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By Stephanie Musal • July 20, 2016

What App Developers and Founders Can Learn From Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go has tapped into a deep nostalgia amongst those who played Pokemon as kids and watched the TV show after school while adding novelty to the Pokemon universe (we’re actually living in it now!). It’s a killer combination that has helped drive Pokemon Go to the top of app stores. In under a week it has surpassed Tinder in downloads and is projected to surpass Twitter as well. That is the kind of growth of which founder’s dream. But you know what hasn’t held the app back? Bugs.


This is the single most fascinating and important takeaway from Pokemon Go’s first week. You don’t need perfection to strike a chord with users. Pokemon Go is littered with incredibly annoying problems. The game crashes frequently, the servers are constantly “experiencing issues”, and I can’t even begin to explain how frustrating it is when a pokeball that just trapped a 200+ Charmander freezes before the capture is saved. That hasn’t stopped users from promptly restarting the app to resume gameplay.


Pokemon Go is in beta and was originally intended only to be released and tested in the EU. However the app leaked and before long spread much further. Instead of dealing with the off-market downloads often littered with malware (a CloudMine engineer personally decompiled an off-market APK and was astounded at the amount of injected malware), Niantic, the company behind Pokemon Go, decided to release the app broadly on the official app stores. The decision to protect their users, even those using the app incorrectly, was a very responsible one, but it certainly served to greatly increase their downloads and traffic, ultimately straining their servers and contributing even more to the glitchiness of the game.


The large number of issues frustrate everyone but seem to stop no one from continuing to play and get addicted. It is a testament to the lean/agile way. Build something small that’s useable enough, the so called MVP or minimum viable product, then use feedback from the users you have to quickly iterate on and improve the product. It doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect or downright crappy. In fact it probably should be kind of crappy. As Reid Hoffmann, founder of Linkedin, famously said, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” The most important thing is to learn as quickly as possible whether users actually want what you think they want. Build, measure, improve. The iterative process creates a feedback loop that leads to an engaging product. Perfection or anything even resembling it is not necessary.


CloudMine’s platform is designed to give app developers the tools they need to build an MVP and then iterate on it. Data storage and APIs, user management and account governance, server-side logic, social integrations, push notifications, infrastructure - these are common elements to all apps that do nothing to help an app stand out to users. Every minute spent on those requirements is time that could have been spent building unique features that increase engagement. Let CloudMine handle the boring stuff so you can ship fast and focus on finding what makes you special. When your traffic spikes and it’s time to scale, CloudMine will scale for you so you can continue to do what you do best.

 

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This blog was written by Arthur Spector, CloudMine, Platform Engineer