The Mobile App Development Survey by Appsterdam and Enterprise App Store has closed!
Thank you all for participating and helping us collect data for our very first survey in the mobile development realm!
We are happy to announce the winners of the prizes
The first prize, an iPad mini, goes to
1. Wytze Schoutenfrom Amsterdam
And the Store Vouchers go to:
1. Edward Patel from Stockholm
2. Sergei Cherepanov from Saint Petersburg
3. Jeffrey Berthiaume from Huntington Beach
4. Ivan Vasic from Amsterdam
5. Karlo Kristensen from Copenhagen
Congratulations guys and thank you for participating!
About the survey results
Results are based on an online survey over a period of 5 weeks. The survey was disseminated mainly via the Appsterdam, Appril and Enterprise App Store communication channels and received 140 responses.
Main profile characteristics of the sample we collected*:
Respondents are between 30-34 years old (25.4%), male (94.2%), with a Bachelor's Degree (41.6%). They develop apps for generating revenue via contract or commissioned development (35.1%).
Mobile is their primary source of income (64.7%) and the vast majority have alreadyreleased an App (86.4%).
Although a big part of our sample (41.7 %) is currently employed by a company, they also tend to develop their own Apps (64.4%). One third of our respondents is located in The Netherlands.
*based on response percentages
Some stats and numbers:
1] Platform usage and preference.
Looking at the survey results, there is no doubt that the iOS platform is used the most and is considered the best platform to develop for by the majority (92.4%) of respondents.
2] Number of App downloads for most successful and average App release.
Developers do not always have access to such data or they do not keep track of contracting client’s downloads. According to the survey results, the number of downloads per average App release is relatively low. The table below shows that the number of downloads on average release does not exceed the 1000 threshold. It is interesting that over 60% of the respondents say that their App does not go further than 5.000 downloads. As for the most successful App release, for 45% of the respondents the number goes up to 10.000 downloads.
3] Affiliation with networks and communities in the Mobile App Development scene
There are many tech communities and groups that developers join to get connected, share knowledge, get ideas for future products and ask their peers for reviews and advice. One of the most popular networks according to the respondents is Appsterdam (83%).
For more information you may contact the author
Olga Paraskevopoulou is a researcher and operations manager working with public and private organizations on digital technology projects. She is currently based in Amsterdam, designing and producing pilot projects, events and workshops powered by Appsterdam, the Waag society, the University of Amsterdam (UvA-CIRCA) and the Amsterdam Economic Board. She holds a MSc on Political Communication and New Technologies from the University of Athens and a MA on New Media and Digital Culture from the University of Amsterdam.
Abstract (as on GOTO website): “The process of building an App is slightly different from just Software Engineering, it is Product Engineering. In this talk I present several topics about Product Engineering that are relevant to anyone that is making or planning to make apps”.
This is part of my summary series of the Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lectures, an initiative to allow people in Appsterdam to talk about technology and share knowledge, allowing participants to receive training in public speaking. The lectures cover a wide range of topics related to making apps on any platform, from technical to non-technical including computer languages, modelling, testing, design, marketing, business philosophy, startups, strategizing, and more.
Appsolute value is an agency that focuses on multi-platform app development. Michael’s background is in large organisations, so he has seen how these organisations handle the challenges of the rise of mobile. For large organisations, it’s a big disruption of traditional IT - mobile technology is not just another channel.
Michael helps these organisations to develop business apps. In his view, what really changed with the rise of mobile, is the consumer, and what they want. They have more control, know what they want, and how and when they want it. In Michael’s view, the customer is no longer king, he is a dictator. Traditionally, companies have provided information and software in a controlled way, the way which the company thought was best for the customer, but now this is turning around.
Initially, Michael mostly saw companies work on pure mobile websites. This then moved towards native apps, because organisations wanted to be visible on platforms like the App Store. The native apps and mobile websites initially cost business millions - not so much in making the app itself, but in integrating them with their old large IT systems. Michael says it was also very expensive to create a native app for all of iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone. Although iOS and Android take most of the market, organisations he encounters often want all platforms.
