The 5 Main Reasons Why Most Mobile App Startups Fail

The following is a guest post by Juned Ghanchi. Juned is the CMO & Co-Founder of IndianAppDevelopers, a mobile app development company with the aim of providing professional mobile solutions.


Let’s start with some statistics. According to the latest reports, by the end of 2017 there will be a staggering 254 billion mobile apps. Mobile has already reached its all-time high, so it is obvious that the app market will continue to experience growth by leaps and bounds in the coming years. But surprisingly, a vast majority of mobile apps just do not get enough share of this market to sustain and survive as a business, while a few top of the shelf apps steak all the show and revenue. With the growth of the app market continuing, this is something that is not likely to change.

What is the point of building a new mobile app then? Well, every year a lot of new app ventures are joining the league of successful apps. So, there must be some success factors that are missing with most of the failed app startups. This is why it is important to know where your app does fall short. Here we introduce 5 key reasons why most mobile app startups fail.

1. Not keeping the competition in mind

Most startups remain so engaged with their own apps that they fail to keep the competition in mind. Without knowing what the competitors in their niche are doing often leads to staying blind to the latest trends and not being able to catch opportunities. You need to keep a close watch on the strategies, campaigns, design changes, business offerings, social and web presence of your competitors. Often just from the competitors, you can know a potential opportunity is underway.  Watch out for these things about your competitor:

  • The app design and user experience of competitor apps. Observe what is common in all major apps in your niche.
  • Observe how the competitors are marketing their apps. What are their favorite platforms to gain acquisition and traction?
  • Know the biggest pulling factors for your competitor apps. You can improve your app based on these.
  • Who makes up the target audience for your competitors’ apps? How do they address their target audience? This will help you making your app more user-centric.

2. Poor application design

At a time when every niche has thousands of competing apps, a bad design and user experience will only result in decreased traction and acquisition. No app can make a business out of it if the design of the app is not satisfactory. What are the common potholes of design that you need to avoid?

Here are few helpful considerations.

  • Easy to engage UI is a must. It should instantly tell users how it can be used.
  • Design for the user’s thumb. As most users navigate mobile single-handedly, make the app easy for the thumb to navigate.
  • Make CTA button ms and all clickable items big enough for easy finger tapping.
  • Make the app visually superb and intuitive enough to offer more actions with less effort and clicks.
  • Ensure optimum loading speed.

3. Undefined target audience

When venturing to create a new mobile app you need to focus primarily on the target audience you are building your app for. Do you know the right audience who will find your app helpful? Do you know what kind of app design and features they prefer? Do you know how they interact and engage with mobile apps of your niche? Without a clear idea of your audience, your app is bound to fall short of success. Here are some quick tips.

  • Define your audience as per vocation, age groups, culture, locations and preferences.
  • Conduct a survey of your existing business customers and the kind of app they expect from a business like yours.
  • Make app prototypes and take opinions from all your customers and potential audience prior to the development of the app.
  • Before rolling out the app, get it tested by a few of your valued customers and business associates.
  • Lastly, always address the user concerns with every new update. An app is perfected over time through feedback and correction mechanisms.

4. A half-hearted marketing strategy

These days, by building a great app you have just done half the work. Until you market the app and make it discoverable to the audience, the whole effort will not get its due. Many mobile apps do not make enough to sustain as a business principally because of a poor or half-hearted marketing strategy. Just writing a great App Store description is not enough. Let us offer here a few important marketing tips for mobile app startups.

  • Start a pre-launch marketing campaign ramping up to the launch date. The earlier you can start a pre-launch campaign, the better it is for your app.
  • Push your app to all your existing business customers and offer some promotions to make them download and spread the news.
  • Push the app to your business website. Publish blog posts and content on the app targeting search engine friendly keywords.
  • Create a social page of the app on all platforms and promote it. Run promo campaigns for new user acquisition and approach social influencers to talk about your app.
  • Get the app reviewed by reputable tech websites and review sites of your niche.
  • Publish expert content on the app on third party sites and drive discoverability.
  • As for monetization, at least offer a free basic version. Instead of earning through app purchases, focus on in-app purchases while offering the app free to most users.

5. Not taking capital requirement seriously

Finally, we have arrived on the biggest failure factor for most mobile apps. Many apps in spite of falling short of the required capital, start with the app thinking they will manage gathering funds in the due course of time. Often this ends up in a terrible fund crisis, leading to complete standstills for marketing and many activities. If you leave a mobile app in the middle even for someday, the path to success gets only longer and steeper, because most users will consider it dead and will never return.

The bottom line

There are several other reasons for the failure of most apps. But the primary focus of an app should be on boosting user experience, perfecting marketing campaigns and making the app user-centric.

  • Natasha Rathore

    Well said Juned. User experience is very important. The design, flow and target market should be kept in mind while building any app for that matter. At http://www.think201.com, a harmony of design and engineering is achieved to give the best visual appeal and user experience.

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