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 Post subject: Keeping your app in-house or go to market
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:17 am 
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Most of my apps I create with the sole purpose to make life easier for me personally (for example to convert complex data from specific databases to others that will serve for websites). They are usually created with one job in mind and esthetics are not amongst their qualities. However I now have something that might be interesting to a wider audience, but I am a bit apprehensive to put a lot effort into it in order to bring it to market. For example I will have to invest in code signing and probably in some plugins to speed up development. I also have to enlist help from others to make the app of more general use (I need profiles and tests from specific hardware I do not own for example). And I have no experience whatsoever in selling my apps and am not inclined to ask money for the beta test versions.

Does anyone have similar experiences and how do you go about it? What is your turning point for wanting to invest the time and money?


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping your app in-house or go to market
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:37 am 
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You only need to watch shows such as Dragon's Den to see how many people spend time, effort, and life in the pursuit of what end up as an unworkable idea.
Plastic caps for the cut ends of cucumbers, anyone?

The golden rule of business is: is there a MARKET for the thing you want to sell?
If you think so, then its a question of return on investment.
How much money do you need to spend to get a product?
How much of your time?

Heres my story, in brief, if it helps give you something to think about:

I wrote a little app for my wife in 1990.
Figured other people might be able to use it, started selling as shareware for a dollar a disc.
It sold enough to pay for a few meals out. Result!

Bought a new type of computer, wrote it again for that.
Took out a tiny add in a specialist magazine, which was a bit of a risk: I basically gambled a few hundred dollars on the ads: I may have sold nothing.
In practice, I sold enough to make a 50% profit on the cost of the ads (if you ignore the cost involved in the machine, the compiler, and the months of development)

Im still going, and while its not going to make me rich, Ive done quite well out of it.


BUT:
Along the way, Ive created an app for photographers. Took 6 months to write, sold maybe 200 copies total.
Last year, I created an app for geocachers.
There's a potential market, and a demonstrable financial benefit from using the app, but despite the time spent in development, taking out ads, viral messaging, and a web site, - total sales: zero. nada. not a single one.
I'm not that worried about it.


So the message is:
Do you feel there are enough people out there who need what you provide?
Is there already a free one out there? (If so, stop now unless you are a philanthropist)
If not, will anyone pay? (its a big deal getting more than 69c out of iPhone owners, desktop people expect to pay more, thank god that market isnt quite dead.)

You already wrote the app, so you can and probably will discount the development cost, but how much else do you want to spend on the polish?
Then how much do you want to spend on advertising?
And will enough people buy?


There is a story that the best advice anyone could have given the fledgling Beatles was 'give up now, guitar bands have had their day'


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping your app in-house or go to market
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:12 am 
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Thanks for sharing your story. It definitely makes me think. In the end I should probably see it mainly as something for myself and not rely on any return. I also don't have marketing funds, but think I can do a bit through forums/Mac magazines.

The software itself has no current competitor. There is definitely a market for it, manufacturers do not create mac software for blood glucose meters, but I have no idea how large this market really is, as I am bound to one device specifically. If I go to market I should somehow get hold of more different meters and beta testers to check settings worldwide. So I figure the app probably has to be free for a while to allow beta testing. But it will take a lot of time and effort to finish it. And I am someone who definitely is always thinking with his heart instead of his money... I would prefer to be able to give it away, but that is not a realistic option.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping your app in-house or go to market
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:26 am 
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Quote:
There is definitely a market for it, manufacturers do not create mac software for blood glucose meters, but I have no idea how large this market really is, as I am bound to one device specifically.


Interesting.

All the blood glucose monitors that I have seen are home affairs, with the readouts built in.
In hospitals, same story.

So there are blood glucose monitors that hook up to PCs, and the manufacturers provide software for Windows?
It sounds kinda self-promoting.. if you have a need to use one of these monitors, you immediately know you need a PC use with it. And PCs don't break the bank.

The user would be paying a lot more to use a Mac, plus then pay you for non-standard software.
Whats in it for them?

Only you know how many people worldwide are looking at their PC and saying 'I wish I could do this on my Mac instead'


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping your app in-house or go to market
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:44 am 
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Well the point with blood glucose monitors is, you do get a result right away, but need a computer to see the history and manage your diabetes well. Usually the nurse also does a read-out every once in a while to see if you manage your diabetes correctly. Sometimes they also want to have figures in between to help manage. (I am mainly focused at type I diabetes, which I have myself since I was 5 years old. They need insulin injections as they do not produce insulin anymore. And good management of the results is required to avoid complications). So while reading out your values at the computer is not strictly a prerequisite, it is very useful.

Worldwide there are many, many diabetics (and millions of them do monitor their glucose). And just like me, there are a lot of them that solely use Macs. Not everyone manages his or her diabetes well. Software can help with this as it allows you to see the trends better. And gives opportunities to add things like how much insulin you used and the meals you ate or sports you did. All these things help interprete the blood glucose levels and thus create a better balance.
The need for this kind of information is especially high in the turmoil of puberty (and more kids are attracted to Mac these days) when hormones and changing lifestyle influence your blood glucose or if you have other diseases (like me at the moment) that influence how well you can manage your diabetes.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping your app in-house or go to market
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:01 am 
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Quote:
Worldwide there are many, many diabetics (and millions of them do monitor their glucose). And just like me, there are a lot of them that solely use Macs. Not everyone manages his or her diabetes well. Software can help with this as it allows you to see the trends better. And gives opportunities to add things like how much insulin you used and the meals you ate or sports you did. All these things help interprete the blood glucose levels and thus create a better balance
.

I see.
Then I agree with you .. there probably is a market.
I'd advise that you don't put your eggs all in one basket by tying the app to one particular device, although if it can hook up, thats a plus.
There are millions of diabetics, and a proportion of them will own macs.
Your app should allow connectivity, OR manual input of values (allowing use by people who rely on other devices or methods)

Take your visual cues from apps that help people monitor weight loss and exercise.

An app like that would benefit from being in the App Store.
However, sandboxing may make the connectivity difficult to achieve, so creating one without connectivity might be a good starting point.. if you get that to market, it could generate income to allow you to fund plugins etc for new more powerful versions.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping your app in-house or go to market
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:16 am 
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There are web based options for Mac users.

http://professional.medtronicdiabetes.com/carelink-personal-software

I don't know how this compares with yours but worth noting.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping your app in-house or go to market
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:36 am 
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Well there are apps that do not import your data. That simply won't do, as I have many measurements and the solution should be as convenient as possible. One of the biggest problems is being put of by the amount of time it takes to fill in those forms. Especially for people with comorbidity of for example depression (1 in 5 diabetics), this might be a reason to not use the solution beneficial as it may be. My particular meter has to be connected to a usb port at times to charge its battery anyway, so this will be much less invasive.


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