During a discussion on the business of smartphone apps, Lima Sky founder Igor Pusenjak compared the rush to build iPhone apps to the rush to build websites in the 90s. “It’s like 1996,” he said. “Now everybody needs to have an app.” But Pusenjak, along with the other panelists, said just having an app wasn’t enough to gain traction in the marketplace.
Pusenjak talked about the importance of marketing; MTV Network’s Jeremiah Zinn talked about pricing, saying his company had determined that every app it built had to have some sort of “upsell” opportunity — either a premium version or add-on sales. Add-ons, he said, help keep users interested, which Handmark EVP Evan Conway said was a particular issue, considering that about half of all apps are only used one time.
— Platform choice: Zinn said that both Android and Windows Mobile have issues; there’s a “discoverability” problem in Android, and a “penetration” issue with Windows Mobile. But, he said, the market would not grow as much as MTV wants it to to “if it’s iPhone only.” AKQA’s David Bentley noted that many customers ask the company to build an iPhone app because they say, “The WSJ tells me it’s huge.” Bentley said that will likely change as other platforms get more mentions.
— Mobile web: “What happens if people start using the web on their phones more than apps?” an audience member asked. Will all this effort be wasted? Conway said that he was sure mobile would “morph into different things” but also that people love apps especially for repeated actions, noting that the phones with the best web browsing experiences also had the most successful app platforms.