Lesson 1

Mobile advertisements, or “apps,” are software that is designed for mobile devices. The invention of the app is commonly attributed to the Apple iPhone. The different types of apps include games, product finders, and task-related services.

Making money through apps requires a creative sensibility (the ability to invent apps that will have broad customer appeal), excellent computer programming skills, as well as strong entrepreneurial skills. These different attributes also reflect the varied methods for making money through apps, as someone may specialize in developing apps or games, or marketing them.

Making apps requires a thorough knowledge of public taste. An app could be incredibly appealing from an intellectual perspective but have no appeal to the general public. When devising apps, one should always think of what the broad public will want and purchase. Designing an app is also very different from designing a computer program or more substantial piece of literature. The app is a product that is consumed on a regular basis and on a very small screen. Accordingly, apps should not be unwieldy in scope and should be formatted to the dimensions of the mobile device (typically one’s cell phone.)

An app is also typically consumed during very limited amounts of leisure time or boredom and they represent a diversion and a method for passing time than the object of active engagement. Apps should provide maximum value for little effort; customers are not going to be willing to invest much energy into the app and the designer must take this into account. There should not be convoluted instructions and everything should be as self-explanatory as possible. The most successful apps are those that are simple to use and fill a logical void. Because there are so many apps that exist, someone looking to design an app should make sure that their product is not overly similar to a preexisting app and original to generate public interest.

Making money is achievable through several different methods. The first is through paid downloads, in which a fixed price is placed on the app and customers buy the app in a simple transaction. This is the most popular means of marketing one’s app; it is intuitive and the most simple. An additional method is through a sponsor, in which a sponsor pays for a percentage of the profits from the app. This is often a wise approach for entrepreneurs who are new to designing apps and have not build a significant reputation. However, there are also drawbacks to this method; the inventor of the app does not receive all of the profits from the app and so if it becomes popular, they effectively forfeit a large amount of the profits. It is also not profitable over an extended period of time; if the inventor sells their product to a sponsor, they receive only one single payment. Accordingly, if the app remains profitable for a long time, they will not continue to make any money off of it even while the app continues to generate revenue.

Another approach to marketing one’s app is to offer paid options within the actual app itself. In these cases, the app is often free of charge, but the customer must pay for services within the app. For example, an app that provides weather forecasts might offer a basic, one- word description of the weather (e.g. “sunny”), but for an extended forecast or a more detailed description (such as a radar map); they would have to pay a fee. This approach is particularly useful for apps that provide a number of different services. One additional method for making money through an app is to sell advertising space on the app. This is less popular than other methods because it requires an external company willing to advertise on the app and also necessitates a space that is large enough to accommodate an advertisement. However, if a company sees that an app will be popular, they may purchase space on the app and this can be a profitable approach. No matter the approach, apps reflect the constant attachment between people and their mobile devices, and can reward an entrepreneurial spirit with large profits.