Saturday, February 4, 2012

Design to Product on Android - Resources (2 / 17)

Before we start going over what we want to make, we need to assess what kind of production power we have, and figuring out if we need more of something.  Usually, more money pumped in to a startup means more money coming back from the return investment -- the formula sounds good on paper, but doesn't always reflect reality because there's an assumption that all money invested has any return at all.

The most important resource to business is money, liquid cash.  Your purchasing power is what will ultimately drive your business to success or failure.  The trick is to acquire/accomplish a lot, while using little.  Time is money, so if you can create a product or service yourself, you won't have to pay others to do it for you -- though sometimes "outsourcing" things that save you time can be worth the money!

For our intents and purposes, we're making Android apps, so how do we go about doing that.  Obviously we will need someone to *make* the product - a software person that specializes in Java programming, specifically for Android OS.  Someone that can make pretty graphics is a plus, and possibly making some sounds and/or music.  Ideally someone should also create a design for the game, and put it all together as well.  If you're the business-type and cannot or will not fill any of these roles, you have a large financial obligation already since "high-tech" workers, especially in the USA, are not cheap.  Plus, things usually tend to take a lot more time/money than people expect, which would translate to much higher costs than expected.

Personally, I'm operating as most of the required roles myself, and I recommend doing something similar.  If you don't like it, this business probably isn't for you.  Remember, at the end of the day, you have to make money from this to at least cover your costs of production!

So, you have an Android developer picked out and working with you (or is you).

One of the first questions is, do you need some sort of Android hardware to make Android products?  Well, technically, the answer is no, but I will attest that buying an Android device was overwhelmingly useful during development and testing in earlier products.  The emulator is free, so the business side of me wanted that, but the techie in me demanded a "real device".  The reasons behind this can be long and complicated, but suffice to say, if you want a good end product, you need to target what you're making stuff for.  You can get by with the emulator, but ultimately we settled with buying a device, while using the emulator to test specific versions of the Android OS other than the version that came with our actual phone.  This topic warrants its own article and will be linked later.

We now officially have a burden of making enough money to pay for this device, at least, and ignoring the fact that we're not even paying ourselves!  However, we now have our first asset for the business, and this should be considered one of our resources.

As a point of reference, our business started with approximately $6,000 of "disposable cash".  In other words, our business has taken the acceptable risk of losing 100% of the cash in this endeavor.  I cannot stress enough that Android development is very risky in terms of money spent, versus money earned.  To any other prospective or current Android devs out there, if you can't risk at least several thousand dollars to make your products (assuming you're the dev yourself), this probably isn't the business to go in to.  If you aren't the developer, this figure can easily get in to the 10's of thousands of dollars.

Let's recap, you will probably want a bit of cash to get things started and pay for the ongoing production of your apps, an Android device (phone in our case), some people to make products, and a hunk of time to produce the product.  This will put a large dent in your startup money and is the subject of the next article, the costs involved with producing apps.

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