Four Reasons Behind Pokémon Go’s Success

Pokemon Go

Four Reasons Behind Pokémon Go’s Success

I can’t seem to get away from it.  I’m watching a gaggle of millennials roam the mall with their smartphones out trying to catch the Pokémon virtual characters.  Pokémon Go has generated a lot of media buzz.  In its debut week, Pokémon Go broke the Apple App Store’s download record and it currently, holds the position of “Top Grossing iPhone” app (not bad for a free app).   So what’s made Pokémon Go so successful?  Here are my observations.

Pokemon Go Top of charts


In my conversations with the millennials (both in their twenties) playing the Pokémon Go, as children they were avid players of Pokémon on the Nintendo DS.  10 years later, they admitted that part of the allure was that it was nostalgic and brought back happy memories.

Innovative Game Play

The one unique thing about this game is that it requires the players to go outside and search for the Pokémon characters.    Essentially, it’s a virtual scavenger hunt.  The game’s augment reality is an interesting aspect.  However, I talked to one player who found it annoying and actually turns it off which makes me think it’s not a driving feature of the game.


Once a player gets to level 5 in the game, they can join teams.  Many games have a social aspect to it.  However, what’s different about Pokémon Go is that because it forces players to walk out in the real word to find the characters, the social aspect can be real (not virtual).  The millennial that I spoke to, said that all her friends at Taco Bell are on the same team and they would often go on their scavenger hunt after work.

A Brilliant Monetization Strategy

As I mentioned earlier, Pokémon Go is currently the Top Grossing App on the Apple Store.  As in most free games, there’s an in-app purchase where players can buy virtual goods which is typical (from my conversation my Pokémon Go playing millennials between the two of them had already spent $25).  What’s brilliant is virtual good called “Lure” Module which attracts a Pokémon to a PokeStop for 30 minutes.

A New York pizzeria claims that their revenue jumped 75% over the weekend by purchasing $10 in Lure Modules.   So if you buy in bulk it comes out to $1.70 per Lure Module which is a pretty good ROI.  Even more interesting is that there will be a national sponsorship system where retailers like Jamba Juice  and McDonalds can set up their own  Poke Stops.

Pokemon Go Lure

The  Future

Time will tell if Pokémon Go has staying power or if it’s just a fad. Right now, it’s going very strong.  Success spawns imitators and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a Disney or Looney Tunes version next year.    Maybe Pokémon Go’s model will inspire your own startup.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.


5 Reasons Public Sector Organizations Should Have a Native Mobile App in 2016

In a previous post, I discussed why public sector organizations and non-profits should adopt a mobile strategy and briefly mentioned that they should consider developing a native mobile app. In this article, I give five reasons why a public sector organization should develop a native mobile app.

Native Mobile App Advantage #1: Deliver Mobile Friendly Content

One of the benefits of a native mobile app is that it will deliver mobile friendly content. Any information that is displayed on the organization’s website can be repurposed and added to an app so it can be easily read on a smart phone. When adding content, it’s important to remember there’s limited real estate so you need to pick content that’s most used. Content that is rarely viewed on the web site doesn’t have to be included in the app.

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Native Mobile App Advantage #2: Convenience:

Smart Phone users spend 80% of their time using apps vs. 20% of time on the web. I think a big reason is convenience. Think about it: Would you rather use the Facebook app or launch Safari to access it? If you have content on your website that is regularly accessed, you should strongly consider developing an app to make it more convenient for your users.

Native Mobile App Advantage #3: Push Notifications

One of the most powerful features that can be found on an app is the ability to send out push notifications. Push notifications have a read rate around 80%. Compare that to email which has a dismal read rate of 22%. If you think about it, if your phone vibrates, you instinctively glance down to see if it’s an important message. That’s the power of mobile which is why apps are only going to increase in popularity.

