We came up with a good idea. We’ve got a business plan that stands its ground, a benchmark as it really should be and the financing to go with it all. Let’s get stuck into the mobile adventure!
That’s exactly what might come out of the mouth of any young entrepreneur today and rightly so! But, in France we often end up waiting to actually have the product before we start things going. In the USA, when they have a prototype fresh off the blueprints the communication has already been launched on it!
Things are changing: doing it that way these days doesn’t hold entirely true though of young and innovative start-ups in France.
But, that’s just it, apart from innovation; does intellectual property act as a barrier to breaking into the mobile-app market?
Mobile applications can be protected by varying degrees of intellectual property rights. In particular, graphical user interfaces and the source code of application software are protected under the laws of copyright and/or industrial design rights. The content of databases benefits from specific legal protection of database producers.
Finally, if the application is a combination of technical and innovative characteristics based upon a particular technical effect, then patent protection may well be possible.
But, and here’s the reason for this post: is intellectual property the only reliable and sustainable barrier to entry on the mobile market?
Let’s take just one example which will serve to illustrate our point. Imagine you set up a system which is able to recognize shapes on a mobile device. Shape recognition is not patentable, but your system is. So, you do what’s necessary to get it protected. Everything is going fine, you end up hiring and you finally buy the Porsche.
You have Marketing 2.0 down to a T using social networks, display, SEO, SEM…within the confines of your budget.
Even before you come to the end of the repayments on the loan you took out, your sales drop like there is no tomorrow. Of course, that’s just about the only thing that could happen since some smart aleck on the other side of the planet has just brought out the same system as yours at half the price.
You exercise your legal rights and you win the lawsuit which will have cost you an arm and a leg in the process of it all. Your product, in the meantime, while all this is going on, ends up getting completely forgotten and it loses the competitive edge it once enjoyed.
The storyline might sound corny, but remember that Coyote and Waze in France went down that very same road. Waze was able to get around the French legal system by having its head office in Israel and making its application available for download throughout the world.
Let’s be pragmatic. This sort of unfair competition has been around since globalization popped up on the world scene and it can sometimes be a necessary evil for technological breakthroughs (Apple, Samsung, Cisco Juniper).
The question of enhancing intellectual property in the framework of mobile applications is trickier. Today, the democratization of the media knows no bounds. On the contrary to the high-level total outlay necessary to break into the hi-tech market, downloading an application is available to anyone’s budget and from any old smart device! The market is quickly accessible internationally and it has never been easier for a brand to be right in the very pocket of the consumer.
Can we really talk of barriers to entry into a market then?
I would tend to say no. Even more so today than ever before, innovation is at the very heart of the strategy of a company. Even more so today international law is reaching its limits. Even more so today the means of getting your product known need to be put into action!
The web desktop had two objectives attached to it. The first was to get you known and the second was to get buyers buying. The mobile web has thrown an intermediary objective amongst all of that and it’s getting the product used that is important too. Your innovation will undoubtedly only actually mean something if it is useful to the rest of the world. But, even more so on the mobile web that innovation needs to lead to almost-daily interest in the mind of the user. It’s exactly that interest that will bring about the enhancement of your product and get the consumer into the habit of using your brand. We all know that old habits die hard.
Edging its way into our private lives, how come Google has a better image than Facebook ? Quite simply because Google products are useful to us, whatever your generation.
Why do we prefer Office 365 to Google Apps? Because until the Millenials came along we were used to fat clients rather than the Full Cloud.
You can never say it enough and companies have understood it only too well: following your market on their mobile devices is a pre-requisite for the longevity of your business. But, developing an app can dampen the enthusiasm of even the most up-beat amongst us due to the costs involved. But, it is highly important to understand that the application itself is only the foundations of your mobile strategy. That strategy, despite bringing in money, is costly. That cost has to be worked into the cost-breakdown in the upstream stage of development of the project.
A development-promotion ration of 30-70% is hard to keep to, above all for a medium-sized firm. That’s exactly why at Appstud.Me, we think out the code in coherence with the promotional strategy that you need and how to get the customers coming back and at the same time working with the objective in mind of optimizing development costs.