How to profitably develop mobile apps

How to profitably develop mobile apps

By Softtalkblog

March 20th 2013 at 12:00PM

Intel Developer Blog: Softtalkblog looks at how HTML5 can help increase market reach

Every now and then, I open the newspaper to discover another app and its inventor, who are both tipped for the top.

It’s always a joy to see independent developers getting exposure, and it carries that subtle lottery-like subtext: “It could be you!”. Sometimes the stories celebrate the mere creation of an app, but other times they report on an app that’s seen huge financial success. Who wouldn’t want a slice of that?

Obviously, there’s no golden formula to coming up with an app idea that resonates with everyone, but there are some ways you can maximise your profits, which is ultimately what counts. Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, as the old saying goes.

It doesn’t matter how much money you bring in: it only matters how much is left at the end of the month, and that depends on how tightly you can control costs.

For most developers, whether working in an agency or self-employed, time is their biggest expense or opportunity cost. A lot of work goes in to creating an app, but that can be considered an investment, and can be recouped as the app is tweaked for use on different platforms.

There remains the cross-platform conundrum, the challenge of how you can profitably serve a market that remains fragmented across operating systems and devices. We can’t do much about the fragmentation, but we can do a lot about how we respond to it.

Software can only be sold to people who have compatible hardware, so one way to dramatically increase your market reach is to increase the number of devices your app runs on, and HTML5 can be a big help in this regard. It runs on almost any modern personal computing device, and with minor modifications and a browser wrapper, HTML5 apps can be put into app stores relatively easily.

HTML5 can help with tomorrow’s challenges too. When a new device or operating system comes to market, it represents a gamble for app developers. As it takes off, though, those who showed faith and migrated to the platform early are rewarded with huge sales.

We’ve seen it time and again on new platforms over the last five years or more. We don’t know what the next big platform will be, but we do know that anyone who has app code in HTML5 is likely to be in a stronger position to port it across, than someone who is locked in to code that is native to a particular device.

If you have code that’s currently written in Objective-C for iOS, you can migrate it to HTML5 for use on Android, Windows and other platforms using the free Intel HTML5 App Porter Tool Beta. It automates the conversion as far as possible, so you can focus on those aspects of your app that are more unique. 

When creating new apps, developers should think about future-proofing their code from the start, and plan for an app to ultimately go across multiple platforms, including perhaps some that don’t yet exist.

It is possible to port apps by rewriting them, but it’s a slow process and most developers would rather not write the same app over and over again. Having HTML5 as a base at least means that there is a core that can be ported across relatively easily, even if some custom coding is required around the edges.

HTML5 helps you make more money in two ways: it opens up new markets, and it speeds up your cross-platform app development. It’s not ideal for every kind of application, but where it is a good fit, it should be the top choice for any developer that’s serious about making money. Find out more about HTML5 at the Intel Developer Zone.

This blog post is written by Softtalkblog, and is sponsored by the Intel Developer Zone, which helps you to develop, market and sell software and apps for prominent platforms and emerging technologies powered by Intel Architecture.