom for themselves. The twist of the game is that the “Elemental Move” will effect the local players plant and his opponents plant. Players will control the elements in a growing race to be played move by move, One group may choose to grow together, another to attack each others plants until the bitter end. The goal of the game is to complete a growing season with a more successful tree or (fruitful blossom). As they successfully grow plants a new larger selection of plants will be unlocked for players to choose from. In keeping with the roots of a game connected through social media there will be an ever open opportunity in game to connect with the other player, To be a strategist for success and communicate goals or to talk shit as you use your elemental power to destroy their chances of success. Unlimited possibility of fauna to draw from in creativity design.

    Potential for success:

    I want to model the connectivity code off of the wildly successful and popular Words With Friends.

    I believe this application in the form of a game will be successful, because it embodies the connectivity model of popular games on the market today. e.g Words with Friends

    The game brings people together to grow peacefully, compete, or to experiment with the game design.

    Dylan Divine

  60. Thanks for an inspiring post! Here’s my entry:



    by Karan Sagar


    Note: I made a video (< 3 minutes) for the same content as below for my submission. If it's reasonable, I'd prefer you watch that



    Building on the success of photo booth apps, ResemBooth allows users to take two photos of faces and either

    a) merge the faces together OR

    b) give a resemblance statistic and category (e.g., 35% resemblance: cousins!)


    My app builds on the huge success of camera apps, especially facial booth ones. Apps like UglyMeter, AgingBooth, FatBooth, Oldify, Fatify, Baldify, etc., have gained wild popularity. In fact, at least 7 of the top 25 apps in Entertainment today do basic facial manipulation. All of them have solid reviews. Despite their subject, the best apps in this sub-category have elegant UIs. Also, they all allow users to draw from Camera Roll and share photos on Facebook and Twitter.

    If we look at similar resemblance and merging apps, like Alike (which finds a celebrity resemblance) and Future Baby’s Face, we see that they’ve gotten popular, too. Alike reached #1 in Entertainment and today is at #7. “Future baby’s face,” for its part, hit #1 in utilities. However, these apps have lots of awful reviews (Alike with 1 star, FBF with 2 stars). Lots of downloads and many poor reviews signal high, unsatisfied demand.

    The major complaint with Alike and FBF was functionality: the apps are slow, glitchy, and don’t have any real algorithm behind them. In fact, FBF just selects a stock baby photo from its database. ResemBooth can demolish it.


    — I’ll construct a gorgeous UI/app flow, preserving one of the best features of apps like AgingBooth.

    — The end result should be quick and easy. People should be able to do this at a bar after a few drinks.

    — Facebook and Twitter shares will be key, I believe, to building interest and driving new downloads.

    — A bank of celebrity faces would be a nice touch. That way, people could indulge in the app while alone

    — A similar application (face merging and resemblance) was a popular Nintendo DSi application. In other words, it can be and has been implemented.

    Thanks for your time and this competition!

  61. Greetings, Tim, Chad, and my fellow appreneurs. My name is Brandon and I happened upon this contest in my search of a description of the app development process straight from a successful app developer. I have had a lot of time during my mindlessly repetitive part time job that I hold over breaks from earning a college degree full time. I been a creative type from a young age, my earliest pitch(7yrs old) being to Toys R Us for a line of toys based on a favorite childhood video-game. That never came through for the obvious reasons( although I actually got a gift card in a “aw thats cute” response letter!) yet I have since tried to keep that creative streak throughout my education and in my personal life. Now college is coming to an end and I am actively interested in pursuing app development as a career or supplementary income.

    This article has given me a newfound inspiration and hope for a more productive and fulfilling lifestyle than what my current employment and struggling job market in America can offer me. “Times is hard” and all that aside I want to make apps that can be used to help people be productive in the ways that work for them, not how the app dictates, because in the end it is personal drive that motivates someone to continue to use an app.

    This brings me to my app concept : Project Lens.

    Using augmented reality tech that is featured in a top paid Ipad app, Magicplan, Project Lens will allow users to organize their lives they way they need to in a way that makes sense to their own thought processes. Imagine if you will a young man cleaning his room, a CEO walking into his office building, a mom checking cooking supplies, a stock-boy in a ma n paw shop. All of these people have different tasks ahead. All of these people have different organizational thought patterns. All of these people have a different way to look at things. All of these people could use Project Lens to enhance their productivity.

    Look at your workspace. Imagine standing in the center of the room and scanning over areas, seeing each “zone” that you designated and customized highlighted in a customizable augmented reality overlay. Now slow down your scanning over specific zones and see a brief overview of what is important in that particular area. Focus in on your desk and see a detailed list of all the work tasks you must complete in a personal and organized to do list. Look out your window and see the itinerary for your day according to your I-Cal account, or maybe a inspirational quote from your favorite author (Cough…Tim Ferriss… Cough). As you look at your key bowl see a reminder to grab that TPS report to give to Bob from marketing on your way out.

    Acting as more than a visual to-do list Project lens enables you to organize your life, even if your life is unorganized! Creating a Lens for each space in your life allows you to keep track of many different aspects of day to day routines all in one standard process. Now think if establishments such as malls, college campuses, museums, or even special events had lenses to help you find the things that matter to you. Upon entrance to the mall get a push notification letting you know the mall has a free Lens for download. Pick it up and in seconds take a look around to see that there is a sale on panties at your favorite clothing store. Ask (siri-like or search txt or categories) for the nearest ATM and a dotted line appears to show you where to go. Or just go exploring on your own and mark that little corner shop that your mom would love and send it to her lens account through Facebook friend integration. Post a review lens of an establishment to your twitter so all of your devoted readers can get coffee where the stars roam.

    Project Lens can become a customizable system of all purpose organization for the things that matter to you. Why bother searching through pages of lists and menus of notes when you can just take a look through your Lens and see for yourself! I hope this app idea takes off and even if I don’t make it through the contest I want to try to make it a reality using the tips from the article above. Finally I would like to say thanks to Tim and Chad for inspiring me to make apps that make sense for anybody who picks it up, and hopefully help them to make their life what they want it to be.

    -Brandon M. “Shally”

  62. My contest entry: Dash Raptor!

    A game where you race your raptor, Dash, against impending doom on four skill levels: Bronto, Triceretops, T-Rex, and Meteor!

    Dash raptor is a side scroller. Dash starts off running from a stampede of Bronto plant eaters, the easiest level, through lush terrain of varying ecological types. With a tap of the screen, Dash jumps over pits that would swallow him whole. Dash will slow down as he gets hungry, so he must eat cute lil’mammals along the way to keep up his speed (by landing on them after a jump). If he eats enough mammals in a certain amount of time, he’ll sprout feathers and fly! For a little bit.

    There are two modes of play, Countdown and Infinite Pangea. In the first you must race a certain distance before the time is up. In the second, you just see how far you can go before getting smushed. Share your achievements on your favorite social site! Race against other Dashes when wifi connected. Have the option to buy in for more terrain landscapes.

    For research I checked out the App Store to see what the top 25 apps selling were. They’re mostly games, with animals, doing Something that doesn’t result in carpal tunnel for the user. I’ve played some HTML5 games before where there’s basically just one control (jump!) and find those satisfying for near mindless entertainment.

    Thanks for your consideration!

  63. Definitely a huge fan of T. Ferris. Very inspirational and motivational, now just needing to put everything in to play so that things work out for the best and I can get my “retirement” on. Now for the fun part:

    App suggestion:

    Name:Vitamins and Supplements

    Problem being solved:Lack of informational knowledge on the vitamins and supplements out there. People here one thing or read another, this app will bring the correct terms and usage together for a vitamin dictionary

    App basics: The start of this app will be very simple and basic. Just a simple Vitamins, minerals and supplements A to Zinc dictionary. The improvement coming along from other apps that are in the store, is there are not a lot that show the minerals that are out there that can be taken, and also all of the health supplements that can be taken. So as simple as that, to begin with, just a dictionary fruitful of Vitamin definitions. This part of course will be free. One or two nice things that can be added in for fun once the ball starts rolling is an Amazon or other search style link at the bottom of each vitamin to be able to purchase said vitamin, also easy to have vitamin companies sponsor any/all pages to build revenue that way.

