Friday, March 8, 2013

The ‘Eyes’ Have It and Other Tales From the App Store {Guest Post}

Guest Post By:
David Schwartz, CEO and Co-Founder, Analytical Path


So it’s official.  The app business is a $25 billion a year business and growing. There are now well over 800,000 apps on the Apple App Store and over 700,000 on Google Play.  Add to that the ones you’ll find on the Microsoft, Blackberry and Amazon stores and now you’re talking millions of apps.  As the number of iPhones, iPads, Kindles, Android smartphones and tablets surges, not to mention the new watches, TVs and Google glasses that will also be app-enabled, there is no doubt that we’ve entered a brave new app world.

Of course, not all apps are created equal.  Some are fantastically well-designed and offer great features and utility to users, and the rest are either mediocre at best or junk at worst.  So sometimes you don’t get what you paid for.  Most apps are ‘free’ and the one that do charge cost around $2.99 to $4.99 for the tablet version and a bit less for smartphone ones.  And in case you were wondering, if you bought every app on the Apple App store, for example, it would set you back $1.15 million (or $121,000 if you just like the games).  But the real action is within the app, what are referred to as ‘freemium’ apps.  These apps are free to download and install but offer various virtual items ranging in price from $0.99 to $99.99.  This business model has created some super successful apps (especially games) and at the same time has proven to be the bane of many parents – how many of your kids bought those Smurf Berries and chalked up double-digit or triple-digit credit card bills?

Let’s delve a little deeper into the ecosystem of apps for a bit.  As you wade through iTunes and search your favorite categories you are bombarded by a slew of app icons. The best of the litter make their way to the “Top Seller”, “Top Grossing”, “Top Free”, “Editor’s Picks”, and “What We’re Playing” groupings, at which point the app is golden and the team that made it can finally pay for their 6-12 months of hard work and earn a nice tidy profit.  The rest languish on in app store obscurity.  And each day the numbers grow with 800 new apps being added to the overall mix (more so on Google Play), each hoping to catch your attention and get you to tap on it.  For most apps, however, the extent of their engagement with the prospective consumer is just a fleeting glimpse of their icon and that’s all.  The analogy is like going through supermarket aisle by aisle as you are hit with a flood of products as you walk by giving the upper and lower shelve products nary a glance.  

Taking the analogy a step further, let’s look at the game category, which is a hotbed of activity, yet is somewhat reminiscent of the cereal aisle at your local supermarket. At the supermarket you’ll see lots of bright reds, oranges and yellows with all manner of characters beckoning you (or your kids) to buy.


Transpose back to the app store – in this case the Top Grossing iPad game apps as seen below – and you’re hit with lots of bright colors and characters that, just like their cereal box counterparts, have their eyes trained on you to catch your attention get you to tap on it – “Look at me! Look at me! Install me now!”  So in other words, much has to happen with that little image called the icon in a very brief instant to get you to engage with it.  It has to convey quality, reliability and entertainment all in one go.


But look elsewhere on the store, for example the Social Networking category, and you’ll find a very different array of icons and imagery. There you see simpler yet more expressive icons with softer colors.  It is certainly a very different juxtaposition from the games category with its loudness.  In this case these social networking apps are strong brand extensions of the services and networks to which the apps serve as gateways.  The point being that there are many different approaches to how the apps are marketed.


Therefore, regardless of the type of app, the icon is a critical piece of the marketing puzzle in creating that first engagement with the prospective user.  After that, the app name, price point(s), screenshots, descriptions and ratings are important factors in leading the buyer to the install or purchase.

Which brings me to why I’m writing this blog post on Life With 2 Boys.  I co-founded a company called Analytical Path and we provide a Web-based platform that enables the creators of apps to test market their app’s icons, screenshots, app names and other creative assets, before they go live with their apps on the store, in front of an audience of evaluators.  These evaluators can be anyone who has an interest in expressing his or her opinions about what they like and dislike, and what they find appealing or not about these app materials.  For app creators they gain valuable information that will help them better tailor and refine their app’s marketing once they are ready for release.  For the evaluator, they become part of the creative process by sharing their opinions and, importantly, earn points (through the Analytical Path site) that they can accrue and redeem for awards, such as gift cards.  What is more, evaluators who are fans of certain apps can then follow the progress of the app’s development and subsequent release on the app store.

At present we are actively seeking evaluators to sign up.  Signing up is entirely free and you can do so here.  There is nothing to download and all the evaluations are done through the Web browser.  When you log into the site you will see a number of app evaluations currently open for you to check out.  The typical evaluation takes about 5 to 7 minutes and combines rating scale questions as well as open-ended comment sections.  For each evaluation of an app the evaluator will earn 1 point. Additionally, if you refer a family member or friend to the Analytical Path evaluator program, you will earn 1 point for each one who signs up. You can then redeem your accrued points on the Points Store page for gift cards, which at present are iTunes Gift Cards but other types will soon be available.


Please take a moment to check out the site and sign up to be an Evaluator today.  Then start the various evaluations that are available. Also, please help us spread the word too as we hope to get as many evaluators as possible so that we can in turn bring in more apps for evaluation.  If you have any questions about the Evaluator Program please do not hesitate to write me at david.schwartz@analyticalpath.com. Thank you!

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