How to become a successful iPhone app developer?

Photo Many mobile application developers dreams of creating a great iPhone app, selling hundreds of thousands of copies, and getting rich!  How can you create hit iPhone apps? Who better to ask than a successful developer himself. Below is our interview with Matt Braun,  who is the creator of MASH, which was downloaded (free and paid) over 2 million times!

iPhoneAndKids: MASH seems to be a huge success. Can you tell us how did you come up with the idea?

Matt: MASH, which stands for Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House, was a game that many young children played in the 1980s and still play today. In 2008, when Apple first announced the App Store, I decided that I wanted to try my hand at making applications for the iPhone. My wife and I brainstormed about what types of games would make the most sense on the small screen, and in a moment, my wife suggested MASH. While working at a fairly demanding day job, I worked on learning Objective-C (I was a Flash developer at the time) and developed the app over the course of several months. Our MASH app was the first MASH for iPhone in the App Store.

iPhoneAndKids: Do you have other apps in the AppStore, what kind of other successes/failures did you have?

Matt: I have several holiday themed variations of MASH, an action/arcade title called Liberty Boom, and various apps done for clients like the University of Toledo. Despite initial acclaim and good PR, Liberty Boom has been the most disappointing in terms of sales. We’ve decided to focus less time on it, but have some plans for updates to try and breathe new life into it. MASH has been a large enough success, however, to make up for it.

iKidApps: How do you promote your apps? What has been the most successful and unsuccessful strategies?

Matt: I do some promotion through advertising, and was fortunate enough to be interviewed by a local TV station, but MASH is primarily promoted via word of mouth. Kids and nostalgic parents alike really seem to enjoy it; they give good reviews in the App Store and tell their friends. MASH is a very social game, and I think that helps it to spread.

The most effective marketing was something I had virtually no control over, and that was being featured as an App Store Essential in November of 2009. Apple hand-selects these apps, and with the exception of doing everything you can to make your app as good as it can be, its not the kind of marketing you can plan for.

iKidApps: What are your thoughts on developing for Android vs iPhone vs Microsoft Mobile platforms?

Matt: I own Android and Microsoft mobile devices, with plans to develop for these platforms and others, but neither of them have had the app market success that iPhone/iOS has. The iPhone and iPod touch, because of their demographics and the way people have been primed over the last ten years to carry iPods and over the last seven years to purchase a la carte items from the iTunes Store, are still the most desirable targets for mobile application developers.

The iPod touch in particular has been key to the success of kids mobile applications/games developers over Android especially, because parents seem much more willing to purchase an iPod touch for their child (which does not have a monthly contract) than an expensive Android smartphone (which also has an expensive monthly contract). Android does not yet have a market of viable non-smartphone devices like the iPod touch.

iKidApps: What kind of gaps and opportunities do you see in iPhone kids applications market that has not been fulfilled yet?

Matt: I believe there is still a lot of opportunity for entertaining educational apps geared to kids. PBS KIDS has some good apps based on their shows, IDEO is doing a great job in this space with their Sesame Street apps, as is Oceanhouse Media with their Dr. Seuss book apps. But there is still a lot of room for growth.


Well said! If you have any comments, your ideas about how to develop a hit app please leave us a comment here.