    App Advanced: This is where the fun comes in to play. Just like above was mentioned with the advanced searching to be able to purchase and ad sponsoring, that is where the revenue starts. It keeps coming with the add ons. One of the major in app purchases that would be in this app is the ability to buy a push notification add on, to where you can set up a vitamin regimen and be alerted as to when you need to take your next vitamin/supplement and what that would be. Set it and forget it. Another tweak that would be added in future upgrades would be to set up a customized vitamin plan, i.e. if you are looking to help increase bone strength, metabolism, energy etc… what vitamins would/should you take. Also one last one would be to have a barcode scanner feature that would allow you to scan a barcode at a vitamin store to see the reviews and other info on it, or to also integrate that in to the alerts part so you can truly know exactly what you are taking when.

    Layout: Very simple layout, nothing to clunky or clinky just a simple UI with tabs and search functions.

    Research: Not a lot of solid vitamin apps are out there that really address a lot of these problems, and the ones that do aren’t done all that well. This would be seamless, clear and simple.

    Vitamins, minerals and supplements are an essential part of what we need to be taking every day, this app would you to know what when and how you are taking those each and every day.

  64. Thanks Chad for the How-To-Guide! Looking forward to reading your book and applying everything you cover for future ideas.

    App: Pre-Skooled

    Description: After researching the top grossing apps in the iTunes store, more than 1/3 of the top thirty are social multi-player games (DragonVale, Kingdom of Camelot, Design This Home, etc.). My idea will use a similar style and concept but with a different theme. The theme being Pre-School Playground and the challenge is to create the best playground on campus.

    Gameplay: Like Camelot and other games similar, there will be challenges which will include classic playground games (foursquare, dodgeball, hopscotch, obstacle course/jungle gym, food fights, etc.), there will be “Level Ups” which in my version will be called “Graduations,” you will also be able to gather resources to grow and maintain your playground like cafeteria food, building blocks, battleships, “bullies” to protect your playground, shoots, ladders, etc.

    The chance to battle other players in “Red Rover” themed challenges to rule your territory will also be there. Players will battle each other, with the loser giving up either coins, bullies, building blocks or any combination of the three.

    The game will be offered free but will include In-App Purchases ranging from lunch boxes for meals to sneakers that’ll increase certain attributes to building blocks to help build your “fortress”. Purchasing muscle (bullies) will also be available LOL

    In the past few of hours imagining the layout of this game, I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling (a few outbursts of laughter here and there along the way also escaped).

    I loved going out for recess during preschool/elementary school to play the various playground games offered as well as ones we created ourselves. This app will help bring back those memories and make you king/queen of the playground like you once were in school. If you weren’t a king or queen, get some bullies and take what you’ve wanted for all these years…

    Thank you again for the info Chad and thank you Tim for having Chad be the guest blogger.


  65. This is my official contest entry. I have spent the last few days researching a few different areas of the app store, and while I was stuck on video games for a while, I finally settled on creating a clone of some of the most popular apps in the utilities category – download apps. These apps center around the idea of downloading files directly from the internet into a private filesystem on your iPhone. There are several of these apps in the top ranks of the utilities category, which caught my attention.

    Following the advice in this post, I compiled a review of each of them and why I thought they were popular and what made people download them.

    The basic reason I think people like these apps is so they can get free music and videos from the internet without having the pay Apple for them. There are other music and video services, but they don’t allow you to save content on your phone. The download apps also allow you to create any kind of filing system you want to organize your downloads. Most offer some kind of playlist functionality and security features for keeping your content safe from other people that you might not want to see it.

    Another slight variation on this kind of app is the private files app, which lets you keep a custom filesystem downloads, photos, and other files. This kind of app seems to cater to those who take photos while they are partying and don’t want them to be seen by other people who have access to their phone. These apps tend to have access logs, which include a photo, timestamp, and result of the login attempt for each access.

    The pricing models for these apps are the free/pro dual version model. There is typically a free version that shows off some basic features and has some nag screens that allow the user to upgrade. Sometimes that upgrade comes in the form of an in-app purchase, but most often the Pro version is a separate app. I would prefer the in-app purchase route since it keeps the user from downloading another version of the app, which could cause issues with file system access (iOS apps each get their own filesystem, which the others can’t access).

    Since I have decided to go with the download type app, I propose the following enhancements over the currently available options:

    1) Add security logging with photo tracking. The current apps do allow for a security code to prevent break ins, but it doesn’t necessarily keep a log of each event, and none of the options I explored kept a photo of the individual that was trying to access the information.

    2) Add a dot-lock style lock code to the app. The apps I researched used a basic pass code. This adds a cool factor to the iPhone, since such a locking interface doesn’t exist natively there – yet.

    3) Integrate the filesystem with Google Drive, Drop Box, and Evernote. The current download apps like to rave about their secure filing systems and ghost folders. This is a fantastic feature, and I want to enhance it. I want to make getting the files from your phone to your computer as simple as possible. Not everything that you download needs to stay on the phone or be kept secret. There is some support for the iTunes shared folder in some of these apps, but that requires synching with your computer. I want the user to be able to choose which files they share to their computer and when. Seems like a simple upgrade since Dropbox, Google Drive, and Evernote offer APIs for doing exactly this.

    So that’s the idea. Its not as flashy as a video game, but it seems to make sense to me. I’m suggesting some simple improvements over the currently available apps, but nothing drastic as far as features go. I haven’t posted the project to elance or odesk yet, but I will, regardless of the outcome of the contest.

    Thanks again for this wonderful article. I have been looking for the perfect muse for quite a while and have always come up short. I am a developer and have built several apps for both the iOS and Android platforms, but nothing has ever taken off. I am interested to see what will happen after I follow the advice given here.

  66. I like many suffer from being unhealthy. I set out a couple of months ago with the goal of becoming healthier. I searched for apps that would help me with the journey. Unfortunately I was unable to find that one app that exemplified a complete fitness app. There are some good ones, but none that do everything. Some of the ones out there, including the current topseller, do one or two things very well. But as we all know, weight loss and health are much more complicated than that. There are many things to track and many things to remember. I would like to create a complete health/fitness app that will become a much needed help for everyone who has a goal to become healthier.

    There are three things that I see that are needed for a diet/health goal to be accomplished.

    1. Desire

    2. Sustainability

    3. Accountability

    While the first is not something that can be gained from an app, the other two can greatly be influenced by one. The app I would like to make has six categories; nutrition, measurements, exercise, accountability, community, charts. Goals will be able to made in both of the first three categories.


    This is something that most people think of when they think of becoming healthier. They change the way they eat, track calories or try new “healthy” recipes. This part of the app will help with all of that. In it you will be able to scan a bar code to enter a food into your food journal. This journal will be able to track all of the things found on a standard food label. Meals that are eaten often can be saved and plugged in when needed. Recipes can be entered with serving sizes in oz or cups and will give an estimate of the nutrition. This function will also analyze the diet to make sure that it is not unhealthy based on recommendations.


    This is the main part that I wish other diet/fitness apps contained. My app would be able to accurately take these measurements itself. It would be able to measure chest, waist, neck, hips, arms, legs. Weight and height will be entered by the user. With the measurements the app can calculate body fat and BMI.


    This part of the app will be where the user will enter their exercise for the day. They will be able to choose the exercise performed and enter the time spent. This will give them an accurate count of the calories that they burn.


    This is something that has greatly enhanced my weight loss. I created a blog that outlined my plan and updated it with results. This made it so people often would ask me how I was doing and would comment on the success that I was having. Knowing that someone is aware of what you are doing greatly increases the likelihood that you will achieve the goal. This portion of the app will be able to post goals, pictures, results, to the medium of the user’s choosing be it facebook, twitter, instagram (pictures and charts). Having their friends and family know what they are doing will encourage the user to want to show off their results.


