Mobile app developers vie for the next big thing

A good mobile app \'makes your users feel smart about what they\'re doing,\' says Pete Erickson of MoDev. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

WASHINGTON – Few would verbalize it, but for over 700 mobile app developers gathered in Tysons Corner, the goal is simple.

“How do you become the next Snapchat?” asks Pete Erickson, founder of MoDev, which connects thinkers, builders and marketers in the world of mobile technology.

The two-day MoDevEast summit runs through Friday at the Gannett Conference Center, in McLean, Va.

Instead of technology and software focused on desktop computers, mobile technology allows users to perform many of the same tasks on portable digital devices, including smartphones, tablet computers, and wearable technology.

Erickson says the key to a successful mobile app is simplicity and user experience.

“What a great user experience means is you make your users feel smart about what it is they’re doing,” he says.

Snapchat allows users to take and share photos, videos and text which are permanently deleted from the Snapchat server after being viewed for between 1 and 10 seconds, depending on the sender’s preference.

“Snapchat is easy to use, it’s quick, it makes people feel good because they’re communicating in a new way that gives them some power,” Erickson says.

Taking a mobile app from conception to sensation requires a multi-pronged strategy, which differs from traditional marketing plans, according to Erickson.

“In the past you built a product, you got it all ready, then you did a big marketing blitz, and you launched it,” Erickson says.

With mobile apps, “marketing starts the second you really have your concept for your app,” he says.

Erickson says the first thing mobile app developers do is put up a web page for the app idea, and get interested people to give their email addresses to participate as beta users.

“And then as you develop that app and get it ready for market you’ve already got a built-in user base, that is giving you feedback, that’s going to help you launch your app into success,” he says.

The wildly popular and controversial Snapchat has rejected multi-billion-dollar offers from Facebook and Google to acquire the company.

“That’s what a lot of people here are chasing after,” Erickson says with a smile.

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