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What is the best way to introduce applications that programmers develop to the world?

For mobile apps you have the different marketplaces, but what about non-mobile applications? These could be web apps or desktop apps.

Introduce = distribution to the end users as well as popularize amongst the software development community.

Obviously the software that is being released would have a specific audience in mind (i.e. a community based web site or user based application versus an tool that developers could use).

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Wouldn't the specific audience influence the means you'd use? –  David Thornley Dec 16 '10 at 21:08
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5 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Since you have a specific audience in mind, then go to that audience.

  • Get a booth at a convention if the community has conventions
  • Try to give talks at conferences if the community has conferences
  • Go to the online communities, find out the proper etiquette for promoting things to them and follow it
  • Find a leader in that community (thinking of companies here) and try to direct sell them

Outside of that community:

  • Dog-food the product and publicize the experience in a blog
  • Work on the SEO for the product's website and try to get web-search traffic
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+1 for conventions and giving talks. Networking and building credibility is where it's at. Endorsements by people other people trust always helps. –  Ryan Hayes Dec 17 '10 at 1:49
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The best way would be to read (and apply) Geoffrey Moore's "Crossing the Chasm" on marketing the high-tech products.

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Advertise, Advertise, Advertise.

A good 'starter' is using Google AdWords. Choose specific sites to run your ads on. Thats a good way to target potential customers fairly cheaply.

Or possibly Facebook ads, if your market is narrowed to certain interests/demographics.

Press release services are good to get an initial word out, and arent too expensive.

Also, while desktop apps dont have their 'official' marketplaces, there are such market places for desktop apps. Be they specializing in sofware, or marketplaces targeting niche fields/hobbies that sell many types of products.

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Start a web site. Offer your product for sale. Have a PayPal button.

Start a customer support forum where users of your product can connect with each other to use the product more effectively and improve the experience.

Start a blog. Update it daily with a useful blurb about the importance of the problem you are solving, or how your software solves the problem, or how your software solves the problem better than competing solutions.

Start a YouTube channel about your product. Demonstrate, with a screencast or a video how it works. Show how useful it is. Make sure your YouTube channels link back to your blog and web site.

Go and find articles and blogs on the internet which describe the problem you solve or its solutions. Make comments that back-link to your web site or your blog.

It will take time, but you will rise to somewhere near the top for your category.

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+1 for it takes time. You have to be patient! –  GrandmasterB Dec 17 '10 at 5:44
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Go to a forum of your target audience (hopefully, something like that exists for your target crowd), be a member, socialize with other members, and tell them about the "cool" app/game you just made. Most likely, the people there will try it out and tell you how they find your app to be. The amount of people you'll get might be small in comparison to what the other answers here suggested, but that's something.

To be honest, I find this more effective than plain advertising because people tend to use apps made/used by people they're familiar with.

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