    Often when I am dieting I feel like I am alone. I live with healthy people, and am the only one that needs to make these changes. Having a community of people would greatly help to have someone to talk to about the struggles and successes. Users can connect with each other, find those doing the same diet, get tips, bounce ideas off each other, or just be there to encourage each other.


    This function of the app will be able to produce charts of the first three categories. The user can get a chart of their eating habits, exercise, and see how their measurements go up or down depending on what their goals are. These charts will be able to be emailed to the user so that they may print them, also they can be posted so that others may view the success that the user is having.

    My app is complex, but will be very easy to use. The lack of a complete fitness app in the market is a hole that many people need filled. Whether they are trying to lose weight, gain strength, or just be healthier in general users will find my app an invaluable tool towards their success.

  67. What a great contest, thanks for the opportunity.

    Also Tim, thanks for the great work.

    My app idea is called the Balance Bar.

    It is a productivity/ lifestyle app. The process and layout is very simple and straight forward. You can see the rough (very rough) drawing here:

    You have 5 buttons in your app that represents 5 categories; Health, Mental, Network, Spiritual, and Money.

    At the beginning of each week you define for each category what you will to improve.

    Each day as you do it, you push the button you just did, and it lights up.

    At the end of the day if you light them all up, you gain points, and if at the end of the week, you consistently do the daily list, you are put in a fishbowl pool.

    This idea plays off a couple of others, it takes a methodology that is similar to Tim Ferriss’s of three key items a day and ties it with James Altuchers 4 Spiritual practice model. The person inputs what they plan to do each day of that week in 5 catagories; Health, Mental, Network, Spiritual, and Money. As they do each thing each day. the button for that items lights up. At the end of the week, if you did each item each day (perhaps putting a time requirement to keep from just clicking it.)

    Tied to this I would like to take two concepts I read in the book Willpower;

    One is that people do better with long term goals if they can identify with their future self, so create a way of having them define their future self and see what they can do to help them meet it.


    You can use this quirk of decision making to resist immediate gratification, whatever the temptation: 1. When you are tempted to act against your long-term interests, frame the choice as giving up the best possible long-term reward for whatever the immediate gratification is. 2. Imagine that long-term reward as already yours. Imagine your future self enjoying the fruits of your self-control. 3. Then ask yourself: Are you willing to give that up in exchange for whatever fleeting pleasure is tempting you now?

    The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can DoTo Get More of It by Ph.D., Kelly McGonigal

    The second step is social, each time you meet your goals of the week, you join the group list on a board and you are put in a fishbowl drawing that is held each month for a small prize.

    Here is an excerpt from Willpower that applies;

    The promise of reward has even been used to help people overcome addiction. One of the most effective intervention strategies in alcohol and drug recovery is something called the fish bowl. Patients who pass their drug tests win the opportunity to draw a slip of paper out of a bowl. About half of these slips have a prize listed on them, ranging in value from $1 to $20. Only one slip has a big prize, worth $100. Half of the slips have no prize value at all—instead, they say, “Keep up the good work.” This means that when you reach your hand into the fish bowl, the odds are you’re going to end up with a prize worth $1 or a few kind words. This shouldn’t be motivating—but it is. In one study, 83 percent of patients who had access to fish bowl rewards stayed in treatment for the whole twelve weeks, compared with only 20 percent of patients receiving standard treatment without the promise of reward. Eighty percent of the fish bowl patients passed all their drug tests, compared with only 40 percent of the standard treatment group. When the intervention was over, the fish bowl group was also far less likely to relapse than patients who received standard treatment—even without the continued promise of reward

    The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can DoTo Get More of It by Ph.D., Kelly McGonigal

    This app can fit in many categories; such as Lifestyle and Productivity.

  68. Introduction

    Laterally is a social, turn-based game of solving lateral thinking puzzles with your friends. Lateral thinking puzzles are scenarios that need to be solved through indirect and creative approaches. One of the most prominent lateral puzzles is about a man who walked into a restaurant, ordered steak, ate one mouth and then shot himself with a gun. The objective of Laterally is thus to solve the mystery of the scenario by asking a series of yes or no questions. In this case, why did the man shoot himself? The scenarios are wildly unusual, but there is always logic to the explanations.


    Laterally can be played with 2 or more players. One player will become the Riddler – he reads the

    scenario and answer. The remaining players will ask closed ended questions in a chatroom-style UI

    to slowly lead them to the answer. The Riddler will then tap ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or ‘Irrelevant’ buttons for

    each question.

    For the steak story:

    Player 1: “Did he kill himself because the steak was poisoned?”

    Riddler: “No.”

    Player 3: “I know, he was a Buddhist monk!”

    Riddler: “Nope.”

    Player 6: “Was it because it reminded him of something bad?”

    Riddler: “Yes!”

    It’s an incredibly interactive and engaging experience to play with a bunch of friends to figure out the mystery behind each question. Supporting this are your game mechanics of points-scoring, leaderboards, and achievements.


    Laterally will ad-supported. The inherent nature of the game makes for long dwell times, which translates to more ad impressions. Other revenue streams could be add-on stories players can unlock through playing, or microtransactions.

  69. Chad and Tim, thank you!

    Contest Entry:

    FotoPhrame is a great, multipurpose and easy to use application that helps you turn your photos into an amazing work of art! Tons of unique patters, colors and Phrame layout options. Share your images with friends and family via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Email.

    *In-App camera that allows you to choose a Phrame and snap your shots specifically for your design.

    Main Features

    – Apply effects to individual photos

    – Built in camera gives you unlimited photo potential

    – Choose color and patterns for Phrames background

    – Text effects

    – Mirror, Zoom, and Rotate each picture

    – Easily move photos thru drag and drop

    – Adjust border width

    – High resolution

    – Share the images via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Email, Instagram.

    – Support for the iPhone and iPad


    I love creativity and photography and I’ve been using similar Phrame apps (free and paid) for some time now, with many features missing in either one or all. I did my research. I purchased all like apps with the same thing in mind…. What is missing? Another huge help was reading all of the Customer Reviews in the AppStore. Nothing’s better than getting someone else’s perspective. What sets FotoPhrame apart, and makes it the best is by doing the things the others don’t and doing them with the costumer in mind.

    Similar picture frame and collage apps have done really well. On average, they consistently hit these milestones (and growing):

    – Top 5 in iPhone Paid Photography Apps

    – Top 50 iPhone Paid Apps Overall

    – Top 10 in iPad Paid Photography Apps

    Exclusive Features:

    -Camera built into app. Take pictures for the Phrame you choose

    -More unique patterns and colors

    -Ability to change the dimensions of the Phrame independently from one another

    -Adjust actual picture size within the Phrame

    -Text Effect (multiple fonts and designs). Feature to save a preset watermark or logo

    -Different Phrame shapes. More than just square

    -Zoom in and edit on each picture within the phrame

    Here is a link to my Youtube video of the basic concept.


  70. Hi chad,

    thanks you so much for getting everyone this awesome opportunity. I have couple ideas but i do want to pitch you this one. is an app game. i know a lot of games are high budget but i think this one is simple. it is just intercepting missiles falling down the screen, and different missiles will do different things that prevent the player to easily to get them. and they can collect coins or metal that fall out to help their upgrade in defending the incoming missiles

    I have read you book cover to cover and it had gave me inspiration to be crazy and do something awesome. hope you would pick me.



    PS thanks you so much Tim for changing my life in a way that i can never imagine it could happen i still working on your book and loving every second of it

  71. My app idea:


    Gives users the ability to upload a PDF house floor plan, which they can then draw on to make changes. For example someone wishing to renovate their existing home would upload the existing floorplan & could then sketch their changes. This could also be used for landscaping.

    If the user does not have a floorplan, as a drawing app they would be able to draw a plan.

