It seems harder and harder to find new niches. Everytime a new app idea pops in my mind, it takes me 2 minutes to find people who have done it, or tried to do it.
It doesn’t matter if someone has done an idea already. If there’s not a dominate app in a field that you believe is viable, then it could be an opening. Ideas are worthless, execution is what matters.
From many of the dead apps I’ve seen, the founders made it, expected it to grow on its own, then eventually abandoned it. Huge amount of marketing and hustling goes into growing the user base after you have a viable app. Building the app is only the first step. AirBnB founders maxed out dozens of credit cards, and sold branded cereal at $40 a box to fund their startup, which blows my mind to this day.
If the app isn't tied to a service in the real world, then yes.
The barrier to entry for developing a mobile app is extremely low. With iOS you used to at least grok memory management; Swift killed that. And with frameworks like React Native? Forget it.
I hinge my thoughts on value to Paul Graham's blog article, Schlep Blindness (http://www.paulgraham.com/schlep.html). If you want to deliver real value to a consumer, you have to do something that's actually hard, usually really hard to scale because it requires the nuts of bolts of operations management.
The only way out of this, of course, is to try to be a marketplace, but then your value becomes the computer science exercise of market-making. And that's not commodity - that's research. Uber and Lyft have IP of real value.
Approach a new idea as opportunity to create better product for your users. Regardless if something has been done before or not, your product should solve a problem better than who's done it before.
An example is Yahoo mail that came first, Gmail launched later and dominated the email experience.
The key is winning end-user's by offering a better experience so much so that users opt out of their old habit and stick to a new experience that they enjoy and love.
First, it's important to understand the distinction between "pure" apps and businesses with apps.
"Pure" apps are apps who's business is the app itself. Examples include most all mobile games (Clash Royale, Candy Crush), Evernote, and Life360.
Businesses with apps include Walmart, Google, and Epic Games (creator of Fortnite).
The distinction is that business can survive without their apps while "pure" app businesses can't.
Making a business with an app is a lot easier than making an app business.
In my opinion, the problem isn't that the apps market is saturated, it's that the app market doesn't exist. What I mean by that is there is a lot of unfilled niches in the app market because filling those niches isn't profitable. Discoverability is so difficult on the app market that without the right business model, no one will find your app even if it is amazing and solves a real problem.
Edit: A clarification to communicate my point more clearly. The average cost per install for US apps is around $2-3. An app has to be able to generate $2-3 dollars per user to just break even. Then you add in Google/Apple's 30% cut which means you need to make $4 per user for your app to be viable.
You just have to find something you are passionate about and do it better than what is on the market today.
Yes, the mobile app market is extremely cluttered - you will often find more than one app for a given niche.
Having said that, there is still scope for developing a good app (if that is what you are looking for to start out). You need to do some app/competitor analysis to understand the value that their app is providing to the customers. If you identify a "value gap", then maybe add more services/features to your app.
Be prepared to market it extremely well. So, prepare to have a good marketing budget and a cut-throat aggressive marketing strategy.
It's beyond doubt that barriers to entry are extremely low for developing an app. So you will have to constantly have enough budget for progressive marketing strategy along with maintenance cost of the app. Do your ROI analysis too before you decide to develop an app.
Yes being first has its advantages but also has some drawbacks. No matter what you do there will be somebody doing similar. Do it better! Within every market there are niches. Each niche will have a different need. The first to market allows you to exploit what they have missed.
@Stefanie Yang is spot on. Google invented the AJAX approach to achieve GMail. And it essentially created the web application in the process. The *how* of in-browser email client mattered, because it dramatically changed the UX.