Firstly, lets answer the questions “Why is it taking so long?” and “Where are we at?”
The simplest answers is that due to the way the concept grew, our development process was done a bit backwards and we virtually completed two versions that we are now not now using.
Originally, when we first developed the mobile application there was two separate apps, as the original concept was for the devices to show and be tracked on the same user dashboard we were using for everything else. Likewise, we were going to use the existing Android and iPhone dashboards. So, we developed an application that when installed on a device would report its lat and long back to our existing server.
This meant that if you wanted to track 5 phones for example you would need to install the tracking app on the 5 phones then install a separate dashboard or “Admin” app on your phone to be able to see where they were. And / or log into the PC / Web dashboard.
Once the decision was made to create the application as a stand alone product we marketed the application in the app stores with our marketing efforts directed at receiving customer feedback. After our initial round of market testing we quickly realised two very important things.
One, and the most important was that the large majority of the market we are targeting do not wish to have to access their computer / PC to create an account or access basic system functionality. They want to be able to do everything from their mobile device and a high majority do not even own a PC, especially in countries such as Indonesia and India.
Two, and just as important was that the two app configuration we had in place was not going to work. Our marketing premise, budgets, algorithms and formulas are and will all be based primarily on a couple of retention rates.
- X Retention: The number of users that download the app and create an account / free trial versus uses that download it, realise it’s not what they want and delete it.
- Y Retention: The Number of users that download the app and use and delete after the free trial versus the number that retain the app and continue using it once the free trial period is finished. (create a paid account)
We found out quite quickly that the (what we consider simple) complexity of having to download and install two separate apps was too much and our X retention rate was as little as 10%. So the decision was made to combine the two apps into one single user friendly application that did both processes and make the account creation process and all relative processes mobile friendly. This way the user never has to touch a PC if they do not wish to. Note that there is still only limited functionality available on the Mobile dashboard, whilst the full suite of reports etc is only accessible via PC / Web. Once we completed this process, combined all into one single app and went back to market out X retention rate went up past 50%. One problem solved.
This finished app required some further tweaking after weeks of testing in the real world and ironing out all the bugs. It is now finished and available in the Google Play Store.
One thing that you need to take into consideration and the biggest part of our learning curve is that we are building a product that we are marketing to a global audience and each country is at different levels / stages of tech development and consumerism. We have to take this into account everyday to develop a product that will be successful across the spectrum.
The next problem that this change created is that greedy old Apple decided that they would not let us sell the product / charge a subscription fee outside of the Apple framework where they would not be able to have their finger in the pie and grab there commission. hence the reason the app is on the Google Store but not the Apple store as they continue to reject it and remove it.
The only solution is to change our payment strategy and create an “In App” purchase facility whereas the user subscribes to the server via the app store and all funds come to us via Apple less their commission. Google will also be doing this to us in sometime so we are developing this feature for both platforms now as it will not be long before it is the only way to host a paid app in either store.
As we no longer use ProofHub for the project management, everything is now in GitLab a program that allows us to manage the project but also code within the same environment (see screen shots), making for a much faster, single platform process.
So in addition to the the 300+ other tasks and sub tasks related to the app the above are the two main jobs we have been working on for the past couple of months along with the translations, Marketing Plan, API, User Interface and the ZoHo Plugin which I will discuss in another post.