    The free app would allow a maximum of two plans to be saved, the paid version would allow unlimited saves, but would also contain an added feature of being able to add in furniture and other neccessities in a home

  72. ****CONTEST SUBMISSION******

    Hey Chad,

    First of all, thanks for the great article and opportunity to enter the contest.


    My app idea is to enhance the recipe managing applications that exist today.


    Today’s recipe apps often load tons of recipes automatically and just fills your app with useless recipes. This app is meant to focus more on the recipes users want to create and share. Also, today’s applications lack search functions. This app will have a robust search feature that will allow the user to search by all attributes of a recipe, including nutritional value, multiple ingredients,


    My Recipe Pal


    ***Of course adding, deleting, and editing recipes.

    ***Advance search that allows you to search by multiple ingredients, nutritional value, and just about every recipe attribute.

    ***Add recipes to planner and grocery cart (meal planner and grocery cart UIs are not shown in prototype)

    ***Ability to scale the recipe (not shown in prototype)

    ***Share on Facebook, by email, or Twitter




    2 of the top 20 “Lifestyle” apps were cooking/recipe apps. One of the top apps lacks some of the important functionality that I am proposing such as meal planning and search on more recipe attributes like nutrition. Similar apps ranging in price from Free to 4.99. Although seems like many people have purchase the 4.99 app, I think it might be a little steep. I’m going with 2.99 to be in the mid-range.


    You can find the prototype here:

    ***Please read through the “Page Notes” tab on the left side of the pages for additional information about the page and it’s functionality. I was unable to create the exact features (i.e. pickers) that I really have in mind, but hopefully you get the gist.

    I hope you like it and believe in the need for an app that gives the user more functionality!



  73. Draw Fun

    This application is an improvement of ‘Draw Free’. It focuses on three principles that drive people to not only download apps, but continue using them.

    1) Competition

    2) Human interaction

    3) Learning (good use of time)

    With these revisions, ‘Draw Fun’ will use the principles of competition and learning that are present in games such as ‘Words with Friends.’

    1) The point system for ‘Draw Free’ does not create any competition between players. ‘Draw Fun’ would give users points based on if the opponent guesses the right word. Drawers may not be as inclined to draw as well, so they need an incentive; if the opponent guesses on the first try, the drawer and the guesser get an extra point. Points increase with increasing difficulty of word. Need to accumulate certain amount of points to buy items (more words, color, etc).

    2) ‘Draw Fun’ would give access to play with strangers and friends. It would also have the option of chatting, such as via text. People have an innate desire to get to know others’ backgrounds. This option particularly comes in with the upgrade (as discussed below).

    3) The words on ‘Draw Free’ are pretty random. ‘Draw Fun’ users would be able to get words for specific fields of interest/categories. For example, there would be medical terminology, engineering, jargon, business-savy words, historical characters, and music terms. An example would be the word heart burn for the medical category. Users could draw a heart with fire. This would be a basic word. The upgrade could be available for free at first to spread awareness. The upgrade would be a way for people to learn something while playing a game. People can also use points to buy these words. For difficult words, there would also be a definition after guessing. It could come in especially useful for students. The learning part of the app is what makes it so successful. People would not feel guilty for playing a game because it teaches them something that may come in handy for work/school.

    Now some basic changes:

    1) Because some users play on the ipad, it is easier for them to draw. I suggest creating a template like that of Paint, where there is an option of using a pencil, paint brush, paint can, boxes, etc. It is difficult to draw on a phone with a finger.

    2) The guesser only sees the drawer’s complete drawing. Let’s say I start drawing and scrap the page 3 times. I don’t want the opponent to see that. I also don’t want them to see everything I have erased. I just want them to see the final picture.

    3) While you are in the middle of a game, you have the option of skipping. It saves where you left off and takes you to the homepage.

    4) Make the app available in different languages. ‘Draw Free’ is the number 1 app and is used in about 80 countries. Making it available in other languages increases the audience further. This would be an upgrade. You can play in English with some friends, in Japanese with others, and Italian with yet others!


    I have a background in health care and dealing with patients with insurance. I see a void that my app could help fill.

    THE BASIC IDEA: You input the name of 1) an insurance provider and 2) the type of physician you need. Based on your GPS coordinates, the app provides you with the names/locations of the nearest physicians you seek.

    COMPETITORS: There is currently an app somewhat similar to this but it is restricted to a particular locality and insurance provider. My app would be bringing something new to the table in that it would not be restricted to a single insurance carrier or state.

    POTENTIAL: In addition to helping patients currently with insurance find out nearby providers, this app would help folks who are considering buying health insurance. Although there is currently some uncertainty on the status of the Obamacare decision facing the SCOTUS, this app would allow all the potential new entrants to the health insurance market decide if a particular insurance carrier has the types of docs that they would need. Based on proximity/types of docs available, potential new customers can decide which insurance to buy based on availability of physicians who can treat them. There are also potential side applications, such as including satisfaction scores for providers from users to provide additional information.


    srao at daytonir dot com

  75. Thank you Chad and Tim, for giving all of us this opportunity.

    I’m sure it’s no news to you, that with modern technology and the global economy, businesses are hiring off location freelancers, contractors, or having employees telework remotely from their own home, or coffee shop more than ever. For companies, telecommuting expands the talent pool, reduces costs, increases productivity, reduces carbon footprint, reduces turnover, and absenteeism, improves employee morale, and hastens their cultural adaptability. Full-time telework can save companies approximately $20,000 per employee.

    The problem is employers have huge concerns about outsourcing, hiring freelancers or teleworking.

    Working long distance means employees and supervisors have to work harder to maintain communication and relationships with co-workers.

    Most managers are used to managing by observation and not necessarily by results. Liability, trust, tracking hours and workers’ compensation can become serious issues.

    The fact is you don’t know if your $50hr programmer is actually working, and not surfing the web, or your graphic designer, how can you trust they have full attention on your project?

    That is where Hive comes in, our app’s goal is to eliminating employers concerns about freelancing and teleworking. Hive is a productivity management app that allows employers and employees to track hours on projects, manage tasks, see location of fellow team members, and measure productivity.

    Each user has a hive, in that hive are colonies, and a colony is a business or “team”. Within the colony, projects, tasks, time, chat, and activity analytics are brought together in an intuitive app interface and is accessible by only members of the colony.

    Admins in the colony will be able to view screenshots of team members computer screens (with the use of a browser extension), location of colony members (using geolocation and status updates), time card details for each project, and award stars among other things. Badges and points are also used to measure accomplishments. Points will measure activity within the app (clocking in, assigning tasks, etc), while badges will be milestone awards for continued point worthy behavior. Gold stars will represent job well done awards. Hive will eliminate the struggles of teleworking, by delegating work, tracking resources, and rewarding accountability. See our partial mock up here:

    Revenue: Freemium app. Free for the first 3 members in a colony, any more is $.99/month for each additional user in each colony.


    Hive is a product of Visioniz, a successful creative start up that has found success without any funding and is 12 team members strong! We have the resources to manage this app, we just need a boost of ios skill and expertise to get this going. Our mockup again:

    Thank you,

    Visioniz Team.

  76. [Not sure if my first comment posted]


    I have a background in health care and dealing with patients with insurance. I see a void that my app could help fill.

    THE BASIC IDEA: You input the name of 1) an insurance provider and 2) the type of physician you need. Based on your GPS coordinates, the app provides you with the names/locations of the nearest physicians you seek.

    COMPETITORS: There is currently an app somewhat similar to this but it is restricted to a particular locality and insurance provider. My app would be bringing something new to the table in that it would not be restricted to a single insurance carrier or state.

