Article in Mobile App Development category.

How to Know if Your App Idea Will Succeed

Bringing a successful mobile app idea to life is a process. Fueled can show you a realistic glimpse of what it looks like. Read more…

Having a great app idea is just the beginning. The next question is: How do you know if it will succeed? Whether you’re an enterprise employee looking for direction, a startup with a vision but no roadmap, or someone seeking expert advice before entering the competitive app market, understanding your app’s potential is crucial.

At Fueled, we specialize in developing and launching standout mobile apps. Our growth strategies ensure that your app doesn’t just survive but thrives in the market. Our team helped Warby Parker transition from browser to mobile, making their app an instant success.

Perry Dahl, Fueled’s VP of Revenue and app-vetting expert, knows what sets a great app apart from the rest. With years of experience watching apps rise and fall, we’ve seen what it takes for an app to thrive or fail.

Millions of apps have been developed since the App Store first launched in 2008. In fact, there are now nearly 2 million apps on the App Store, a stark contrast to the measly 5,000 apps from back in 2008. Here’s how to ensure your app idea stands out in this crowded marketplace.

Problem Size and Target Audience

Identify your problem and target audience. What are you trying to solve, how big is the issue, and what kind of people are you offering a solution to? At the end of the day, the most successful apps solve a small problem for niche users; target a small market that will grow over time.

On the other hand, it’s not ideal to try to solve a small problem for a big market, because there will simply not be enough demand. Let’s say you want to develop a note-taking app. As innovative as your product may be, there’s a strong chance that what you offer will not be interesting enough to cater to your target audience. Instead of going through the hassle of downloading an external app, users can just rely on their pre-installed notes app.

At the same time, if you want to tackle a big problem for a big market, you’ll be competing with the likes of Facebook and Google, who are already on the offense. It’ll be virtually impossible to compete with their existing user bases, pools of money, and talented high-end staff.

Product Blueprint

A diagram showing various app wireframes in progress with notes alongside the wireframes
An example of a wireframe by Kimberly Voisin

Establishing Your Name

You have to figure out how to reel in a promising user base. Orchestrate your idea in a way that wins over users with your selling point, which can then prompt them to actually download the app. 

Provide value quickly when the relationship is still fresh so that they’ll be more willing to develop their trust in your services. By building a reliable presence, you can organically create a reputable title for yourself.


If you’re already thinking about monetization, you’re looking too far ahead. Although there are many ways you can monetize, this process shouldn’t be a big priority when you first have to focus on getting your product right. Your product feature set will probably change as you conduct testing and receive feedback.

Finding a product-market fit is a more difficult prerequisite to monetization, where you create a product that people will love and use repeatedly. Once your app idea is more developed, you’ll have the flexibility to focus on monetization.


If you worry about competition too early in the game, you will do yourself more harm than good. (Notice a pattern here?) Many developers grow discouraged when they realize that their app idea is not as unique as they initially thought and close themselves off from any remaining opportunities. Don’t fall victim to this attitude—unless you’re going head to head with a big name like Google, competition will not be your downfall.

Don’t feel intimidated by all the other apps that fall into a similar category as yours. If there is a real problem to be solved, there will be a notable market for it; embrace its inevitability. And if there are other startups who are offering solutions like yours, they validate that your solution is heading in the right direction.

If you’re part of an enterprise with an app idea, start by observing what users are already doing with the company’s digital properties. Most of our enterprise clients already have a website and might even have an app, which means they have the makings of a viable business model. Unless this hypothetical app would provide a low level for its consumers, developing the app would make sense.

Picking a Platform

With an app, there’s a great amount of overhead involved. A user has to browse the App Store, download the app, and most likely create an account. They would then have to go through an onboarding session before fully experiencing what the app has to offer. If they feel that their time and effort are better spent elsewhere, they won’t invest in this lengthy process.

For instance, imagine that you bought a lawnmower, but you need a strange, obscure screwdriver to set it up. If your neighbor happens to have it, you wouldn’t go out of your way and drive all the way to Home Depot—you’d just borrow theirs once. Or you’re at a family reunion and your sports-crazy uncle wants to play softball. You’ve never played softball, you don’t know the rules, and you never intend to play it again after today—it wouldn’t really make sense to spend $200 on softball gear, right?