Image Source: PUBL 

Native Mobile App Advantage #4: App Smartphone Capabilities

A native mobile app has the ability to leverage smartphone’s capabilities. For public sector organizations and non-profits, some of the things to consider include:

GPS: The ability to provide directions and show resources on a map

Push Notifications: Refer to Native Mobile App Advantage #3

Camera: A picture says a thousand words. The ability to send an image provides faster communication

Tap to Communicate: The ability to tap the screen for emails, calls, and text really facilitates communication


Image Source: Fasturtle

Native Mobile App Advantage #5: Offline Mode

Probably the biggest advantage of an app over mobile web sites is the ability to work offline. A mobile web site needs an internet connection to function in comparison to an app that can function without Internet access. This is best for a population that either has unreliable data connection or for economic reasons cannot afford a Wi-Fi data plan.

A native app is a communication tool for their customers which if used and promoted properly can become a valuable asset to any public sector organization or non-profit.


By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Why the Public Sector Needs a Mobile Strategy in 2016


Image Source: Open Ratio

Let’s face it; the public sector tends to drag their feet with recognizing opportunity which is why many organizations overlook the power of mobile technology. There are several reasons why non-profits and public sector organizations need to adopt a mobile strategy.

Mobile Technology is here to Stay

The main reason that a mobile strategy needs be adopted is that the population has already adopted mobile. In the few short years following the debut iPhone, these devices have had unprecedented growth. There are lots of studies and statistics to prove this point. My favorite is that there are more mobile devices than there are people in the world.

Mobile searches exceed desktop searches

Recently Google reported that there are more searches done on a mobile device than from a desktop computer. This is significant because it represents a tech trend that needs to be acknowledged and adopted. If more people are depending on mobile for their needs, it would make sense to have an effective mobile strategy.

Google’s algorithm favors mobile friendly web sites

In 2015, Google changed their algorithm that a search done on a mobile device will favor mobile friendly websites. Based on points 2 and 3, organizations that have a mobile friendly web site will have an advantage over those that don’t.


Image Source: Deluxe E-Vectors

Mobile may be the only means of internet access

In a recent study, mobile was the only means of access to the Internet for 23% of families below the poverty level. So for organizations that deal with providing social services, a significant part of the population they serve can only access the internet via mobile device.

Web sites designed for desktops are difficult to navigate from mobile phone

A good example is the California WIC web site. This web site is hard enough to navigate on a desktop computer. If you are in the WIC program, there’s a slight chance that the only internet connection you have is through a mobile device. Try navigating the WIC web site with your smart phone and experience what it looks like to have a poor mobile strategy.


Image Source: Mobloggy

When developing a mobile strategy, there are 3 elements to consider:

Develop a mobile friendly website

This will address points 2 and 3 previously discussed.

Communicate via SMS

I see a lot of communication from the Public Sector done via email marketing. Sadly, with an open rate of only 22%, it’s really a futile way to communicate. SMS, on the other hand, has a read rate of 98%. The good news is that there are a lot of SMS marketing tools out there that are relatively inexpensive. I’ve actually seen a couple of organizations that realize that SMS is a better way to communicate and employees end up using their personal mobile devices to send out text messages.

Develop a mobile app

An app can be a very effective tool to communicate with the population served by a public sector organization. A mobile app that is used specifically for a platform or device is what’s called a “native app.” The reasons an organization should have their own native app are numerous and as such, I plan to write a future post on why a public sector organization would need a native app.

UYODImage Source: Esign Live

Businesses will continually develop more simplified mobile solutions to increase work efficiency and communication. One way or another, this is the direction the future holds. I want you to take advantage of this trend by staying ahead of the curve and strategize how to most effectively integrate mobile. If you manage a public sector organization, I hope this post gave you some food for thought on why you need to adopt a mobile strategy and how to go about it. If you want to read on some of the common challenges in the mobile community, check out my personal insight as a modern day appreneur. 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event. 

