3 Keys to Long-term App Success – as David Learned from a Baby

How to Make an App

In this Episode of the App Business Podcast, we do something a little different and give David the mic solo.

David shares 3 secrets to long-term success and the future of the mobile app market, app publishing and app success – all of which struck him while watching a baby interact with his mobile device.

  • what struck him watching a friend’s 9-month-old play with his phone
  • why we are absolutely in the right industry
  • why the next 10 years offer amazing growth for those that invest in mobil
  • why device agnostic software/apps and UX/UI is critical


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Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode


Hey, thanks for joining me on this episode.

Well, I’m just by myself. No Chris Chidgey, no guest, just me, David. And I think this is a cool experiment. Please let me know what you think about these solo episodes. The URL for this episode is appbusinesspodcast.com/solo, and please go to the comments and let me know. If you don’t want to leave a comment, you can always email me at David@appbusinesspodcast.com. I really would like your opinion on whether this kind of just giving you my thoughts, or if Chris does an episode on his own solo episode, his thoughts, if that’s something that you find interesting. If you say, hey, guys, stick to the conversations, it’s much more interesting, and I really don’t get anything out of the solo episodes, that’s fine. Just let me know. And please also of course let me know if you like it.

What inspired me to do this episode is actually just a story, and I’m just going to tell you the whole story of how this evolved.

A good friend of mine has a baby, and she’s just a couple of years older than I. When she had the baby, I was very excited because I love babies; I love children in general. I just find that you can learn so much from them. And in this story, you will see that I learned a lot again.

Now, the little guy is nine months old now, and a couple of weeks ago, I had him over here and I babysat him for a couple of hours. His mother was very busy and her husband as well, and I thought I could help them a little bit with just taking care of the baby for a couple of hours, which I enjoyed immensely.

As you can imagine, with nine-month old babies, I mean, the guy can’t even walk. He can’t walk anywhere, he’s just adorable, and for him, everything is brand-new, right? He tries to grab everything he can. Everything is a toy to him. You don’t even need to give him children’s toys. Everything – every object that is not dangerous for him you can give him and he will play with it. He’s now at this age where everything that he grabs he also has to put in his mouth, and I heard that that’s like a development phase where they learn by this. You know, by putting things in their mouth, they can remember them. If they haven’t taken them in their mouth, they can’t remember them. I think that’s very interesting

What I want to talk about is a certain thing that fascinated him, and then fascinated me. While I was watching this baby and taking care of him, I tried to give him my full attention all the time, of course. You need to be very careful; you need to be worried if they have any dangerous objects in their near space, because they could just grab it and as I said, they will put everything in their mouth.

So I’m basically watching him all the time, but from time-to-time my phone rings or I get a notification, and I glance at my phone just for a couple of seconds just to see if it’s something that I have to respond to or not. And he, which I find very interesting, he clearly sees that I give attention to this object, to my iPhone. And because I’m giving attention to the object, that must be an interesting object, and so he absolutely wants to have my iPhone. I mean, when I have him on my arm and I’m looking at my phone with the other arm, then he tries to grab it from me, he tries to take it.

Of course, if he tries to do it often enough, he will succeed, and he did. So when he grabbed the phone, it was unlocked. He grabbed it with his tiny, tiny hands. He’s just very cute. The amazing thing was when he grabbed the phone, it seemed to me that he realized that his grabbing the phone, his touching the display, was for him some kind of weird way of manipulating what was shown on the screen. So I gave him the phone because, you know, whatever, and he clearly touched on this touch screen. I mean, he couldn’t use it, he couldn’t play on it or do apps; it’s not what a nine-month old baby can do. But he clearly recognized that there was some kind of interaction going on there, which he couldn’t yet figure out.

The reason I’m telling you this story is usually when you interact with babies, it can be quite an emotional thing, and this was a very emotional moment for me. I kind of had an epiphany and just realized a couple of things in an instant, like in this moment, and that’s why it was so powerful, and that’s why I want to share it with you guys.

Here’s what I thought when he played with this iPhone as if it was a toy. There are three main takeaways for app success that I want to share with you guys.

The first one is that this mobile technology, and by extension, something like wearable tech; wearable technology will be as ubiquitous for him as the Internet was for me. The Internet is technically older than I am, but it wasn’t until I was five or six years old that people really started using it in the mainstream where it really affected everybody’s life. And with mobile, that’s already the case, and he’s just nine months old. So when he’s five years old, mobile will be an old thing. It will be something that is absolutely a part of his world. And all that comes after that, or as an extension of that, which is wearable tech and all that kind of stuff, like Google Glass and smart watches and stuff like that, this will also be absolutely normal for him. This will be something that is not something that he can have a reality built in his mind without these things. It’s as ubiquitous as going on the Internet and searching for something on Google or Wikipedia for me. And that’s a very powerful thought.