A laptop and various Samsung mobile devices

Consider the app’s utility over time. If it’s something that people won’t use on a regular basis, they won’t be willing to onboard—it has to be a presence worth investing in. Sometimes, it could simply mean that your idea is more convenient on desktop, while other ideas are better suited for mobile.

Experiences that Are Better for Desktop

Activities that require multiple browser tabs (like online shopping or vacation planning) work best on desktop. Although it is possible to shop with an app, you’d want to scroll through different sections so you can see new arrivals, clothing categories, and final sales.

If you were planning a trip, you’d ideally open multiple links at once for destinations, places to stay, and things to do. Activities that require multiple active tabs can lead to a poor app experience and might be better suited for larger screens.

Desktop can also be a great starting point for companies that are lesser known but want to eventually expand to mobile. Developing a website is less expensive than creating an app, and your site works across all device types. A website can act as a guinea pig for any of your future business aspirations.

Experiences that Are Better for Mobile

Most experiences that require geolocation, hardware integration, or Bluetooth should be on a mobile platform. It would be silly for you to call an Uber, or listen to Spotify on a laptop when you’re out and about.

People depend on apps most when they’re on the run and only have small blocks of time for productivity. With the touch of a finger, they can make good use of that time by checking their bank accounts, catching up on social media, or paying bills—all made possible by a mobile platform. Ultimately, put yourself in your user’s shoes: think about when and how they would use your app.

"Anytime the technology can solve a problem that occurs when you’re not sitting at your desk, a mobile solution is probably going to be your best tool."

Choosing the Features

Rookie Mistake #1: Bloating Your App with Features

Make sure that your potential app is a single product, not multiple products pretending to be one—there is a distinction between the two. Sometimes clients say that their idea is meant to solve only one problem, but will try to also incorporate gamification, social networking, and even e-commerce. 

Start with a small, focused product that solves one problem, especially if you're a startup in the early stages of developing a mobile app. Many companies and startups begin by building a minimum viable product. Jumping a few steps too far ahead will end up hurting you. This brings us to our next point.

Rookie Mistake #2: Getting Ahead of Yourself

A lot of startup founders assume people will love their product, so they want to build on various platforms, discuss marketing plans, and expect revenue without much validation. So when their enthusiasm is met with cautious planning, like figuring out the costs that go into making an app, it’s natural to feel discouraged.

In such situations, it’s crucial to take things step by step and not get too far ahead of yourself. By focusing on validating your ideas, understanding your market, and gradually building your product, you can avoid costly mistakes and ensure your success in the long run. Our clients appreciate this approach, as it helps them uncover valuable insights and information that they might have missed otherwise.

Rookie Mistake #3: Jumping on the Wrong Bandwagon

A lot of buzzwords get thrown around in the tech space. We’ve all heard of blockchain and Bitcoin. By 2030, the AI market size is predicted to rise to $740 billion. When clients hear these terms and look at their financial stats, they naturally want to capitalize on what they deem a trend. 

However, most clients don’t take the time to really understand their concepts. They fail to recognize that the core of every algorithm is basic human logic, and hold onto the notion that these new buzzwords will grant them a magic wand.

People cannot properly integrate technology into great app ideas if they don’t fully recognize its breadth. Don’t jump on the bandwagon—do your research before you think about diving in.

Will Your App Be Revolutionary?

There’s no guarantee that your app will be groundbreaking. Your topmost priority isn’t to introduce an app that will change the world but to create a strong idea that will survive in the midst of thousands of others.

It comes down to execution: your ability to fund, how the market reacts, and how you navigate through unexpected changes.

First Mover Advantage vs. Second Mover Advantage

First mover advantage is the benefit a company gains by being the first to enter a new market or introduce a new product. This approach often establishes brand loyalty and market share before competitors can even enter the market.

Second mover advantage, on the other hand, is when a company observes the strategies and mistakes of the first mover and is able to enter the market with a more refined or innovative product. 

Second mover advantage can initially seem unwise: Why launch a similar model of an idea that already exists? Many of the prestigious companies we know of are products of second mover advantage, and there are more success stories than you’d expect.

