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A Mobile App is the Last Thing Your Business Needs

A Mobile App is the last thing your business needs. That’s a big statement from someone who designs and builds apps and wrote a book about it, I know.

I don’t mean it like “the last thing I need is another hole in my head”.

I mean it’s the last, not the first, not the second, it’s the get-everything-else-done-first and THEN build an app thing. This came to light the other day when we had a potential client contact us and want us to build an app for him. I sent him our App Planning Worksheet (in the Getting Your App Built section of the book) and asked him to fill it out. A few things became clear, we couldn’t do it in his timeframe (2-3 weeks) and we definitely couldn’t meet the budget ($2,000), but most importantly an app wouldn’t solve his problem. He was looking to solve the anxiety new customers have hiring his company by putting out an app. 


(Little does this elephant know, I’m about to throw him in the ocean to make a point.)

The thing is, releasing an app into the marketplace is an expensive way add a drop to the ocean. There are more than 1.4 MILLION apps in Google Play1 and Apple App Storecombined. Even if I throw an elephant into the Pacific Ocean in California they won’t notice in Hawaii, let alone Austraila. That’s what releasing his app would do. A big fat nothing. An expensive nothing. That was the main reason we turned down the job.

Another reason was the size and sophistication of his business—an app was truly the last thing he needed. He needed a great website first, he needed a social media strategy that included writing blog posts and using Facebook, Twitter and the others. Doing those things could actually solve his problem.

Every app we’ve built has been for an existing company—one that has their other ducks in a row. Think about this as you look at an app project—do you have everything else in place to support an app when it launches? Is this the right time for your company to make an app? Websites and social media quickly become assets, apps remain liabilities for a long time after launch.

Book Update & Reader Survey

I’m working on a book update, it will be mostly updates to the charts like shuffling who is on top and how many apps are out there. It will be a clean up of errada—like that damn N that made it into the label for ECOMMERCE. I will be sending out a list of the updates and relevant charts to everyone on my email list.

If you have a few minutes and would like to contribute your input I’ve set up a reader survey here:

Updates for 2013

The book has done better than I ever expected, there have been hundred of copies sold all over the world. That’s been an interesting piece for me, getting sales reports in Euros and Pounds and then waiting for royalty payments in US Dollars and seeing what the exchange rate was the day checks were cut (because I’m a stats nerd). I have some exciting plans for this year, including:

  • Releasing an update
  • Redoing the website to better support the book (this is 90% complete already)
  • Writing more mobile-related articles
  • Releasing on additional platforms (PDF, Nook, iBooks)
  • Releasing companion documents (like how to QA test an app, what your app support webpage needs, etc).

I love to connect with readers and invite you to join me on the social networks: Google+, Facebook and Twitter. You can always respond to any email I send you to talk to me directly (none of that noreply crap for me!). Thank you for your support!

1 “Google Play.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Accessed January 31, 2013.
2 Ogg, Erica. “Apple App Store’s biggest December ever: 2B iOS apps downloaded — Tech News and Analysis.” GigaOM. Last modified January 7, 2013. Accessed January 31, 2013.

Review: Great work! You presented a lot of valuable information in an easy/succinct way.


I bought and read your book. Great work! You presented a lot of valuable information in an easy/succinct way – nice. It was cool to read the Boart Longyear case studies/quotes. Great job.

—Emily Smith, Owner,  Bryte Studio, Albuquerque NM

[Editors Note: Emily used to work at Boart Longyear when we did the app project with them.]

Review: Everyone will learn from this book

As a life-long software engineer that has transitioned to mobile app development, my focus has typically been on design and implementation of any given project. While I have to work with the graphics designers and often the customers who have contracted my services, my view into those parts of the process has always been limited. This book gives me very good high-level insight into the challenges that many people have to go through before they ever talk to me about building their software. While I try to be aware of such things, Building a Mobile App was a fantastic reminder of the journey all of the other folks on any team striving to build an app go through.

While this is geared towards those folks that are considering an app for their needs, *anyone* involved in the process can learn from reading this book. Regardless if you’re brand new to the world of app development, or a seasoned veteran, you will be reminding of things you have forgotten about the process and most likely learn a few new things along the way.

If you do app development, get this book, it’s that simple.

From Amazon Reviewer  everydave

Review: Comments Overheard at the Launch party


I’ve already heard some great things from people that have read the book. Things like:

  • The pricing alone makes it worth getting the book.
  • Thank you for putting this out there — everything else is either too techy or too fluffy, it’s great to see real strategy and information for clients.
  • Oh, they still make Blackberrys? That’s interesting to see why people aren’t developing for them.
  • The stuff around pricing — why it’s such black magic — actually totally makes sense.