Six Lessons from the App Industry: An Interview with Oceanhouse Media President Michel Kripalani

| February 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

Among the most innovative, educationally-sound and prolific developers in the book app
 space is a company that is also one of my favorite to work with as a reviewer and blogger. What follows is a thoughtful and informative interview with the forward-thinking president of Oceanhouse Media, Michel Kripalani. Being first and best in a market this new and fast-changing is not an easy feat, but in this case, it is a well-deserved.

6 Lessons from the App Industry

Michel Kripalani, founder and president of leading app developer Oceanhouse Media, is a true veteran of the app industry. He created the company in early 2009 while the industry was still in its infancy, and saw immediate chart-topping success with the company’s first app, Bowls – Authentic Tibetan Singing Bowls. Five years later, the app industry has grown tremendously and Oceanhouse Media still remains highly successful with over 350 apps on the App Store, 18 of which have reached the number one spot in their category.

So how does someone build such a successful app business in 5 years?

We had a chance to talk with Kripalani about the lessons he’s learned and the tips he has for creating best-selling apps. Budding app developers, take note…

Lesson #1: Find your Niche

The App Store is an extremely competitive marketplace, and getting more competitive every day. With over one million apps to compete with, clever ideation and development alone isn’t going to deliver success. You need to study the marketplace, find your niche, focus your efforts and build the best apps to serve that community.

Lesson #2: The Biggest Challenge is Awareness

Anyone (well, almost anyone) can create a great app. Getting people to notice your app, however, can be a huge challenge. Expect to spend a lot of time on marketing, especially with your first app. Find where your target market spends their time online and reach out to them through those channels. Once you develop a strong foundation of users, you can cross promote future app releases to your existing customer base. This has been a huge factor in growing the Oceanhouse Media catalog over the years.

Lesson #3: Quality and Recognition are Both Essential

One of our core values at Oceanhouse Media is “5 Stars or No Stars”, meaning if we don’t think an app has the potential to earn a 5 star rating from most users, we don’t release it. Pairing commitment to quality with a highly recognizable brand is essential in order to compete. Whether the brand is one that you’ve built yourself, or one that you’ve partnered with (we’ve done both), you’ll need that recognition to stand out in a sea of apps.

Lesson #4: Set Reasonable Expectations for ROI

Be extremely conservative with your return on investment (ROI) predictions. Read industry reports and look for similar apps on the charts to estimate your potential sales. Sites like AppAnnie can give you an idea of how other apps are performing. Don’t overspend on development when balanced out against what the market can bear. The reality is you won’t know how successful your app will be until it’s out there so plan carefully and spend wisely.

Lesson #5: Watch. Learn. Iterate. Repeat.

Continually monitor your apps. Collect data, talk to customers, and watch market trends. Apply what you’ve learned when creating your next app or updating your existing apps. This applies to developing the app as well as marketing it. This isn’t a “release it and forget it” type of business. To be successful, you have to be comfortable with being on your toes.

Lesson #6: Be Passionate

This is perhaps the most important lesson of them all. Another one of Oceanhouse Media’s core values is “Passion for the Work” and it’s something we take very seriously. If you don’t love the apps you’re creating, how can you expect others to buy them? Base your app on what excites you. Personally, I wanted to make a positive impact on the world and that’s how I got started with apps that uplift, educate and inspire. My passion for our apps has ultimately been one of the key driving forces of the company, and a major key to our success.


Category: Guest Posts

About the Author ()

Carisa Kluver is the the editor of, an iPad children's book review site. She has a BA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and an MSW from the University of Washington. Before starting this project, she was a school counselor, health educator and researcher in child & maternal health.