Live-blogging TOC2011: Value-added Apps

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Talking about “How to Create Apps with Craft, Care and Polish”; Neal Hoskins (WingedChariot) with Gus Balbontin (Lonely Planet), Michel Kripalani (Oceanhouse Media), Pete Myers (BirdsInTheHand, LLC).

Apps are in battleground, with Microsoft/Nokia, Apple, Sony, Google all squaring off to fight for control of this marketplace. It’s very hard to know how to make apps so that you’re not locked into one technology and can go where the market goes.

We all entered into making these apps with way too optimistic ideas about the revenue coming. It has become a real business, but nothing like we thought.

It would be very easy to load apps up with fluff, plenty of ideas for that. Most of creation in this case is editing those things out. The best examples of polish and care is continually evolving the apps in response to customer feedback. Kids feedback is the best, it makes you humble. Apps should not need instructions or manuals, in fact users don’t expect to have to read them to use your product.

The feedback process is the most important thing to get right other than the engineering itself. That’s been why our app is good, if there was any one reason.

You don’t need money to make a high-quality app, but you do need some way to market your good app. That remains a long-shot, random thing. If we were starting over, we would have thought much more about how we were going to get our app in front of someone, anyone. What have people done to build awareness for their apps?

  • Give some preview content away
  • Market inside the app, embed catalog in all our apps
  • Prompt people to rate the app
  • Prompt people to look at related titles via iOS push notifications

There’s a lot of confusion between books and apps between the iBooks store and the App Store for iOS devices. For publishers that have multiple versions of their apps (Android, iOS, etc.), it would be good to have a supermarket for these titles that doesn’t sort by technology type but is based on content categories.

Children’s books need interactivity, so they need to be apps.

The Amazon Android Marketplace will be solving some of the major problems around Google’s Android market. That’s been a huge problem with putting our apps on Android, they are surrounded by “crap.”

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