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Comment on "Deciding What Kind of App to Write"
by Corey Ehmke — Sep 10
In the "app aimed at a very specific need" camp, I've often found that inspiration for an application can come from needing, as a user, to find an application to solve a particular problem, only to discover that the applications that already exist only meet (at best) 80% of my needs.

I loosely apply the principle of the categorical imperative and assume that if the remaining 20% of functionality is important to me, it's probably important for a number of other people as well.

In a given field of applications, the baseline functionality that all of the applications deliver can be thought of as "basic needs". Whatever terms describe this baseline functionality are the same terms that people will use to find your application, whether through a web search or browsing through the Apple Products Guide. Your application needs to address the same basic needs as competing apps, but preferably in a more elegant or user-friendly way. The problem with innovating in the area of basic needs is that potential users of your application may not ever get the chance to weigh your more elegant approach to basic needs against a better-known competitor, so you shouldn't focus too much of your effort on the "better mousetrap" problem.

Basic needs cover 80-90% of the functionality; unspoken needs (also called "delighters") make up the balance. Here's your chance, as a developer, to really shine; by innovating around a need that no one is addressing (my missing 20% above), you can distinguish your application in an immediately obvious way and, potentially, address the needs of a large enough user base to get some traction.

The trick is that over time, "delighters" transform into basic needs. What once made an application stand out in a field of competitors is now addressed in more or less the same way across that field. So your application is never finished, and you must either continue to innovate, or abandon the cause altogether.
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