App-solutely Brilliant!

Written by Sharad Raghavan | Updated: Apr 15 2013, 06:48am hrs
The news of the 17-year-old boy who sold his app to Yahoo for $30 million is just the tip of the iceberg. App development is big business and young entrepreneurs in India are already monetising their apps in a big way

A few weeks ago, an extraordinary story from the usually technical world of technology made waves across the globe. A 17-year-old boy in London sold an app he had createdcalled Summly, it was a news aggregator that served up news stories in quick bites on smartphonesto Yahoo for the whopping amount of an estimated $30 million.

What stunned the world was not only the amount, which, to be sure, was huge, but also that the boy in question, Nick DAloisio, was so young. Becoming an overnight millionaire at a time when most of the West is struggling with youth unemployment Its the stuff fairy tales are made of. But, given that consultancy and research firms like Gartner expect mobile phone sales to grow 21.9% by 2017 from the estimated 900 million they are now and tablet sales to grow a whopping 303% in that period, it is clear that the app market will give birth to many other similar success stories.

As an example, just consider the fact that when the Apple Store opened in 2008, it had just about 500 appstoday, there are more than 800,000. Googles Play Store, similarly, has over 700,000 apps. This market creates a great opportunity for youngsters to apply their talents and monetise them, and a lot of that is happening in India.

Startup Village is Indias first public-private partnership model tech business incubator. Located in Kerala, it has incubated a number of companies designing apps for Apple, Android and even BB10. On the monetisation side of BB10, I dont have full data as of now but the indications seem promising. For instance, one of the young teams updated me that they have started seeing revenues in the first month itself (for BB). They made approximately $128 dollars in the first month. We will see the story emerging well over the next couple of months. But the initial indications does look good in my opinion, says Sijo Kuruvilla George, CEO, Startup Village.

Elaborating on this growing trend, he says, There is a game developer by the name of Jim who develops games for iOS platforms. They are witnessing good revenues and the company has become operationally profitable in less than a year with just this one game of theirs. Ether IT solutions is also a game development company that is witnessing pretty good monetisation from mobile app-based game development. Another entrepreneur that is seeing good monetisation that I know is John Paul of Plackal.

And some of these apps are gaining international recognition as well. Plackals JusWrite app, for example, won a prize at the Samsung Smart App Challenge 2012. JusWrite allows you to take notes and organise tasks on your smartphone or tablet just as you would on a real notepad. Write down tasks, categorise them, set priority, mark as completed, set a reminder and much more, all using a stylus or digital pen on a smartphone or tablet.

Kode Blink Tech Apps, another Startup Village-incubated company, recently launched its latest iPhone app, PinGeo. The app is designed for those of us who are absent minded, or those of us who are easily caught up with having fun with friends. It allows you to Pin locations to visit before you start your trip. The app alerts you when you are near the Pined locations, it also tells you the distance to the location. So, the next time you go to the mall looking for something specific to buy, but get distracted by friends, heres an app to help you keep to your plan.

While there is no data yet about whether PinGeo is making money, the previous app by Kode Blink Tech definitely is. That app, called Traffic Qatar, was reportedly downloaded by 3% of Qatars population. The app creates a platform for both government and vehicle owners by providing details on traffic violations, fine, alerts, updates and also allows customers to pay of their fines. According to news sources, the company is expecting a turnover of R2.5 crore from the Qatar market itself.

According to Dhanan Sekhar Edathara, managing director of Dhanew Research, incubation centres like Startup Village are important sources of advice for young entrepreneurs. One of the first important decisions I took at that time (in 2012) was to partner with Qburst to port Dhanew Researchs popular android game Tic Tac Toe NeO to iOS, a decision that was largely influenced by discussions with Sijo (of Startup Village). The iOS version of Tic Tac Toe NeO registered 29% growth in monthly active user base in February 2013, underlining the fact that it was a solid business decision, Edathara explained in a blog post.

Such is the great business opportunity created by apps that it has spawned a side business of companies whose single purpose is to create apps for companies. One such company, with a young, dynamic team is AppStudioz, founded by Saurabh Singh, also the co-founder of TechAhead Software. In the companys own words, AppStudioz specialises in giving your app idea a concrete shape with a guarantee of excellence, quick turnaround and cost-effectiveness. And this doesnt seem to be just empty boasts. Charging around $10,000-15,000 for an app that would take a months effort to make, and anywhere between $50,000-60,000 for more resource intensive apps, the company claims to be one of the cheapest options out there. Singh expects the company to rake in revenues of $2 million.

While some experts fear that the explosion in apps is a bubblewhich, like any other tech bubble will burstthe fact of the matter is that the going is great while it lasts. Expect to see many more innovative apps and overnight millionaires in the near future.