Conceptualizing an idea to develop an app is the first step, but there are other crucial processes that follow. It is important to consider some basic issues such as if your idea is potentially viable and the number of prospective users interested in solving the problems at hand using your app. There are three methods you can apply to gauge the validity of your app idea. The following is an overview of these methods and the strategies for developing an app for the emerging market. It is apparent that android app makers must consider the market is owing to the huge growth opportunities it presents.
Most entrepreneurs and startups often encounter struggles when determining the best method to use when validating their app ideas. In assessing the best method to use, the following factors are important:
• What you are validating
• Who your target audience is
• Your target stakeholders in the process of validating your idea
1. Proof of Concept (PoC)
A PoC is used in validating a certain idea and justifying its operational viability. Aspects like usability, functionality, and performance are usually not considered at this stage. A Proof of concept provides an absolute ‘yes' or ‘no' answer. If it is successful, internal shareholders approve of your idea and give the green light to proceed with the development. If not, then the idea cannot advance to the development stage.
Benefits of creating a proof of concept
• It allows you to evaluate how much the product will be successful and its features before proceeding to the development phase.
• It allows the team to share knowledge internally
A prototype is very useful to stakeholders as it allows them to visualize the users' experience of a mobile app. Think of it as a design preview that incorporates finer details to elements such as product features and specifications, wireframes and user flows.
Benefits of creating a prototype
• The prototype creation procedure allows you to detect and resolve potential glitches in the initial development stages thus averting costly repair processes at the final stages. It is usually cheaper to fix them at this stage
• In the testing process, new ideas may spark off thus refining the product even further and affirming that you are moving in the correct direction of the development
• Shareholders and stakeholders are able to give feedback. Some of the feedback is vital in guiding the subsequent steps of the development process.
3. Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
An MVP is the product version with all the elements, which meet the requirements for initial adopters and helps in gathering feedback from users to assist in further improvement of the application. A minimum viable product doesn't provide a ‘yes' or ‘no' answer as the PoC does, but a continuous learning process to boost the viability of the product.
Benefits of creating an MVP
• It enables you to point out the faults in the product and areas that need improvements as dictated by the users' feedback. That way, you avoid wasting resources that would otherwise be used in building unnecessary features.
• It allows for the assessment of factors such as the product's demand in the market, usability and clarifies on any prior assumptions that your team may have made about the app.
Three Trends you Should Know
Google Product Manager Tal Oppenheimer provided an insightful overview of statistics regarding consumers in growing markets during the 2017 Google I/O Developer Conference. The report revealed some interesting facts that may be vital when developing your product. He noted that in 2014, China had 675 million internet users, emerging as the highest globally. The number was about twice as much as that in the United States. In 2015, India had a total of 350 million users in total. On the other hand, Brazil had 139 million users in 2016, while Nigeria registered a whopping 87 million users. The report further showed that the US had minimal growth of users in 2014, while India had approximately 100 million first-time users of the web in 2015 and 16. There more room for expansion in India since 65% of its population is still offline, and the internet-use growth rate seems to be on a steady upward trend. According to the GSMA intelligence study, India could hit a billion subscribers of mobile phones by the year 2020. Brazil also displays tremendous growth in the figures of internet users since every minute; seven first-time users surface online. As an app developer, it is paramount to keep such statistics in mind as they provide useful information from a global perspective. In addition, the following user trends predominant in developing markets are important to keep in mind when evaluating your app ideas:
1. There is High Demand for Utility Apps
Jana – a mobile advertising firm – embarked on a study to monitor the mean number of applications utilized every day per user. This was conducted in its three largest markets namely India, Brazil, and Indonesia.
From the results, it was evident that utility and communication apps are the most widely used; averaging about 4 apps per user each day. This shows that in addition to messaging applications, these consumers are in need of mobile applications that help them to better manage their devices.
The demand for utility apps has increased for two main reasons:
I. In emerging markets, budget phones are common, and they come with limited functionalities such as short battery life and limited storage space. Therefore, utility applications that can assist these people to conserve battery power, boost speed, expand memory and kill viruses would be useful in optimizing the devices’ performance.
II. The high cost of data in emerging countries makes it impossible for users to afford costly data plans. Data saving apps, therefore, are essential as they enable these devices to operate more efficiently.
For app developers, this means that they should focus more on solving local problems. The next generation of smartphone users in these emerging markets will, therefore, prefer applications that resolve common problems they face. A typical example is a recently-released app by Google that helps smartphone users to manage their data by monitoring and managing data consumption on their devices.
2. Evaluate your Monetization Plan’s Viability
It is important to assess how feasible your monetization strategy is in the expanding market. Precisely, app makers need to consider how viable their app idea is in the market especially in the emerging ones. Emerging markets like Vietnam, Thailand, and India provide a good market for apps but are yet to accept credit cards as a payment method. India, for example, has about 20 million credit cards yet the total population is over one billion. On the other hand, about 81% of online orders in Vietnam are paid for offline while in Thailand, an estimated 70% of online shoppers prefer paying with cash upon delivery. For app developers, this means that they need to focus on alternative payment methods that allow the easy transaction. For example, Spotify made an exception while venturing into the Southeast Asian market including Indonesia and Philippines by allowing cash payments. It also included other convenient options like bank transfers and ATM payments for the ease of penetrating the market.
3. Learn More on User Culture and Local Trends
Mariya Moeva, a Developer Programs Engineer at Google, highlighted a critical element of onboarding users in emergent markets during 2017 I/O conference dubbed ‘Build for your Next Billion Users.' She noted,
“A lot of these users are coming online in a completely different context, so you shouldn’t expect that the product you have right now, with the UI and flow and the graphics, will fit their needs.” She continues, "A lot of users are coming online for the first time on their phone. They don't have a lot of experience with the desktop. A lot of them have never used email, and they have different cultural expectations or color preferences."
What this means for the app makers is that they need to invest handsomely in researching trends and user culture. While assessing your app idea, take time to understand which type of devices they are using, how they feel about their devices' functions or user interface and whether there are local user interface patterns unique to the specific market. It is also important to find out the features that users in particular markets use.
The following example clearly demonstrates how culture influences the kind of application features that users utilize. Geolocation, a provision that is extensively utilized in China allows individuals to connect with others close to them. Other mobile applications like Momo, are also developed to connect users with individuals and events in their neighborhood. Such applications have gained more than 60 million active users monthly. Chinese users, for instance, perceive mobile applications as some type of ecosystem rather than an independent item. Thus, the “discover button” that normally lets the user access more functions, is used to show nonessential specifications that would not satisfy a Chinese user’s curiosity.
It is, therefore, critical to establish in details, how emerging markets’ consumers utilize and respond to mobile app features to enable the creation of well-received applications.