Researching The Mobile Application Market

Do you need to research the mobile application market but unsure where to begin? Worried that your mobile app idea may not be a great business opportunity? Don't have time or money for a custom mobile app market analysis or an expensive research report?

Don't reinvent the wheel. This article will give you some suggestions for doing mobile apps market research.  I have spent over twenty years researching and doing market analyses in the software industry. I understand the challenge of doing apps market research effectively, and I've worked in a wide variety of niches from B2B software to mobile consumer apps.

Keep reading below for:

* a summary of the latest research on the mobile application market, which you can use to start your app market research,

* a list of some of the latest mobile application market research reports, if you'd like to purchase a professional study,

* a step-by-step process to create your own custom mobile app market analysis for your specific niche,

* suggestions for affordable assistance if you just need a little help without breaking the bank.

Don't have thousands of dollars for a mobile apps market research report?

Don't worry! You can get most of what you need using the mobile application market overview which I give to you FREE below, plus the tips you'll learn in the how-to section on mobile app market analysis.  I worked as a research analyst at Gartner Group (one of the top tech research firms) and one reason those reports are so expensive is because they spend lots of time doing primary market research: interviews with vendors, end users, etc.  That is all very useful information if you have the budget for it, but if not you can do pretty well using Google and some other resources that I'll guide you through with the tips below.

Mobile Application Market Overview

Mobile App Market Research Reports

One word of caution: if you purchase a market research report, make sure it is from a reputable industry research firm with expertise in your segment. Unfortunately, in recent years there are many "research sweatshops" producing expensive reports that are little more than summaries of Google searches, with no industry specialization. Don't get me wrong - you can gather a lot of useful information from Google (more on that below), but if you decide to shell out for an expensive professional report then make sure it is from a firm that has expertise and does primary research in that niche.

If you need a comprehensive research report on the mobile application market, or good sites to find mobile app data, below are some sites and recent studies that I recommend:

Save time & money with this mobile application market overview

The mobile application market continues to grow rapidly. That is both a plus and a minus for new apps that want to enter the market: the total pie is growing, but competition is also fierce. The mobile internet has evolved to be a necessity for many users, no longer just an adjunct to the desktop.

According to App Annie, the mobile app industry generated almost $70 billion in gross revenue globally in 2015, growing to over $100 billion in 2016. This is projected to exceed $189 billion by 2020 according to Statista. 

The leading mobile platforms are Android and Apple iOS.  Gartner reported that 88% of smartphones sold worldwide in 2016 were Android.

Major trends in the mobile app industry include 

  • hybrid monetization models (in-app ads & purchases), 
  • aggregator apps (such as Flipboard and Feedly).

However, even though the overall mobile app revenue is huge and growing, the reality is that most developers make little money with their apps. According to InMobi, more than half of developers make less than $1,000. 

By far the largest app segments are mobile games, and customization apps (wallpapers, icons, etc). Other leading segments, according to Flurry Analytics, are mobile news apps, productivity tools, lifestyle/shopping apps, travel apps, health & fitness, social media and messaging. 

The main monetization models for mobile apps are:

  • direct sales (paid apps)
  • freemium (basic free plus premium paid versions)
  • subscription
  • in-app purchases (common in games and some shopping apps)
  • crowdfunding
  • sponsorship
  • in-app advertising

Develop your own mobile application market analysis

Why you should always do market research before introducing your mobile app

There are thousands of apps launched on the major app stores every single day. How do you make yours stand out? On top of this, you really need to boost your app as soon as it is launched, if you have any hope of dominating your niche. 

It is much harder - almost impossible - to wait until after your app has been out for a few months and you're lacking customers.

This is where app marketing comes in.  But app marketing is only effective if you have laid the ground work BEFORE launch with strong app market research and a focused app marketing strategy. That starts with researching your mobile app idea and developing your USP (unique selling proposition - why should the user buy your app?).

How to tell if your mobile app idea is a good one

Are you wondering what market research you need to do to tell if your mobile app idea is a good one?  You're not alone! There are millions of apps available in the main app stores.  According to Statista, there were over 6,000 apps released per day in the Google Play store alone in the first quarter of 2018.

Given those numbers, you would think it's impossible to (1) come up with a unique app idea, and (2) research potential competitors.

In truth, researching whether a mobile app idea is good is the same as researching whether any other business idea is good: 

  • do you have experience in the industry or the niche?
  • are you able to reach the potential target customers?
  • can you clearly articulate your app's USP - unique selling proposition?

7 easy steps for a custom mobile app market strategy

If you want to do your mobile application market research and strategy yourself, it is not difficult to do a custom mobile app market analysis.  In fact, developing a mobile app market strategy is no different from developing a strategy and analysis for any new business.

Below are the seven steps you need to follow.  You can learn more about this market strategy process by reading our app marketing strategy article here.

1. Make Sure You Understand Your Market Niche

Ideally, you should have some unique industry or domain experience in your chosen mobile app segment. Use the resources above to gather data about your market and other similar apps. Read over our article on doing software market research for more ideas.

2. Segment your potential users

 Learn everything you can about the people who are most likely to use your mobile app (and drive up your monetization). This article gives some helpful tips for learning more about your target customers.

3. Develop detailed segment profiles

What are their key characteristics and benefits for each user segment? Read more about developing target customer profiles here.

4. Prioritize your most profitable segments

You can't (and shouldn't) go after everyone. Identify the one or two most profitable user segments and focus on those, even if it means narrowing your niche initially. Check out this article on identifying your software niche.

5. Define your user needs

If your app is solving a problem, then what exactly is the user's pain point?  What exactly is going to drive a prospective customer to make a download or purchase decision? Learn more about uncovering target customer pain points here.

6. Craft your messages

Now that you know your detailed user profile and their specific needs, you can put together specific messages. Make sure your messages are about your prospective users not about your app features! Your messaging needs to address the questions laid out in the second half of this article.

7. Develop a communications strategy

Don't rely on users finding out about your app from the app store. Figure out the best ways to communicate your messages to your target users directly. This will be specific to your niche. Your communications strategy will be an important part of making sure your software launch is successful.

Use Expert Guidance When You Need It

We are here to help if you need it. With over 20 years of experience in the software and tech industry, I can help with custom market research or help guide you through the process of developing a mobile application market strategy. Or you can make use of one of our template packages for business and marketing planning.

Contact us to learn more.

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