iPhone Application Recipe
By David Dorf on Oct 20, 2009
RetailWire ran articles yesterday and today on the success of iPhone applications for the retail industry. Apps from Amazon, Target, Gap, and Whole Foods seem to be getting traction, but all of them had shortcomings. Here's my list for what makes an iPhone app successful:
- Utility -- the application has to be useful,usually by saving me time. If I can do something easier on my PC, I will so don't duplicate it on an iPhone. A big part of this is taking advantage of mobility and the iPhone's unique features, like location awareness. For example, the Dunkin Donuts application allows a person to collect orders from friends before going to Duncan Donuts.
- Intuitive -- if I have to guess at anything, I quit. I've been spoiled by iPhone user interface and expect all applications to be very easy to use. The Amazon application is easy to use, and the "remembers" functionality that allows you take pictures of things to remember is easy to use.
- Entertaining -- if the application is amusing, I tend to let friends know about it, but it doesn't stay on my iPhone for very long. This is great for applications that are focused on short-term marketing programs. For example, I recently downloaded the Amp Energy (drink) application only because its funny (and politically incorrect). Allowing social features helps to keep the content fresh.
Most applications meet 2 out of 3, which is just enough to keep them on my iPhone. But even that standard doesn't ensure success. The best applications will lie unused if no one knows about them, so a certain amount of marketing is necessary. For example, both Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore created iPhone applications that allow the user to take a picture, then select a color within the picture and be told the matching paint color. Even though Sherwin released their application first (May 12), Moore (June 1) had better marketing and therefore more downloads. Here's a quick video from AdAge that talks about the Ben ColorCapture application.