The other day I saw this tweet:
To be honest, this guy has a point. There are a LOT of engineers out there who have suffered this fate (he is an engineer at FB). I don't blame him for posting something so depressing.
Back in the day, engineers had a huge advantage – they were the only ones who could build apps!
Demand dramatically outpaced supply. Engineers could build flashlight apps and make millions, marketers were forced on the sideline pulling their hair out.
(If you're an engineer and you're reading this, that vision probably feels very satisfying to think about 🙂 )
It was a world of unlimited demand. The only barrier between YOU and RICHES was if you could get in the store.
But, 2013 came in like a juggernaut.
Marketers started entering the mix. They started talking about keywords, optimization and funnels.
They even, heaven forbid, started treating apps like a business!
Marketers made a lot of money much to the chagrin of our engineer counterparts. “Your apps suck!” or “You're spamming the app store!” were typical subject lines my inbox would see each morning.
Fast forward to 2015 and we're seeing another big schism in the marketplace:
Most app entrepreneurs are still looking at the app store like an engineer and not like a marketer.
The future of the app business depends on switching gears.
The Difference Between Engineers and Marketers In The App Store
Engineers focus on SUPPLY. If you create something amazing, demand will appear.
Engineers make TONS of money when they are in a low supply, high demand environment. Early in the app store. Being able to code iOS/Android in Silicon Valley. Etc.
When the demand curve shifts, instead of bending to the wills of the market (like putting ads in their apps), they usually stand firm in their vision. “I'd rather be broke than produce something I don't want to.” I.E. the tweet above.
Marketers focus on DEMAND. They look at market research and consumer sentiment. They seek opportunities, deals and ways to offer a solution to a problem.
Marketers make money when they are able to CONNECT supply to demand.
When the demand curve changes, marketers morph with it.
Most people starting in the app business think about the app FIRST.
They think about the demand SECOND.
Typical comments from newbies are:
- “I have this awesome app idea!”
- “Which source codes will work the best?”
- “Which keywords will get my app the most downloads?”
This is a supply mindset.
They think about building the app first and the market demand second.
When you talk to non-app marketers, apps are the last part of “opportunity” related conversations.
Marketers talk about niches and problems that need solving. They look at products simply as a way to feed existing demand – the more specific the better.
After realizing this, I stopped looking at all the details of my apps and started looking at the greater market DEMAND.
What problems can I solve with apps? Who has a problem that needs an app? What companies need an app that I have access to?
Marketers focus on demand…which is why they often make more money than anyone else.
The Rockets Are Ready
Check out this chart:
Now look at 1999-2000 – that's when the dot com bubble popped.
Since then, internet usage has gone up 100x (and growing).
When you think about the internet, who are the people who made the most money?
In certain cases, yes. Some people have made a great living doing that.
But, by an order of magnitude, it was the marketer who drove this growth. It was the person who used websites to sell goods to a targeted group of people. It was the person who started the web development COMPANY. It was the ad network that connected brands to users.
Engineers were equally important, but marketers made billions of dollars more.
What This Means For You
In the next 5 years, there will be more money in the app business than ever before.
It's not because we'll have better apps or because there are more people downloading apps to their phone (though this will help), it's because marketers are going to connect APPS to USERS/BRANDS/COMPANIES that need them.
You will see demand being filled by apps.
The people who will get rich are the ones who can identify the demand + connect it to a mobile app solution.
Stop focusing on the app & start focusing on who you're building it for.
Rock and roll,