A Chat with Mobile App Chat’s Steve Young

There is a wealth of mobile app development and marketing knowledge to be found on the Web. Both companies and “experts” post blogs regularly about how to create the next Angry Birds or Uber. But, let’s be honest, some of it is luck, and some of it comes down to deep pockets.

Other times, however, independent developers emerge from the crowded app marketplace victorious on the charts. It’s through strong marketing, App Store optimization, and again luck, that success can be had if the idea is quality.

Steve P. Young’s podcast, Mobile App Chat, is where top mobile entrepreneurs share their success stories. From the small developers to the large companies, Steve’s interviews help give you the well-rounded insight to creating and marketing a potential hit app. Having just discovered the podcast a few weeks ago, I’m happy to say, my commute to the office has been much more enjoyable since he has what seems like a hundred podcasts already on iTunes.

I spoke with Steve, who is also the founder of Pixel Happy, about his podcast and apps.

Where does your interest in mobile app development and marketing stem from?

When my son turned 18 months old, I downloaded a couple of games for him and noticed how easily he picked it up. I was immediately hooked and started to make my first game specifically targeted towards toddlers. If it didn’t work out I’d at least have my son as one customer.

Talk a little about the apps you’ve developed?

My first app that I developed all on my own, ABC a Go-Go, hit #8 in iTunes under Educational Games. I haven’t been able to replicate the same type of success with my other apps, but I absolutely love this space and will continue to develop more apps.

You have a long background in marketing. What area of app marketing do you think people struggle with, or not fully understand?

To be brutally honest, it’s design and game mechanics. While we don’t normally think of these areas as “marketing”, they play a huge part in whether your app gets noticed.

One of my favorite quotes is by David Ogilvy and he said “Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.”

There’s no hidden gem to marketing, but make a product that people need and design it well. There’s a podcast episode I’ll recommend that really highlights how to use market research to launch a hit app.

What made you move forward with actually doing a podcast on mobile app development?

FOCUS – follow one course until success.

As someone who continually creates side projects, I started the podcast as a way to hone my focus on the mobile space.

Also, if you asked me what my dream job is I’d say game show host. I’m a big fan of Howard Stern and Jeff Probst (Survivor). The podcast has also grown my network and I’ve been able to interview the minds behind Shazam, Yahoo! Weather, Mega Run and other top apps.

You’ve done dozens and dozens of episodes. Give us your top 3 and why.

Stephi Cameron – Tons of great info on how to use market research to launch a hit app.

Rob Segal – If you’re a game developer, then this is the podcast episode for you. Get Set Games is the studio behind hits such as Mega Run, Mega Jump, Monsters, Inc. Run and much more.

Chris Barton – Chris Barton talks about the early days of Shazam. It’s a great story of perseverance and a company that is truly ahead of their times.

If you had to offer up the top three tips you’ve learned by doing this podcast, what are they?

1) Do your research. Don’t just build an app because you think it’s cool. Look to see if there are other apps in the market and improve upon the ones that still get downloads.

2) Have a distribution plan. Think of the app store as shelves in a grocery store. How are you going to get your app noticed among the millions of other apps? There are developers who have a dozen of smaller apps that promote a bigger more profitable app.

3) Start. Get the ideas and thoughts out of your head and start prototyping. Check out the POP app which allows you to take pictures of your mockups and link the different screens to each other.

Which topics have you not covered in the podcast that you’d love to tap into in the future?

Mobile advertising, game design (especially level designers), and developers pushing technology forward (think Uber & HotelTonight).

Let’s go to the “big finish,” as you call it in the show. What is your favorite app?

Great way to end any show, right?

I’d say Clear for 2 big reasons:

1) It allows me to focus on the tasks at hand.
2) It’s a great example of an app that is well designed and not bloated with features.

What is one app idea you wouldn’t mind saying or someone doing?

Assuming this is my half-baked idea question which is my favorite part of the podcast. By the way, there’s been some really interesting ones on the podcast.

I want a game like Paper Toss that incorporates tic-tac-toe. As a kid, I used to go to Circus Circus all the time and I absolutely loved the game where you throw 3 softballs and try to make a tic-tac-toe. The game mechanics are proven to work so someone just has to build it right?

Finally, where do you see the mobile app world in three years?

Think of all the archaic industries – health care, automotive, transportation. They will all be disrupted by mobile apps. We’ve already seen apps like Uber, Lyft and HotelTonight disrupting

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