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”]

Nintendo is updating Super Mario Run with a new character, mode, and world

Nintendo will issue a new update to its iOS and Android game Super Mario Run on September 29th, which will include a new world, mode, and playable character.

The update will introduce a new mode called Remix 10, which randomly splices together 10 sections from the game’s various levels in quick succession and rewards players with rainbow medals. Completing the various stages will allow players to rescue Princess Daisy and subsequently play as her throughout the rest of the game. Players will also be able to unlock a new world called World Star, which includes nine new levels, enemies and some additional gameplay mechanics.

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Polygon notes that there’s some other minor updates: players can get new items to put in their Mushroom Kingdom, and can listen to their own music while they play — when they do so, their runners will wear headphones. Nintendo is also temporarily cutting the price in half starting on September 29th through October 12th.

[“Source-theverge”]

How MailOnline is building an insights business

MailOnline is joining the ranks of a growing number of publishers keen to deepen partnerships with brands and agencies by offering more strategic — and valuable — services. The publisher has started offering key clients access to its live on-site surveying tool, Pulse, to help them make more sense of its digital audience of 29 million monthly uniques in the U.K. (over half of the U.K.’s digital population), according to comScore.

In the last few months, MailOnline has run hundreds of reader surveys on topics like views on brands or current events. The publisher will soon make its real-time analytics available to clients so they can see which articles are trending. It will also profile specific reader groups, so clients can ask questions like, “When are people most likely to read about mortgages?” or “What content are mothers reading apart from content about babies?” before spending money on campaigns.

“We’re pivoting our business; we want to be seen as a strategy and insights resource to clients,” said Bedir Aydemir, product marketing and insight director at MailOnline. “The idea is that we’re adding value before the client has spent any money.”

Digital advertising has been moving away from targeting based on broad demographic segments to more granular, interest-based targeting. Mail Advertising, the commercial division for Mail Newspapers and MailOnline within parent company DMG Media, is the driving force behind becoming an insight partner. According to SimilarWeb, over a third of MailOnline’s visitors come to it directly, making the publisher somewhat less vulnerable than others to the duopoly’s dominance. This also gives MailOnline a rich, enticing data set.

Speaking on stage at One Vizeum in London this week, Roland Agambar, CMO at parent company DMG Media said that the publisher has profiled 3.5 million of its readers. In this database, each customer has around 300 fields of data, including first-party data related to their viewing habits, engagement and transaction data — it sells everything from home goodsto travel cruises — enhanced with third-party data from partners like Netmums and Nectar. The publisher is close to having a single-customer view, and the business is starting to make use this database, said Agambar.

Database customers are separated into three segments depending on how valuable they are. MailOnline has a few thousand high-value customers, each of which spends about £4,000 ($5,400) a year with the publisher. It has a million customers in the low-value bucket. Messages are tailored to different levels accordingly; for instance, the publisher is in the process of understanding what message would nudge someone who visits the site infrequently to make a purchase or sign up to one of its newsletters.

Aydemir said MailOnline is starting to build what it calls a “next-best action engine,” which will automatically serve readers an action aimed to resonate best with them, whether that’s an ad from an ad client or an ad directing them to its property search service. “It might be serving them fewer ads, even though that’s counterintuitive,” he said, “but we want them to communicate with us more regularly.”

According to Aydemir, because MailOnline has scale, it offers guarantees of 1 million on-platform views for branded-content video, and it hasn’t had to buy traffic from social platforms or media distribution on other sites to match clients’ reach goals. Aydemir said clients are increasingly asking for more social distribution. This week in the U.S., it launched DailyMailTV, opening up another potential distribution channel for advertiser content.

Audience data is the backbone of any publisher, but using it for more commercial advantages is nascent, according to Dan Chapman, head of digital at Mediacom. “With a publisher’s understanding of their customers through analytics and research panels, they are in a great space to start stealing share in insight-driven creative concepting and production,” he said. A growing number of publishers are using this data commercially: Recently, ESI Media started delivering real-time article engagement data to advertising agencies.

MailOnline’s whole business is understanding the monetary value of customer data in ways that weren’t possible five years ago, said Agambar. One way this plays out is that Aydemir and memebers of his team now move around the company, collaborating with different departments to help them understand the value of customer data.

