How to make money from mobile apps

Is it possible to make money from mobile apps? Yes, according to Le Web’s panellists on the question – but there are plenty of potential pitfalls and obstacles.
It may not be all that easy, but what’s most important is the fact that the market is growing – in five or six years’ time, Team Europe Ventures co-founder Lukasz Gadowski predicted, “it will be hard for us to imagine how we could ever live without the mobile medium”.
The growth of the market means even big telecom companies can’t afford to ignore it, according to Gadowski. He said, “The sheer growth of the medium means those telecos who fail to come up with a good app store will disappear.”
It’s estimated 300,000 apps will be on the market by the end of next year, and up to 10bn devices will eventually be in use. The only way you can make sure you don’t get lost in all of that is to treat an app like a business – it needs marketing, putting it on an app store isn’t going to be enough when it’s competing against free apps doing the same thing. To really get noticed, it needs to be thought of as a business, with its usage and its life after purchase considered. Ouriel Ohayon, co-founder of Appsfire.com, said, “The most successful ones are very business driven and marketed very strongly.”
As the market grows the types of apps on offer is developing. Gary Shainberg, VP of global technology and innovation at BT, said the emphasis is shifting from making money directly from apps sales to indirect money-making and engagement.
He said, “Something that’s really changed the banking industry is NatWest Bank has just launched a free app for online banking on the iPhone. Up until now there was an issue with two-factor authentication.” He added BT is starting to develop apps for the iPhone that “help customers make decisions – it’s not directly making money, it’s indirect.”

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This article stimulated some thoughts on how the Open Source market and emergence of development frameworks, reusable components, mashup libraries etc. might begin to provide accelerators for ‘roll your own’ applications. I’m a big believer in context aware computing, and I think an inevitable fusion of Social Networking and the context aware device is going to be extremely interesting. I secretly want to be able to visualise my network and connections therein based on physical location (in real time). Security concerns around additional (location and proximity based) inference channels would be very valid and would provide an interesting topic for debate…
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