On building and marketing your application

Interior Design App (source: http://arlab.nl/media/ar-interior-design-app-decolabs-and-twnkls)

from one of my LinkedIn contacts (re-posted with permission):

Hello Mr. Kamal,Thanks for adding me to your professional network. I’m a student at Marymount University, and I’m pursuing my master degree in interior design. I’m taking a course in professional practice this semester, and working on a business plan project! My business plan is about creating an application to be used on by interior designers from all levels (beginners, intermediates, and professionals). since you’re a professional in this field, I want to ask your help! I have several questions: 1. when you design an application, do you need to patent your idea? 2. what Types of Business Formations does it go under? 3. what are the essential marketing strategy steps I should plan to promote my product? 4. where do I search to make sure that my idea or application that I’m designing is not yet in the market?

Thanks in advance

my response:

Good questions, you might try posting this on one of the LinkedIn forums, you’re sure to get plenty of responses.

here are my own thoughts:

1. No need to patent.  Patenting is a very expensive and time consuming process, and it’s also part of the old school of thought to ‘hide your ideas’ rather than propagate them.  Everyone has tons of great ideas, the hard part is in choosing one or two and executing them properly.  I highly recommend you check out some of Seth Godin’s books, he speaks extensively and in detail on this topic.  He also speaks on marketing quite a bit which relates to your other question.  Two books I would specifically recommend are Linchpin and Tribes, but you will benefit from his other books as well.  You can get them as audio books or ebooks if you’re like me and not prone to sitting around and reading a physical book.

2.  Not sure what you mean by this.  Do you mean incorporation?  That’s really up to you.  I prefer LLC but it depends on your own situation.

3. That depends on your platform.  If you are going for mobile then your two options are iOS and Android, basically – no other platforms in mobile are worth looking at, at this point.  Between the two, you should consider deploying to iOS primarily, measuring your success on that, and then, if things are going well, creating an android version of your application.  Another option is to make a web application that works everywhere, at once – web, iOS, Android.  The advantage of this is you only have one development effort – but not really.  It’s more like three efforts combined into one – so stick with iOS for your initial launch.  for marketing tips you can find lots of articles online about this topic, but one personal tips:

  •  take the time to do it right, and do it well, before you launch.  It’s one thing to get your app downloaded, but if the user throws it away, they are unlikely to ever re-install it.  Make sure you do your own beta testing and get feedback from users on your application – don’t use the public launch of your application as your beta test.
  • make a free version of your application, regardless of whether you have a paid version.  You will capture an entire market segment that otherwise might never have tried your application.
  • try to develop for a niche.  You are much less likely to get lost in the crowd or have to compete with a zillion other apps.  The smaller your niche, the better.

Also, I’ve put up an iOS notebook on Springpad that you might be invested in taking a look at: http://sprng.me/i27s9

4.  Search the iTunes store to see what else is available.  Download competing applications and try them out.  Get a feel for what you like and don’t like about each.  Take notes.  Make sure your app provides a solution others don’t, or does it better.

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