There are many ways to market mobile apps. We Esri’s MarketPlace release new wanted to compare in this blog post the iStore versus ArcGIS MarketPlace for marketing and selling mobile apps.
We are a GIS focused development company. This is mapping technology in simple terms, or as we prefer to say location focused. GIS can be complex, often dealing with big data. Mobile and cloud technology have revolutionized the field, and are now widening the audience for GIS (routing, and mobile apps which show what or who is near somebody are two good examples of potential applications of the technology). A conundrum for companies like ours is how best to market the mobile apps we build, and provide trial versions of these apps. Sure the first choice might be the Android or Apple stores; maybe provide a watered down version of the app for free. Mistake. You will see many people downloading the app, but get little back. We have had an app in both stores for nearly two years now with over 40, 000 downloads. Apart for bragging rights – we launched the first ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Online mobile apps in iStore- these apps have little benefited us.
Another potential approach is to sell the app through these stores. Two problems here. First GIS apps can be complex. They also take a considerable time to develop, and are targeted at the enterprise. Look at the prices in the app stores. The average is $3.64 in the iStore. That will need some serious volume – remembering also that Apple takes 30% of sales – to make any app launches here worthwhile.
Esri, the worlds biggest GIS software company, have just launched their MarketPlace. This is a one stop shop for GIS apps; targeted at a very focused audience. We launched a disconnected mobile editing app there soon after the MarketPlace launch. To our surprise, we were inundated with requests; 60 in 3 days. We offered a free trial of the software, and sent this trial out to all who made requests. Guess how many follow ups we have had from those testing the app. Zero!
As one user stated:
“I have no interest in buying the mobile app at present, I just wanted to see what the app looked like”.
That puts us back to square one. But with one difference; we know who is making the request through the ArcGIS MarketPlace. These are not anonymous requests or downloads as in the case of the iStore and equivalent. Now that is potentially very important. A second advantage, the ArcGIS MarketPlace provides a place to market complimentary ArcGIS Online solutions, as against one off apps. Maybe a mobile data collection app for disaster management, Web apps for office based staff which present new ways to view and interact with this data, and executive dashboards for senior managers to see snapshots of this collected data.
Now that is interesting. We are actively evolving solution suites marketed through ArcGIS MarketPlace as we continue pushing forward with our ArcGIS Online development.