For app success, keep prices low and utility high

As a tech writer, I’m asked to try out a lot of new things. Gadgets, websites, apps, you name it. It’s a good thing that I get to try them for free, because I’ve definitely had my fair share of painful experiences.

For example, early in 2011, I got to try out the Samsung Galaxy S Captivate, a flashy new Android phone. This was my first experience with Android, and so I thought I’d use my press privileges to try out some apps on the Android Market, something I’d never even seen before with my own eyes. I decided to take a gamble on a couple of apps, and see what kind of content was out there.

All I can say is that I’m glad that it didn’t cost me a dime.

That’s because all but two of the apps I downloaded (theScore Mobile and Shazam, thanks for asking) were either deleted the day I downloaded them or were way overpriced for what they offered. It’s no surprise that the Android Market has a big disclaimer on its load screen warning you that there are no refunds; if they didn’t, I’m sure they’d be fighting pissed off customers left, right and center.

So, here are the two biggest things mobile app developers need to do if they want app success: make the app worthwhile enough to be kept on the phone for more than an hour, and make the price fair. Keep these in mind, and you’re already outperforming half of the jokers out there in the mobile space today.

Take a look at the top free apps for WP7; they are either apps that are versatile and eminently useful (YouTube, Adobe Reader, etc.) or awesomely addictive (Solitaire, Kill the Duck, Traffic, and soon, Angry Birds). These aren’t apps that people are trying once and putting down.

And under paid content, there are plenty of offerings for the “core gamer” market that won’t disappoint. There’s licensed content like Pac-Man, Assassin’s Creed, Deer Hunter, and, that most addictive of games, Bejewelled. These games aren’t just benefitting from WP7’s unique integration with other mediums like PC and Xbox; according to ReadWriteMobile, WP7 had the cheapest apps of all.

Microsoft is aggressively going after new third-party developers, and working to make WP7 an attractive platform for new apps. Just last week, they announced that they have increased the number of free app submissions developers are allowed twenty times — from five to 100. Not too shabby. As well, they’re offering $10,000 to the best app developed with their Great Canadian Apportunity contest. It’s a great way for developers to not only make some quick cash, but also to build up some buzz and notoriety both among consumers and the mobile world.

So, is there a WP7 app out there that’s ready to change the world? I don’t know; are developers ready to build it?