In enterprise apps, BYOD is increasing the pressure on large organisations to allow employees to do their work with apps. To reduce cost, they move towards multiplatform development and hybrid web-native. Especially in the US, Michael sees multiplatform development being really embraced, like PhoneGap. This also dramatically reduces the post-implementation cost in his experience, for maintenance, experience and security.
Michael shows a graph from Forrester, which says that today, much of the effort in mobile is in building the initial applications. However, in a few years Forrester expects a majority of effort to go into re-inventing the business processes and backend systems.
Main requirements in mobile technology are security, performance, multi-OS and integration. In security, it’s important to be able to secure data against both employees and customers. Performance is always high priority for Michael’s clients, and this is where they still see issues with HTML5, but not everyone in the audience agrees and there is some active discussion.
Business process appification
Customers can typically use a whole range of apps, and will slowly move more from the web to using apps. Michael challenges use to think of how enterprises can use our apps. He uses the example of iKringloop, which sold their app to the city of Amsterdam. If we can make the lifes of employees of enterprises better, the enterprises might be interested in our app. People in organisations often simply don’t know how mobile can help them, until it is shown to them.
WWDC has been part of my life for over a decade now. It started as something I’d watch from afar, when my only career goal was to get there. When I finally made it in 2005, I met my mentor and put my career on the fast track. A couple of years later, my team won an Apple Design Award, and a couple of years after that, I actually got to help put on the show.
For the past couple of years, I’ve helped the Appsterdam Foundation build the conference around the conference, serving the growing number of ticketless showcializers, and leading this community exercise in providing solutions, instead of merely complaining. Inevitably, I’ve developed some top tips for new and returning attendees to our annual homecoming.
Be prepared. You can certainly just show up and see what happens, but like most things in life, you’ll do a lot better if you take it seriously and start getting ready before you go. Pick some parties you want to attend and get on the RSVP lists. Think about what you want to accomplish, what you have to share with the community, and what you hope to bring home.
Carry cheap cigarettes. That has been my number one tip for years. A lot of the conference is actually spent standing on the sidewalk holding conversations with people you won’t get to meet any other time. In a city like San Francisco, you’re competing for their attention with a parade of panhandlers, and the fastest, cheapest way to keep them moving and get back to your conversations is to offer them a cigarette.
Bring your A game. This is your biggest and best chance to meet colleagues, future teammates, and media gatekeepers. Here, more than ever, you need to be hustling. Don’t come empty handed. Be prepared to exchange business cards. If you hurry, you can still order some from MOO and get 10% off. Also, if you have an app, you should bring 2″x2″ icon stickers to trade. Don’t have any? There’s still time to order those too. Go to StickerMule and get $10 off.
Go with the flow. Get it together now, because once you get there, it’s up to fate. WWDC should always be a life-changing experience, but if you show up with a checklist, or try to recreate the same experience year after year, you’re going to end up disappointed, and the conference will start to feel like it has passed you by. It’s nice to see old friends, but come just as prepared to make new ones. Don’t try to shape the experience; let the experience shape you.
Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lectures is an initiative to allow people in Appsterdam to talk about technology and share knowledge, allowing participants to receive training in public speaking. The lectures cover a wide range of topics related to making apps on any platform, from technical to non-technical including computer languages, modelling, testing, design, marketing, business philosophy, startups, strategizing, and more.
Today’s lecture was on
Questionise, a startup that Giwan Persaud, our speaker, is working on together with a partner. They met through Appsterdam. He shares a series of mistakes, lessons and risky decisions in the development of their startup.
The problem Questionise aims to solve is that it’s very hard to show your contribution as a knowledge worker. Your products are usually intangible and hard to see. A typical example of this is working from home: managers often want to see people sit somewhere and be busy, because they know no other way to check whether they are contributing.
In Questionise, you can post questions and answers, which you can use to build a knowledge profile. This exists already, but Questionise also adds activities. This can be used to build a report of what you’ve been doing. It’s a bit of a Twitter-idea, where everyone can see what other people post. Statistics are also public.