For example, Google beat Yahoo when there were already other search engines, and Facebook overwhelmed Myspace when the site was still hugely popular. There was one thing that Google and Facebook had in common: they brought in a new set of concepts that made their competitors look archaic.

Icons of various ride-hailing apps: Uber, Lyft, Hailo, Via, and Juno, displayed in a row.
First and second mover advantage rampant in the ride-sharing industry

"Second mover advantage revolves around the fact that you can learn from the mistakes that your predecessors made. You can see what worked and what didn’t."

This doesn’t mean that you should completely rule out first-mover advantage—our economy needs a healthy balance of old and new. Companies like Apple, Uber, and eBay have paved the way for renowned first movers. They have continued to grow even when second movers mimicked their services, as they’ve had a significant user base that won’t be willing to abandon familiarity and comfort for novelty.

Loyalties run deep—learning how to break someone’s ties to their favorite operating system or e-commerce platform won’t exactly be a walk in the park.

Ideal Solution vs. Feature Set: What’s the Difference?

The ideal solution is abstract, while the feature set is the actual, tangible experience. 

Uber is an excellent example of this. The ideal solution: the ability to summon a car to any location at a moment’s notice. This is an abstract idea, so you would have to consider the question: What does that experience look like?

Once you identify the solution at a high level, work your way through the features that will enable it. The first feature would consist of you communicating where you want your car to go. How would you focus on your destination and confirm that your driver is on the same page? You use a map to make sure you have the correct location, so a map feature where you can enter the address is the next step.

Occasionally feature sets don’t align with the ideal solution, but other times, it’s only after the product launches that the founder is able to observe whether users believe the app solves a problem.

"It’s only the right solution if people are using it."

Back in the dot-com era, there was a case study on Webvan. Webvan was the first big grocery delivery service, and its founders believed that their current user base would be sufficient. They spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build warehouses, purchase trucks, and invest in infrastructure. When they launched the product, no one wanted it.

Dozes of Webvan trucks lined up in a parking lot
Sometimes, even the combination of solid ideas and great execution does not guarantee success.

Webvan, though potentially revolutionary, was a massive flop. It wasn’t that the idea was bad; people in the 90s just weren’t comfortable sharing their credit card information online.

There are a lot of factors to consider when making a product successful, but we must first acknowledge that we’re fundamentally bad at making accurate predictions. What we think would be a great product can perform poorly, and vice versa.

Rather than making big bets with big losses, it’s better to start off with a small bet. You want to be efficient by using the least amount of resources and involving only a select group of people. Building an MVP allows you to sacrifice less for a product that may not succeed, while keeping it in the market for users to get a sneak peek. User feedback will drive you to where you need to be.

High costs and long development cycles are just a few reasons why old-school strategies are a no-go in our current economy. Lean Startup Methodology will give you a clearer vision when you’re introducing a great app idea, allowing you to act smarter and quicker.

Although you are walking on an unconventional route of maybes and what-ifs, your journey will eventually get you to the other side, and you’ll appreciate the process that ended up saving your life.

Validating an App Idea, in a Nutshell

Before launching your mobile app idea, remember that you have plenty of opportunities to fail. There is safety in knowing that you’ve caught certain discrepancies before they had the chance to form deeper roots in your product.

Constant trial and error may feel tiresome, but it’s a necessary component of your blueprint. Enjoy the ride while you’re still on it because sooner or later, you’ll be at a different stage of development with its own share of challenges.

Recognize the attributes of our current tech space. Trends have incredibly short lifespans; products come and go in the blink of an eye. There is a time for app ideas to thrive and come to life, but there is also a time for them to meet their end. There is a time for consumers to seek a certain solution that your app offers and there is also a time when you must alter your vision.

Learn lessons from your predecessors who’ve already walked the road and made rookie mistakes. Find a healthy balance between overestimating your future accomplishments and premeditating unknown disasters. Vetting a great app idea requires you to foster persistent resilience.

Enter the field with confidence in your idea, as well as a good understanding of your future user base. If you don’t make the cut, try again. Give room for your solution to evolve, even if the end result looks far from what it once was.

Ready to turn your app idea into reality?


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