    POTENTIAL: Although there is currently some uncertainty on the status of the Obamacare decision facing the SCOTUS, this app would also help all potential new entrants to the health insurance market find out if a particular insurance carrier has the types of docs that they would need. Based on proximity/types of docs available, potential new customers can decide which insurance to buy based on availability of physicians who can treat them. Additonal side applications include the possibility to include provider ratings/satisfactions scores to further help patients make a decision on choosing a provider.


    srao at daytonir dot com

  77. Thanks for the contest Chad! Here goes:

    PICWORTHY crowd-sourced visual travel guide.

    Picworthy helps you find the places others find interesting, using geotags as votes. “Heat maps” show geographic density of geotagged photos worldwide.

    Similar Examples:,


    – “Baseline” map shows places with highest density of photo shares. See the classic sights.

    – “Hot Right Now” map shows real-time photo shares relative to baseline. Chase the action around town in real time.

    – Filter by “Tourist” or “Local” photographers (based on duration of time in a place) depending on your interests.

    – Filter by Time of Day to find best place to catch sunrise, or hot nightspots.

    Zoom map OUT to locate “Picworthy” cities and national parks. Zoom map IN to plan trips around town, discover hidden gems, etc. Zoom in further to sample images from the location, to see what the excitement’s about.

    Picworthy incorporates features of many wildly popular apps and sites:

    – Review-based sites and apps (Yelp, TripAdvisor)

    – Photo-sharing apps (Instagram et al)

    – Visual travel guides (National Parks Guide by NatGeo)

    – Map-based guides (MapQuest Vibe)

    1. Hi Chad & Tim,

      Noticed my post from last night is ‘awaiting moderation’ while more recent entries have been posted.

      As the deadline has now passed, just want to confirm I did submit on time (ca. 1am EST). I’m guessing there’s a ‘special circumstance’ (e.g. you need to check if the app already exists) and it’ll clear soon enough.

      Anyway, thanks again for this contest. Inspired to see all this creativity here, and very curious to see who wins…


      1. Yup – me too! I didn’t realize there was time between submission and posting up and I posted at 8:45am EST. Hope it gets through.

        If not…I think I might still go ahead and make it real. 🙂

  78. Go Almighty!

    Imagine Pocket Gods with a purpose and in a real life google maps environment. Unleash all your pent up aggression on the human race by smiting your unworthy subjects with an unlockable smiting arsenal such as lightening, locusts and finger squashing. Compete against your friends, choosing to play as either good or evil – gaining extra points for smiting people such as Hitler and losing points for knocking off Nelson Mandela (if you are playing for good, obviously if you have chosen the dark side the inverse applies).

    Why we think this works:

    Having researched the top apps on the itunes store, pc mag, and time magazine in the US, UK, France, Germany and Australia there seem to be certain themes that appear.

    The major apps that seem to be in the top selling list of all countries and according to market leaders in the field are




    These all happen to be games. Interestingly games appear to be the most universal when it comes to paid for apps.

    Another theme seems to be simplicity. People want instant access and easy to use apps that don’t take forever to figure out. Our game is simple in the extreme, the more characters you blight the more points you rack up.

    Destruction is another theme. Just breaking things for the fun of it. According to psychologists, in particularly stressful times, people should watch violent movies or listen to heavy music to unwind. With the worldwide recession clearly we all need a good dose of therapeutic destruction.

    One other thing that seems a great trend like with Draw Something. Is interconnectivity. Playing against strangers or friends seems a strong tool to the interplay fun factor. Our game allows for multiple players if desired.

    Lastly it appears that unlocking and developing instills a sense of achievement. This is a very basic gaming rule. Self development is a very powerful tool when it comes to enforcing repeat visits and…well lets face it… addictiveness. And what could give you a greater sense of achievement than graduating to a level which allows you to smite an entire country with a plague of locusts.

    Simple. Fun. Especially with the sound effects. And later models could have you healing and convincing people with miracles etc. We feel that the game has every chance of taking over the world, at least virtually.

  79. I’ve never developed any apps but I’m sipping some wine and thought I would take a stab at the contest anyway (I read somewhere alcohol stimulates creativity…) so here we go!

    I based my app idea on the “draw something”.

    People play this game and buy it because:

    -They can play their friends (social)

    -Their is a competitive factor (makes you want to keep playing until you win)

    -It makes them laugh

    So my app will do the same things, but it will be based on video. It’s called “read my lips”. Basically, you record a video of yourself saying something, type in what you’re actually saying, then your friend has to guess what you actually said by watching the video and typing the phrase.

    I haven’t seen a game like this so I don’t know how complicated it will be to create. However, I’m using elements that all smart phones have today.



    It would be easy to create versions for other countries too.

    so there it is….. 🙂

  80. I got the idea for this app the other day while I was watching a movie at a theater. I had my phone on silent but my buddy kept on texting me throughout of the movie, and it really started to annoy me. The theater was packed and I surreptitiously checked the screen to see what was so important. He wanted to know what I was doing cause he wanted to go party somewhere and needed a wingman. I wanted to tell him I was watching a movie and that I’d text him when it was over, but I couldn’t cause I didn’t want to be that guy at the theater annoying everyone else with his bright-ass screen. And then I thought, “wouldn’t it be great if my phone would just know I was watching a movie and automatically text back anyone who texted me to tell them that I was in a movie theater and that I would get back to them when it was over?” That way I wouldn’t have to be annoyed by the texts and they wouldn’t have to be annoyed by me not responding to them. My app design is meant to serve as a quick and easy alternative to just putting your phone on silent before a movie or a meeting or class or whatever it is that you’re doing that you don’t want to be bothered during it. It also works for incoming phone calls, using a ringback tone to tell the person calling the situation. Here’s what I imagine the app would look like:

    App (page 1)(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();


    App (page 2)

    Seems like this could be a useful thing.

    (If those embeds didn’t work, you can find the drawings here and here):


  81. Contest Entry: I have two ideas and had a tough time deciding which to submit. So I looked at the top 25 apps like you suggested and realized that almost all were games. That made my choice clear.

    In Puerto Rico, the game to play with friends is ‘Dominos.’ It’s unlike any version of the game you’ve heard before (unless you’ve been playing with the Cubans) and it combines a feature of Poker — bluffing with a fast pace, high luck, high strategy game that can be played while drinking.

    With the economy in the island the way it is, many Puerto Ricans have left the island for the greener (economically at least) pastures of the States, a huge number going to the likes of Texas. This presents a problem for playing dominos because the strategy of the game (and the bluffing) require a 4 person crew of two partners in crime and two opposing teams. Not only that but to even *teach* the game you need four people!

    So that’s were the app/game comes in. Dominos del Caribe (or some catchy name). The app not only allows you to play remotely and networked (a la facebook games) with your island-living brethren but also teaches the game by using ghost pieces, and it uses that give a handicap to experienced players while allowing newbies ‘helpies’ or whatever the opposite of a handicap is called.

    In the game counting the remaining tiles is vital, but also what people have played. The newbie level marks the tiles by who played them allowing you to follow the game very easily. While the hard level ghosts or erases the played tiles after a while forcing you to rely on memory to remember who played what and which tiles haven’t been played.

    To give it flavor each play you can choose a style of laying down the tile (a la Hikaru no Go) that can convey hints to your team mate of what tiles you have. The game is fast paced and each hand is played quickly so games go by points to typically 200. If a team goes score less in a 0-200 that team gets given a ‘chiva’ or goat, a sort of pity gift. Unfortunately those chivas just sit on your profile, making you look like a dolt until you pay to get rid of them or beat someone else 200-0 and give them your goat.

    Business Model: This app would follow a free-mium model and ad supported model. The tile board for domino playing can support and ad. And people can pay to get extras (like getting rid of a goat (a la Angry Bird’s eagle) or possibly the ability to have networked games).

    Market: There are around 3.5 million ppl in Puerto Rico alone, and the iPhone is massively popular there where a free or 99c app would be a trivial expense plus around 4.6 million in the US. Cubans and Dominicans also play dominos in the same or very similar styles. Additionally by being an excellent way to learn to play dominos the app can have a huge increase in players

    There are all of two apps that have the “Latin American Rules” dominos and this would be an Emulate (no hate) but better! By using ghosting, play styles and local rules like the ‘chiva.’


