Distribution..

How do users discover your mobile service, app, site? This challenge has existed forever, and was the ultimate source of portals (Yahoo) and search engines (Google) as well as marketing in general.

So what is a portal now? A starting point – therefore it could be the URL bar in your browser, the springboard on the iPhone or the Store on your Android phone. m.yahoo.com is a competitor for the App Store which is a competitor for your carrier portal (or browser homepage..) and you want placement on all of them. So how do users discover your stuff!!?

Perhaps to rephrase, how do you stand out? How does Apple manage a store with 100,000 apps? By having 1,000 categories? Search engines on the web gradually bubble things to the top but that requires an awful lot of browsing, linking, clicking and analysis which is not easy to translate to mobile. Nokia’s Ovi claims that by using “people who bought X also bought Y” type recommendations – refined by using a “social” network – they can discard the dross, but somehow I doubt it. More likely they get enough users to warrant paid promotions 😉

These are really tough problems that have an obvious solution for developers – not posting an update every 24 hrs to force your position in the “newest apps” or by crosslinking from 1000 junk directories to increase your pagerank- but by making really, really good apps. Your friends, users, enemies all post to facebook, they tweet, they blog. Make something really excellent and we’ll know about it sooner or later. Stop compromising with poor product design, bad graphics or slow UIs. Don’t make another inane clone of an existing site. Don’t make something you wouldn’t even use yourself. I sound like Seth Godin.

Just knuckle down and make something really great!

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