Why Developing Good Apps Is Not Cheap

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Why is app development so expensive?

I get this question a lot, and it often comes from a shell-shocked CEO or CIO who discovers his five-figure-budget project ends up being six or even seven figures. That’s crazy. Why is app development so expensive?

The easiest explanation is that apps are cheap; it’s the engineering and design talent that’s expensive. If you look in the App Store, you’ll see over a million different apps. These were all built by independent developers, yet the bulk of these apps will never earn a penny.

A different set of apps serves as the foundations of million- and billion-dollar businesses. Solo developers typically don’t build these apps; instead they’re built by teams of developers and designers. These teams range in size from nimble three-person teams to large enterprise organizations that employ hundreds of engineers.

Seriously: hundreds of engineers. Facebook, Google, Twitter, FitBit and many other tech giants have teams numbering over 100 people, often all working on a single mobile app. Teams this large aren’t typical, but it is important to understand that there is a lot of work that goes into making products that on the surface, may seem simple.

You might be thinking, “OK, but my project doesn’t need hundreds of engineers.” It’s true that most projects don’t need hundreds of engineers, but most products do need at least a small team of experienced engineers, designers and product people to produce an end product that is competitive and that will generate true business results. It’s common to have between three and 10 people working on a single platform (iOS/Android) app.

The typical timeline for an initial project is often four to six months. Much like building a ship, you’ll end up doing architecture, schematics, design, building and launching.

Doing The Math

At this point, the math is pretty simple. Labor costs are the No. 1 driver of the cost of your final product. Look up the salaries of top developers and designers in your region, and you’ll likely uncover an annual range of anywhere from $60,000 to $150,000 for most of the roles. Multiply your average salary by team size to determine your annualized product design and development costs.

Your annualized costs are often a good reflection of the true costs of building a product. Even if the initial version of the product takes three months and not six months, it’s common for product teams to continue to improve the product and further drive revenue and key metrics for the core business.

Driving core metrics of the business is the reason why the companies have the larger product and engineering teams. An improvement of one-tenth of 1 percent is still a million dollars in the upside. Larger businesses are simultaneously driving multiple new product feature initiatives that each aim to impact business’s bottom line.

Deciding Whether To Build Or Buy

At this point, you have an annualized expected cost, and you may be thinking, “Should I try to hire the people and build this myself or look for a services team?” Great question. This often comes down to a question of timing and core competencies. For companies that consider themselves to be technically savvy, it may make sense to try to build the technology in-house. The biggest challenge we’ve seen with an in-house strategy is hiring and staffing the appropriate level of engineers and designers to the effort.

For companies that aren’t technically savvy, there’s a second challenge, and that’s retaining talent once you’ve found it. Non-tech companies often experience high turnover when it comes to tech initiatives. This is often due to the fact that the culture and speed of a non-technology company may inhibit tech organizations from getting things done quickly.

Looking For The Best Of Both Worlds?

If you want to have your cake and eat it too, there are always options. Based on what I’ve seen, many teams can be successful by using an external team to do the heavy lifting, and a lower cost in-house team to keep the product running year-over-year. In general, you’re trading cost for speed to market. You don’t want to trade on quality of the product.

At the end of the day, I’ve found that it’s about the moving the needle for your business, and finding a team that can deliver is the most important part of growing your business for the mobile generation.

[“Source-inc42”]

Facebook Reportedly Developing App for Television Set-Top Boxes

Facebook Reportedly Developing App for Television Set-Top Boxes
Facebook Inc is creating an app for television set-top boxes, including Apple Inc’s Apple TV, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The world’s biggest online social network is also in discussions with media companies to license long-form, TV-quality programming, the Journal reported on Tuesday.

Facebook declined to comment.

An app for set-top boxes would bring Facebook closer to live video and video advertisements.
Getting advertisers to buy more video ads is key to Facebook’s continued revenue growth as such ads fetch higher rates from advertisers than text or photo-based ads.

Live video is also becoming a highly competitive feature on social platforms, with companies competing to stream major sports events and exclusive video components from high-profile events such as the Oscar and Grammy awards shows.

In April, Facebook expanded its live video product, Facebook Live – a potential threat to broadcast television, giving it prominent placement on its app and rolling out features to make it easier for users to search and comment in real time.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

Tags: Facebook, Set Top Box, Apps, TV, Entertainment, Social

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Samsung Developing a Bendable Smartphone?