1: Not clearly describing the service
Many people who visited the Questionise site did not understand what they were really offering. Regardless of how awesome the product is, if people don’t understand the benefits, they will not sign up. They improved the design and the copywriting, and actively gathered feedback. They’re also working on a video, but this is challenging with the little budget they have.
2: Too much information
Realising they had a problem with describing the service, they initially just added more information. However, this didn’t help at all. People often don’t read text very well. Instead, they tried to reduce the amount of text. But it’s a tightrope: too little text and there’s not enough information, too much text and there is way too much information. The video might help here too.
3: Wasting time with unimportant details
Especially as a developer, it’s essential to focus and prioritise. Otherwise, you might never get to a point where you can offer a real product. It might be better to not fix some bugs or design issues for the time being.
4: Not early enough with landing page
Landing pages help people sign up on the high-level concept. They have a mystery element as well. Even if you don’t know whether you will ever build the product, get a landing page up as soon as possible. If you set it up too late, as they did, you miss out on opportunities. To get people to visit their landing page, Giwan mostly reached out on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
There are several services to make landing pages really easy, like Kickoff Labs. Someone from the audience raises the issue that a landing page might get a much higher response rate than the actual product, even though in their example everyone who signed up on the landing page got a free trial.
5: Not focusing on building user base
In a company, there are many different areas to work on. There’s a business plan, a marketing plan, and so on, and they all require attention. However, the most important focus is to simply get users. Every activity must relate to that.
6: Not monitoring the market
They surveyed the market initially, for alternatives and competitors, but didn’t pay much intention on it afterwards. As competitors evolve as well, it would be better not to go in the exact same direction as the competitors. During your development, you have to keep an eye on the competitors as well.
Someone from the audience is an early-stage startup to monitor competition - Giwan and his partner haven’t looked into tools to do this yet. They did find that some users come to them, even though the same functionality is offered by competitors as well, probably because their product is easier to adopt in a business.
7: Not updating the business plan
Giwan recommends reviewing the business plan every two weeks or so. They wrote a plan in the beginning, didn’t look at it for a few months, but by then it was quite out of date. It also helps you to keep track of your strategic direction.
They used the business model canvas, but thought it did not suffice to talk to an investor. Also, their business plan contains much more than the canvas, like financing.
Someone from the audience adds that his experience is that Dutch investors want to know about everything for the next 5 or 10 years. But they don’t know their cashflow in the next 5 years, because they don’t even know what the product will look like in 5 years. Giwan’s feeling is the same, and he thinks it’s a European problem.
8: Platform support: not supporting IE and mobile
Currently, they don’t support Internet Explorer, due to a lack of skills and time. They expect their customers are mostly the innovators and adopters, like startups, which already moved to other browsers. Large corporations use IE very often, but their product is not ready yet for those clients anyways. Although IE 10 is fairly easy to support, it didn’t work out of the box for now, so they just tell all their clients they do not support it.
There is also no mobile interface at this time. This requires development effort, and as they’re still trying to find product/market fit, they don’t want to invest time for mobile yet. On the other hand, it is something that many people pay attention, and the lack of it could hamper adoption.
9: Third-party tools: relying on Google charts
They rely on Google charts in their platform. This is risky, as Google can shut down services. They’ve done this for now, as it does save development time.
10: No fully defined revenue model
Lastly, they have plans for gaining revenue, but no solid defined plan. This would be an issue for investors, so it could turn out to be a mistake. They are working on making this more concrete.
In April, the team at Voradius launched their app–an online search engine that allows users to find products in physical stores in the Netherlands. Available on the web, iPhone and iPad (Android version coming soon), the app is already linked to the inventory systems of 3,500 shops with 50,000 products in Amsterdam, including all of the branches of Kijkshop.
Voradius on the Street
Say you want to buy a particular pair of running shoes. Before you go from shop to shop to see if it is in-stock, the app will tell you which shops in your vicinity have it, how many are left, and the price. Then, instead of ordering it online, you just go to the shop and pick it up. The app also provides general shop information like phone number, opening hours, and location.