So if you have the feeling that you’re in the right industry for app success, you’re absolutely right. Mobile is absolutely the correct industry to be in right now, because this will be the foundation of the future, not just an influence. This is so impactful that there will not be a conceivable reality without these things for the next generation.

The second thing is that as competition grows, and it clearly has in the last couple of months and years, these future customers will judge the apps much more by the user experience and intuitive design than who was first or who has the better brand or more marketing budget. So I cannot imagine, with him growing up with all of these kinds of things, that he would tolerate anything that was not absolutely thought through with perfect design, best user experience you can imagine. Because the pressure on competition is just so high, and I can’t imagine that he will put up with stuff that we currently put up with.

So if you want to play long term, and if you want to invest in something that will be probably the most relevant factor in a buying or downloading decision, that’s where you should invest.

The third thing is that these kids, when they grow up, the boundaries that we currently take for granted between devices and platforms and stores, they will look ridiculous to them, and they will not accept them.

So thinking in terms of iOS versus Android, that will look absurd to them; even more absurd than the war between Mac and Windows that we seem to have left behind us. So, maybe to draw an analogy here, if you ask somebody today, Mac or Windows, they might still have an opinion. But I guess for the average person, it doesn’t really matter anymore because as long as I can run Chrome on it or Firefox on it or any modern browser, I can do almost anything that I need to do as an average person.

Yes, as a developer, I still have a Mac and I wouldn’t want to use Windows. But as an average person using technology, do they really care about Mac versus Windows, or do they just want to use their browser and email? And for them, it will be just as absurd, or even more ridiculous to think, well, do I publish my app on iOS first, or on Android? Or do I need an app for both? And what about Windows phone? These are questions that they will find absolutely absurd. They will think, why would I not have the same app everywhere? Not just on iOS and Android, but also, like, what do you mean you only have this app on smartphones and not tablets and not desktop PCs and not smart TVs and not Google Glass and not smart watches? That will be absolutely unacceptable

So, again, if you want to play long ball for App Success – the guys on the aptly named Lifestyle Business Podcast, now Tropical Talk Radio, they call it long ball – if you want to invest for the long term, that’s something that you need to keep in mind. Invest in technologies that will allow you to be platform and device independent, and combine it with the second thing I said, which is you cannot sacrifice user experience

I know that those things don’t go together very well at the moment, but what this little guy told me is that we have to make it work to survive. Competition will be immense, and those are going to be the factors that I think are going to be most important for them.

I want to thank you for listening to me solo on this episode. I hope you liked it, and please leave a comment on appbusinesspodcast.com/solo. I would be very happy to get a conversation going there as well, and not just if you liked the episode or not, but also what you think the next generation will expect from the mobile market and from apps and where the trend goes, because that’s the underlying theme here. What will the future be like, and where should we steer our businesses towards?

So if you have any idea about that, if you have maybe more information or just want to tell us your opinion, go to the comments, appbusinesspodcast.com/solo. Thank you very much for listening.

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  • Greg Dawson

    Great episode. Your point about mobile being to kids now what the internet was to us (I’m probably same age range as you) was a great point. It’s something I’ve never really considered before, but should definitely be a driving factor for the long term or long ball as you said. My only issue right now is, there is so little monetization in mobile on other platforms outside of iOS. I’m sure there are lots of people making lots of money on Android and Windows, but for me, a smaller indie dev that, it’s just not there. Of course, that probably means I’ll miss the boat when it does hit! 🙂

    • David Pfahler

      Hi Greg, thanks for the input. I think Chris and I need to do a better job at explaining how you – as an indie dev – can make more money using the Android platform. As I mentioned in an earlier episode, I’m currently working on publishing apps to the public app stores as consumer products myself and Chris is on board as well. As soon as we have some good data on that, we will share it on the podcast, focusing especially on the Android side. I hope you found the episode inspiring nonetheless.

      • Greg Dawson

        I would love more info on Android. I have a few games, but the statistics don’t even compare to iOS. Of course, it could just be that I’m not taking full advantage of the platform.

        • David Pfahler

          I will do my best to share more content in that regard. 🙂

  • Raphael Pungin

    Nice episode. Just not sure if I agree there will be no questions about platforms. As long as there is competition, there will be different platforms I think.

    • David Pfahler

      Hi Raphael, thanks for your feedback. I absolutely agree that there will be multiple platforms, maybe even more than right now (basically just iOS, Android and Windows Phone/8). My point is that you should be on just one of these platforms with your apps, you should be able to cover multiple platforms and multiple devices with your solution. What do you think about that?

Comments are closed.