Does Your Mobile App Idea Already Exist?

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Does Your Mobile App Idea Already Exist?

A new year often brings new ideas, especially for innovation-hungry entrepreneurs, the likes of whom we often develop apps for.

When you first percolate a new idea for a mobile app venture, its easy to get carried away on daydreams of becoming the next Angry Birds or Instagram.  So before you rush out to buy that domain name and hire an app development team, take a deep breath and a lesson from us, because we have found a common thread among our most successful entrepreneurs: devotion to diligent research prior to starting the project.

This week we’ll discuss just a few of the many aspects of your app that you should research prior to jumping into your app development project:

Does Your Mobile App Idea Already Exist?

You’d be amazed at how many excited entrepreneurs begin investigating mobile app development costs and timelines prior to discovering if the app they wish to develop already exists.

After conceiving your app idea, write down several different concise, specific descriptions of its features and purpose. Then search Google, iTunes, and Google Play for various iterations of those descriptions.  Look for apps like yours in categories you think your app might fall into.

If you find any apps that are even remotely similar to the one you have in mind, download them and use them.  See how they compete or compliment your app idea.  Identify their strengths and weaknesses.  Read their reviews and user comments to see what other positive and negative thoughts you can find about them.

If Your Mobile App Idea Already Exists…

So what do you do if you find out that an existing app performs almost exactly the same utility you have in mind for your app?

First, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater just yet; that is, don’t abandon your app idea simply because you located its doppelgänger. You should actually breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the existence of similar apps probably validates your hunch that there is a need and a market for what your app has to offer.

Go back to the existing app. After reading through all the other user reviews and comments, downloading the app, and trying it out yourself, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Are there obvious ways this app’s functionality can be improved upon?
  • Are there other potential audiences and markets for this app?
  • Could I make an app that does this but provides a better overall experience for the user?
  • Can I think of a unique way to monetize the app?
  • Do I have relationships and resources that I can leverage to make this app better?

Show the app to other people whose opinions and insight you can trust to be useful to you, and see what they have to say as well.  Remember, you don’t have to build the only app in the app store that performs a certain task to be successful, you just have to be able to differentiate yourself from your competition in a valuable way.  Consider the cola market and the success of Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and a number of other nearly-identically flavored drinks. The mobile app market can work similarly to that.

If Your Mobile App Idea Doesn’t Exist…

So what if you search for hours, days, weeks even, and can’t find an app that does exactly what you have in mind?

First, consider yourself to be an outlier.  It’s not common to come up with a completely new idea – congratulate yourself and bask in your uniqueness, you special snowflake, you!

Next, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I need to restart the search for my app using different terms and features?
  • Does the absence of my app mean there is NOT a viable need or market for the features it performs?
  • Do I still think I will be able to monetize the app, or have others tried and failed, and that’s why the app doesn’t exist?
  • Am I trying to build an app with such an ambitious scope that it is too costly for most developers to attempt?
  • Do I want to build something that just isn’t technologically possible at this time?

All of these questions should lead you to even more questions and explorations. That’s good. You should be learning a great deal about the market potential for your app, and you’ll probably be inspired to narrow or expand your ideas.

We’ll go over some more ways to perform initial research on your app later this week.  In the meantime, we’d love your feedback.  What did you discover when you searched for your app ideas?  Leave us a comment below.

Martha Jean (you can also call her MJ) is passionate about marketing, advertising, sales, and — most importantly — technology and mobile apps. She currently serves Appsolute Genius clients from her post in Atlanta, Georgia, and enjoys helping mobile app entrepreneurs succeed. Tweet with her at @mjschindler.

photo credit: Cayusa via photopin cc

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