Coming up with new App ideas

Here are some thoughts on the current App ‘situation’ and how the next generation of apps might or could look like by taking ideas from old/bad apps:
(NOTE: In this article I am NOT talking about Games or Gaming Apps, for those it looks kind of different)

Let’s face it: “There is an app for everything!” – However looking at the two major App Stores, iTunes and Play, there are serveral types of apps.
Now the division of those apps are not backed by any statistics and are only based on my perception of the appstores and my experience browsing through the stores:

 Type Description Percentage
  A Apps Quality/Polished Apps, developed by backed/bigger companies 20%
  B Apps Niche Apps by ‘small’ developers/indie devs that do generate some revenue 15%
  C Apps Innovative/Useful Apps that are either unknown or badly executed 20%
  D Apps ‘Crappy’ Apps that are either badly executed, a bad copy of another A-App or have just no real use whatsoever 45%

Now, what I want to take from this:
Making an A-App as an indie dev is very unlikely. D-Apps are not worth looking into, since they are all bad and/or copied. What I want to look at is B and C. I used to browse through the App Store looking at Apps and sometimes found a neat, innovatice App or cool idea – however I always say to myself things like ‘Too bad it already exists, I could have made an app like that‘ or ‘Well someone tried it, but looks like noone’s downloading it, so noone wants an app like that‘ – Well, while this might apply to some apps, it won’t apply to the majority of those apps. In my opinion the majority of those C-Apps have no success because of their UI and their usability. Think about it: Would you really use an app with a badly designed UI that’s not fun to use at all, even if it could be of use for you? Probably Not.
And that’s why C-Apps are interesting for any indie dev! They are innovative and usually of good use for their customers, however their execution is bad. So the key of succeeding could be an idea of an existing app but without its flaws and with an awesome, kickass UI. I personally, truly believe that there is potential in those apps. There doesn’t allways have to be something completely new to succeed, it can just as well be an old idea picked up and executed well.

“Taking an idea” does not equal “rip off”

I’m not saying that you should go ahead and rip off other indie developers by copying an app 1to1, it is more like taking an idea and shaping a new, better product out of it and maybe even form new ideas during that process. In my eyes this is where innovation comes from.

  • Marc

    There’s always room to improve an app but how much more polished would it have to be to win over the competing userbase?

    Here are my thoughts on app ideas… the main theme is that you should base your ideas on real life problems:

    • olsn

      Your article is, even if nothing new/surprising, a nice read! And I completely agree, in the end success comes down to the execution+marketing, the idea is just a starting-point.