For software developers, mobile applications can be an enticing siren — especially when it comes to creating and selling software for Apple’s popular iPhone and iPad.
Just look at the numbers: Since the introduction of the popular smartphone and tablet computer, more than 500 million applications have been downloaded from Apple’s App Store, which has a catalogue of more than 200,000 mobile applications. The company has also sold more than 3 million iPads since its April debut, and 1.7m iPhone 4 units in less than eight weeks, according to Alan Zeichick, editorial director of SD Times, an online site for software developers, and co-founder of parent company BZ Media.
Of course, developing a successful and useful mobile application involves a lot more than just throwing a quick piece of software against the market wall to see if it sticks. This biggest challenge to success, says Zeichick, is the bar measuring the quality of applications keeps getting raised. “There are a huge number of apps that actually do nothing, and there are lots of sophisticated apps,” he notes. “There is so much stuff, you have got to make it really good. It’s not enough to just have a good idea.”
Another challenge is the disconnect many mobile developers have with their core audience of buyers — especially if they are primarily selling through Apple’s App Store and basically putting a product up on a shelf along with hundreds of thousands of other products. “These people may not even know how to talk to customers,” Zeichick observed.
One other big challenge is there really isn’t a clear picture of why some things sell well and others do not, so there is no definitive roadmap to success. “Some things sell very well and even the developers don’t know why.”
This is why there is not only an increasing interest in developing mobile apps that sell well through the Apple iPhone and iPad channels, but in learning more about positioning, marketing and other techniques that can be used to create successful applications for the business and enterprise markets, said Zeichick.
Focus on Technical Training
In September, BZ Media will present a three-day application development conference that will focus on such topics as creating apps for the iPhone and iPad, linking mobile apps to key back-end business ERP and CRM systems, and successfully marketing applications through the Apple iStore and other distribution channels. Unlike most other mobile development events, however, iPhone/iPad DevCon 2010, scheduled to take place Sept. 27-29 in San Diego, will include a wide range of technical workshops, classes and hands-on training sessions that will emphasize ‘learn by doing’ techniques and focus on programming best practices.
“It is focused on teaching attendees how to do something, not why,” said conference chair and SD Times editorial director Zeichick. “They’ll learn either how to get started building mobile applications on the Apple platforms, or learn how to build or market them better.”
The conference is organized into four tracks:
iPhone Training & iPad Developer Essentials. More than 45 Technical classes/workshops for iPad and iPhone developers that cover programming topics related to iOS;
Spotlight on iPad. Technical iPad classes and workshops that cover the specifics of migrating and creating apps for the iPad;
Spotlight on Enterprise Apps. Sessions covering topics specific to developing enterprise iPhone and iPad apps for employees, business customers and partners;
Spotlight on App Marketing. Classes and workshops for business owners, entrepreneurs and marketers that include tips on how to maximize sales of iPhone and iPad applications through the Apple App Store.
Despite the sessions on marketing, however, Zeichick insists this is not a just conference for marketers and sellers of iPhone/iPad applications, but a true get down and dirty technical jam session for mobile developers and programmers. “We’ll have coding classes where you are encouraged to bring along your laptop and work along with your instructors,” he said, noting that most attendees will be experienced coders.
Of course, marketers are welcome, since even the best applications don’t sell themselves. It is really a training event, focused on teaching attendees how to do something not why, adds Zeichick. “They’ll learn either how to get started building mobile applications on the Apple platforms, or learn how to build or market them better.”
Find out more about iPhone/iPad DevCon, taking place Sept. 27-29 in San Diego.