“We want to work in a partnership type of way with clients, but we need to be flexible,” said Dominic Williams, chief investment officer at Mail Advertising. “We’re a brand that still needs to evolve.”

[“Source-digiday”]

Why blended learning is future of Indian education

Why blended learning is future of Indian education

The debate around the quality of higher education in India has been gaining momentum since the Union Budget 2017, which laid emphasis on skill development, employability and digitisation of the education process. The government announced a slew of measures, including ‘Swayam’, an online learning portal; revamp of the National Education Policy (NEP); the Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency (HEERA) as a single higher education regulator; and the University Grants Commission (UGC) mandate to educational institutions to develop massive open online courses (MOOCs).

While India is making headway in digitising the learning process, world over, universities are disrupting and innovating teaching and learning. The country has a long tradition of face-to-face learning; the teacher or guru cannot be replaced overnight with an unseen, technological entity. However, it is pertinent to note that the gap between what students are taught in classrooms and what the industry is demanding of its prospective employees is growing every day. The rate of change in technology has, and will continue to, outpace the change in university curriculum, the fastest of which takes place once a year. It is not uncommon to see students spending more than 20 years in the education system and saddled with unattractive job prospects.

The solution lies in ‘blended learning’, a concept that is fast gaining pace in the Indian context. In simple terms, it is a hybrid form of teaching and learning which involves both classroom and online learning. The approach mixes concept building and enquiry-based learning which retains human interaction in education and allows students to combine traditional classroom methods with online-digital mediums. Blended learning strives to create a balance between prescriptive learning and learning at one’s own pace. It is important to note here that blended learning is not equivalent to technology-rich teaching; the core of blended learning is giving the student greater autonomy over his or her education growth path, using technology only as an enabler.

Simply put, it is a win-win situation for students and teachers. The emphasis is on development of the learner’s capacity and capability with the goal of preparing him or her for the complexities of today’s changing workplace. Since every individual assimilates information differently, online learning aims to bring greater and better choice of learning with specific interests. Teachers will not be burdened with the mundane task of imparting education through information overload; instead, they will be focusing on higher value-added instruction that synchronises technology with face-to-face learning. The automated and personalised system will allow teachers to turn into mentors, free from the pressures of formal education.

For students, a major advantage is the ability to dip into a knowledge pool that doesn’t end with classroom instruction. Blended learning incorporates information via online courses, developed by experts from different fields, and helping students access globally developed and industry relevant course material. Blended learning creates the possibility of practical, experiential learning, where students can learn at their own pace – both in terms of speed and complexity of information. It is only fair that the education process be flipped to become increasingly learner-driven than prescriptive in nature.

Data analytics from online learning platforms can help educators develop a targeted approach towards teaching a particular individual, harnessing data over time to help students learn better. This will provide teachers more accurate and specific insights into a particular student’s pain points, where he/she is doing well, areas they find most challenging etc. This can help teachers, and by extension colleges and universities, to understand student behaviour better and provide vastly effective learning interventions.

The natural affinity Millennials have to technology, their sense of entitlement to drive their own education, and the fast-paced and fast-changing work environments they are likely to be a part of, all point in one direction — online or computer-based education could well replace brick-and-mortar education in coming years.

Technology also enables students to access a global network of education and knowledge exchange. For instance Anant Agarwal, the CEO of Harvard and MIT’s online-learning platform edX, graduated with a degree from IIT Madras before pursuing a highly successful global career. Blended learning offers a window to a global world for students who might otherwise struggle to access traditional professional education programmes and supplements the wider work of universities, colleges and learning providers.

In short, blended learning aims to solve problems that plague policymakers, administrators and students. While many educators have adopted this unique form of learning, one hopes that in a decade’s time, blended learning becomes the norm rather than the exception. To its credit, the Government of India is formalising the online education space, ensuring regulatory recognition for online courses and encouraging universities to develop their own online curricula.

The blended classroom of the future can leverage the power of online courses and free up classroom time for interactive collaboration and discussion, testing and problem-solving, redefining how education is administered, while at the same retaining the ethos of India’s traditional classroom system.

[“Source-moneycontrol”]