This blog post title sounds like a book. 😁.
Back in 20-some-teen, I built a windows phone app called Police Post. It started off as a reasonable idea – provide an offline version of the list of police stations in Trinidad and Tobago, with their locations and contact numbers.
I later jumped the shark by overlaying the map of police stations with information about murders that happened in the same region as a police station.
Even writing that makes me cringe a little. Back then, I was convinced, “This is a
good great idea for the app”. Now, I’m like, “Why…..?”
I remembered Police Post while I was preparing to deliver a presentation at the Trinidad and Tobago Intellectual Property Office’s seminar on “How to make a living from mobile apps”. My focus was on the state of the mobile app development in TT.
I found while preparing for the talk that there was a lot to be said about how active trinbagonians are with their mobile devices, but not necessarily with local apps.
And, using the top free apps in the Google Play Store as a proxy, it only confirmed that we really like social (and Google Translate).
|1||TTPS – Trinidad & Tobago Police Service||Social|
|4||Free Phone Cleaner – Cache clean & Security||Tools|
|5||Messenger – Text and Video Chat for Free||Communication|
|9||Wish – Shopping Made Fun||Shopping|
|10||D’Music||Music & Audio|
|11||TikTok – Make Your Day||Social|
|12||CallApp: Caller ID, Call Blocker & Call Recorder||Communication|
|13||King James Bible (KJV) – Free Bible Verses + Audio||Books & Reference|
|14||Google Play Games||Entertainment|
|15||Tubi – Free Movies & TV Shows||Entertainment|
|17||Traffic Cam TT||Travel & Local|
|19||Messenger Lite: Free Calls & Messages||Communication|
|20||Safe Cleaner Plus||Tools|
Since I was concerned about making apps, as opposed to just using apps, I produced a list of the top apps by usage that were made by trinbagonians:
|1||TTPS – Trinidad & Tobago Police Service||TTPS||Social|
|3||T&TEC Mobile||Milsoft Utility Solutions||Communication|
|10||D’Music||Digicel_Group||Music & Audio|
|17||Traffic Cam TT||Trini Interactive||Travel & Local|
|41||TT RideShare||TT RideShare||Travel & Local|
|45||RBC Caribbean||RBC Financial (Caribbean) Limited||Finance|
|74||Scotiabank Caribbean – Banking||Scotiabank||Finance|
|76||bmobile Top-up||Powered by eTopUpOnline.com||Shopping|
|96||Caribbean Airlines||Caribbean Airlines Limited||Travel & Local|
A more diverse list, pretty corporate, but seemingly high on the “getting things done” measure.
Both lists were a snapshot of top apps on November 10, 2019. The TTPS app was released the week before, and people were responding. TTPS seemed to have had a good push behind the app, so that’s good.
This may be why I remembered Police Post. Another reason that brought it into focus may have been because of these sentiments I got from Julie David, a Senior Policy Analyst at NIHERST.
Julie and her team have been working on a sectoral mapping of the software industry in TT, so I thought her insights might be useful.
They certainly were as they gave me a snapshot of the state of affairs that I recognized. Here are a few of those challenges:
- Small companies
- Lack of strong cohesion between business models & development
- Lack of design & UX quality
When I built Police Post, it was a small app, meeting a specific need that made no assumptions about having a business case. So Julie’s feedback to me was on point. Around that time, one of my key goals was simply demonstrating capacity.
I was making the statement, yes, we can build apps, focused, useful ones. Now, I’m here to say, yes, we can build business on top of platforms that include mobile apps.
My presentation concluded with looking at stats on global Internet trends. Mary Meeker’s report on those trends was an excellent resource for this and I hope that we all would use it to inform our next steps.