Exploring the Mobile Phone App Business

By Spencer Haws |

This post is idea number 4 of potential niche business ideas that I am considering pursuing.  As explained in the purpose of this blog here, I will be discussing 10 or so niche business ideas that I have an interest in.  At the same time, I will be taking ideas that YOU would like to see me try out – submit your ideas here!

After 30 days or so, I will be closing the submissions and then will combine the best ideas you have submitted and a few of my own ideas and allow everyone to vote on the ONE idea they would like to see me pursue.  This winning idea will get my full attention for 90 days or so and will be blogged about step by step from start to finish.  At the end of 90 days, the process starts over with new ideas from me and new submissions from YOU!

So, I am writing about a wide variety of ideas that may be labor intensive or may have passive income potential – it doesn’t matter to me.  These may be online ideas or offline ideas.  I am MOST interested in ideas that the average person can get started quickly in 90 days with low barriers to entry.  You can read about my 3 previous ideas right here:

Idea #1 – How I Bought and Sold Books Online as My First Internet Venture

Idea #2 – How to Sell Used Clothes Online

Idea #3 – Can I Make Money with Storage Unit Auctions?

The Mobile Phone Application Market

Okay, now I wanted to discuss the potential for creating and launching a mobile phone app business.  What does it take to get started in the business?  Is this something that is feasible for 1 person to get started doing without too much difficulty?  Also, what is the potential for success?  These are some of the things that I want to discuss briefly.

Obviously with the advent of the Apple iPhone, Google Android, and other smart phones, mobile phone application revenue has been increasing.  However, is there still growth potential and how much?  To get a glimpse of the industry overall, lets take a look at some numbers from Gartner, Inc:

So, is the mobile phone application business a good one to get into?  Well, from purely a growth potential perspective…absolutely!  So, we have checked the box of it being a good industry.

A Look at the Competition

Secondly, we need to take a look at the competition.  Here is a quick list of some of the most popular mobile phone application categories from Nielsen, Inc.

So games is the most popular category of app downloads.  However, there is still plenty of money to be made in other categories.  As far as competition goes, each category is different and its important to analyze the market to see if there is room for your idea.  I don’t want to spend much time looking at specific categories, but I believe there is room anywhere if you find the right niche and/or need.  Yes, the competition is fierce!  But if you have a unique idea, or can find a low competition niche, I think you can break into the mobile phone market.

I have TONS of experience looking at and finding low competition niches for websites.  Even though an overall website category like “finance” for example can have extremely tough competition, if you find the right keywords, you can still rank at the top of Google very easily in the finance market.  I imagine it would be the same for the mobile phone app business.  If you find the right niche and have a unique approach, you could probably find some success.

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Mobile Phone App Success Stories

Here are few Applications that have taken a unique approach and have found some success.

This list could be really huge, but I wanted to point out just a few that are unique ideas that have done well.  In particular, the iSteam, iFart, Knot Guide, Couch to 5k, and Traffic Light Changer seem to be pretty unique that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of or thought would be successful.  However, it just goes to show you that there is money to be made in the small niche ideas.  This is what I would be doing (finding a small unique niche idea) if I decide to go into the app business.

How to Develop a Mobile Phone App

Obviously, I am not a app. programmer.  However, I have outsourced a number of projects on freelance sites such as and  This is the route I would expect to go with developing an application.  So, the upfront capital is required; however the amount really depends on the app itself – it could be a few hundred dollars or several thousand dollars.

The other route to go is using a service such as AppMakr.  This service apparently will help you create your own iPhone app without any programming experience!  I know nothing about it other than what I have read.  But it looks like a great service if you have a simple idea and want to create a quick application for a mobile phone.  In fact, if you vote this as my winning idea, I just might do a free app with AppMakr and do another one with an outsourced developer!

Pat Flynn also did a podcast specifically how to get into the iPhone App business not too long ago.  He goes over some other details not covered here, that could be helpful if you personally decide to get into the business.  You can check out his iPhone App podcast right here.

How to Market a Mobile Phone App

Maybe someone can help me out here – How are people marketing their apps?  From what I have seen, many successful applications simply list their product in the iPhone App store and that’s it!  Isn’t there more to marketing than this?  I guess I don’t know what others are doing here.  But I would imagine that creating a website and driving some traffic that way would be a great way to help promote the product.  This is an area I would certainly brush up on before I jumped in head first.  What do you think?


Anyway, there is SO much more that could be said about the mobile phone app business, this is just scratching the service.  However, I simply wanted to introduce the idea and hear your thoughts!  Is this a business idea that you would like to see me pursue and then document step by step on this blog for the next 3 or 4 months?  If so, let me know.  What other thoughts do you have in regards to this post and the mobile phone app business in general?

Want to see me try a different business idea?  Be sure to Submit Your Idea Right Here.




Stories & Projects | 13 comments

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

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DeAnna Troupe

This is huge. Thank you so much for being willing to share this information.


No problem DeAnna, thanks for stopping by!


This is something that I have looked at and would actually like to get into it myself.

What I noticed in terms of marketing was many offer the app for free and then have certain upsells but the app needs to be really good.

Sometimes its just the idea alone that will get people to pay such a small amount.

It would be incredible to be able to get a keyword tool for how many searches are made for particular queries when searching for apps on your iphone/android.

A possible way to market your app is by getting it reviewed by bloggers, send them a free copy and let them write a review. You might be able to pay for a review also.
You could also advertise on admob and adfonic as people are on their mobiles so its a great way to target people. If its free people will download it. You can create a list this way aswell

I would be really interested in seeing how this would turn out.


Shane, great information on potentially marketing an app. Im sure admob and adfonic could drive a lot of targeted traffic.

I really like your idea of a tool that shows how many searches are done for particular apps or keywords. Im sure something like this could be a huge business all on its own. Thanks for sharing!

Thomas Strock

I would like to see you try making some apps! It is a good way to diversify your income as you will not be relying on Google as you do heavily with niche sites. I am currently helping a local developer market their apps to get some practice, and am hoping to release a few of my own within the next year!


Thomas, I would love to dive into this business as well, and agree that it would be a great way to diversify my current income from niche websites.

Best of luck creating your own apps business as well!


The telephone apps business has always been a great niche, however I haven’t ever heard it explained and emphasized as you just did. I could almost see the process in my minds-eye. So, you say the idea is to jump on the niche with least resistance and find a unique spin or twist that folks would enjoy using and “git-ur-done!”. I would love to see you research this one to def! Yes, this might just be the one.


Josline, glad you liked the way I explained it! Since I am quite familiar with uncovering low competition niches when it comes to websites; I figured I could use the same approach with iphone apps. Thanks for letting me know you are interested in this one!


way to go spencer always onto something of a challenge ,looking forward to more profitable niches to . thxs for the marathon marketing inspirations. cheers


Yep, there will be lots more niche ideas discussed here…glad you like this one!


Spencer, this seems to be a great market to get into. I am curious as well on how to market the app once it is created. Can anyone shed some light??? …Maybe if I actually had a smart phone I would understand it.


I agree that some more in depth analysis needs to be done on how to properly market an app. Glad to see your smiling face stop by!


Thanks for great content, whats the implementation curve for online sales of low cost tech products? and how can you build market?

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