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A Different Mobile App Company

August 18, 2012

We recently discovered this post which describes today’s mobile app mania to the first ‘party-like-its-1999’ internet bubble.  And it got us thinking.  First, here are some excerpts:

Stop the madness
The long cycle times for developing mobile apps have led to startup failures that look more like 1999 – it’s like we’ve forgotten all the agile and rapid iteration stuff that we learned over the last 10 years. Stop the madness!

Today, seed stage startups can now get funded, release 1 or 2 versions of their app spread over 9 months, and then fail without making a peep. We learned the benefits of how to iterate fast on the web, and we can do better on mobile too.

How things worked in 1999
How’d we get here? Back in 1999, we did a similar thing:

  • Raise millions in funding with an idea and impressive founders
  • Spend 9 months building up a product
  • Launch with much PR fanfare
  • Fail to hit product/market fit
  • Relaunch with version 2.0, 6 months later
  • Repeat until you run out of money

This was Pets.com, Kozmo, and so on. Maybe you’d fire your VP Marketing in the process too, out of frustration.

Between 2002-2009, we learned a lot of great ways to work quickly, deploy code a few times a week, and get very iterative about proving out your product.

How things work today
Then, with the arrival of the big smartphone platforms, we’ve reverted. It looks like 1999 but instead of launching, we submit into the iOS App Store.

It looks like this instead:

  • Raise funding with an idea and impressive founders
  • Spend 6 months building up a product
  • Submit to the app store and launch with much PR fanfare
  • Fail to hit product/market fit
  • Relaunch with version 2.0, 6 months later
  • Add Facebook Open Graph
  • Try buying installs with Tapjoy, FreeAppADay, etc.
  • Repeat until you run out of money

Not much different, unfortunately.   Read more

At the heart of both eras’ strategies was a ‘build it and they will come’ hope/pray, and -if -necessary- throw-money-at-and-make- them-come-attitude.

At DAZZMOBILE we are doing things differently.  We are building a platform that can be custom-skinned for our large-audience B2B and B2C mobile event clients.  By partnering with our clients, we sharing in the risk and the returns of the project.  More importantly, we each bring something of value to the table.  DAZZMOBILE brings its audience engagement platform and ability to custom-build content that will be continuously pushed to app users.  And our clients bring a captive audience of users and a practical, cost efficient means of reaching them.

Here’s the upshot in today’s swing-for-the-fences approach that has resulted in highly capitalized mobile app projects dropping like flies…

The platform reflects its master
We’ve gotten here because the App Store reflects Apple’s DNA of great products plus big launches. They are a 1980s hardware company that’s mastered that strategy, and when developers build on their platform, they have no choice but to emulate the approach as well.

Worse yet, it lets people indulge in a little fantasy that they too are Steve Jobs, and once they launch a polished product after months of work, they’ll be a huge success too. The emphasis on highly polished design for mobile products reverts us back to a waterfall development mentality.

Don’t burn 1/2 of your funding to get to a v1
Startups today have a super high bar for initial quality in their version 1. They also want to make a big press release about it, to drive traffic, since there’s really no other approach to succeed in mobile. And so we see startups burn 1/3 to 1/2 of their seed round before they release anything, it becomes really dangerous when the initial launch inevitably fails to catch fire. Then the rest of the funding isn’t enough to do a substantive update.

What can we do?
How can we stop the madness? What can do we do to combine the agility we learned in the past decade with the requirements of the App Store?

If we can answer this question, we’ll be much better off as an industry.

We believe this approach answers this question and we look forward to working with B2B (Showdazz) and B2C (Fandazz) clients who share our passion and our vision.

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