I have an idea for a great app. Don’t believe I’m the first to have thought of it. How do I find out if Google (or others) are already working on this app? I don’t have the skills to make it happen – just a great idea I want to share with someone who can make it happen…
Thanks for writing in with your question. It’s exciting to come up with a great idea and envision the path required to turn it into an actual shipping product!
But let me be the cold bucket of water here, based on having launched four startups of my own and worked with both angel investors and venture capital groups: that’s not how things work.
In fact, one of the most common phrases you’ll hear from investors is that ideas are a dime a dozen because what makes a successful company isn’t the idea, it’s the ability to deliver, to execute, to turn the idea into a viable, profitable business that can survive competition, slow uptake in the product or service, and the inevitable vicissitudes of business.
For an iPhone or iPad app, the competition is more than daunting: There are an estimated 1.5 million apps available in the iTunes App Store. It’s not guaranteed that whatever you think of someone’s already figured out, but odds are pretty good that your idea is already implemented when there are that many available.
Before you go further it’s a good idea to do some exhaustive searches for apps that offer the functionality of what you’re envisioning. You can do that within the App Store (in iTunes) or you can search using Google, just add “app” or “mobile app” or “iTunes” to your description, and try lots of synonyms too.
Nothing? No match? It could mean that there’s not an opportunity after all, because somewhere along the way just about every app needs some sort of revenue stream to pay for the development, marketing and maintenance. Perhaps its in-app purchases, something that’s very common nowadays, or a “tip jar” concept where you ask users to donate a small amount based on perceived value, but it’s just about impossible to find a professional developer who will spend the hundreds of hours needed to produce a professional app without any compensation at all.
And if you can find someone — perhaps a local student with solid computing skills? — then you need to ensure that if it does end up being a huge success that you still own or co-own the intellectual property.
Daunting? Yes, it is. And I haven’t mentioned how hard it is to find a developer that has the time and availability to help you and deliver a polished product with a short turnaround. It’s just a difficult space to work in.
Sorry to be such a downer with your question, but I would say if you just want to see an app developed and don’t care whether you retain ownership, etc, why not just post the details of your idea online and see if it captures anyone else’s imagination? Worst case, it falls flat and nothing ever comes of it.
And good luck to you!