A global survey of more than 2,000 mobile health app developers has identified a set of common characteristics that distinguish successful apps from those which fail to gain traction and generate significant revenue. Success in this context is defined by two criteria: more than 500,000 downloads and at least $1 million in earnings. By contrast, most mobile health apps see fewer than 50,000 downloads and less than $10,000 in profits.
Prescription for Profitability
The study, conducted by mobile research firm research2guidance, examined the differences between more and less profitable health apps. The recipe for success is comprised of a few key components: service orientation, interface integration, and an iOS platform. Equally, the use of development tools and a solid foundation of mobile health experience are contributing factors.
Service, Integration, iOS
The mobile health apps which generate the highest earnings have a revenue model based not on downloads but on service. Over one third of the more successful apps profit primarily from sales of services, such as image sharing and remote monitoring. More downloads does not necessarily guarantee higher sales figures.
Another common trait among successful mobile health apps is their integration with external databases or devices that track health information. An application programming interface (API) consists of a set of instructions, which determines how software components should interface. By allowing access to external data, the value of these apps is enriched.
Successful mobile health apps use iOS as the primary platform. According to the research2guidance study, an impressive 75 percent of app developers expressed their preference for iOS over an Android platform. The preference held true across income groups, although it was most pronounced for high earners.
Development and Foundations
The health apps with the healthiest bottom line use plenty of development tools. Advertising networks, social networks, analytics and storage tools boost recognition and increase the odds of success. The key to widespread visibility is to go beyond the obvious (though crucial) strategy of being featured in the App Store.
Finally, a key characteristic of the so-called successful mobile health apps is their experience base. More than 50 percent of the leading apps have been present in the mobile health industry for at least four years. Furthermore, their developers had typically published more than 20 health apps.
Remote Monitoring To Surpass Focus on Fitness
According to the analysis, more than 25 percent of apps marketed today are oriented toward fitness. An even higher number (33 percent) of the mobile health apps currently available target patients with chronic illnesses. The report’s authors predict that the future focus will shift toward consultation apps and remote monitoring, with fitness apps falling behind.
The 43-page report, published in collaboration with Continua Alliance and HIMSS, is the fourth in an annual series released by research2guidance.