    Hey Chad/Tim,

    That is a dropbox link to a PDF document that explains my idea in a little more depth. It goes over the functionality, the purpose, and an example of how the app is used and the need for it.

    Here in brief is my idea.

    The app name is Sail Over.

    It is a situational motivation app.

    It allows you to save motivational, inspirational, or educational material on your phone in this app, under the heading/situation to which that piece of information applies.

    The information could be anything: book pages, Tumblr pictures, tweets, motivational posters, movie clips, quotes, interview tips, anything that will help you overcome an uneasy situation.

    Review the info on your phone before you head into that situation to recieve the boost of optimistic energy from when you first read or saw that motivational item.

    Pop in some headphones and play an upbeat house track at the same time to get super pumped up. I would recommend Tiesto’s Maximal crazy.

    Example: Imagine heading into a job interview, not being 1000% prepared. You are confident, but still a little nervous. With this app, while waiting in the lobby you could be flipping through all sorts of confidence boosting quotes, job interview tips, and your past successes. This app acts like a coach giving a half time pep talk to fire up the team to play a kick ass second half and win the game.

    Please read through the 3 pages in the link and this slightly lengthy comment. I believe the concept is sound and it is superior than other one-dimensional motivation apps currently out there, such as quote apps. I believe the market need is super obvious because there are a lot of personal development junkies out there that would love something like this.

    Thank you for the “app”ortunity!!!

    — Weston Ross

  83. Inspiring! After thinking about it this week here’s my idea, and I tried to focus on something really useful in my life (that could still make boatloads of money), because as much fun as goofy apps are, there are just so many everyday problems in life that can be fixed with these mini computers in our pockets!


    App Name: Are You Close?


    (or ‘Where you at’)

    Category: Utilities, where I believe you can climb to the top 10 much easier than some of the other ones.

    (And would you believe it, the .com was available, so I snatched it up and put up some mockups of my app idea!

    I’m posting this because, if I don’t win, and don’t save up to build it on my own, I want you to steal it. I would have bought this app yesterday.

    “Are You Close” Takes off from Apple’s Find my Friends (and Google Latitude, Foursquare’s Radar, and a bunch of others), and simplifies location tracking it to the most immediate GPS-based need I have: finding whomever I’m meeting and telling them how close I am. I don’t want to always know where my friends are and I don’t want them to know where I am at all times. I want a quick, self-destructing location tracker with a map.

    I want to, in less than 5 seconds, send my location to whomever I’m meeting, or picking up, or whatever, and see their location, and how long it will take me to meet them. The app will even give me directions, as they likely don’t know their address, and trying to verbally give directions in downtown San Fran is near impossible.

    A few simple clicks while in route: Open app. Click on my ‘favorites’ to find my husband. Click go. He accepts the push notification, and it then sends him my location (and his to me) so he can see that I’m 7 minutes away. No more texting while driving, or frequent phone calls relaying directions. 15 minutes (or 30 minutes, or an hour) after I send my location, it disappears. Boom, not creepy, just functional. To do something similar with Find My Friends it took over 14 clicks, not-including typing my password, as I had to create an event, name it, and add an end date. Plus, it won’t work anyways, because my husband and I share an AppleID. And it won’t work with friends I often meet for dinner, because they have Android phones. And it won’t work for the millions of people who find Find My Friends too invasive and creepy to even consider opening the app.

    When you read the app store reviews for Find my Friends and Google Latitude they have a surprising number of 1* and 2* reviews, many of which beg for functionality similar to “Are You Close?!”

    I poured through Apple’s review guidelines and there MIGHT be an issue if they see this as competing directly with Find My Friends, but I think they’ve set precedent with approving the other location based apps, and since this isn’t about discovery, just direction, it should hopefully be ok.

    If I don’t win but you want to help fund this app, or you want to develop or design it when it wins my contact info is on the site. With enough interest and no funding maybe I’ll do a kickstarter campaign, Or maybe I’ll just win ? Thanks for reading, and Tim thanks for inspiring us through your blog, and Chad for living the life!

  84. Tim and Chad,

    My idea for an app is called Cranky Caterpillars. Essentially, it would be similar in operation to Angry Birds. There would differences obviously, but Angry Birds was the inspiration.

    Basic Idea: The Caterpillars, which is who the user operates, are cranky because they keep getting woken up by other animals’ shenanegans while trying to become butterflies. All of the other animals are jealous of the caterpillars morphing abilities, and this they try to sabotage the caterpillars’ transformation. So the caterpillars must strike back, so they can have time to become butterflies.

    How its set up: Each set of levels would be 9 regular levels and 1 boss fighting round. In the first nine levels of every set, the caterpillars get launched off of a ramp towards whoever is annoying them. Whether it be birds cawing incessantly, to monkeys throwing poop, the caterpillars must stand up for themselves. After making it through the 9 levels, there is a round where the caterpillar must fight a boss animal.

    Throughout the levels, the user can gain points for various things and use them to buy upgrades, whether it be helmets and armor or weapons and upgraded speed. This creates a reason to keep playing, which is a major reason for “Draw Something’s” success.

    This app would be fairly simple to design, and could be very profitable. Angry birds showed that this was the case, and like you say, why not follow where the money is already flowing! Below I have attached some VERY rough sketches of potential ideas for levels in the game. I know the idea may seem novel, but sometimes novelty is what sells! Especially at 99 cents a pop. The user is expecting a clean, easy to use interface, with some continuously stimulating gameplay. This would offer exactly that! Shoot me an email if you have any questions or would like to discuss this further.

  85. Great article Chad! Tim thanks for posting this in your blog!

    I have idea for an iPhone app:

    I am pro photographer, I am shooting People for many years. Styling yourself is not always an easy task. Actually I know how hard can be! I would like to create app which guide every girl in terms of selecting right clothes. What I mean by right? Clothes that will look on girl as great as possible! Despite of some imperfections in figure! Small fraction of girls look like fashion models. But careful selection of clothes give us a chance to correct visually all imperfections! Basing on such data as: weight, height, shoulder width, hip width and waist i created 50 different body types. Despite of few all body types are not perfect! I know what will help to cover this imperfections by selecting right clothing! I would like to share this knowledge with girls! Girls always have phone during shopping. My app will show what shape of clothes are good for specific type of posture!

    That’s the idea.

    I made research there are some apps but I did not find any app which cover whole issue in such extensive way! Therefore I believe it is worth to produce such app! Whole idea is prepared for implementation let me know if you would like to create it!

    P.S. Girls let me know if this app would be interesting for you!

    1. Krysztof,

      Great idea! I just had a decision this morning with someone who said her daughter looks better in her photos now because she’s been watching America’s Top Model and taking hints on how to look at the camera. You could add tips about that. Also, make-up for the camera would be helpful too. There’s your suite of apps. Good luck!

  86. Tim and Chad, THANK YOU SO MUCH for this post and opportunity!

    Ok, here goes…

    Filling the void and/or improving on what’s out there:

    Guns & Money (G&M), while essentially a crime-oriented game, is more niched-down than the top performer, Crime City (which itself emulates past success stories Mob/Mafia Wars games from social networking sites like facebook and mysapce). G&M is simpler than those forerunners, focusing only on burglary/robbery jobs to build a character and assets from the ground, up, with the option for online interactive play (ideally interfaced with facebook). G&M gets to the root of the “primal desires” people are playing crime games for in the first place – to have an outlet for violence and to fantasize about having loads of cash (and dare I say, getting all by STEALING)! Below are some poignant statements relating to research and anticipated app success. So it all makes sense, please refer to the following link:

    Some Market Research

    Why will this app be successful?

