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GMIC 2012: How to Make a Killer App?

I sat in on this panel discussion because I was drawn by the discussion topic: How to Make a Killer App?

Moderator:
Linda Jiang, VP, Umeng

Speakers:
Wang Junyu, Co-Founder, Wandoujia
Gu Rui, CMO, Camera360
Wang Jian, Founder & CEO, Qiushibaike
Wu Chen, CEO, Tushumaishou

What Constitutes a Good App?

Linda asked the panelists what constitutes a good product, and what features of an app will make them love it.

Wang Jian mentioned something different. He said that as a developer, when you find an app that you really liked, what you should do is simply to continue using it, instead of thinking of ways to copy that app. His view is that if you really love an app and develop a similar app, you will certainly put your personal emotions into it and run the risk of compromising product standards and user experience. If an app is so easy to be copied, it can be done by many other bigger companies out there, and this is definitely not a good decision to make, especially if you work for a startup. He suggested an alternative to copying, is to really put your heart into finding some problem that has yet to be solved in the market.

 

Linda followed with another question, “among the myriad of issues available out there, how do you prioritize the issues to solve?”

Junyu mentioned 2 issues. Listen to your users actively, and get feedback. You can only understand your consumers better by utilizing data to analyse user behavior. Furthermore, an app developer must look further than the user. The user is not the expert in the product; the developer understands the product best. Users will request for additional features by putting himself in the shoes of the product manager, but he is often unaware of his real needs.

Citing an example, if a user needs a function in an app, say Bluetooth, he will request the developer to add it in. However, the developer may in fact analyze what problem caused the user to have this demand. The user in this case wants to solve the problem of transferring data from his phone to his computer, but he did not bring his usb cable, and is thus unable to connect his phone to his laptop. In this case, it was because of this need that prompted him to request for Bluetooth. Thus, accurate analysis is mandatory in understanding the fundamental genuine needs of your users. Otherwise, unnecessary tweaks will constantly be made instead of solving the root of the problem.

Recalling a previous talk I attended last year, the speaker talked about consumer behavior. When a consumer decides to give his comments and feedback on a product, his mood is usually tilted towards the two extremes; either very good, or very bad. A user with a normal experience will tend to not make any comments. Therefore, developers must decide the strategic value of customer feedback, and strike the balance between taking their feedback with a pinch of salt, and modify their product based on customer reviews.

 

The last question posed to the speakers was: What Makes an App a Killer App?

To be honest, I wasn’t too fascinated by their responses as they were pretty conventional. Personally, I think that a killer app is not easy to spot or identify. Who would have guessed that a drawing app as simple as ‘Draw Something’ would have achieved such attention and success, all within months? I’m sure many would have dismissed that. What I’m trying to say here is, being a killer app takes more than reading extensively into consumer data, calculating measured risks and careful planning. Sometimes, the reaction of customers can be very unpredictable, and any app may just transform into a killer app when the time is right.

So, what is my choice of a killer app? Apps that I love are those which simplify or expedite some process or task. Once you get the users hanging onto the app and it gets really sticky, the new killer app may just be in the making.

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