I’m sure that you have a million ideas for a new app. But how do you know which ones are totally crazy and which ones might go on to become a huge success?
It’s true that some successful app ideas were a total shot in the dark and even the most researched ideas might not be successful. But in most cases, winnings apps are successful for a reason.
In this post, I’ll show you five successful apps and how the idea for each app may have seemed like crazy app ideas to most people, at first, but they were actually based on proven ideas. Hopefully this post will encourage you to do a lot of market research on your wacky app ideas and take action on the most viable ones.
If you are looking for a place to learn about all this stuff, definitely check out this app workshop – I’ll lay out a 4 step system that turns any app idea into a real business. If you don’t have an idea, I’ll show you how to get one 🙂
Would you want to feed a badly drawn rock every day and make it grow bigger? That sounds like a great idea for a game.
But since it was launched in 2012, it has done very well. Publisher Paul Salameh currently makes about $356K a month, by Apptopia’s estimates.
If you want to know how to do this, I put together this easy to follow checklist (click here).
But the idea is certainly not new…
Taking care of imaginary pets has been around forever. In the late 1990’s, there was the Tamagochi. I never understood why they were so popular, but apparently people love being responsible for digital animals.
How to Make a Game Like Pou
There are many variations of this game out there. Really simple stuff, like Pou…to more complex apps like Hatch.
I’m sure that there is some source code out there for this, but you would probably have to hire a developer if you need to make your own customizations.
Like we recommend inside the App Workshop & Training, be willing to spend $100 to download apps that are similar to the one that you want to make. Then use tools like Apptopia or Mobile Action to research how well these games are doing.
Once you understand what people are looking for and where you can improve on existing mobile apps ideas, it becomes much easier to create an app and you have a much higher probability of success.
The technology required to create a live worldwide video broadcasting app is staggering. But was it such a crazy idea?
I don’t think so.
Think about it…
Millions of videos already get shared on YouTube, Instagram, Vine and numerous other platforms. So the next logical progression would be to have live broadcasts.
How to Make an App Like Periscope
Realistically, most people won’t have the resources to make an app like Periscope. But think about other popular apps and ask yourself:
“What is the next level of this concept?”
A little foresight can go a long way and it might not be as complex as a live video broadcast app.
“Hey, let’s make a game that people hate.”
That sounds like a great idea.
…but it worked.
I’m sure you know the story. But if you don’t, at the height of Flappy Bird stardom, the game was supposedly making $50,000 per day before the publisher took it down.
Yeah, not too shabby.
Many people thought that there was was something shady going on. An engineer I know was so pissed that the game was doing so well that he wrote a blog post to analyze the game.
Flappy Bird was probably a shot in the dark. From what I’ve read, I’m not convinced that he knew that frustrating game play would be a big success.
But what followed, took full advantage of this discovery.
How to Make an Game Like Flappy Bird
Actually…it would probably be better if you didn’t. This game has been rehashed so many times that the last thing the world needs is another version of Flappy Bird.
…and Apple will probably reject a low quality knockoff of Flappy Bird.
Making an app similar to Angry Birds is probably a better idea. But if you must, Buildbox has a great engine that will help you make a flappy-like game, fast. Just be sure to make it different enough that people will get a lot of value out of.
Here is a demo video of how you can make a similar game in 60 seconds (or less). It also shows you how you can improve on the idea and make a really killer game.
If you want to get started with making your own app business without knowing how to code, join this free workshop first.
One thing you can learn from this game is that you have to be willing to test common assumptions. If you can test it cheaply enough, going against the grain can pay off big.
Conventional logic: People love games that they can win.
Questioning conventional logic: What if we made a game that was almost impossible?
Another lesson you can learn from this app is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Many Flappy clones made a lot of money because they saw a concept that worked and they quickly iterated on the idea.
One clone that really took off was the Flying Drizzy app…much to the chagrin of Drake. But taking an idea that is already working and putting a new spin on it is a great way to capitalize on an unexpected success.
Alright, let’s go old school and take a look at one of the most classic gag apps out there.
You can’t help but laugh at a fart joke.
…no matter how “proper” you think you are.
At the height of its success, iFart was making as much as $10,000 per day, by some accounts.
Before you run out and do something like this, it has already been beaten to death. But what about an Apple Watch app? Apparently this is something that Apple frowns upon and Watch fart apps were recently banned from the store.
However, the lesson here is the thought process behind the app…
Like I mentioned at the beginning, fart jokes aren’t new. They are probably Paelo. The Whoopee Cushion that we know (and maybe have used once or twice) has been around since the 1920’s.
So even if you don’t want to make a fart app, think about what kind of classic pranks or games you can bring into the app world.
But if you do want to make an app around this idea…
How to Make an App Like iFart
This obviously isn’t for everyone, but if it is a concept that toots your horn, then you should test it out for cheap. I’m sure that there is some source code out there that will do this.
But you can do better. One app that I thought was an interesting take on the genre is Fart Code.
You scan the barcode on a food package and the app tells you how bad your fart will be, based on the ingredients in the food. It is supposed to help teach kids about good and bad ingredients.
A novel idea, but how successful is the app?
As I looked at the Apptopia download estimates, this app doesn’t get a lot of downloads…about 5K a month. So I wouldn’t try to emulate the idea. But it does demonstrate some creative thinking.
It also probably didn’t take a whole lot of money to make. You just take some barcode scanning software, hook it up to a food database and throw in some logic, based on the ingredients.
