In its “mHealth App Development Economics 2014” report, research2guidance has identified 6 distinct mHealth app publisher segments that differ by goals, business approaches and performance. Knowing these segments is a pre-requisite for all those who wish to successfully participate in the new mHealth app ecosystem.
First thing we should know is that mHealth app publishers are not like game or tool app developers, with 46% of them joining this business to help others. That said, they also have other objectives like revenue generation or raising brand awareness, but this “altruistic” attitude clearly distinguishes them from the rest of the app economy.
These are the profiles of the 6 distinct mHealth app publisher segments:
1. Established healthcare players
This group includes Pharma, hospitals, health insurance and Med-tech companies, representing 3.4% of the total number of app publishers. These players usually belong to the mHealth app publishers with more than 5,000 employees and their primary objective is to raise brand awareness. They have also published the largest number of mHealth apps, but their average reach in terms of downloads is far below the market’s average. Unsurprisingly, companies in this group don’t use tools and APIs that often.
2. App specialists
App specialists are small companies, which typically hire 3-10 employees, accounting for 14% of the mHealth app market. They have entered the mHealth app market in order to benefit from its potential. They have an app developer background and are familiar with available development and support tools. The share of medical experts on board is relatively low.
Helpers’ primary motivation for publishing apps is to help others and they are usually organized into small companies of 3-10 employees. Revenue generation is only a minor factor. Typically Helpers have already achieved or over-achieved their goals. In terms of downloads, they have the highest share of companies (61%) that achieved less than 5,000 downloads last year. Helpers represent 32% of the market.
4. Medical specialists
Medical specialists leverage their medical know-how to develop mobile apps, and they too (like Helpers) have a large share of members who publish apps to help others. They represent 20% of the market and have partly reached their goals. They have the highest share of companies, which in 2013 earned more than $1 million with their mHealth app portfolio.
5. Fitness specialists
This group of app developers represents around 10% of the total mHealth app developer community. They primarily develop fitness apps with a clear objective to generate revenue. They connect more often to medical databases and sensors and use app development tools above average. The usual company size is 11-100 employees.
This group of mHealth app publishers represents 18% of the total mHealth app developer community. Their strategy is to create value rich apps by enabling connection to other apps, sensors and databases. This group generates the highest average revenue and has the highest goal achievement level.
Within the six mHealth app companies, publishers with a strong medical background and those who leverage existing app development tools and APIs seem to accomplish their goals better than those who do that to a lesser extent. Meanwhile, traditional healthcare players like Pharma, Med-tech or insurance companies have not been able to define their role in the market yet. Established Healthcare Players are the only segment “mainly not” satisfied with their goal achievement.