April 22, 2019

Are the 'common' apps overdone?

Matt @KMM

I guess what I'm really looking to ask/for people to discuss is are there any market spaces for common apps, such as budgeting apps? I was thinking there must be something you can do to add more features, but do people even care? Wouldn't they rather use something feature complete and done? This could apply for any app. Does a side project you create have to be something more unique?

  1. 3

    Whilst you think of it as adding features you are likely to fail.

    For every category of common app, someone has come along when the market appears full and found a pain point that can be addressed.

    It may be lack of simplicity - a big reason for Trellos's structure as a simple "list of lists" is because Joel Spolsky knew from his work on Excel that list management was many people's sole reason for using Excel.

    It may be pricing, but that's a dangerous place to compete. One way to find valid price categories is to observe long-term amalgamations - when products move up out of a price category is there a valid market left behind? Sometimes that happens to create a nice lifestyle business sized hole that's too small to attract a larger company. That kind of gap can be created especially when companies are acquired or merge. However, be careful that the gap isn't easily filled by a slight re-pricing of a cloud offering. This tactic used to be more common in desktop software especially when larger sales teams were involved (eg: accounting).

    It may indeed be a new feature you can add, but only if there's a narrative attached. Start by asking people who use the apps you're interested in "what drives you crazy about the software you use?"

    If you are talking about apps in corporate settings, befriend the help desk and trainers. They are most likely to know the pain points.

  2. 2

    Nope. I will be building a Streaks app soon. It is a common app but there's a market & I don't find any features I want in a streaks app in Android.

    So I am making it. There's no such thing as a common app. Notion is just 4 apps combined together. And there are hundreds of website pinger services that come up every month.

    Just build a better common app & you're set.

  3. 1

    These are types of new products I see most often in SAAS space.

    Project management tools.

    Marketing automation or Sales automation.

    Intercom or Drift like widget.

    Helpdesk software.

  4. 1

    Sometimes you just have to do it better. Or in a different way. Zoom was not the first video conferencing software. Trello was not the first todo list software. Monument Valley was not the first puzzle game. You could maybe have more success picking a less commonly solved pain point, but they are not overdone.

  5. 1

    Here’s a contrarian take on this.

    I’d say that the app should try and tackle a problem where the solution is painful to solve, even in code. Given this, the problem should be real. It needs to solve an existing pain point. At the same time, very few programmers want to tackle it because it’s boring, cumbersome, menial, hard to program, or some other reason.

    On the surface, your app will look “common”, but your customers will know it’s providing a solution to a long sought after problem.

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