I would like to suggest that he reveals the app to a small group in order to get feedback on how people like the app. He said that he released a similar online version and it got good results. I still think he should attempt to get feedback before he creates the app. Am I asking him to take an unnecessary step before launching
The conventional wisdom is to create a minimum viable product (MVP), release it, get customer feedback, use that feedback to improve the product, release again, get more feedback and so on.
In terms of releasing to a closed user group, that is fine but when you launch a new website you're probably doing that anyway in that no one will have heard of it unless you through lots of money at online marketing or get lots of PR.
In other words, usually it will take a while for your website/web app to get lots of traffic so a public MVP should not be an issue for reputation etc.
On the subject of MVP, it should be the minimal amount of time, effort and money needed to develop the product to a working point, the most basic version of the site. Of course if s/he is just re-skinning something else, I'm not sure that is an issue.
Many founders tend to view a product launch as a red carpet event that will get a ton of press coverage and huge social pickup. This isn't the case with 99% of companies. I've worked with hundreds of founders who expected a HUGE launch without testing product or building a set of customers ready for the product - only to find that most launches are inherently pretty uneventful. It's important to stay level and keep expectations for launch realistic, then build on what you learn and continue to grow your audience. The goal isn't to get an arbitrary number of customers on day 1 - it's to build a sustainable product with an audience that you know wants to buy it.
You can look at this two ways.
1. It doesn't really matter that your friend wants to launch the app, because the audience at launch is probably relatively small. You can use that audience to get feedback on it like you would on an MVP anyway.
2. if your friend has a big following around previous app launches, and launching a new app to that audience is a make-or-break scenario, then absolutely test with a portion of that audience beforehand. You can call them VIP's and give them early access, then hopefully count on them as your biggest supporters as you roll the app out to the larger audience. This gives you insight and gives them a feeling of exclusivity.
The equation of time vs. money is an important one. You don't want to sit on the app making changes for months, but you also don't want to come out guns blazing with the wrong product. Finding that balance is the most crucial point in your launch, and if the stakes are high with a big audience, definitely test it first. If the audience is small and can help give you feedback on the product, then a launch event probably won't have the potential blowback you envision. Best of luck!
Absolutely not. I do some part-time work for Growthhackers.com run by Sean Ellis and anyone on that site will tell you testing is crucial.
I don't know what vertical the app operates in, but not getting feedback is normally someone's laziness or fear of rejection. Predicting consumer behaviour is exceptionally difficult so why not let them provide you with clues.
Clearly any entrepreneur needs to have a vision and a set of core values - but then it's best to perform high tempo testing and collect meaningful data.
Online and mobile aren't the same experience - one is asking a user to sit at his desktop, the other is asking him to install it on his phone.
I mean how difficult is it to get user feedback even using a mockup tool like Axure, Mockingbird, Balsamiq etc.
I guess I would want to know what the levels of engagement were from the online test, have those users been retained and communicated with to become early adopters for the app?
To be honest if the dialogue between he and the online users has died down, then it shows he has no commercial acumen. They are prime candidates for feedback on how the app should work.