Strategizing with Older Platforms and Apps

The majority of the mobile world still uses older devices. Competition is fierce for the Android and iOS markets as they steadily pick up market share. How can you capitalize upon these two basic facts?

Developing Markets    Is your strategy focused on selling apps or gaining loyal customers? The idea, of course, is to do both. However, it is the focus on gaining loyal customers that provides the best dividends. The difference is seeing an app as end to itself or as a means to collecting customer lists to support all of your future marketing efforts.

Emerging and developing markets represent hundreds of millions, even billions, of users. Many of these mobile users will eventually upgrade to newer devices. Where costs of reaching users with older devices is cheaper getting them aboard as your customers early will help feed your long-term upsales. It is also worthwhile to note that average income and GDP for most developing markets show established growth trends.

Developers do need to factor in the payment processors available within each market on a case by case basis. Likewise, developers need to become more sophisticated in their paid app and in-app upgrade pricing with better market segmentation – research the Big Mac Index for a good example.

Licensing Older Apps   On the low end, a basic app can require up to 6 weeks and $8,000 in development. Higher end enterprise level applications may run up to 6 months and exceed $150,000 in development.

Yet, there are hundreds of thousands of apps out there which have fallen into the Pit of Abandonment. Some of these were really good and others showed signs of real potential. One man’s trash could be another man’s treasure. What if… What if some of these apps were picked up, refurbished and optimized?

One app might have suffered from poor graphics, another from a poorly designed interface, or perhaps the app wasn’t tested thoroughly. Plenty of others could be localized for new markets for having seen limited distribution. Stuff like this does happen – frequently.

It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for some developers purchasing the rights to an older app could be viable. Many developers of these apps would certainly be open to offers to recover some portion of their losses. Of course, you must do your research and due diligence investigations. If the bulk of the development is complete, refurbishing of old apps to make them “like new again” would cost less and apply to more “new” releases.

History… Eventually Repeats Itself    There’s yet one more way to monetize for older platforms and old apps — bundles. The core factor here is download size. Mobile infrastructure in some areas makes it very difficult to download large files.

All we need to do is look at some older software is handled. The dynamics are somewhat different, but not completely. New software gets released at a premium price. Over time, the price is dropped. It gets moved to the bargain bin, and eventually stores offer 2 for 1’s, or a full series is released under one cover.

The Tortoise and the Hare    The mobile market today is reminiscent of the old story about the plodding turtle and the rabit. Being first out of the starting gate doesn’t matter a whole lot if you don’t win the race. The point is that the mobile industry is still young. It became big rapidly, yet with the kind of initiatives like – launched by Facebook in conjunction with Opera, Samsung and others, it stands to get a whole lot bigger.


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

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