Is it expensive?

Rampulla: It all depends on the idea. It's not much different than creating a Web site, but it's a hell of a lot cheaper than creating a broadcast commercial and you will reach a whole lot more people. The range can be from $10,000 to $400,000.

What are some tips to keep in mind?

Rampulla: What people should do, especially when they're starting, is keep the idea fairly small. You want to be able to get it out quickly, you want to be able to test the waters quickly, you don't want to belabor the process. You want to build and evolve the platform over time, but get something out there that can be embraced by the public. And you don't want to spend a ton of money on your first shot out of the gate.

Make sure that app developers include analytics. That should also be part of your selection process and part of your plan -- to be able to pull up reports and know data on everything that is interesting, such as error messages, geo-location times, repeat customers. Anything you can think of, you can slice the data any which way you want, and a good partner should be able to serve up all that information.

That data is powerful. It will lead to better and smarter applications that you will develop in the future and new opportunities.

How do you decide if it's a free or paid app?

Rampulla: It depends on what you're offering and the mission of the app. If I'm a big brand and this is my first play out there and it's simply more for brand awareness, I would skew more toward the free. If you change the way people interact with the service, maybe the paid message is a way to go out there.

What are some must-haves in an app?

Rampulla: Again it has to do something for me, it has to be a functioning piece. And whether that is providing entertainment or casual gaming or social connections, that can be huge, but the one-shot answer is it has to be able to provide very simple and easy-to-use functionality.

If you think about some of the most successful ones, you open the app and you're within two taps or swipes to completing a task.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to:

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