App Ideas: What you need to consider

I hear a lot of app ideas. Evaluating these app ideas can be very challenging, but it is an important step in the process. Spending months and countless dollars on the wrong ideas will certainly bankrupt you quickly.

Here are a few key points to consider when evaluating the feasility and potential in your app ideas:

Is is possible?

A key thing that you need to look at when examining the feasibility of a mobile app is “Is it possibile.” While I usually stand by the mantra that ‘Anything is possible’, you will find that especially in the iOS world, this is not the case. While Apple has been gracious enough to let developers into their tightly grasped iOS environment, we are certainly not free to do whatever we want while inside of it. iOS bears with it many restrictions, such as the inability to interfere with system operations like cell phone calls and text messages. If there is nothing that even comes close to doing whatever it is you are considering, there may be a good reason for this. Note that while Android is certainly much less restrictive than iOS, it too has its own restrictions.

It is difficult to point out a single resource to help you determine if something is possible and if it is in line with the App Store review guidelines. Your best resource is a developer who knows the OS and review guidelines well.

Complexity Level

All apps seem simple at their core. While it is very common to hear ‘My idea is a very simple app that does X’, it is rare that doing ‘X’ is actually a simple trivial task. More usually there is a good deal of complexity that will go into making ‘X’ seem like it is a trival task, when there are actually a ton of moving parts under the hood that the user will never see or know about. Determining the complexity level of an application is something that you will need an experienced designer to do. He will need to figure out all of the ‘under the hood’ stuff that it will take to perform that simple task.

Has it been done

This is a very important point that you can examine yourself when you are looking at an app idea. With hundreds of thousands of app developers out there, we are all constantly churning for new ideas. It is sad how rare it is to come up with an idea that is actually and truly a NEW idea. While it certainly is not actually true, it sometimes seems like everything has already been done. You must also evaulate the risk that another app that comes very close to what you are doing could easily make a small change and add your new app as a minor feature addition.

With that being said, just because an idea has been done before, does not mean that it cannot be done again. What you also need to look at is ‘Has it been done RIGHT.’ Just because an app out there is doing ‘X’, if it is an ugly, poorly designed app that users hate, then there is certainly a chance that an app done correctly could overtake the existing app’s market share.

Startup costs

Costs are a big thing that set app development back. Typically people have great ideas, but they are unable to fund them. Even a great idea requires money to implement. Even the most simple app will need at least a month of full time work to really get up to par and a month of full time work is not cheap. Also consider that a good application needs graphic work and marketing to be successful. Finally consider that most ideas will fail if they are not done RIGHT, and doing it right usually means that you cannot sacrifice.

So what is a good budget for a start up app? I think you should be prepared with a budget of at bare minimum 10K before considering creating a mobile app. But, as I mention above, this bare minimum budget will probably mean sacrifice, which will probably lead to failure. If you want to be successful, I recommend securing a budget of at least 25-40K. I have, however, completed some simple, ‘bare-bones’ applications where costs were kept in range of $3K-5K, but this is rare for a commercial application.

You might be able to find a developer who will work for free or for cheap in exchange for a good portion of ownership and revenue share in the application, but considering that the developer will be potentially putting months of full time work into this idea, it is quite a risk. Time, after all, is money. This means that the developer working for free in exchange for ownership puts all the risk on the developer, which is not really fair. If you have a good idea and want to go this route, it is more fair to consider the compromised ‘work for cheap’ approach. This splits the risk between the developer and the ‘enterpreneur’.

Profit potential

Now that you have considered how much this app can cost, you need to consider how much the app will make. This consists of two pieces:

How will the app make money?
How large will the audience be?
First consider how your app will make money. A key component of this is deciding if your app will be a free app or a paid one. Many users these days expect their apps to be free. In order to charge for your app you have to be able to convince users that it is something they want to pay for. This can be a difficult task. If it is not a paid app, then you need to figure out how else you will make money. There is certainly some money that can be generated through mobile advertisements, but honestly, it is not a lot. If ads are your primary source of revenues, your audience has to be gigantic. To give you something to gauge this off of with some current ad numbers, I recently generated $35 via Admob for 700K ad impressions.

Next consider your target audience. If you are going to be investing 10-40K into an app then it needs to have the potential to bring you a very nice return. To best ensure success, you want your target audience to be HUGE, that means you want your app to applicable to every Jon and Jill, Mom and Pop… to everyone. If only a niche group of people will be interested in your app, it limits that profit potential and therefore you may find that it is not going to be profitable. If, however you think that EVERYONE in that niche market will NEED your app, then you need to evaluate the size of that market and how much you are going to be able to charge. Note that the developer will keep 70% of all revenues generated through the app store. That means that if you charge $1 for your app, you will keep 70 cents of it.


Apps are a risky business. They can be expensive and take time to make. But they can be very profitable. Make sure you think very hard and clearly to evaluate your idea and think it through as much as you can before you move into an app venture. It is easy (and free) to make changes and mistakes when the app is in its early, conceptual stage. After the process begins, it becomes much more costly.



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