Just because many mobile apps are free to download, don't assume that a good app can be built in one afternoon.
The mobile phone age has, in many ways, proven that the cost of creating a product hasn't really changed all that much. The infrastructure to do so has just shifted so that now most of the capital goes into software, instead of bricks and mortar. But the age-old saying remains true: you get what you pay for.
Robust mobile apps need a strong concept, excellent planning and a talented team in both the design and development phases. If you scrimp on any of these things, then it will show in your profit margins.
An important step in creating a great app is market research. Once the concept is in place, take time to make sure nothing similar exists. This will also help you to develop a few core user cases so you can further explore your target audience and future proof your mobile app.
Another key decision in the early stages is the platform. Android, iOS and Windows devices have their own operating system and, in general, different native SDKs and coding languages. If you have done your market research then this should indicate which platform to launch with.
Next up, you will need to recruit a diverse development team. Although many developers can fulfil many different roles, it always pays dividends to make sure you have a team well versed in particular specialities such as visual design, user experience and so on.
Once your team is ready, the conceptual work begins. This usually involves sketching out the functional flows, producing wireframes and then moving on to visual design. This can be a long process involving multiple revisions and even rethinking of the initial ideas and requirements. But this is time well spent - it is better to work out issues nice and early and collaborate with your team rather than pay for expensive mistakes further down the line.
The next stage is usability testing to get some external feedback on your app and make sure it's on the right track. There are lots of tools out there to help you with this and additional testing can be done using focus groups and anyone who fits your demographic.
Now it's time to write the software. Again, a talented and experienced team is a must to ensure your code flies and the longevity of your app. Similar to the design process, the development process will require significant testing to avoid costly mistakes.
You will also need a cloud services provider to host, power and maintain the back end systems. Choose a provider that can scale and respond quickly to any bug fixes, updates and so on as the mobile app market can be a dynamic and cut-throat world.
It should now be obvious that developing a quality mobile app is not an easy job, and definitely not one that takes an afternoon's worth of work.
Mobile apps have moved from being quirky gadgets into serious products that require skill and time to develop. Keep this important truth in mind, and your app will prove its profitability.