“Should I Make An iPhone App?”

“Should I make an iPhone app??”

….it’s a question I’ve heard quite often, and a question I’ve asked myself a few times.

Then I remembered I’m friends with the three guys that started Mutual Mobile, which is the largest (or one of the largest) iPhone app developers in the United States.  They’re now so big (250+ people) they focus on huge enterprise stuff, but they have a TON of experience with apps.

So John Arrow, a friend, and also the CEO of Mutual Mobile was speaking at The Internet Marketing Party here in Austin, and his speech directly answered my question of “SHOULD I BUILD AN IPHONE APP?”

You see, I build all these online courses, and they’re only on the web at the moment….no iPad or iPhone apps yet.  However developers who’ve taken the courses and liked them have offered to put them on the app store for me.

Just for fun I mocked up what it’d look like for the KopywritingKourse to be on an iPhone :-)

Anyhow….I’ve thought about this multiple times.  And it makes sense, “If this works well on the web, it will work well on the App Store! I’m a GEMIUS!!”

Well after listening to John Arrow speak at the Internet Marketing Party I have some more insight on this, and here it is:

He said this (and I’m paraphrasing):

Just because something on the web works, DOES NOT mean it will work well as an app.  Think about it like this:

What additional benefit does product solve if it’s on a phone?  Does it make your service/product more valuable…easier to use?

iPhone’s and iPad’s are portable…..would your service be better if it was more portable?  Would it give the users more features that could use their geographic location?

Here’s something we did: The company People Finder offers background checks.  Just releasing the app as “People Finder” didn’t offer the user anymore benefits than using the service from their mobile browser.  So we made an app called “Are They Single?” …and it did phenomenally well.

It was a simple app, that when you meet someone, you can type in their name and buy a quick background check which shows you if they’re married, single, have kids etc.

This was a huge success because it solved a problem involving geographic location.

No one cares about having a People Finder app on their phone.  They just wanted answers to a specific question.  The way we released that app, DID in fact help people more than the web service.

So if you’re just taking a product from web, and doing a simple port-over to an app….it’s very unlikely it will work unless you add more functionality that’s helpful from a phone.

So there was my answer to “Should I put some of my courses on the app store?”

Not the way I was gonna do it.

That explanation was really helpful, because now I can put that thought to rest….until I find a way that having an app would be MUCH more beneficial to the users.  For now they can always load and watch the courses on their phones with their browsers.

Think about this advice before spending time and money on building out an app.  John has seen tons of successes and failures in this space.  He even started out his speech by asking everyone in the crowd if they’ve built an iPhone app.  Very few people raised their hands.

He then said, “Now give yourselves a round of applause for NOT wasting your money!”

….which is a testament to how many failed attempts at simply porting over a website to an app he’s seen.


Has anyone out there seen proof of a course in app form do well?

Blog posted on: January 29, 2012

15 comments on ““Should I Make An iPhone App?”

  1. Jon

    Good points. Everyone wants to hop on the App Train but if there’s really no benefit to it for the user, then it’s probably not a good idea.

    It’s a good idea to optimize your web site for mobile browsers though.

      1. Anonymous

        I feel anyone who has a website, with ANY product or service offered, definitely needs to have a mobile version of their website. Mobile websites seem to be most beneficial to pizza shops and such, but practically anyone selling a product or service can benefit. Great article by the way. People should definitely take heed to what you have to say.

        Jeffrey Lynne

  2. Alan

    To often apps are just aversion of a web page and seem pointless. I’m relatively new to your blog and have been enjoying going back through your old posts. I was wondering where you got the blog theme from I like it? I also like Business Blueprint one.

  3. Pingback: Weekend Wisdom–Signs of Better Times » The Online Investing AI Blog

  4. Brent The Car Guy

    I have wanted to do an iPhone app for awhile but thought it was a bit too saturated. I am a programmer and would do it my self but then I realized that you need to have a Mac to develop and submit the app. I then considered making Android apps but haven’t gotten around to it.

  5. Brett V

    I’ve heard that mobile games are selling like crazy on the app store(s) right now.

    Are there any truth to that? Or are the big selling game apps made by the big players in the game industry (like EA and Vivendi)?

  6. andrew woo

    I heard from Derek Halpern that starting a podcast is actually a great way to get your name out there and grab more subscribers. That sounds a lot simpler than building an app to distribute your courses

  7. Isaac

    Don’t apps cost several thousand dollars at least to fund and create? Doesn’t sound like something to make on a whim. I’d like to have a couple made but I would likely have to hire programmers outside of the US.

  8. Clay

    I must thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this site.
    I’m hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as
    well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own website now ;)


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