Competing for Time & Scale

By creating and marketing a mobile app, you are likely wanting to get a return on your investment.    Your ability to realize a good return is subject to two important principles – 1) your ability to compete for other people’s time, and 2) achieve something in the direction of economy of scale.


Everyone’s most precious commodity.  You never know how much time you have and regardless how much time you might have, it’s likely never enough.  For however precious it is, it tends to have a very low monetary conversion rate.

Everything competes for people’s time — work, spending time with friends and family, mobile apps, web sites, television shows, books, games, cooking dinner, taking a shower.   Understanding this is crucial to achieving anything.  People can:

  1. waste time doing things they don’t want or need,
  2. spend time to achieve something they want or need,
  3. invest time by doing something that will somehow translate to more “free time”,
  4. buy time by hiring people to do things they want or need.

Consider this a bit of practical philosophy.   When someone plays a game or watches a television show, are they spending time or wasting time?   That can depend upon a lot of things, but one thing is for certain – most people tend to take their entertainment for more seriously than some of the more serious things in life.

The fastest way to get someone to ignore you, your app and everything else you do is to waste their time.

Equally, the fastest way to get others to listen to you is to guarantee that the time they spend with you, your app or anything else you produce is first and foremost, enjoyable – and secondly, in some way useful to their continued enjoyment.   Entertainment need not be isolated to games, it can be part of work, education and living, too.   It is a matter of people liking what they are doing.

Economy of Scale.

Creating an economy of scale is not easy.  It requires being able to consistently produce something in high demand profitably.   Software and mobile apps are by far the easiest kinds of products in which one can hope to achieve an economy of scale.   Concerns over physical materials, packaging, shipping and handling, etc. are or at least can be minimized.

This applies favorably to profit margins… except that where mobile apps are concerned, the supply is so large that the baseline price for most apps these days is “Free”.   In consequence, many developers then rely upon their app’s advertising potential to make their app profitable.  And again, the supply, demand and lifestyle dynamics of mobile apps establishes a high threshold for profitability.  Fundamentally, most mobile app developers are not making money on their apps.

Two core issues are involved as to why.  The first is that an app is not competitive – it gives users little reason not to do something else.  The second is that the app is competitive, but not being marketed.  Anyway it is sliced, the profitability of an app, the capacity for it to achieve economy of scale is tied to one of these two things.  Not competitive and/or Not marketed.

Understanding this, you can use the Mobile App Developer Guide to look at specific reasons and options to resolve these two top level indicators.  While signing off for now, I intend to develop these points further.


Project Manager at the Opera Mobile Store providing Sales-Marketing support. Content development and research.

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