TechCrunch recently reported that OMGPOP (the company behind the ‘Draw Something’ app) was sold to Zynga for a staggering $180 million. OMGPOP had been struggling for survival for six years, with founder Charles Forman claiming to have had only $1700 left in his bank account prior to the sale.
Draw-Something (think Pictionary for your phone) has sold 35 million copies since February and just a month after this launch Zynga offered Forman the 9 figure deal.
I’ve previously written on the importance of mobile online engagement – catering specifically to a market of people who get most of their information via their smartphones – and the success of apps like Draw-Something demonstrates that the relatively simple programs that provide a handy tool or a useful distraction on your cell phone can be as profitable, and as influential, as highly developed programs requiring months of work and dozens of programmers.
Draw-Something has managed to tap into one of the most important reasons mobile internet appeals to us so much – the app allows users to engage with real-world friends when they are physically separated from them. It’s a simple concept that’s fun and user friendly. There’s no learning curve – draw something has ‘pick up and play’ appeal. Forman and OMGPOP didn’t necessarily have a completely original idea – I remember playing i-sketch back in the heady days of the early 2000’s. What they have done however is recognize the potential to take this format to mobile internet and created an interface that doesn’t demand anything from the user – in a marketplace saturated with apps users won’t be willing to spend long learning to operate a program that is meant to be fun. Either they use it right away, or they won’t bother.
App development is a skill that requires a certain level of technical expertise but as these technologies become simpler and marketers begin to recognize the potential mobile apps have, we’re bound to see small businesses developing their own apps. The trick to making them successful? Keep them simple!