App Development, Goldmine or sinkhole?

Successful app development is becoming incredibly difficult to do. As of July 2014, there were around 1.2 million apps in the app store. Competition is incredibly high and most people don’t have the money to spend a thousand dollars or more on a custom built app that they may not ever see a return from. Now unless you have a “very particular set of skills” as Liam Neeson would say, your going to have a very tough time building an app without forking out a whole bunch of money to do. Let’s look at some components for building an app.

First off you have to get an apple developer license for iOS apps if you are planning on building it for that platform. it costs $99 a year.

Getting Started:

App development involves idea generation, wireframing, competitive analysis, keyword analysis, and content mapping which need to be done before you even begin to start building an app. This can take alot of man hours, and if your wanting to develop a custom app, these things are obviously not something you want outsourced.

After you get the above done, your two final things are basically design and coding or development. Now, app design cost is almost always less than app development cost as it is not nearly as involved or technically difficult. as a percentage of cost I would it is usually about 30% design and 70% development. Now these cost aren’t cheap, especially if you’re looking to compete with the big boys in complexity and level of design. So how can one possibly compete in such a saturated market?

Enter app reskinning.

App reskinning is basically the practice of purchasing a complete app, developed by someone else, and making it look different, so only doing the design portion and submitting it to the apple store. The point behind all of this is that it is an easy way to get to market. It is much cheaper, but the real question is are you going to make anything off of it.

As of the writing of this post, I have never reskinned an app. I have made my own custom app (which failed miserably). but I do at some point, plan on reskinning it. The problem with apps is that it is incredibly difficult to get ranked. Especially with reskinned apps because it’s likely that if you are buying the code, someone else already has as well.

So why do it?

Well the premise is that its easy for an app to make, say 10 dollars a month. That’s a really terribly performing app. So let’s say you pay $20 dollars for the app code. At that point you decide you are going to reskin it and do the app design yourself. One reskin doubles the income and might likely triple it if you do some better keyword research this time. But let’s say for convenience sake, you double it. Now you are making $20 a month or $240 a year. well what if we make 10 different versions of this same app? now we’re at $100 a month if they all perform terribly. This is the thesis behind it. That you can create a sort of app library and reskin them to meet trending keywords, thus increasing the likelihood of an app that might perform better.

Some of you might be wondering where I’m getting the $20 app code number from as some sites have them priced pretty outrageously. Code Canyon has a pretty solid selection for much better prices than you will find anywhere else if you are willing to give this is a try.

If this sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is. But if you create apps that are fairly timeless and steer clear of trends, it’s likely that you’ll continue to see them accrue downloads throughout their lifetime with little to no maintenance or effort on your part. Creating what is hopefully, a decent passive income stream.

A moral issue

It should be noted that a lot of people frown on the practice of app reskinning. Citing that it dilutes the app store even more and makes it nearly impossible for indie app development to ever get noticed amongst everything else. I am aware of this, but I’m not sure how I feel, at the end of the day, it’s about making money and spending a ton of money on a lottery ticket is a terrible business strategy, trust me, I tried it.


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