Three Reasons Why Your App Should Include Push Notifications

Three Reasons Why Your App Should Include Push Notifications

For our clients, I will typically recommend that they include ability to send out push notifications.  Here are three reasons why:

  1. Push Notifications allow you to market directly to your clients: If you are able to get your customers to download your app and opt in for push notifications, they are essentially providing permission for you to market to them directly.  One of our first clients had an app allowing their customers to order pizza.  Mondays were their slow days when they might only get 2 pizza orders from their app.  We did an experiment where we sent out a push notification offering $3 off a large pizza.  That day, they received 14 orders from their app.
  2. Push Notifications have a high read rate: Email marketing has a dismal read rate of below 14%.   In comparison, push notifications have a 50% higherread rate with click-through rates that are twice as high.
  3. Push Notifications increase retention rate: push notifications are an effective way for the app to interact with a user.  In fact, according to a recentstudy, it’s shown that push notifications increase the 90 day retention rate by as much as 180%.

So, if you are currently developing an app you should consider adding the ability to send push notifications.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Google Algorithm Change Favors Mobile Friendly Sites

Google announced that their algorithm will change on April 21, 2014 so that mobile friendliness will be a factor.  What impact this has on a web site’s SEO is yet to be seen.  However, if your business depends on being found through a Google search, you have to take this seriously.  (I have seen businesses get devastated by a change in Google’s algorithm).

So, what does it mean to be mobile friendly?   Here are some factors that determine your mobile friendliness rating:

  • Software not commonly used on mobile devices like Adobe Flash.
  • Use text that is readable without having to zoom in.
  • Web page adapts so that the user doesn’t have to zoom in or scroll horizontally.
  • Links are far enough apart so that the correct one can be tapped.

Still not sure if your site is mobile friendly?  Google offers this easy test.

So what do you do if your site isn’t mobile friendly?  A quick fix is to create a mobile site using a service like DudaMobile.  You can then have your webmaster add a script so that traffic to your website from a mobile device re-directs to your mobile site.  In my opinion, this is just a band-aid solution.  Long term, if your site isn’t mobile friendly, you should consider re-creating your site using responsive design.   With responsive design, the web site adapts to the user’s device; be it desktop, tablet, or smartphone.

Aside from Google’s change in algorithm, having a mobile friendly site is just smart business.  Mobile exceeds PC Internet Usage.   Having a good user experience is crucial if you want to have repeat visits.  In this study, 44% of shoppers won’t return to a site that isn’t mobile friendly.  If your site isn’t mobile friendly, now is the time to make the change.  Otherwise, you may lose a lot of your business to your competitors that made the jump.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at @ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.


Who Owns the Source Code?

Source CodeA client had developed an app and asked us to do some minor work on their existing app. I told him that we would need access to the source code so the client went back to the original developer to get the source code only to find that the developer claimed the source code as his intellectual property and refused to provide it. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I’ve seen this source code ownership issue. Here are some of the implications of not having the source code to your app:

  • You are forever tied to the developer. Any modification, bug fix, or upgrade has to go through that developer. This is problematic because the developer could raise the price of development and is problematic if that developer becomes sick, busy with other projects, etc.
  • Raising funds or selling your project becomes more difficult because there’s a question of who owns the intellectual property.

Common Law

(Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer; if this is a concern, please get good legal counsel). In general, the author of content owns the copyright. In the case of a software developer, it’s the person physically typing on the key board to create the code. An exception occurs under the “Work for Hire” doctrine where the work is developed by an employee with the scope of their employment. However, when contractors are used, this becomes a little more unclear.

Personal Opinion

If I hire someone to buy a house, at the end of the project, I want the keys to it. In a similar fashion, if I pay someone to develop an app for me, I would expect to have the source code upon completion. At Apptology, this is our general policy. The exception is when we develop an app based off one of our templates. In which case, the template is our intellectual property.


If you are having an app developed by a contractor, have an open discussion about the source code ownership as part of the vetting process. If you don’t agree with their source code policy, move on. If you decide to go with that developer, make sure the ownership of the source code is spelled out in the contract.

Accessing Digital Content from Print Media: Web Addresses, Short Codes, and QR Codes

There are several tools used that bridge print to digital media. Web addressesshort codes, and QR codes are common tools that allow readers to quickly access digital content from print media and I’ll discuss the advantages, disadvantages and our recommendations.

