Developer Hack
19 August, 2014

4 mins

Why Every Tech Company Needs an App Catalog

An App Catalog is a Growth Hack

Growth hacking is just a good way to describe how startups use creative techniques in order to grow businesses on a tight budget. It’s about making magic and creating something out of nothing. It is tactic that entrepreneurs have been using for years to make the most of the funds that are available to them.

Allowing your developer community build apps and plugins for your product gives you the ability to crowd source innovation faster than anyone else and for pennies on the dollar. This makes it the ultimate growth hack for technology companies looking to expand in all directions and conquer their industry.

Of course, you might also be asking yourself whether developers would bother building plugins for small or medium businesses. After all, why would anyone spend their time building plugins for you if there aren’t enough users for it to sustain economic incentive? Simple; over 90% of apps, plugins and extensions are actually built by developers trying to solve THEIR OWN problems and not by entrepreneurs looking to cash in.

User Growth

Developer communities are engines of innovation and as we all know, innovation drives growth. Let’s takes the immensely popular CMS WordPress as an example. Why do you think people use it more as compared to other CMS’s?

Three words; apps, plugins and extensions. Or to be more specific, MORE apps, plugins and extensions than what other CMS’s offer. Now ask yourself this; would WordPress have risen to fame without the 30,000 plugins built by the developer community? If you say, “Not a chance!” you are right.

Remember, each plugin that your developer community produces gives customers one more reason to choose you over your competition. As a bonus, plugins from your developer community dramatically increase engagement and reduce churn. That’s what Facebook did. 30% of all minutes on the social media giant are spent, you guessed it, using community built apps.

Product Growth

If you have an API then you already have developers building plugins in order to solve their own problems. So why let those plugins go to waste!?!? Create the foundation of a developer community and plugin repository that will let these developers share their plugins with the rest of your customers.

Community built plugins can also help add value to your development team and reduce your product roadmap. The keyword here is value. Apply the 10% rule to yourself; are 10% or more of your customers going to use the new functionality that is on your roadmap? If yes, build it in house. If no, leverage the talent within the developer community to help build the functionality. Developer communities allow you to crowd source your product development. With a great community behind you your product can grow 100 times faster than with in-house talent alone.

Darwinian App Theory

One day your app is hot, the next day it is not. In other words, app development is a highly progressive field. Feature quality from plugins always increases over time. Developers build plugins, some survive and others die off. If a plugin is poorly implemented, someone comes along and builds a better plugin, the plugin takes the users from the bad plugin and the bad plugin dies a fateful death. Evolution ensures that only the strong community plugins survive.

Mo Money, Less Problems has made over a billion dollars from selling plugins from their online platform alone. Facebook’s apps and in app-purchases makes up a whopping 25% of annual revenue. That’s over $1.14 billion dollars a year! A developer community and plugin ecosystem is a great investment that pays massive dividends.

Take a page from Apple’s book

Don’t forget Apple. A big slice of the tech giant’s profits come from apps that are sold to customers through their portable devices. Let’s take a look at the genius of the app store revenue model:

  1. Spend some time building and engaging your developer community
  2. The developer community works to build innovative plugins
  3. Developers monetize those plugins on your site
  4. You make money and grow your product features without having to build or maintain code

The proof is in the numbers. And it proves one very crucial aspect; developer communities are one of the single largest revenue generating assets in your arsenal.

Final Thoughts

App catalogs make great growth hacks for entrepreneurs looking to grow their technology companies. Even a small developer community can churn out a consistent flow of innovative plugins. Leading companies have relied on large networks of developer communities to grow their product, revenue and user base. The innovation sourced from within the crowd has helped the truly great brands rise to the top and it can do the same for yours.

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