Samsung Developing a Bendable Smartphone?

Samsung (KRX:005935) has filed a patent for a foldable smartphone, which according to several reports may be available sometime in 2017. Both Bloomberg and Mashable reported in June of this year the phone might see light of day in the coming year.

Considering the unfortunate turn of events with the Galaxy Note 7, which was discontinued after some of the devices caught fire, any distraction is good news for Samsung. The new products and services being introduced show the company’s efforts to put its Galaxy Note 7 troubles behind by highlighting the innovations it is developing.

The patent for the foldable phone is a sure fire way of getting the right attention, especially in light of the lackluster developments in the smartphone segment. The iPhone 7 didn’t do much, and other vendors are essentially in the same boat.

In terms of applications, the integration of Viv, a new generation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the upcoming Galaxy S8 phone to be released in Spring 2017 is also a step in this direction.

The technology exist to create foldable displays, as demonstrated by YouTube personality Meghan McCarthy at Lenovo Tech World 2016 in June. But the phone and tablet Lenovo showcased were limited in their functionality and there wasn’t a firm date on availability.

The patent for the Samsung phone, called the Galaxy X or Project Valley, almost looks like an old flip phone when it is folded. Once fully extended, it resembles today’s smartphones.  As for specs, there is no information, but it does seem to have a camera of  good quality. However, the design shown in the patent doesn’t guarantee what the final product will look like. The filing of the patent doesn’t even guarantee that the phone will ever go into production.

Samsung Developing a Bendable Smartphone?

The question is, what is the point of a foldable phone, and are there any practical uses for it? The first iteration of these phones will probably be nothing more than a novelty until the technology matures. This could mean you will have to wait several years to see foldable phones that are truly functional.

Image: Samsung

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Facebook Developing Artificial Intelligence to Flag Offensive Live Videos

Facebook Developing Artificial Intelligence to Flag Offensive Live Videos

Facebook Developing Artificial Intelligence to Flag Offensive Live Videos
Facebook Inc is working on automatically flagging offensive material in live video streams, building on a growing effort to use artificial intelligence to monitor content, said Joaquin Candela, the company’s director of applied machine learning.

The social media company has been embroiled in a number of content moderation controversies this year, from facing international outcry after removing an iconic Vietnam War photo due to nudity, to allowing the spread of fake news on its site.

(Also see: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Details Steps to Fight Fake News)

Facebook has historically relied mostly on users to report offensive posts, which are then checked by Facebook employees against company “community standards.” Decisions on especially thorny content issues that might require policy changes are made by top executives at the company.
Candela told reporters that Facebook increasingly was using artificial intelligence to find offensive material. It is “an algorithm that detects nudity, violence, or any of the things that are not according to our policies,” he said.

The company already had been working on using automation to flag extremist video content, as Reuters reported in June.

Now the automated system also is being tested on Facebook Live, the streaming video service for users to broadcast live video.

Using artificial intelligence to flag live video is still at the research stage, and has two challenges, Candela said. “One, your computer vision algorithm has to be fast, and I think we can push there, and the other one is you need to prioritize things in the right way so that a human looks at it, an expert who understands our policies, and takes it down.”
Facebook said it also uses automation to process the tens of millions of reports it gets each week, to recognize duplicate reports and route the flagged content to reviewers with the appropriate subject matter expertise.

Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg in November said Facebook would turn to automation as part of a plan to identify fake news. Ahead of the November 8 US election, Facebook users saw fake news reports erroneously alleging that Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump and that a federal agent who had been investigating Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was found dead.

However, determining whether a particular comment is hateful or bullying, for example, requires context, the company said.

(Also see: Facebook in Crosshairs as Fake News Battle Heats Up)

Yann LeCun, Facebook’s director of AI research, declined to comment on using AI to detect fake news, but said in general news feed improvements provoked questions of tradeoffs between filtering and censorship, freedom of expressions and decency and truthfulness.

“These are questions that go way beyond whether we can develop AI,” said LeCun. “Tradeoffs that I’m not well placed to determine.”

© Thomson Reuters 2016

Tags: Facebook, Artificial Intelligence, AI, Fake News, Facebook Fake News, Facebook Live, Mark Zuckerberg, Social, Apps

[“Source-Gadgets”]