Avocado

Green, slightly unsightly and rough to the touch. That’s the perception I have of avocado. Given its healthy fats and high nutritional values, it’s perhaps an underwhelming way to leave a first impression.

Naming an app Avocado is a fun and quirky way to attract attention. It gives off the playful and youthful vibe that doesn’t take itself seriously. Beyond the green alligator-like texture, did you know about these interesting facts?

  • Avocado fruit grows in pairs
  • Avocados were symbol of love & fertility to the Aztecs
  • Avocado trees only bear fruit when grown near another tree

Issue 3 of Offscreen features an interview with Avocado founder Jenna Bilotta. Besides sharing her stories on her experience of working on various projects like Google Reader, she also spoke about her new venture Avocado – an iOS app targeted specifically at couples.

Making an app is not exactly hard, but thinking of how to monetize it is tough. There’s always the dilemma of releasing a free app to gain traction and momentum, or charging for the app to build a sustainable and viable business from the start. Having to charge for the app would slow down its growth, and this is something most developers dread against. They can opt for a free app and then implement several in-app purchase scheme like selling stickers (ala Path). The crucial thing seems to be focused on extending the reach of the users at the least shortest possible time.

If the app and user base gets so huge for the big players to ignore, they may eventually get acquired. There may be several reasons why the buy-out is in the horizon: get the talents behind the breakout app, squash the threat and control the market or simply to think of way to better integrate them into their own business.

Going back to Avocado, Jenna said the organic growth will stall after a couple gets it. That’s the deadwall for them, because that’s the way the app is designed to be. It’s not a social-based community app where people come together. It’s a private space for couple to converse in. So naturally, growth would be slow.

On the other hand, if they find the right way to increase user engagement, these customers would be more than willing to pay for something that find valuable. Those people that don’t wish to pay will never pay in the first place. They app-hop around and it’s not advisable to concentrate your attention to convert them into paying customers. These resources would be better served by focusing on customers who are already paying, as they are willing to pay for more in the future. These people would be your advocates that spread positive word around for you.

There are several roadblocks that I can think of straight off my mind for an app like Avocado. What if things doesn’t work out between the couple and they go separate ways. The app would be useless for them until they get attached. Even then, I’m not sure if they would want to use it again.

It’s not a communication medium like Whatsapp. It’s a personal kind of app where intimate conversations are exchanged and lovely pictures get shared. People can get emotionally attached to the app, and using it again with a new partner may remind them of the painful past.

As for data, all the information are locked within Avocado at the moment. As a user, especially a paying customer, you want an option to backup and export your intimate pictures and private conversations. That’s a question mark hanging there, as with most other apps in the competing field, it’s one of a major stumbling block.