Since the iPhone’s launch in 2007, the US has gone app crazy. At last count, smartphone heavyweights iPhone and Android boasted 300,000 and 200,000 apps in their respective marketplaces. Then along came the iPad in early-2010: the game-changing device that’s since spawned many copy-cat devices, plus app ecosystems all of their own.
Taking on the challenge of developing an app can be both time and money intensive. It’s therefore important you research your customers’ tech tastes before committing the necessary budget and resources.
The two most important questions you need to ask are: do a significant number of our customers use smartphones and how active are they on those devices? If the answers to these questions are ‘Yes’ and ‘Very’, a mobile app may be for you.
Mobile applications are far from a two horse race. While iPhone and Android are the current leaders, you can also develop apps for RIM’s Blackberry, Nokia, and Microsoft, to name but a few. Research should help you establish exactly what type of handset is in your customers’ pockets. If the platform your customers favour doesn’t offer the functionality you’ve come to expect from iPhone, Android et al, you can still offer an excellent – albeit scaled-back – user experience.
Apps must add value to your business – merely replicating the same information already available on your website is a waste of both time and money. However, if you have your eye on features and functions that are only compatible with a native app, then go for it. Even naysayers can’t argue with the fact apps offer a far richer device-specific experience than mobile web.
Provided your business approaches app development realistically – as a potential new revenue stream or brand extension, rather than a get rich quick scheme – you should reap the benefits of this exciting channel.