When Shakespeare arrived as a newcomer in London, the theatre-scene was already incredibly crowded.
His peers, many of whom were already well established, also had a competitive advantage: university educations and access to academic libraries full of books, which they used to fill their plays with details of exotic, far-off lands.
At first glance, it would appear to be impossible for Shakespeare to survive, let alone flourish, in this type of environment. What helped him compete? Two things: A voracious audience and familiar stories that needed a better voice. Often, the plot lines Shakespeare brought to the stage weren’t new to his audience, but what made the difference was the way he told them.
Shakespeare’s example illustrates the point that having a great idea is nice, but it’s what we do with that idea that really counts.
Within the tech industry, we have a tendency to treat ideas as commodities. We discuss them in secrecy or lock them up with patents, which is ironic because ideas are an infinite resource. Tell anyone you’re a mobile developer, and more often than not, the response is, “I have an idea for an app…” It’s easy to forget that by themselves, ideas have very little intrinsic value. What adds value to an idea is the work done to transform it into something real.
As Shakespeare’s volume of work has shown us, it’s better to build great experiences on existing, familiar ideas, than to build mediocre experiences on ideas that are new.
I’ve talked to several developers who are new to the iOS platform, who enjoy making apps, but who feel as though they’d never be able to compete on the App Store.
The App Store, much like the theatre scene in the 16th century England, is very crowded. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s impossible for newcomers to compete. We have an audience who is incredibly hungry for new apps, and many familiar ideas that have yet to be fully explored. The App Store is full of poorly implemented great ideas, but very few great apps.
Developers can only make a difference if they believe there should be one. The key to making a difference is, caring about our audience. The more we care about our audience—and want to help them improve their lives—the more we will invest in our craft. We will look for practical ways to enhance the experiences we create. We will connect with our audience, not only to help them solve problems, but to help them fall in love with our apps. And we will surround ourselves with other developers and designers who will push us to do our best.
The relationship we have with our audience is one that Shakespeare could only have dreamed of. They are willing to share their lives with the apps they love. They carry them in their pockets during the day, and sleep beside them at night. So let’s focus less of our energy on generating unique ideas, and more on great execution.
(This post was originally published on Universal Mind’s Mindshare)