Web Addresses (URL)

When companies started having their own web pages, it became common place to have them list their web address on print advertising, business cards, product packaging etc. Users easily understood this and simply typed the address in a browser. In general, it’s pretty idiot proof if the URL is easily remembered. It becomes a bit of problem if the advertiser wants to send the reader to a URL that’s long and not easily remembered. So if you wanted to promote an instructional YouTube video on your product package, having a person type in a long and complex URL like this “” is problematic. Fortunately, there are solutions like tinyurlbitly, and that can shorten a long complex URL to something that’s easily remembered and typed. Now that we are moving to a mobile audience, if you do list a URL on print advertising, my advice is to make sure that it points to a site that is mobile friendly.

Short Codes

With the introduction of cell phones, came SMS (or text) marketing. A short code is a wordthat you can text to a number and to get a response. Typically short codes are used to get customers to opt into a text marketing campaign. But the response can include a hyperlink.

hawthorne short codeFor example, if you text “hawthorne” to 96362 it will send a response that includes a hyperlink to download the City of Hawthorne App. The advantage of short codes is that most people understand how it works and it gives you the opportunity for them to opt in for further marketing. The disadvantage is that it requires the user to remember both the short code and the number to text it to. Again, if the purpose is to send the user to a specific web address, remember to make it mobile optimized.

QR Codes

QR Code stands for “Quick Response” Code and was originally developed by Toyota to track inventory. It is open source so there are many QR code reader apps available that have been developed on multiple mobile platforms. When a user scans a QR Code, it can respond by taking the user to a specific web address. In my opinion, it’s the best method to bridge print to mobile for several reasons:

  1. It’s essentially free to use. If you want to create a QR code, it’s free. Just Google “QR Code Generator” and you’ll find several free sites to create QR codes.
  2. It’s open source so that that there many apps that support it and if you needed to, you can add a QR code reader function to your own app.
  3. As smart phone use has increased, so has the understanding of what a QR code is.

However, the QR code has received a lot of bad press because campaigns built around it were failures. The main problem with QR codes is that a lot of people just don’t know what it’s used for, hence the failure of QR code campaigns. Reality check: a QR code is just a tool that points to a web address. It should just be used in the same way that displaying a web address is used.

Over the years, several other substitutes for QR code readers have been developed such as Microsoft TagClickable PaperBlippar, and Touchcode. The problem with these solutions is that it requires a proprietary app to download and consequently more consumer education. So as much as marketers gripe about it, I still haven’t seen a better alternative to the QR code.

I think QR codes will be more and more understood as more and more people start showrooming with their smartphone. I taught my uncle how to use RedLaser app. Afterwards, he went into Best Buy, scanned the bar code of something he wanted to buy and showed it to the cashier who then matched the best Internet pricing and he saved $20. He now scans everything in sight.


If you are going to send people to a web page using one of the above methods, the best practice is to let them know what they’re getting. So, if they scan the QR code, they can get the app or see a product demo or get a discount.

QR codes are fairly robust and about 30% of it can be compromised and it will still work. You’re not stuck with using the black and white QR code either. In fact, for our clients, we will create a branded QR code that looks a lot more interesting. I’ve also seen some graphic artists have fun with QR codes and make it part of a larger image.

city of hawthorneAt Apptology, we’ve struggled with the best way to promote our clients apps. The solution came to me from a Taco Bell wrapper where they used an “all of the above” approach and promoted their marketing campaign with a web address, short code, and QR code. We now do the same for our clients and create a web page, short code, and QR code to help our clients promote their app.

The Three Basic App Monetization Strategies

If you are thinking about making money from developing apps, there are three basic app monetization strategies that you should consider:

1. Price: The most obvious way to make money is by selling it on the app store. On the Apple App store, the price can range from .99 to $999.99. Both Apple and Google will take 30% but they both have pretty good systems that will deposit the funds directly into your bank account. From what I’ve observed, putting a price on your app is a barrier for people to download your app. If your goal is to make a profit, my suggestion is to look at the freemium model. However, if your app solves a business problem and there’s a definite ROI (Return on Investment), then you should charge accordingly.

