Need an App? Have you considered crowdsourcing? Need an App? Crowdsource! Need an App? Crowdsource!
Apps for mobile devices are a growing industry. And no wonder; according to research by Flurry Analytics, a mobile analytics company, by December 2012, consumers were spending 127 minutes per day in mobile apps, compared to 94 minutes a day in the same time in 2011, which is a 35 percent increase. During the same time period, television viewership remained steady at 168 minutes per day.

Increasingly, companies and the federal government are turning to "crowdsourcing" to solve technical challenges. In general, "crowdsourcing" is using the vast knowledge of the crowd to work on a problem. In the last few years, companies have taken advantage of the vast knowledge pool offered by the 'crowd' to develop apps and solve real world problems.

I discussed this issue in an article I wrote for the Journal of Health Care Compliance in 2012, called Need and App? Crowdsource!: Considerations for Running a Contest to Develop an App.  In that article, I provided several examples of organizations taking advantage of crowdsourcing, and some issues that organizations who wish to run mobile app development contests should consider. Organizations who wish to run contests must provide official rules for the contest and must carefully consider state law requirements, because many states regulate contests. At a minimum, the official rules for the contest must include:
  • eligibility criteria,
  • details on the sponsoring organization,
  • contest dates,
  • the requirements for entry,
  • prizes and odds of winning,
  • details on how winners will be selected, and
  • intellectual property ownership and assignment.

Contests are an economical way for companies to develop applications and to garner excited for their venture. But, legal issues must be carefully considered to avoid running afoul of state and federal laws.

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