Ideas are very difficult to come up with in general. Not to mention the many times when you do have a flash of brilliance, a friend (or maybe a foe), will point to the shortcomings of your idea. “It has been done before.” says your friend Jim. “It won’t sell because it has no appeal.” says your dad. “It’s hopeless just like you.” Says your annoying sister. Throughout your experience, you will soon learn which ideas would interest people and which ones wouldn’t. Here is an attempt at differentiating what is a good pitch (creative, marketable) idea, or what makes a bad pitch (unoriginal, dry).
You can detect a bad pitch from an app developer simply by having them explain what their app does. When you hear “It’s Uber for animals” or “it’s like Candy Crush but more in-depth”, it should ring an alarm to you. Unfortunately, those explanations hint some lack of originality. In all honesty, that is one of the most basic mistakes new developers thinking of ideas would run into. Going for mimicking well-established apps and trying to tweak it will get you no further than people examining the ridiculousness of the app.
However, with millions of applications on the App Store and Play Store, it is very, very difficult to come up with any new idea. The truth is you actually don’t have to come up with something completely new. If an application already exists for your idea, check it out and see if it is complete. If you can make something with similar functionality and much higher quality, it is not a bad idea. You are obviously not going to be able to compete against products of companies with millions of dollars in their budget, but you likely can compete with a similar product out there that is lacking in quality.
Overly ridiculous ideas also tend to be bad pitches. Although some have prevailed in the past, as an app called “I am Rich” somehow made it way to the App Store. The app cost $999.99 and did absolutely nothing and it simply affirmed the user’s economic status. Surprisingly the app sold a few copies. It was quickly removed from the App Store few days after. Other ridiculous app ideas, like an app that would deliver a shock to the user if the user has not been moving enough, had flirted with a developer’s mind.
It is much harder to come up with good pitches, as creativity is really a gift. It just isn’t easy to come up with something innovative, fun and inspiring. There are certainly more good pitches than simply genius new ideas, though. Apps that try to help the world in a direct way usually tend to be good pitches. Educational, charity etc. Apps that combines multiple categories (entertainment and traveling etc.) into one also tend to be good pitches, like a racing game that teaches you parts of a car with maps modeled on real world places.
If we examine all the successful mobile games closely, we will notice many similarities between them and things they did right. Temple Run had a beautiful jungle environment, original and smooth gameplay and many incentives for the user to keep playing (achievements, characters etc.). Candy Crush had colorful graphics and even the level maps was well designed, plus simple gameplay that progressed every level. Some games’ successes are a little more intriguing. Flappy Bird was so simple yet so successful, and many wondered why. People have pointed to the retro Super Mario Bros. style pipes and the difficulty of the game. In my honest opinion, there simply is no way to explain the success of Flappy Bird.
We look at simple mobile games and point to their success and wish to emulate that. In reality, many mobile games got nowhere, and probably many of them were high-quality games too. Marketing incompetence or lack of marketing may have contributed to the games’ irrelevance. It is more than a good pitch to have a successful product, but a good pitch is definitely essential.