How to measure the success of a mobile application

We all love numbers, the bigger the numbers the better. Numbers make for interesting boardroom discussions, client pitches and market chest thumping. No other industry has numbers  that can be as mind boggling as those of the telecommunications industry.

There is a fever in the local mobile space with lots of developers building mobile applications for various platforms with the leading two being java enabled handsets, where Nokia and its Ovi platform rules the roost and the android platform from Google that has seen wide adoption from various handset manufactures.

My issue with how the numbers are handled currently is that they are quantitative and not qualitative. The use of plain jane numbers …mine’s bigger than yours mentality in mobile application development  is akin to referencing website hits in a bygone era. One can have impressive numbers but that does not equate success.

We seriously need to look at the metrics thorough which we measure the success of mobile applications in a way that goes beyond the head count and drill down to factors that actually deliver value to a business or enterprise, and give a better measure of impact.

For majority of brands that are starting off on a mobile strategy, they already have some offline product or service that they are selling and the current lack of micro billing platforms and in app billing support for the local market does not present too much of a challenge as they are not looking to monetize the application from downloads.

At the core of mobile technology is the power of communication and interaction and I believe this should form the baseline for the measurement of success for mobile application development and mobile services in general. Are you having conversations and interacting with your market or are you simply counting it as a success that someone downloaded your application?

Case studies make the best examples. Symbiotic  rolled out a mobile application in mid 2009 and with a modest install base of just over 24,000 has interacted with 250,000 users who have willingly provided additional value adding data such as names, verified email addresses, mobile phone numbers and in some instances location. While the download numbers are nothing to write home about, we now have direct access to a profiled consumer base that would cost any company a tidy sum to acquire using traditional advertising and product push.

Is the mobile application successful? Let’s look at numbers differently and ensure we apply the right metrics when evaluating the success our mobile engagements.

An Africa based entrepreneur in the pursuit of opportunities without regard to resources currently controlled striving to build services that have real-world value for my beloved continent and beyond while having fun along the way.
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8 Comments

  1. Agatha

    Valid points. Except that we have cases like Angry Birds with 50 million downloads (plus), and 2.4million paid downloads. And they do not have any personal information regarding who downloaded. They simply built a superior product, utilised a Freemium model that they continue to refresh, and thus have won the hearts of consumers (and more importantly, won access to their wallets)

    • I concur, i am looking more at the african…kenyan context. How much has Rovio made from the african market? That would be cool to know. I feel challenged though, to replicate at least on some level, what they have manged to do.

      In africa, the biggest opp and challange remains access to the consumer to build a conversation on…whether on free or paid up models

      • Very good points regarding measuring success. (Really like comment on opp/challenge is building platform to reach consumers in Kenya.) One way to measure success is by revenue/income. My questions is what is the business model? And, are there examples of successful ones? Is it advertising? If if so, whom are the advertisers? Large consumer product companies like Coke and Pepsi? Would such a platform drive engagement in advertising by mid sized corporations or even SME? Is there infrastructure and expertise to service such advertisers?

        If not advertising is it fee based services? Whom have wherewithal to pay and for what services?

        Seems like there would be benefit in loosely coupled association of developers to share experience and expertise? Would such an association be able to pierce the veil of “competitiveness” between developers so practical case studies and viable ideas could be shared honestly and openly. Is there an impartial third party such as university or think tank or consultant that could facilitate exchange so participants would feel comfortable sharing without revealing proprietary knowledge or data? Just some thoughts. Finally, appears if developers could band together may raise awareness of all by government, potential customers and the public.

        Thanks for your leadership in this field. It is very helpful to someone like me that is trying to break into the market.

        • “is there infrastructure and expertise to service such advertisers” – yes there is, even then there is a knowledge gap amongst the decision makers at the big advertisers.i still believe they are the key to unlocking the full potential of the mobile advertising ecosystem…then SME’s would dare

  2. Mwam2003

    Whatever happened to the Nokia IdeaStorm Competition in which you were a panel member? Any word on who won or the final idea?

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