Developers: Time to Ditch the Consumer Apps?

enterprise-app-storeIf you’re one of those developers who’s looking to make money with a mobile app, you might want to stay away from the everyday consumer and instead focus on the enterprise. At least that was the key takeaway for many developers who read the following piece by ReadWrite’s Matt Asay last week.

As Matt points out, 50% Of App Developers Focus On Mobile, But They’re Not Writing The Next Flappy Bird. Here’s why:

App developers are a pragmatic bunch, spending their time wherever they believe the biggest paycheck will hit. While that used to be the desktop, nearly half the global developer population is now focused on building mobile applications. True to form, these developers aren’t necessarily chasing consumer applications, but instead are skewing their efforts to more assured revenue channels like enterprise development.

According to Asay, research shows that enterprise developers stand to make about four times the amount of money by focusing on the enterprise, as opposed to the consumer.

The reasoning behind this should be fairly clear. The enterprise is heavily committed to making mobile a key part of its day-to-day operations, and they are willing to spend lots of money in order to make that happen. Consumers, well, they have trouble justifying any download that isn’t free. Starting to see the picture? He elaborates in a previous article:

Unlike consumers, enterprises tend to sample addictive new technologies warily. Smartphones and cloud services take months or years to integrate into the enterprise. Often they start in one department (like sales or accounting or IT) and then spread throughout the rest of a business. For instance, salespeople will adopt a customer relationship management (CRM) mobile app to help improve efficiency. The rest of the organization will see how well it works and make requests for their own mobile apps.

This is how the mobile imperative spreads through an enterprise—horizontally, from worker to worker, rather than from the top down. Whereas many organizations will have five to ten essential apps, there is need and desire to build dozens (or hundreds) to serve all aspects of business functions. These apps are both for external, customer-facing purposes, as well as internal organizational purposes. 

The real question of course is whether you, as a mobile app developer, should abandon your consumer-facing apps in favor of banking, healthcare, insurance and other enterprise organizations. Our answer: Yes and no.

On the one hand, you have to go where the money is. There’s no nobility in poverty, so if you intend to make a living developing apps, the enterprise has to be one of your targets. That said, if you are accustomed to developing apps for the consumer, you can (and should) leverage these skills as you make the transition.

All too often, enterprise applications are viewed as nothing more than utilities; lacking the usability and engagement of their consumer counterparts. As more and more developers move in to the enterprise, having the ability to “consumer-ify” an app will pay major dividends – for the developer, the brand and of course, the end-users. After all, at the end of the day, all users are consumers.

The consumer app isn’t dying, nor is the consumer-focused developer. It’s just harder to make an impact (and harder to make money). The same will someday be true for the enterprise. In both cases, however, one thing will remain constant: Quality apps will win.

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