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20 Mar 2015 0 Comments


Mobile apps have become big business. Once they came pre-loaded onto mobile phones and were largely distributed by mobile phone carriers. Consumers had limited choice, and developers had limited access to the market. All that changed with the arrival of smartphones and app stores: first from Apple, and then from every other major platform. App stores have been with us for less than five years but already there are more than a million mobile apps available across the mobile platforms. By 2017 the mobile app market is expected to generate $76 billion in revenue. In 2010, I began my own entrepreneurial journey into the mobile app economy and launched a mobile app called Corkbin. I was determined to innovate the way wine recommendations were provided, basing recommendations on a consumer’s previous likes and dislikes rather than on opinions from wine pundits. A mobile app made the ideal tool for capturing the consumer preferences needed to train a recommendation system. Today[1], Corkbin serves over 4,000 active users per month and is available as a free download in the Apple App Store and in Google Play. This book is a reflection of my own experience as a mobile app entrepreneur and will dive into three key topics crucial to the understanding of the mobile app economy: the market, innovations, and marketing. The lessons and insights I gained during my own entrepreneurial journey have shaped the structure of this book. I would not have been able to tackle the task of uncovering and analyzing the evolution and dynamics of the mobile app economy had I not experienced it first-hand. My goal is to provide you with a deeper understanding of the evolution and dynamics of the mobile app economy. Using a combination of primary research and case studies, I hope to provide useful tools and anecdotes for evaluating the market potential of new mobile apps and how to market them. The research findings and case studies also provide food for thought in defining a new business model or reinforcing existing decisions. [1] As of December 2012.

Table of Contents

Abstract Table of Contents Introduction The Mobile App Economy History of App Stores Revenue Models Explained Expectation of “Free” Anatomy of an Innovative Mobile App Business Framework for Innovation Case Study: Evernote Case Study: Foursquare Getting in Front of the Consumers Approaches to Marketing Mobile Apps Hypercycle Marketing Strategy Parting Thoughts Bibliography About the Author


For anyone that's been in sales, tech or otherwise, a frequently used demand generation tactic is something that a colleague of mine once called the "Steak & Commercial". Customers and prospects are invited to a free steak lunch in exchange for listening to the latest sales and marketing pitch. Ultimately the goal is to uncover new sales opportunities by exposing a product's value propositions to potential influencers and decision-makers.

SIME London

I made it back from Brazil in time to attend the 1-day SIME conference in London. It was an enlightening day with lots of good data & insights around mobile & social trends. Some of the snippets captured... Today: Mobile data growth doubled between Q1 2011 to Q2 2012 & there are  6.3 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide. 2017: People will use 15X more data. 85% of the world will have 3G coverage (50% for 4G). 9 billion mobile subscriptions, 5 billion mobile broadband, 3 billion mobile smartphone. Mobility + Cloud + Broadband = Recipe for great innovation yet to come.

Catherine Liao

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. I got my start in tech at 19, as a systems engineer for one of the first Internet conferencing services in the 90s. Since then, I've architected application infrastructures and managed 24x7 operations for both dotcoms and enterprises. The most memorable work experience came from being part of the team that scaled the web infrastructure for the World Health Organization (WHO) to support the 20X growth of web traffic during the SARS epidemic. I'm completely fascinated with Internet-centric innovations and their implications on how we work and live. In addition to having a technical background, I also hold an Executive MBA from Imperial College London Business School where I focused on go-to-market strategy and entrepreneurship. My dissertation on mobile app revenue models and go-to-market strategies can be viewed here. I love doing business development & product strategy work, and believe that successes are built on 1/3 intuition + data, 1/3 hard work, & 1/3 luck. During the day I represent Riverbed in my role as Sr Director, Platform Solutions Marketing. During the off hours I like to spend time dabbling in wine and technology projects. Back in 2010 I combined my passion in wine and technology and launched Corkbin, a mobile wine app for wine lovers to easily remember and share the wines. Check out the video below to meet Corkbin and the team behind it.  Corkbin is now part of Hello Vino, a fabulous app that helps consumers to easily choose and buy wines. Want to get in touch? Connect with me via LinkedIn or Twitter.  


In the world of online communities, we need to learn to behave like one. The excerpt from my favorite session at SXSW11 as follows:

The business world is looking more like a small town. Strong downward economic pressures combined with advances in technology have forced rewriting the rules of business. Advances in technology have allowed all of us to collaborate instantaneously over great distances and not be tied to a single geographic area.

Girls In Tech

Back in August I attended a Girls in Tech presentation with Mariam Naficy, the founder of Mariam is a serial entrepreneur who found an early success with shortly after graduating from business school. Here are the notes I captured from the session: On female purchase power... Women are responsible 58% of spending online & 70% of spending offline. Lots of potentials to tap into.


With Google incorporating a "website speed" factor into site rankings, it has created renewed interests in rendering performance of web sites/apps. As a techie who has spent most of her career around web app delivery & performance, I'd like to highlight some (known) techniques and offer a few insights.

Browser-Side Optimization

Steve Souder identified 14 rules in his book for optimizing the performance of any given web page:


Amazon's new Relational Database Service (RDS) has generated quite a bit of buzz as of late. This move propels Amazon forward into the application services provider in the cloud computing arena. I've briefly written about different types of cloud services in an earlier post and outlined differences between Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Software-as-a-Service (Saas), and IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS). As cloud-based services gain maturity and adoption, the lines between different "as-a-Service" offerings to blur as providers evolve their service offerings.


With over 12,000 attendees, VMWorld 2009 was definitely impressive. It was great to be there as part of the Cisco data center team and see Cisco continue to make progress into the server & virtualization space. A few exciting technology showcases & announcements that were exciting to me: VMWorld Data Center chose Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) to virtualize and reduced an environment of 37,728 physical servers using 2,483 racks and 25,329 KW of power to 776 physical servers in 28 racks using 528 KW of power.


Here's a presentation by the CEO of GoGrid at CloudWorld09. He discussed:

  • What is Cloud Computing – The Cloud Pyramid
  • The Benefits of Cloud Computing & Hybrid Hosting
  • What can Cloud Computing do for me and my business
  • The Competitive Landscape & Key Differentiators
  • Cost Savings of Cloud Computing – pay only for what you need
  • How to determine when to utilize Cloud Computing
  • How should you get started using the Cloud?
  • How to identify what to put in the cloud first