Mobile development · Business Development

Adding a new feature to an existing app or create a different app?

Laura Aslan Consultant at Scriptofan Technologies Inc.

May 1st, 2015

Let's say you have already built an app, and, as things progress, you have new functionality in mind. That new functionality could become a new feature of the existing app, or, you could create an entirely new app containing that functionality.
How do you decide between these two options?

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Becky Cruze Editor of "How to Start a Startup: The Book," Board Member of Women Get It Done

May 5th, 2015

I recently read about a pair of founders who left the Google Creative Lab to strike out on their own. They are really passionate about audio messaging and ended up creating a suite of apps meeting different use cases rather than one comprehensive app. In this interview, they talk about why they chose to create several different apps rather than just adding more features onto the first one. Hope it helps! http://thinkapps.com/blog/development/chhirp-cord-shhout-audio-messaging/

Ram Bala Assistant Professor at Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University

May 2nd, 2015

The answer should really depend on only one thing: your customer base. Evaluating the potential of the customer base might involve some understanding of how your technology affects it. But that's about it.

What you are facing is a classic versioning conundrum. Suppose I have 3 market segments: A, B and AB. A strongly prefers your existing feature. B strongly prefers your new feature. AB wants both features.

Two separate apps will allow for products better targeted to segments A and B but will be onerous for AB since it has to make the tough choice of using separate apps to have their needs met.

A single combo app will appeal to AB but will lose focus when it comes to A and B. 

The exact answer will depend on the value of each of three segments and hopefully you have some estimate (however approximate). Surveys might help. It will also depend on the extent of "loss of focus" by combining these apps. The nature and quality of technology would affect that answer. Approaching the issue this way would also give you a more systematic / quantitative way of answering this question and justifying it to different stakeholders. 

Jarred Hardman

May 1st, 2015

If the new functionality provides value add to the current App, is something which will enhance your App, is something your Apps target market wants and you see it has generating additional revenue (from a captured market - its an easier sell to an existing client than acquiring a new one). But, if possible develop it as a module, which gives you the flexibility to convert it into a separate App once you have uptake from the users of your existing App.

Ujjwal Trivedi

May 2nd, 2015

One of the important thing is to see where does the app lie in the broad problem-solution framework. If you are trying to solve a problem and the new feature still comes in the scope of solution it should be added to the current solution. 

If however, it can prospectively be expanded to solve another problem for same or similar customer base, it makes sense to have a new app for it. 

Please also check CAC and other pirate metrics to understand how and when can you break even with your new product, before you decide to go for it.  This checklist of questions may be able to help you better. 

Patrina Mack Experts in global commercialization

May 2nd, 2015

All the answers have been good but let me explicitly call out something that's only partially expressed in most of the previous answers.   What is it that your customers want and what would they be willing to pay for?   How will you monetize this incremental development and at what cost to development of your existing product(s)?   You're starting to get to the point of needing to think product portfolio.  With every new opportunity there's an opportunity cost.   Most of the comments seemed internally focused as if the team could analyze their way through this question.  Trouble with that approach is that it perpetuates internal folklore that may or may not be on base for you business.  When in doubt talk to customers...they will surprise you.   There are a number of online survey tools that will let you interview your installed base for free or buy sample for $2-$5K depending on your target investment...it's a relatively inexpensive investment compared to a bad product development strategy and the associated development expense.

Chris Carruth VP/Director. Strategy | Business Development | Operations | Product | Solutions

May 3rd, 2015

Agree with the comments that focus on the customer. Quick story..in previous role we had a whole slew of ideas for new products. Held a half a dozen "town hall meetings", i.e., 50-60 potential users in each meeting, equipped with electronic voting pads with a mic'd moderator upfront. Used storyboards, sketches and UI composites with goal of identifying/prioritizing what apps would be most successful.

One of many things we found...users often thing of features as part of a solution. Meaning, what was app1, app4 and app10 actually are features of a combined app which no one had completely thought of.

Lesson learned - know your consumer so you can frame out the possibilities..but don't think you are the consumer and end up missing the opportunities!

Jacob Johnson Artist and Creative Product Designer

May 1st, 2015

Depends on what the feature is and if it elevates your app or clogs it. The biggest problem I see with creating a new app from a feature of an existing one is the migration of the current users. If the feature fits well within the current application, then why not just add it as an additional awesomeness? You get the luxury of converting existing users, as well as none of the hassle of marketing an entirely new application; which in turn has it's own barriers like market fit and visibility...and it's not as simple as "just promo the new app inside the existing one". That being said, if your current users are low, and you feel that this feature is a beneficial pivot, then moving on from the old application to the new one could have the benefits of a fresh start without all the bloat of the old app. If it were me, of course depending on my current user base, I would add it as an additional feature. I come from gaming tho, so I'm not much help. heh ;)

Gil Allouche Founder @ Metadata

May 1st, 2015

from a marketing standpoint, creating a different app can get amazing results for marketing -- you can also seed the market/create buzz (see how-old.net, or hubspot site analysis tool or sidekick, or kissmetrics' tools etc) However, if it's tightly embedded in the product or an obvious feature that complements and offering but doesn't offer a whole lot of value independently -- it makes more sense to use it internally. Gil | metadata.io

Paolo Mentonelli

May 1st, 2015

I guess a few things come to mind: 1) What customer problem does this feature solve? Does it make sense for it to stand alone? Is it tightly bound or related to the problem you're solving with the existing app? 2) Who are you solving the problem for? Is it the same set of users/personas the existing app is for? If yes, I would be inclined to keep it in app, if no possibly break it out. Have you verified with real, existing customers that the problem is a significant pain point for them? Do they want the new feature? 3) Following on two, let's say it is a different set of users or, more likely, a subset of existing users plus a new user community... How much is it going to cost you in terms of time and money to build a significant audience/user base for a new app? By how much do you expect to grow your market with this new feature/app? Do the numbers add up? 4) What are the UX trade-offs you have to make to incorporate the new feature into the existing app? Can you do it without degrading the experience with the existing app? HINT: if the problem you're solving doesn't apply to a significant portion of your existing user base the answer is probably not.

Perri Gorman Founder of Archively & UnrollMe

May 1st, 2015

I think it totally depends on your addressable market and the customer. Are you building functionality because it is an evolution of what the user needs or are you building functionality because you have some new idea? I think you need to make decisions based on dialed in understanding of behavior.