2. Freemium Model: The freemium model is where the user can download the app for free and monetization is done by using in-app purchase. There are typically three categories for in app purchases:

  • Trial version or limited function app where the in-app purchase unlocks the full functionality of the app
  • Virtual goods in a game (this got a lot of bad press when kids spent thousands of dollars on smurfberries)
  • Subscriptions for a newsstand app or content related app

Here’s a snapshot of the 27 top grossing apps on the app store. Only 2 apps in this group are paid. As such, I typically advise client to go the route of the freemium model.

3. Advertising: Mobile advertising is expected to balloon at a rate of 75% this year to $31 billion. Typically people think of banner ads. Facebook has done a superb job of monetizing using native ads. There are other creative adverting mechanisms like Kiip which rewards developer and users when they make an achievement in a game and AppEnvoy which puts the advertising in the push notification.

Everything Else

I also want to point out that the monetization strategies in this post does not include apps that deliver a service like Uber.  Another way to make money from your app is get acquired. WhatsApp is the entrepreneur’s dream when it got staggering $19 billion from Facebook. If I look at WhatsApp, I’m actually puzzled by their revenue model. They don’t have advertising nor do they really have a subscription base. My theory is that they somehow monetize from the user data; but since they don’t respond to my inquires (I’m kidding), we may never know.

Final Thoughts

So in conclusion, if you want to make money from your app, make it so that your app will get acquired for some staggering amount by Facebook or Google (if you figure this out, please call me). If that fails, my recommendation is to go the freemium route and then figure out whether you’ll use in-app purchasing, mobile advertising, or a combination of both.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy. Follow Rich on Twitter at @ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

The App Store as a Search Engine

There’s an interesting trend where people are using the various app stores as a search engine.  To illustrate this, I’ll discuss the experience of a one of our clients.  Normally, for all our clients, I recommend that they have a marketing plan to promote their app.  However, in the case of the app, Drug Test Info, that we developed for the American Screening Corporation, this was receiving a high amount of downloads without any promotion on every app store (Apple App Store, Google Play,  and Blackberry App World) that it was published in.

There’s an App For That

It finally dawned on us that people were find the app by searching for “drug test” so the name of the app, “Drug Test Info,” clearly had an advantage.  Apples slogan, “There’s an app for that,” implies that there’s an app to solve every particular problem.  So, often, people are searching the various app stores to solve a problem.

A search for "Sacramento  Real Estate" only yields 7 results.

A search for “Sacramento Real Estate” only yields 7 results.

Searching Google vs. Searching the App Store

If you Google “Sacramento Real Estate,” on a browser, you’ll find literally hundreds of entries.  Compare that to doing the same search on the Apple App Store and you’ll find only 7 apps listed.   The search on the browser is dominated by ad sponsored entries and big named realtors.   Conversely, the apps found in this example were developed for local realtors (Swint Realty is one of our clients).


However, in many cases, because there are so many apps in one category, you’ll be unable to find a specific app based on the key words.  Such an example is the mediation app we developed for a client.  Because there literally hundreds of mediation apps.

For the Apple App Store, you’re limited to 100 characters.  You have to be also very careful because once you submitted your app to Apple, you won’t be able to change the key words.


Here are some recommendations in being found easier in the App Store:

  • Name your app with the crucial key word.  For example the app we named developed for the American Screening Corporation was called “Drug Test Info.”  I think the name of the app is one of the big reason that it’s easily found
  • If your business is more regional, add the name of your city as a key word.  In the case of our client’s app, Swint Realty, one of their key words is Sacramento.  So, when someone searches “Sacramento Real Estate,” they are one of the 6 apps that show up.
  • Better yet, combine both above recommendations.  So if I were a realtor in Sacramento, I would name my app “Sacramento Real Estate.”
  • For more advanced projects, you may want to develop your Android app first.  Because Google Play has no restrictions on keywords (and how often you alter them), this will allow you time to optimize your keywords.  Once you figure out the optimal keywords, you can then publish your iOS app.

Being found via keywords on the app store, may be worth the price of admission, especially if your business is regional and you find  that your key words are competitive on Google.  Good luck.


Rich Foreman

CEO / Appotology