Want some insight into the difficulties faced by developers trying to make it in the mobile-app economy? Check out this new article on The Verge, which details the struggles of Pixite, a firm that makes photo and design apps.
Pixite’s story illustrates a handful of key trends that are keeping mobile developers up at night. First, the mobile economy is big (and getting bigger), which makes it hard for individual apps to stand out. Second, there’s the ever-present risk that one’s app will end up eclipsed by a similar product released by a much larger company, such as Google.
Pixite did well for quite a while, earning nearly a million dollars in 2014. Over the past year, however, downloads and revenues have plunged, and the startup may have to lay off a portion of its already-small staff. In a highly competitive environment, an underperforming app can easily take its parent company with it.
In a recent study, app-analytics firm App Annie placed the estimated time to maturity for new games at just over 17 weeks. “Compared to just three years prior, this is a remarkably slim window in which to generate downloads,” its report suggested. “For games released in 2012, average time to maturity was over 10 times longer than it was for those released in 2015.”
That dovetails with data released in mid-2015 by Adobe, which suggested that the average app fades after roughly six months.
What do those narrow timeframes mean for app developers? It’s not just enough to launch a great product—you need a cohesive marketing message, solid advertising, and not a little bit of luck in order to climb the ranks of the respective mobile-app stores.