Why you should still follow through when someone already made your app idea
Ricky Bobby’s father believed that “If you’re not first, you’re last,” but Ricky eventually learned better.
If you’ve been working on your app idea for a while, you’ve probably gotten around to searching the App Store or Google Play. And there’s a decent chance you’ve found an app that does some or most of what you planned for yours. If you’re like most first-time app developers, you probably saw the app that beat you to market and started cursing.
But there’s no need to panic. Sometimes being second is a real advantage. We’ll show you some examples, and then offer a few suggestions on how you can be the best without being the first.
Many popular technologies and apps won by coming in second
Do you own a Blu-Ray player? Yes?
Remember HD-DVD, though? Neither do we, but it was the first high def portable storage on the market — chances are if you have one, you’re a collector with a set of Betamax players and maybe even a copy of the E.T. video game for Atari 2600 (reportedly the worst video game of all time).
For the rest of the world, Blu-Ray was second to market but first in the hearts of people who prefer to own movies rather than stream them.
Lyft, as another example, is probably quite happy to be cleaning up after Uber’s mess.
For that matter, when you dialed up your modem to “go online” in 1996, did you use Yahoo or Webcrawler to search?
Either way, the first internet searches weren’t on Google, who was late to the game, but is sitting by far stronger than the others.
Three apps you use all the time that you might not realize were not the first of their kind
- Google Maps. Whether you want to compare it to Mapquest on desktop computers (1996) or portable GPS navigators like the TomTom and Hertz NeverLost (2001), Google Maps didn’t hit the mobile market until 2008.
- Spotify (2006) didn’t go mobile until 2009. By then, it was years behind Pandora, which was founded in 2000, and looking to fill the gap left when Napster (1999) collapsed.
- Instagram (2010). It doesn’t seem possible, but the iPhone existed for two years before Instagram came along. Before that, people had to be satisfied with TwitPic (2008), but filters gave “Insta” the lead, and Facebook bought it just two years later.
Being late is definitely better than never arriving
The point is this: being first certainly has real advantages, but not only is it not always necessary to be first, sometimes being a little late to the party can be better in the long run. Google, for example, built its search engine only after spending a long time figuring out what was wrong with Yahoo and all the other big players.
This isn’t to say your idea will turn into the next Google, nor even that that’s your goal. It’s just that you should not quit because you found a similar app. Keep breathing, thinking and refining.
That last point is key. If there are competitors already, that’s great for you. First, they’ve already validated your idea for you — there really is a market for it!
Second, no matter how good the competition is, they are certainly doing something wrong, or at least not as well as they could. You get to take your own idea for a test drive without having to invest anything more than time.
Heck, they might even be doing it the way you envisioned it, but by letting you try it out, you’ll discover all the annoying quirks and tics that every app has. How great is it to discover that you have a good idea, but that it could use improvement — before you’ve even lifted a finger!
Maybe the screen navigation is annoying. Maybe the graphics are wrong, or the color scheme is just annoying. Possibly it’s something as simple as you’re a lefty and the app design has a strong right-handed bias.
Maybe it only does half of what you want, or in using theirs, you realize that there’s a whole new way to think about delivering the service or product.
You might find that designing the app to do fewer things is better, or that your original idea lacked enough focus.
Your improvement on an existing app just might be the breakout idea
The old saying “The bigger they come, the harder they fall” applies to a lot of established apps. Many designers fall in love with their own ideas, and try to convince the customer he or she is wrong. By learning from these other versions of your idea, you’ll be much less likely to fall into that trap.
At the same time, a really small competitor might lack the resources to fully execute their vision. They may be trying to do it “in house” to “save money” — a classic example of the other old saying, “Pennywise and pound-foolish.”
Maybe it’s as simple as this: you might simply do it better. After all, you are the expert in your app idea.
In the end, most apps have competition. Any success spawns imitators, and in every business, some imitators become the winners. The simple step of giving smartphone owners artsy filters changed everything about photo sharing. After all, cameras have been on phones since 2002. They now include high end optics and extremely high resolution in part thanks to Instagram.
You’re not trying to create an app because you’re afraid of competition. You’re creating an app because you have a vision and you think it’s worth exploring. Even Ricky Bobby’s father had to admit that “If you’re not first, you’re last” really doesn’t make sense.
Your app idea is poised to be better than the other guy’s
You had that moment of worry, but it’s now clear that what looked like defeat is actually an opportunity. You know that plenty of technologies came second and beat the originals out. It’s almost inevitable. You have the wisdom, the knowledge and the experience to create a great idea for an app.
And if you’re ready to move forward, now you have us at The Appineers to help you execute it. Call us now (877) 534-1301 to get direct feedback from an experienced developer on your app idea.