Watch the Voradius promo video to see the app in action:
Enter Open Data
Voradius is working hard to create partnerships with retailers to link to their private data and inventory systems. From there, how does public open data fit into the picture?
“We wanted to also provide contextual data for shopping, such as geo-locations of nearby parking garages, real-time traffic data, public transport information, cash machine locations, street activities, and events,” said co-founder Martijn Jansen. “We wanted anything the city could provide from their datasets to enhance the shoppers’ experience going out into the ‘real world’ to do their shopping locally.”
Luckily, all of this data is available, and Voradius has worked with the city to get the right datasets, in the right formats, from the various entities. Navigating this labyrinth can be a challenge, and the Amsterdam Economic Board is connecting Voradius with the local government contacts as they continue to incorporate the data. The act of obtaining the data for Voradius will also help to make it available for other entrepreneurs for future ventures.
For parking information, Voradius is also looking to integrate the Parkshark API from Amsterdam web and app developer Glimworm IT. The API uses open data provided by the City of Amsterdam to find the closest and cheapest parking in the city.
As part of the Open for Business program, Bolot Kerimbaev from Big Nerd Ranch gave a workshop with targeted advice to each group. Kerimbaev worked with Voradius on the database and search capabilities, which form the backbone of the app’s functionality. There’s also the GPS and location-finding aspect to contend with. They ironed out the issues in time for the launch, and they’re continually improving and updating the system as they add more shops to the database.
All three start-ups had a business model workshop with Floris van Alkemade, partner with venture capital firm Solid Ventures. Van Alkemade broke down the details of engaging investors for a start-up.
The Voradius team bootstrapped their venture for 10 months before launching the app, and they are currently looking for funding partners. Van Alkemade explained that without a minimum 100M Euro 7-year valuation, it’s difficult to get investment from venture capital firms in Europe (in the US the expected valuation is even higher). His advice for Voradius was to go for smaller rounds of informal funding from angel investors while they build up their revenue streams, and then look for a larger investment to expand the business to the next level.
The Voradius app is a free download for users, and will bring revenue via a retailer subscription model. The attraction for the retailer is that it increases visibility to customers and creates an additional sales channel.
Launch and Beyond
Since their launch, Voradius has received media coverage in publications such as De Telegraaf and Emerce. The app is quickly gaining momentum, and new shops are being added every week. After establishing themselves in Amsterdam, they plan to roll out the service to other major cities in the Netherlands. It’s an exciting new app, and a great example of using public open data for a commercial business. We wish them the best of luck!
That said, there are a lot of “musicians” in Appsterdam who would quite like to form bands. But as any black-t-shirt-wearing highschooler knows, it doesn’t work very well when six guitarists show up to a jam session. Just as a successful band will need a rhythm section, singer, songwriter, road crew and tour manager, a successful app product will need back-end developers, designers, support engineers and marketing.
So consider this an open invitation: don’t be scared off participating in Appsterdam events just because you’re not an Xcode maestro. I’m seeing a growing realisation among my “lead guitarist” colleagues that killer riffs aren’t enough. The audience needs to be addressed on its own terms and that’s something many of us aren’t the best at. We see the value that great marketing, design and other skills bring and we realise we need help in those areas.
Lots of developers are looking for people who want to be equal partners in building successful products. If you have experience in any of the other skills necessary to bring a great app to life, if you’ve got money to invest in a great performance or if you’re just smart and keen to learn, we’d love to meet you.
“No. I’m not a sound engineer, A&R person, tour operator, venue owner, merch supplier or roadie either… but I’ve got a really good idea for a band name!”
Every app developer has had the above conversation with an enthusiastic but overly optimistic (and possibly misguided) person who’s got a “great app idea and they just need a dev to implement it”. It’s come up a few times at Meeten and Drinken and my preferred strategy is, as gently as possible, to disabuse our hopeful friend of the notion that it’s as easy, fast and cheap (!) as they think it is.
I contacted roughly a dozen rental companies, and asked them:
What happens when your rental bikes are removed by the city? The tourist will probably assume it was stolen.
