As I mentioned in a previous post, after releasing MindPulse I decided I wanted to create something that would appeal to a more general audience.  After building prototypes for several apps I settled on what eventually became Lent.  The first release ofLent came after a couple (chronological) months of development, during which I learned allot of new stuff about Cocoa and Objective-C.

However the greatest lesson lie ahead.

I was, at the time, under the impression that if I wrote something useful to anyone that I would have no trouble selling many copies.  Let’s face it, the audience for something likeHorsepower is fairly narrow compared to “Camera Genius”1 and my sales expectations were set accordingly.  Something like Lent on the other hand is useful to anyone who owns an iPhone; so how come it wasn’t flying off the shelves compared to my earlier, more niche, apps?

As it turns out, while the potential number of customers for an app like Horsepower orMindPulse is small compared to something like Lent; this “common interest” shared by these niche markets makes it allot easier to turn them on to the product.  Furthermore, being somewhat obscure2 they are typically underserved by developers (in comparison to more general audiences). 

To reiterate, these “small” markets are both easier to approach, and more desperate for solutions, than the “more desirable” large markets. 

The result is that these users know what they need and actively pursue finding it, reducing the barrier of a saturated App Store.  Secondly the selection of available applications is small, leading to less competition and higher prices.  These users are willing to pay more per app than a general audience because they know what they are looking for and when they find it, will get some value out of it because it serves an existing need (usually for far less money than non-iPhone solutions).

On the other hand, the app that everyone can use suffers from a lack of “common ground” on which to appeal to potential customers.  The only thing users ofLent have in common is the device itself, and perhaps the desire to borrow things to their friends.  Most approaches to appeal to “everyone” involve some sort of mass-marketing which at best is too expensive for a product with the margin of a typical iPhone app and at worst, disingenuous spam.

So, what I’m left with is a product that everyone needs, they just don’t know it yet3.  If I was a marketing professional, I might be able to come up with a simple and elegant way to communicate this to a broad audience in a way they would be receptive to, but until I’m hit with a bolt of inspiration I’ll be turning my attention to my next “niche” application4and releasing updates to Lent whenever I come up with a clever bit of kit to add.

If you have a brilliant, simple or elegant solution to this problem, feel free to share your ideas in the comments or if you prefer a more discreet conversation, contact me via email at: “jason dot gullickson at gmail dot com”5.

Footnotes

1.  As this post ages, feel free to replace Camera Genius with whatever the most popular app is at the moment

2.  This comment isn’t intended to diminish anyone, there are just more “to-do” apps than brainwave entrainment ones

3.  This comes off a bit conceded, but seriously, do you know anyone with an iPhone that couldn’t use Lent?

4.  So what is this mysterious next application?  Subscribe to this blog, I’ll be leaking more information soon

5.  Mildly obscured to avoid less-ambitious spam bots; you know how to properly reformat

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