    Number one, it’s a game. Games are by far, proving to be the most financially lucrative, and socially viral applications in the App Store. Borrowing from research of other consistent top grossing gaming apps (DragonVale, Kingdoms of Camelot, Poker by Zynga, Slotomania, Modern War…), first and foremost, G&M’s functionality and overall experience will be as similar as possible across the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices. G&M will also allow for live user gameplay against millions (ambitious, eh?) of other daily users, and enable appropriate interface and integration with facebook (users can OPT to share progress with networks on facebook – no automatic, unwanted, newsfeed/status updates).

    Why will people want this app?

    People seem to be radiating towards gaming apps that start them off at the “ground-floor” of some situation or circumstance (as is the case in Funzio’s most popular and successful apps like Modern War and Crime City, as well as DragonVale and Camelot, and many other games), and gives them the ability to build up their character/avatar as well as in-game assets (coins/gems, buildings, territory, etc.). This effectively fosters a relationship between user and game.

    Raving fan potential?

    Yes, with high level of interactivity, new features and levels being unlocked as a result of progressive gameplay (or in-app purchasing); this follows suit with the chart-topping apps currently available.

    Impulse buys?

    Certainly. When the user will need more money and resources especially in the first 3 levels; they’ll either have to pay to advance or do more jobs (more gameplay), but more jobs puts the character/avatar at risk of death/imprisonment/timing-out which will cause the user to have to start all over. Paying up can prevent this inconvenience.

    Needs met?

    As a game, the app is a much needed, typically always welcome escape from “reality”. It also enables the user to engage in the popular “heist-fantasy” many of us have to pull off a huge score in the face of high risk and a time crunch. Of course, there’s the fact that you can brag to friends, who are also playing the game, about how much you rule and they suck.

    Repeat use?

    Indeed. Customers will have to come back to the app regularly in order to not backtrack and squander the progress of their character/avatar. And they’ll have to complete (or at least try to) a job once its started – or start it all over again if they leave the app without completing that job.

    Competitive advantage of this app?

    Again, it’s more niched down to people interested in the art of the steal, as well as getting their gun off in some cases – it’s not a mafia game.

    Cost(s)? Ads?

    Two versions of the app: Freemium and Paid. Freemium being a free app with ads and in-app purchases and only a few levels; the paid app being ad free with in-app purchases, and all levels (after progressive unlocking via gameplay).

    Emulation Items

    Why will people purchase this?

    Uh, the name – hello? ? But in all seriousness, G&M caters to the nostalgia of stories like The Great Train Robbery, the Thomas Crown Affair, and more contemporary storylines like Ocean’s 11, The Italian Job, etc. With good marketing through other apps, the internet, and some choice screenshots on the app’s page in the App Store, a successful purchase/download rate is reasonable to expect.

    Is this emulating an idea and taking it to another level?

    Yes, it’s emulating the top two crime apps (based on Crime City, and Life is Crime, and aspects of historically successful games like GTA, with an added creative emphasis of honing in on thievery and violence to facilitate amassing wealth – more so than simply being mafia-esque.

    What other ideas would this app’s demographic like?

    They might like other games related to stealing high-priced items, and games related to the “high-life” (adrenaline, risk-taking, fast-cars, fast-women, etc.) A subgroup of users may also express interest in other games that have them start a character or avatar at the ground-floor, and it up along with assets (this can have implications in games involving hospitals, law-firms, architectural firms, media-companies, real-estate groups, etc. – some of these games already exist).

    How many other similar apps are in the market?

    Crime City is the top contender, with Life is Crime in 2nd place, and there are a handful of other crime-game apps that do not seem to be attracting as much attention or money.

    How does the marketing and pricing model [of competitors] work?

    Primarily marketed via other free apps through in app ads (i.e. ads in Pandora, DrawSomething), and internet ads (i.e. YouTube, Google). Crime City and Life is Crime are both free apps with in-app purchases, while G&M’s full version would be $0.99 (with the free version being limited in number of levels, and incorporating ads).



  87. Contest Entry: SkyWords

    A simple app idea, the user would first choose a message they wish to display. They can type in any message they would like. They would then wave their iPhone from the left to the right and back quickly and their entire message would be shown in the air where they are waving their iPhones.

    If this doesn’t quite make sense here is a picture.

    The alarm clock above has a stick with blinking LED lights. When waved back and forth quickly the image/words are floating in the air.

    I got the idea from a physical toy I bought that you can program messages in and when you spin it fast enough the message appears in the air. Technically the entire trick is 5 blinking Led lights to create static words, but with the iPhone the message could be animated, in any color etc. Knowing iPhones can go up to 60 fps when doing simple things confirms it IS possible to create.

    The free version would have the ability to show any message they would like in any color, but the paid version has animations for the text, font options, background for the text, would display video being displayed in the air (fireworks, video they took), displaying images and the like.

    The programming would be minimal, as it’s a simple input text, display blinking lights (or pixels or video). The one trick would be using the accelerometer to figure out if the iPhone is going left to right, or right to left/ knowing the timing or the iPhone moving side to side.

    With hit Apps like “Lighter” and “FlashLight” I think this is another simple gimmick that has not been made yet, and I believe would be used. I payed 20$ to buy a toy that did it, and I think people would be willing to pay 99 cents to have it on them at all times.


  88. >>>>>The Timespace Traveling Chicken<<<<>>>>The morning Crossroads Chicken provides 10 minutes of timespace suit activation (guided meditation and visualization) then a simple Plan-it to record Future You’s missions, landmarks, compass motivation, allies and actions, all posted to your social media (aka Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

    >>>>>The evening Campfire Chicken provides 10 minutes of guided timespace suit decompression and then an evening Revue! Archiving your social media postings (aka Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc), Past You will send you a message of where you were one week, month, season or year ago.

    The Chicken is the daily practice of Plan-it You, a Timespace Traveling Map and Guidebook (a life planner and social collaboration game.)

    >>>>>Where is the Chicken? <<<<>>>>Why choose the Chicken? <<<<<

    Activating the cognitive surplus in our communities is the ultimate objective of this app. It begins with single users actively collaborating with the future through strategic and imaginal planning. Through social sharing it grows into a collaboration and competition tracker within communities, cities, states and nations to create the future of Plan-it Earth.

    And that is a story for another day.

  89. >>>CONTEST SUBMISSION<< Short YouTube Presentation: Short YouTube Presentation: <===

    WHY US?

    It’s our idea and it’s awesome — it’s commodifiable, scalable, and sticky – soothing a very real pain point. A Serious Production is a start-up founded by two geeks going way back — destined for greatness. We have one app in testing which is what sparked this idea – it was born of necessity. True believers in the 4HWW — we are smart, passionate and excited about this opportunity. Thanks for your consideration!

    — Charity & Maylene

    A Serious Production, LLC

    info at seriousprod dot com


      The Mobile App marketplace is projected to be worth $25B by 2015 with new developers joining the ranks everyday — especially with the help of awesome how-to articles like this one! In Step 8, Chad identifies a crucial need in app development — the testing phase.

      However, finding people who can reliably test apps as a new developer can be difficult. Unfortunately, sometimes your relatives just don’t have the smart device you’re testing. You need crowdsourced testers providing clear, actionable feedback without personal bias and that’s where we come in.


      BetaConnect provides app developers with a quick and easy way to connect with reliable beta testers and analyze the resulting data in a closed system. It’s TestFlight + BetaBait in an app.


      BetaConnect has incredible potential, filling an immediate and gaping void in the marketplace, connecting app developers with beta testers in an easy, inexpensive, and integrated manner. BetaConnect has at least three potential target customers including app developers, beta testers, and data miners who may want to purchase downstream aggregated user data.


      BetaConnect is platform agnostic. Once established in iOS, it can be expanded to Android and Windows Mobile.


      There is no one currently providing this exact service but competition does exist including:

      – Lurkers on the board who could steal the idea.

      – TestFlight pushes apps and updates to beta testers but does not source testers, integrate testing feedback, or incentivize users.

      – BetaBait is an online-only service connecting developers with users – revenue from ads.