Does the city notify you when they have removed one of your bikes?
Do you charge the client for you having to pick up the bike?
How does this work when the client chose the optional theft insurance?
I told them I was doing research into the use of bikes by tourists in Amsterdam. For brevity, I did not go into detail about Bike Like a Local - although maybe I should have on second thought.
I received a handful of responses, which seems like a normal response rate. Noteworthy was that some of the companies would only talk to me after getting a detailed explanation of the purpose of these questions and how I would use the answers, or only under condition of anonymity.
Informing the tourist
Most rental companies specifically inform their clients about the parking policy in Amsterdam. The signs placed by the city are all in Dutch (and in my own opinion, not always well placed), and therefore not very helpful.
When a client reports the loss of a bike, most of the rental companies guess whether it might have been removed by the city, depending on where it was parked. If there is a chance that it was removed by the city, they try to call the bike depot to see whether it is there. This isn’t really sufficient, because the opening hours of the bike depot are limited, and there is some processing delay. If the bike is confirmed to be at the depot, the client is typically charged € 20-25 plus the costs of any damage to the bike and lock. However, there are not always able to recover all the costs from the client.
If it is uncertain whether or not the bike was removed by the city and the client needs to leave, the rental companies follow their standard procedures for bike theft. Roughly, this means the client pays the insurance deductible if the bike was insured, and pays the full cost if it was not. Should the bike later turn up at the bike depot, any excess payment is returned.
One of the rental companies also gave some feedback on my plans for Bike Like a Local. They didn’t like the idea for my ad-hoc audio tours, fearing that it might distract tourists and make their biking more dangerous. In the meantime, I looked into that in more detail. They also explained that they do inform tourists about all the dangers, but that they don’t always pay much attention.
On May 1st, I went on a bike ride through Amsterdam with Alkisti and Olga. Alkisti runs Appsterdam Greece and is in Amsterdam for two weeks. At the Design/UX/UI workshop it was suggested for me to actually ride a bike through Amsterdam with a tourist, and Alkisti immediately offered to do this together.
Freeways and tunnels
An issue that had never occurred to me before, is that Dutch people typically say you can bike anywhere in Amsterdam. However, this isn’t true. Although almost all streets in Amsterdam are available for bikes, notable exceptions are some of the tunnels, like the IJ-tunnel, and the freeways, as my guides experienced.
I had somehow assumed tourists would already know where to go in the center, but Alkisti could not find her way from the lunchtime lecture, at Weteringcircuit, to the entrance of the Vondelpark - and she’s already been here for two weeks. Perhaps it’s worth looking into offline voice-based turn-by-turn bike navigation. Currently, when Alkisti plans a route, she makes screenshots of Google maps, as she doesn’t have roaming.
We discussed many smaller issues as well:
There are two common types of brakes on bikes: handbrakes and back pedal brakes. Alkisti is used to handbrakes, but the bike she borrowed had a back pedal brake. This can be dangerous when you need to brake in an emergency.
Alkisti knew how to use hand signals when turning, by copying it from Olga.
The combination of bike and pedestrian traffic lights can be confusing, especially when one is green and the other is red.
I noticed that when the three of us were cycling together, Olga had to look behind her regularly to see whether we were still with her. That could be quite dangerous too.
Tourists from the south of Europe might have Android phones a lot more than iPhones - but I develop for iPhone only.
Olga always teaches people: watch out for the tram tracks, hold on to the handlebars when it’s windy, and watch out for people opening doors of parked cars to get out.
One of them also had gotten a bag stuck in their front wheel before, which is a risk that may not be obvious to novice cyclists.
Although one should usually cycle on the bike path on the right of the road, some bike paths are bi-directional.
Scooters passing in the bike lane seem rather dangerous.
For marketing, I could also look at student information for exchange students, and travel guides.
Overall, it was a fun and useful trip. I’ll have to see how to prioritise all the input, and what I can do with it in Bike Like a Local. Olga and Alkisti also thought it might be good if I do this again with a tourist that’s not from Southern Europe.