Apps are software applications that run on mobile devices (phones, tablets) or online (instead of a desktop computer). There is a constantly growing number of apps for different mobile platforms (e.g. iPhone, iPad, Android, Amazon, Blackberry, Surface, Windows Phone, Sony) and the web. There is a comprehensive article on The Verge about all of the various digital ecosystems (including apps) for movies and music, gaming, reading, shopping, social networking on mobile and desktop devices.
To give you a sense of how vast the market is, as of January 2013, there were over three quarters of one million apps in the Apple app store alone! Mobile and online software can be found in hundreds of categories and subcategories, such as Business, Productivity, Music, Education, Games, Health, Law, Travel, Maps, Recipes, and so much more. Apps cater to people in every field, every interest, every walk of life. And every day, using mobile technology like smartphones and tablets, millions of people search for just the right app to meet their needs. These apps might be for productivity, games, education, mapping, and so much more.
What app-related topics are people searching for?
Search queries on the web reveal that for most are searching for information about what apps work and on which platforms. The problem is the leading app directories like the App store and Android operate in separate silos (how do you know if the app is available on those platforms, Facebook, Windows Surface, Blackberry, or the web?). Moreover, each directory may not organize their app marketplace in the best possible way by topic. People look for more information from other users in their field about the usefulness of certain apps. This is even true for free apps. Rather than waste time installing a free app only to find it does not work well, most people would rather read a review to find out if it is worth their time.
Why reviews are a powerful part of your business model
How do you find high quality resources for selected topics, industries, professions, niches and so forth? When users find reviews, do they trust those reviews? The businesses that publish niche app directories seek to become a go-to resource. In these directories, app users can recommend to one another what has worked for them. The advantage is that rankings are based on industry or sector appropriate criteria. For educators, that might be how useful an app is in the classroom, or how easy they are for students. For games, it might be how many hours of fun time, or how expandable the game is, and so forth. It is so helpful to be able to see all of the apps relevant to a nice area, industry, profession, or demographic, categorized by meaningful themes. You can do a brilliant service for many by creating a searchable directory of rated apps that cater to an industry, market segment or self-identified group.
Creating Your App Directory
In order to create your app directory, you can buy an off the shelf hosted or standalone directory script. eDirectory, for example, is both – selling an enterprise grade directory platform you can host on your own site, or purchase from them as a service for a monthly fee where they host the directory on their servers. If you utilize a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal, there are themes and plugins out there to help you transform your website into a directory like Connections for WordPress or St Pipe for Drupal. Savvy marketers unleash the power of social networking integration (like BuddyPress for WordPress) so that users can follow social recommendations and create communities of interest. This can also be a fertile ground for you in terms of new app development!
Once you do this, your site would become the go-to site for apps in that sector. Depending on the size of your market, you could get thousands of visitors a day looking for the perfect app in a niche.
How to Monetize Your App Directory
Monetize your app directory in any number of ways: Places ads on your site using one of the large ad networks (Google AdSense, Chitika contextual ads or BidVertiser, among others). Once you have built up tens of thousands of page views monthly, you could also sell ad space on your site directly to interested marketers. Charge a premium for Featured App listings. How much you should charge for ads on your site depends on the amount of traffic your directory receives, ad placement (e.g. ads above the fold at the top of your pages would cost more than side bar or ads that only show up in posts.) Blogaholics Network has a useful guide on How Much Should I Charge for Adspace on My Blog.
Here is a collection of niche app directories to inspire you!
Reviews & recommendations of tools for education
Travel trips, apps, supplies and discounts for students, groups, teachers, camp directors and parents
Afriapps is a showcase of outstanding African apps.
The Lifehacker App Directory Curates the Best Apps for All Your Gear. Lifehacker’s App Directory is a constantly maintained and updated directory of the best applications and tools for computers (Windows, Mac, and Linux) and smartphones (Android and iPhone) the focus is on productivity, media, communications and utilities.
Magazine Apps Guide – Magazine Mobile Apps, Tablet Magazine Editions, and Digital Magazines. The magazine apps guide to digital magazines, magazine apps, and tablet magazine editions
This post is the first in the Ultimate Guide to Profitable Online Business Models series, featuring practical examples of how to implement success business models.