APPO: How do you harness that innovation in your own titles?
AV: At Airbnb, we’re fundamentally unlocking a completely new, local travel experience around the world. Bringing this experience to the mobile platform means bringing a wealth of almost a quarter million incredible, unique accommodations that can be booked directly from your phone.
APPO: In such a crowded space, explain how you generate awareness and drive downloads to your applications.
AV: You have one shot to get people’s attention. Make it great.
We wove together our skills as designers and developers and launched a great product. We won awards, we got great reviews – both from the press and our users – and we’ve continued to iterate on the experience as we use it ourselves everyday. This sort of attention and drive to your product is what naturally drives awareness and therefore downloads for our app.
APPO: What are the biggest technical constraints that exist today in the app sector?
AV: It might seem a little obvious, but an incredible amount of constraint in mobile devices comes from battery capacity – in developing for mobile devices, there is a constant concern of how much computational power (and therefore, battery power) your app is using. Actions like turning on GPS sensors or running expensive graphical computations can burn a phone out in a matter of hours. Especially when traveling, it’s a constant engineering struggle to optimize one’s work as much as possible to
APPO: How do you (or will you) make money from your application?
AV: Our mobile apps are an extension of the Airbnb offering, so they make money in the same way our company does. Guests who book on Airbnb pay a small service fee for their reservation, and mobile accounts for about 25 percent of Airbnb’s traffic across the entire site.
APPO: What advice do you have to those working on their first applications?
AV: Ship something quickly, but ship something excellent. As I said before, you’ve got one chance to impress when someone downloads your app from the store – even a great idea executed poorly doesn’t stand a chance.
APPO: Where do you see the app sector one year from now? Five years from now?
AV: When the app store first launched, consumers viewed it as a source of amusing, transient content. It seems as though in the past year or so, people are now viewing apps as a necessary extension of their world: apps that help them stay healthy, manage their finances, explore the world and live a better, more efficient lifestyle. I think we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible in a mobile device.