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The secrets to building a successful app

As more and more apps become available for smartphones and tablets, it will become harder and harder for a new app to stand out. CNBC spoke to the experts about what it takes to make an app stand out from the crowd.

There are estimated to be around 2.93 million apps in Apple's App Store by the end of the year and this figure is set to grow to 5.06 million by 2020, according to analysis by SensorTower. Meanwhile, more than 65 billion apps were downloaded in 2015 on Android devices.

There are strong financial incentives for companies that can create a successful app, according to Brian McKillips, global cloud business transformation lead for PwC.

"Applications, and the ability to rapidly develop new feature functionality inside of applications - especially customer facing functionality - will be the way to monetize existing core competencies, gain market share and expand customer base in new ways," he told CNBC via email.

"The faster you can configure and reconfigure your apps, the faster you can unlock shareholder value."

Apple iPhone 5s
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Apple iPhone 5s

Jenny Griffiths is the founder of A.I. powered app Snap Fashion, agreed that having an app has become essential for certain industries.

"For any strong consumer-facing brand, like fashion is a great example, apps are incredibly valuable because you have a piece of real estate on someone's mobile phone, so you always come front of mind," she told CNBC during a phone interview.

"It's like having a bookmark that's even more in your face than a normal bookmark, so that's really important for strong consumer brands. However, I'm a massive strong believer in whatever app you develop it has to be different to the mobile web experience, because if not you end up with this kind of "so-what" mobile app. Why do I want this to take up space on my phone? Why do I want to download this? What's going to be in it for me?"

For example, Snap Fashion uses the mobile phone camera to take a picture of an item and then find other clothes in a similar style.

Apple ios apps available now for Apple Watch.
Source: Apple
Apple ios apps available now for Apple Watch.

Kevin McDonagh is CEO at mobile product engineering consultancy Novoda. The company has worked with companies in the U.K. to help them succeed in the mobile space, such as Channel 4, and also helped develop Tesco's Hudl tablet.

McDonagh said it is absolutely the case that companies feel a sense of urgency to get onto and engage with mobile.

"Companies have seen mobile as a relatively small part of their technological spend and their technological spend was traditionally a part of marketing." he explained during a phone interview with CNBC.

"Now of course, mobile and the technical spend is their business. You have to spend on the technology that is your business; that drives your business. Your apps are a primary income and unless you spend the kind of money that is required to grow a primary income, then you will not see a primary return."

apps on iphone
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Companies should develop their app based on needs of their customers, according to McDonagh. This will require research to really get to know their customers.

But companies also need consumers to use their app in the first place and stand out on the crowded app stores.

"One way is that your presence on the app store is very attractive, immediately engaging and people understand visually what your app does. Why it is better (than the competition)," he said.

Using bright graphics which clearly state what the app's features are can help with this, McDonagh added.

Overall, just as in traditional businesses, it's important for app creators to adapt to the market.

"The successful enterprises in an as-a-service economy are the ones that can monetize their information in new ways, configuring and reconfiguring their business models to adapt to changes in market trends and demand," said McKillips.

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