Patrick Larsson

Monday 30th June 2014

Get Yourself an App Store Presence – Part 3

In part 1 and 2 of this series we have talked about getting into the app business by creating your own apps from scratch (part 1) or by outsourcing the development process or at least part of it (part 2). If neither of those alternatives seem appealing to you there is a third – buying already made apps – which is what this last part will be about.

When buying an existing app there are two main ways to go about it; buying a version of an app that has to be re-skinned (template app) or buying an existing, one of a kind app that is simply transferred into your name once the transaction is complete.

The main differences between these two approaces is that an app that needs to be re-skinned is cheaper (as the same app is sold to many people) and requires you to re-skin it with your own graphics. A one-of-a-kind app that is transferred from an existing developer into your name and account on the other hand is ready for sale on day 1 but is also more expensinve to buy.


Template apps

Let us look a bit closer at the two alternatives by starting with buying what is often referred to as a template app. A template app is just that, a template for an app. The template is sold over and over again to anyone who wants to buy it, just like a nice looking PowerPoint template. Once you have bought the app you are required by the sales agreement to modify the app by adding your own graphics. You can, of course, do more than that like adding additional levels, characters etc.

These template apps usually cost about $200 to buy. For that price you get the full code for the app and usually also support from the developer of the template. You can look at the process kind of like how web publishing has evolved. In the beginning it were mainly coders building websites. As the market matured a lot of services came to be that helped anybody to quickly set up their own one-of-a-kind website by modifying a few key script variables. The app business is not quite there yet but it will be soon.

If you are interested in going down this route just search Google for "app templates" and you will find a plethora of sites selling templates or services to automate app building for you (claiming no coding required ).


Buying an already existing app

If you believe that buying a template is not going to set your app apart from the pack enough or if you do not feel comfortable adding your own graphics (which do require some coding knowledge), you can buy an already existing app. You can do so from a number of different sites. A good collection of sites can be found here

Already made apps often times have already been on the App Store for a while. That means you can check their performance as well as their look and feel. This will be valuable when determining if the asking price is right. Please note that just like when buying a used car, the sticker price is never the final sale price. It seems as if a 50% discount is quite normal if you check recent sales on Apptopia for example.

Many times apps are offered in bundles meaning you get more than one app for the price you pay. This might be a valuable option if you, for example, plan on adding cross promotion between your apps. Once your purchase is complete, wether it is for one app or a bundle, transfering the apps to your own developer account is super easy and quick (our last app transfers were on the Apple platform and they went through in about 60 seconds).


A Real World Example

At Happi Papi we have not yet tried buying an app from another developer (we have only transfered apps between our own developer accounts) but we recently spoke to a developer who had done it. He bought 18 apps for $27,000 and said that he made his money back in about 3-4 months. (However, one of the apps he bought got a prominent feature by Apple just after his purchase which helped cut down the payback period significantly.)

Lastly, don't forget that you also have the option to sell the apps that you have bought. There are developers out there who buy apps, slap on some cross promotion, market the apps heavily and once they have achieved the ranking positions they planned sells the apps again. Done right, especially if your skills lay in marketing rather than in programming, this could be a viable alternative to being in it for the long haul.

Patrick Larsson Patrick is co-founder of Happi Papi.
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