So if you have a crazy flatulence-related, funny app idea, see if you can test it for cheap. That’s one of the lessons you’ll learn from the four step app workshop I put on.
If not, move on.
OK, so Facebook didn’t start off as a mobile app. But it is still worth looking at.
Looking at Facebook now, it’s hard to believe that there was a point where it wasn’t successful. They recently reached 1 billion users in a single day.
But back in 2004, they faced a huge uphill battle against sites like Friendster and MySpace. Friendster was one of the first sites to garner a membership of 1 million or more. At one point, MySpace surpassed Google in US traffic.
So starting another social network was kind of a crazy idea. But it worked because they understood how to build a community.
How to Create an App Like Facebook
At this point, it will be almost impossible to create a social network that is bigger than Facebook. It could happen, but that is a long shot for most indie developers.
But there are much smaller demographics of people who are very passionate about certain topics. Figure out how to cater to them.
You can also buy apps like Facebook does. Why build an app from scratch when you can buy a completed product, development team and user base.
Don’t have a few billion lying around to buy a mega app like Instagram? Not to worry, there are apps available at every price range.
Of course, don’t forget about app source codes. They are a great way to get started.
…and it doesn’t even have to be a social networking app, per se.
For example, take an iOS app idea like Watchville. It started off as a beautifully designed, yet pretty simple, RSS aggregator. You can get RSS reader source code from several sources like this.
But it has built a cult following and the plan is to turn it into an ecommerce app for luxury watches. They have raised money and I’m excited to see what they produce.
So the lesson nowadays is that you don’t have to build a gigantic social networking site like Facebook. If you can craft a high-quality app for a small, yet very passionate group of people, you have a good chance of being successful.
We hope that you found this list useful and inspiring. There are a lot of opportunities out there but you need to have a great idea, do the research and have a plan.
If you got this far, then I’m sure that you have an awesome idea. Be sure to sign up for our free app business workshop here
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I know a guy who had lunch about one year ago with the author of Pou. He told me that his monthly earnings were in the tens of thousands, around 5 times less than the estimate from Apptopia. Dunno, maybe his revenues grew since, but I doubt it. My guess would be that Apptopia, just like Sensor Tower, are overestimating revenues by a lot.
@Alex – yeah, good call. I think a lot of those softwares are not totally accurate. Same is true on the web (semrush.com, compete.com, alexa.com, etc) which can be frustrating. I think they can be really helpful to show movement and trending, as well as keywords, but if people want to know “how much money does this app make” then it’s a lot harder to bank on.
Nice Post Carter. I have played Flappy Bird many times and yes that is great idea to make app like that. Thanks for sharing your wonderful post.
Just a comment regarding the “fart” subject matter – Apple appears to be deadset against apps of that nature. We recently submitted two different apps to iTunes that had “poop themes.” One was a strategy game, “Angry Turdz,” and the other was a sticker app with text editor called “Poop Head,” that lets users put “poop” stickers on pictures. Both apps were published in GooglePlay for Android, but rejected by Apple during their review process. We appealed and had a conversation with a representative of Apple who said they are no longer approving apps with fart/poop/potty humor type content.
Angry Turdz – http://appsolutemadness.com/games/angry-turdz/
Poop Head Sticker App – http://appsolutemadness.com/sticker-apps/poop-head-stickers-meme-generator/
We have one on iTunes — Royal Flush Potty Slots — that was approved in the past, but we were told if we were to submit it NOW, it would not be approved. We developed that game by reskinning a three-reel slot machine app we bought through Blue Cloud Solutions.
I have a great idea for an app that i believe can help a lot of people. I do not know where to start and to be honest i do not have the time to learn how to develop my app sadly. maybe i will in the future but right now in the present i have this idea, i believe has the potential to be huge. not trying to over exaggerate but i am extremely passionate about this idea. I really could use the help of anyone that is willing to. please if anybody is looking or knows of anyone that can help with this dream. please email me @ email@example.com . please i can use all the help i can get. thank you for reading.
Hi , Im one them looking to create the next big app guys and I have this idea i would love some feedback on please contact me through email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi,I have one interesting idea which came when I am thinking about doing it for own purpose.I think this will help other people in their day to day life. I am looking for some lead how to proceed. I have no time to learn and develop the idea. You can share your experience on email@example.com.
***MULTI MILLION $ IDEA FOR A APP***
Looking for a serious angel investor, fund my app and you will have a percentage of all profits.
Although none of my apps are original, I did tried coming features together to make the app a bit unique. For example, there are so many ghost stories app released on google play and I thought why not make it into a social media ghost stories app. Five years ago, I believe my app was the only one like that, but now there are several apps similar to mine.
I usually don’t comment on blogs, but I thought this one was very helpful. Let me know if I can share my app making revenue experience as a guest blogger.
I have an great social networking website idea.iys new and different from other.i need some to fund on my app.
***MULTI MILLION $ IDEA FOR A APP***
I have an great idea about virtual machine, cloud based service. it is new and different from other.i need some to fund on my app and help me to make it done.
Looking for a serious angel investor, fund my app and you will have a percentage of all profits. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Great article Hugh, I completely agree with you that there are a lot of opportunities out there but you need to have a great idea, it should be something new and interesting. Thank you for sharing wonderful post.
Thanks for sharing this great article with us. This is a great source of motivation for all the beginners who are struggling in their starting phase.