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ralphThere are 6 hidden factors which distinguish financially successful mHealth app developers from the rest – Ralf-Gordon Jahns, Managing Director of research2guidance shares the results of their global study on mHealth app publishing.

There are above the line factors that contribute to successful mHealth app publishing. These include “getting featured” on an app store, great design, usability and functionality of an app and highly visible advertisement campaigns. The success of these largely depends on a good understanding of the state of the art of app development, marketing budget and luck. Besides these notable factors,commercially successful app publishers also differ in 6 not immediately recognizable areas which build the basis for their success.

This is one of the results of the 4th mHealth App Developer Economics Study conducted by research2guidance in partnership with Continua Alliance and HIMSS. The study about the current state of mHealth app publishing and its future trends surveyed 2,032 mHealth app publishers around the world. 5.1% of mHealth app publishers have generated more than USD 1 Million with their mHealth app portfolio last year (Millionaires). On the other hand, the vast majority (68%) has earned USD 0 to 10,000 (Low and No Earners).

The results of the study clearly show that commercially successful mHealth app publishers have more experience, which translates into a better strategy on how these apps are best developed.

Commercially successful mHealth app publishers are defined as companies that have generated more than USD 1 Million with all their mHealth apps last year. They have been benchmarked against Low and No Earners.

The hidden success factors for mHealth app publishing include:

  1. A clear preference for “Service” as the primary revenue model: More than one third of Millionaires rely on service sales as their primary source of revenue. This includes sophisticated remote monitoring and consultation services as well as simple services like scanned image sharing. Financially less successful app publishers concentrate on paid downloads as their primary source of income.
  2. Larger app portfolio: As opposed to 16% of Low and No Earners, 35% of successful publishers have by far released more than 20 mHealth apps. For this reason they are better positioned to leverage cross-selling potential and to balance the risks.
  3. More experience in the market: 60% of those who are successful today have already entered the mHealth app business on average 4 years ago. This time span is twice as long as the experience of the financially non-successful mHealth app developers. This experience gap seems to pay off for Millionaires.
  4. Greater usage of medical and health APIs: Millionaires make or plan to make more use of medical APIs (61% vs. 40%). APIs provide access to general health information databases (e.g. drug, food, disease), personal health databases (e.g. calorie intake, steps, weight), to medical devices of third-party vendors (e.g. glucometer, blood pressure monitor) and to health tracking devices of third-party vendors (e.g. heart rate monitoring belts, step tracking bracelets). Thanks to these APIs Millionaires have generally better access to information which enriches the customer value of their apps and allows them to concentrate on the core features of their apps.
  5. Greater usage of app development tools: Millionaires make relatively more use of tools which support development, performance monitoring and monetization of their apps (37% vs. 23%). These tools include Ad Network, Analytics, Cross Platform, Performance, Social Network and Storage tools.
  6. A clearer preference for iOS as the number one platform: Millionaires also have a stronger preference for iOS (75%) than for Android (20%) as their primary mobile platform choice. Their platform preference for iOS is more than twice as high as the iOS platform preference of Low Earners (3.8 versus 1.7). Having iOS as the leading app platform to reach commercial goals, pays off. Despite Android’s impressive market share gains, iOS still offers better revenue potential for mHealth app publishing.

Ralf-Gordon Jahns is Managing Director of research2guidance. The “mHealth App Developer Economics” is a business guide for traditional healthcare companies, mHealth specialists as well as for mobile operators wishing to successfully engage into the new mHealth market. You can download a free copy of the full report here.