5 Steps for Competitive Analysis of Competing iOS Apps

In any business knowing your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses are invaluable to your chances for success.  iOS app development is no different and knowing more about apps that compete with yours will help you improve your app.  Here are some tips that we’ve learned over the years that can help you learn more about what your competition is doing well that you can leverage in your app and what they are not doing well that you can further exploit and differentiate your app.

  1. First start by searching the App Store for terms related to your app.  Using iTunes on your computer or the App Store app on your iOS device enter some keywords related to your app in the search box.  Take a look at the different apps that are returned during your search and take note of the more successful apps.  Start a spreadsheet or a text document and jot down the name of the app and the link to the app.  Also write down the search terms that were used to find the specific app that is competing with yours.
  2. The Related Apps section of the App Store is also a key source of information regarding your competitors.  Visit your app’s page in the App Store, click on the Related link, then find the section labeled ‘Customers Also Bought’ and take note of the apps listed here.
    Draftalyzer - Customers Also  Bought

    Draftalyzer - Customers Also Bought

    The App Store gives you more details on the apps that people who download your app are also downloading.  As you browse these apps add these app names and links to your list where you are gathering competitor apps.

  3. Now that you’ve grown a list of competing app names and links you must start reading the customer reviews of these apps.  The number of reviews usually (not always) correlates with the number of downloads of the app so those apps with more reviews are most likely having the most success.  Start by focusing your efforts on these apps and browse the reviews for common points where customers are writing positive reviews of the app.  Make sure that your app is positioned to also capitalize on the features that your target customer wants and needs.  You need to pay a great deal of attention to the negative reviews that your competitor has received.  If you can address these weaknesses in your app and highlight this to your target market you can capture market share from your competitors.
  4. After reading the customer reviews of these apps you can start searching the internet for mentions of the app to see where potential customers are learning about the competitors.  First visit Google.com and type in the name of a competitor’s app to see what the top results are that appear.  Visit the sites where your competitor’s app has been reviewed or linked to and contact the site owner to discuss your app and the possibility of getting your app reviewed as well.  www.blogsearchengine.org is another site that you can use to do research to find smaller blogs that may be more likely to review your app as well.

    Draftalyzer - blogsearchengine results

    Draftalyzer - blogsearchengine results

  5. This tip will not work for every app but there are many apps that use open source components and controls to add common functionality without reinventing the wheel.  Apps that use open source controls need to provide a credit to the original author of the component and you can use this information to your advantage.  If you like some of the functionality that your competitor provides download the app or visit their website and peruse the Credits or Acknowledgements page to see what open source components or services the app uses and evaluate if you can use something similar in your app in a different way.  You may also want to visit the open source marketplace  www.cocoacontrols.com and search for your competitors’ apps.  You may potentially find your competitor’s apps and see which open source controls they are using.
    Draftalyzer - Cocoacontrols results

    Draftalyzer - Cocoacontrols results

    You can use the Google site search to easily find this.  For example, here is a search to find the controls that the Draftalyzer app is using - site:www.cocoacontrols.com draftalyzer.  When you find the app you will see a page that lists all of the controls the app is using.  Now you may find an easier way to add additional value to your app with limited amount of effort.

These tips that we’ve listed are all free and they just require effort and research on your part to get started. In addition to these points you may want to take a look at a commercial site like appannie.com to purchase a competitive analysis module.

Knowing more about  your competitors helps you learn more about yourself and more about the market in general.  Following these techniques will help you earn more success in your iOS app business.  If you have other tips and suggestions please share them with us on Twitter @716labs!