Google released App Inventor on December 15, 2010, to everyone with a Google account. We’re huge fans of Google Apps, but we’re just not so sure that the release of App Inventor means we’re all going to start creating our own apps. App Inventor could indeed turn out to be the next big thing, but does its release mean all the talented app programmers out there need to start looking for other kinds of work? Probably not.
First of all, you still have to have a great idea. The fanciest tools ever made won’t help you build something if you don’t know what to build. Ian Morris of CNET UK reviewed App Inventor when it was first released. The take-home message from that review? “We couldn’t ask for much more — well, apart from a really good idea for an app that will make us Scrooge McDuck rich.”
Second, there’s a big difference between having a killer idea and knowing how to execute that idea. Assuming you hire an experienced app developer, the developer is going to know things that you won’t, no matter how creative you are. If your project is so simple that it can be done by someone without programming skills, a professional developer could probably do it in much less time than it’s going to take you to do it yourself. How much is your time worth? How much is that professional developer’s experience and insight worth?
Finally, WYSIWYG user interfaces are awesome for some things, but may not be right for all things and you may need someone who can actually do some coding to bring your app idea to life. For example, most people with relatively little computer skills can set up a WordPress blog using a template. And then they’ll have a blog that looks like about a hundred thousand other blogs. That’s not a slam on WordPress, which, like App Inventor, is a cool tool. All we’re saying is that if you want to differentiate yourself (that is, create something marketable that someone might actually download and/or buy), you’re going to have be different from the masses. Perhaps your blog content is so unique that you think looks don’t matter, but even unique content can benefit from clean, fresh styling. Take a look at The Blog of Tim Ferris – unique content for sure, but it’s not presented in an off-the-shelf, cookie-cutter template form. The same goes for apps. If the app you make using do-it-yourself software looks like a thousand other apps, don’t count on many downloads.
There’s no question that App Inventor has a place in the world of app development. Google says it’s been used to make vocabulary apps, SMS broadcasting apps, and even a marriage proposal. We’re just saying it’s probably not the path to market if you have an app idea like Angry Birds or Beautiful Widgets.