I first saw David Bowie in Torquay in 1972, in a venue for 500 people with tickets costing £1.50. It changed my life. Forty years later I'm still struck by his youthful talent, innovation and longevity. He created a revolutionary sound and style building on the best offerings of the 1960s London artistic scene.
Up for best male in the Brit Awards next week and an App developer himself with "The Golden Years" iPhone app, he's still at the top of his game. So what life lessons can Mobile App entrepreneurs learn from Bowie? That talent is ageless, innovation is key, and you must have the tenacity to promote yourself through to the finish.
With 47,000 App downloads in one Internet minute, the opportunity ordinary punters have to create the next big problem-solver, game or lifestyle App is also revolutionary. As the Chairman of Rare Breed Digital, I sign scores of non-disclosure agreements each month for brilliant App ideas of the 'why hasn't someone done this before?" variety. Today, you don't need to pay the high start up costs that used to sink many businesses. Apple and Google handle the distribution, collect the money and provide the market stall. The digital market is open to all and whilst Google and Apple have dominated the space, they have enabled millions of App businesses to grow.
Important trends in App development now are the growth of hyper-local engagement in mobile, enterprise Apps for large businesses, and the growth of professional App marketing.
Location based technology is allowing smaller retailers to thrive through listings with Google Places maps, in-store Wifi capturing users' details and geo-location map apps. The confluence of growing local engagement with more consumers using their mobile devices to find locations and also make purchases is transforming commerce.
Equally, large companies are finding that Business Apps offer digital solutions for internal communications with their employees and direct sales communication with clients. These enterprise Apps can offer costs savings and real-time data sharing for companies wanting to harness technology to lower overhead costs.
As Apps have grown apace over the last five years, the reigning ethos has been that if a developer conducts consumer research and builds a beautiful App with a satisfying user experience, it will be discovered naturally on the App Store and Google Play. Perhaps, but with more than 1.4 million Apps in the US App Store alone, the need for marketing that incorporates App search optimisation as well as traditional PR and content creation is becoming the norm. Although Apple and Google decline to render their ranking algorithms to the public, important marketing tools from keyword placement to securing 5 star reviews for each version of an App, are critical for ranking and must be included in the App's development.
Having developed more than 20 apps last year, I've found the formula for success is bringing App entrepreneurs into the heart of the team and providing an end to end service under one roof. Some of them even hot-desk in our loft space in London alongside the designers, coders, and project managers. Including PR and Social Media expertise gives their Apps the edge they need to compete in today's crowded marketplace.
Mobile App entrepreneurs, take heed of David Bowie's lessons for success: ageless ambition, invention and persistence. Finally, here is a new App idea free of charge - a Bowie lyrics cut-up generator.