As a company that has been building mobile apps for 10 years now, we at Melon have followed all kinds of paths. From the ones leading towards an epic triumph to those we would rather not remember treading. Consequently, we have learned many lessons. One of these lessons is that one should never feel too comfortable. Keep learning because the market is changing rapidly. This is why everyone is advocating lean start-up pushes for quick releases without getting bogged down in too much analysis prior to the first version. I completely subscribe to this advice.
However, when you are bearing 10 years’ worth of luggage with you, it is difficult to clean up. It hurts admitting that something you have worked hard for is no longer relevant; there is always the feeling that if you could only fix that bug or improve the packaging, things would turn around for your beloved product. Unfortunately, this is very costly, inefficient and uninspiring. Knowing when to say stop and then follow through, reinvigorates you the moment you start doing it. Moreover, it also gives you the chance to think and act like a start-up. No matter how much experience you have, you still know very little except for a few truths, which have repeatedly carved themselves into your brain. Even those truths may stop being valid the next moment. Against all logic, this in itself is one of those truths.
And so, we felt the need to regroup and refocus at the end of 2012. What we have done so far is clean up our closet to make space for shiny, new things. We have released close to 100 products across all major mobile platforms over the past 10 years. This past week, we decided to shelve around 10 percent of those as being either obsolete or simply unproven on the open market.
Another 20 percent, developed for the still widely used in vast parts of the world Symbian platform, we are planning to start giving out for free. This portion includes products that have proven themselves as worthy, doing people favors on the odd occasion, but never reaching a wider audience. There are some good ideas among these. For example an app that makes sure your child can communicate only with selected numbers over their phone, or an app that can always send your own or someone else’s location through SMS. How about a Symbian app that lets you preview incoming messages through push notification or one that lets you track your phone usage and helps you optimize your monthly bill? It will be interesting to see how they will fare as free apps. Based on the installation data we have, I would say quite well.
So, yes – a major giveaway initiative will be happening in the near future. Another 20 percent of the products will remain paid, but will no longer be supported by our technical staff. Around 40 percent will still receive support, but within strict limits. The remaining 10 percent will have our full attention along with some fresh ideas. We have made the conscious decision not to overstretch ourselves to the point where none of our ideas have the chance of succeeding.
We see this as a win-win situation. Judging by the reactions around the office, we are on the right track. Perhaps we should have done something similar a year or two ago. We entered the mobile development business 10 years ago because it felt right, and now the feeling is back. Stay tuned for more news on our upcoming releases. Hopefully, you will subscribe to the excitement. We see no reason why you should not – for it may very well be for free.