      – BetaAssist iOS provides developers with contact info – doesn’t facilitate testing.

      – Local beta test companies are expensive and challenging to execute on a small scale.

      – Family and friends are not reliable testers and have inherent biases.


      Prospective beta testers will download BetaConnect and develop a user profile. Next they will select a category of interest, choosing an app to test based upon a brief description and estimated time commitment. Actual testing time will be tracked, feedback gathered within the app, and made available for analysis using our online developer interface.


      The app will be free for download. Developers will pay a small fee for testing time based upon experience level and type of testing needed. BetaConnect will take a percentage and release the remaining funds to the tester electronically.

  90. Excellent article, selling apps for iOS and Android has been something I wanted to look at doing but haven’t had a chance yet. This article gave me the impetus to finally go through and start seriously considering it.


    My idea for an app is a game. Personally, I am willing to pay more for games than strictly utility apps, and I know friends of mine feel the same way. I am also a big video game player so it seemed like a logical place to start.

    Basic Premise:

    The player will start out with a single “city” and then expand by creating new “cities”. They will gather resources of different types (more than one and no more than 4). Using these resources the player will build armies, expand their “cities”, create new “cities”, etc.

    In-Game Setting:

    The reason I have quotes around the word cities is because I have not decided whether I want to go with an ancient mythological world background for the game which involves cities or a more science fiction based one where cities will be replaced with planets. To make things easy I will simply call them cities.


    After starting up the app, the player will have a screen telling them how many resources have been collected and of any major events that have happened since their last log on.

    Once past the start up screen the player will enter the map screen. Here they will start at their Capital city. Using the touch interface or mouse (See OS Versions section later on) the player can zoom the scale in and out similar to Google Maps. They will be able to click on cities and get detailed information on that city. Also in the selections of cities will be advanced options allowing for easy selection of attacking, etc.

    On the city screens will be options for constructing new buildings, upgrading current buildings, utilizing current buildings (such as selecting the barracks to construct units).

    Other screens can be added as needed. Examples include research and diplomacy/league screens.

    Gameplay Goals:

    Players work to achieve the largest empire through expansion, whether through military or diplomacy. There is no end game at this time, however there might be a time where it would be worth resetting everyone back to scratch to even it out and make it fair for newcomers.

    Monthly quests could be introduced to break up the monotony of the game so that it isn’t just log on, build up some more, log off, rinse and repeat. Possible quests could include trade goals, new city goals, etc. Rewards for quests would help motivate people to complete them.

    OS Versions:

    This is the part that comes straight out of left field. I don’t want just a simple app for iOS or Android. I want to develop this as a Facebook app as well.

    Facebook is a large audience that provides free marketing. Our players can suggest this game to their friends who they think would be interested in this game. Not only is it free marketing, but it is free targeted marketing. What could make this so difficult is that I want all three versions to be able to communicate so that purely Facebook players can go against iOS and Android players. I have no idea how difficult this would be or if it is even possible.

    Free/Premium Versions:

    I would like to offer a free version with limited ads and a premium version that has no ads.

    Making money:

    First way to monetize this app is the Premium version. I was looking at a price of $4.99 for the premium version, this includes one month free of the recurring membership (details to follow).

    Next are In-Game purchases. These can be abilities for use in game (special powers that are a limited number of uses per purchase), modifications to their empire (double resource income for the next week or month), etc.

    The final way I have at the moment is a recurring membership. By paying $2 a month you get certain bonuses like increased income. This will create recurring revenue that can be used for upkeep on the app.

    I know this app is more in depth and complicated than most apps, but it is something I would like to play myself. And if it is developed and starts earning me money I would willingly (and eagerly) quit my warehouse job and devote the time to this app. At least until I outsource the work to a VA or fulfillment house, don’t worry Tim I didn’t forget your teachings. 😉

    Let me know what you guys think of my idea. Hope to hear from you Chad with some good news.

  91. App Idea:

    The ability to take good pictures is getting easier and easier. With popular apps such as Instagram, Camera +, etc., quality pictures are being taken by millions of non-professional photographers. Now what if they could make a some cash for those pics? My idea is an app that would allow users to upload (and download) pics from their smartphones to a site similar to Crestock, Fotolia, etc.

    Layout of the app would be similar to Behance app, with a few minor changes. While researching app store, I noticed several photography apps as being the most popular. I also noticed that none of the stock photo sites, that I saw, had any way to upload photos taken with a smartphone. Every year we’re seeing more megapixels in newer smartphone models, and this app could capture a lot of interest as phones continue to get better camera upgrades.

  92. App Idea: I’ll be making a slot game like the #1 casino/arcade game on the iphone Slotomania. The game will be the same but ill be partnering up with the network where every achievement in the game deserves a reward.In my slot game players starts to play the game initially with 100 coins. They first get a access to the slot machine which will large colorful cartoons icons. The slot machine will be on a three by five grid where the the remaming area is set of numbers both on the left and right side of the board which form lines from one side to the other. You can choose directly how much virtual currency you need to bet on a spin and also across how many lines you want to bet on. The more you win the more you gain experience points.When you reach an specific achievement level the KIIP network will reward you with prizes. For example, when you reach level 200 you would win free delta skymiles. When you run out of coins there will be an inapp purchase for more coins. A mockup screen of how the game will work

    The game slotomania has more than 7.3 million players.Evidence of Success is from slotomania through the link below:

    On facebook there is more than 1.6 million active users and 400k daily active users.

  93. Aloha! This is a content entry re-post — we’re not sure the earlier post went through. This text is largely a transcript of the entry video linked below.

    Thanks for the opportunity to pitch for funding and expert advice on what we feel is the best idea for a new app out there.


    The Mobile App marketplace is projected to be worth $25B by 2015 with new developers joining the ranks everyday — especially with the help of awesome how-to articles like this one! In Step 8, Chad identifies a crucial need in app development — the testing phase.

    However, finding people who can reliably test apps as a new developer can be difficult. Unfortunately, sometimes your relatives just don’t have the smart device you’re testing. You need crowdsourced testers providing clear, actionable feedback without personal bias and that’s where we come in.


    BetaConnect provides app developers with a quick and easy way to connect with reliable beta testers and analyze the resulting data in a closed system. It’s TestFlight + BetaBait in an app.


    BetaConnect has incredible potential, filling an immediate and gaping void in the marketplace, connecting app developers with beta testers in an easy, inexpensive, and integrated manner. BetaConnect has at least three potential target customers including app developers, beta testers, and data miners who may want to purchase downstream aggregated user data.


    BetaConnect is platform agnostic. Once established in iOS, it can be expanded to Android and Windows Mobile.


    There is no one currently providing this exact service but competition does exist including:

    – Lurkers on the board who could steal the idea.

    – TestFlight pushes apps and updates to beta testers but does not source testers, integrate testing feedback, or incentivize users.

    – BetaBait is an online-only service connecting developers with users – revenue from ads.

    – BetaAssist iOS provides developers with contact info – doesn’t facilitate testing.

    – Local beta test companies are expensive and challenging to execute on a small scale.

    – Family and friends are not reliable testers and have inherent biases.


    Prospective beta testers will download BetaConnect and develop a user profile. Next they will select a category of interest, choosing an app to test based upon a brief description and estimated time commitment. Actual testing time will be tracked, feedback gathered within the app, and made available for analysis using our online developer interface.


    The app will be free for download. Developers will pay a small fee for testing time based upon experience level and type of testing needed. BetaConnect will take a percentage and release the remaining funds to the tester electronically.


    WHY US?

    It’s our idea and it’s awesome — it’s commodifiable, scalable, and sticky – soothing a very real pain point. A Serious Production is a start-up founded by two geeks going way back and destined for greatness. We have one app in the testing phase which is what sparked this idea – it was born of necessity. True believers in the 4HWW — we are smart, passionate and excited about this opportunity. Thanks for your consideration!

    — Charity & Maylene

    A Serious Production, LLC

    reachus at seriousprod dot com