While Apps and their stores are now "mainstream" it's also transpiring that this will not be the only route to taking advantage of the mobile explosion in the future. The growth figures for mobile are pretty epic, here (taken from a recent industry webinar) are some headline facts.
In the face of these facts it's easy to see why your business should be getting itself geared up to take advantage of this. But how do you know whether you should take advantage of the mobile platform? Are you likely to see a return on your investment? Well first of all you need to understand what mobile offers its users and also, most importantly, the context in which people will be using it.
- Smart phone sales set to exceed PC sales in 2012
- 750,000 iOS & Android devices activated EVERY DAY
- Currently mobile accounts for 10% of internet traffic and it's growing rapidly
- 1 billion people currently have data enabled with their mobile phone plan
- £3.5 billion per year transacted in mobile commerce
- Mobile is now become the primary web platform in many countries
Apart from the obvious differences in size and general location there are some significant differences in the mobile platform to the traditional desktop. It's best to think of smartphones as utility devices, which short of being able to "beam me up scotty" provide all the following raw services;
750,000 ios & android devices activated every day and is expected
But what about the users, well we know they are; action oriented Impatient, often only have one hand available, are looking for direct, speciﬁc information (phone number, directions, price). This amounts to an exciting "on demand" marketing platform, that essentially users require to be super efficient, task oriented and very simple to use. If its ubiquity as a marketing channel isn't enough to convince you, it's plain to see that there are many new and exciting opportunities to make extra revenue, stay in touch with your customers and also, importantly them with you.
For example if you run an online store why wouldn't you want to increase your store revenue by having your entire shop into a users pocket 24/7. Running a local competition? Why wouldn't you want to target people based on the proximity of their location to it. If your a hotel soon you'll be able to send the a virtual keycard to a users smartphone, saving on keycard system costs. The uses are endless, growing, exciting and potentially very lucrative for the businesses that do it right.
And doing it right is the key here, just like any new marketing channel many of the old rules still apply, just alongside some new ones. You still need make sure you understand your product offering and who you should target. But in the mobile channel it's essential you do so with usability, efﬁciency and specific customer goals
The entry point for a web app can cost significantly less than a native app
"Native" Apps do currently have modest advantages over "Web Apps", this is mostly to do with the apps speed, access to the smartphones cool sensors and of course the massive distribution and money making potential of the various App stores. But wrapped up in this, are a number of disadvantages. Native apps are costly, we're talking £10k plus entry points, since you need to create an app for each speciﬁc device (e.g. i0S, Android Blackberry) so both development and on going support costs can rack up.
For the past 18 months "Web Apps" have been seen as the "poor cousins" in terms of functionality, compared to "Native" applications. But this is changing and recently the technologies that "Web Apps" run on have seen massive improvements In a short amount of time they are running faster, while getting increasing access to the smartphones sensors and "cool" stuff. But the biggest advantage "Web Apps" have over the "Native" applications are the costs, the entry point for a simple web app can be under £3k, only increasing as things get more complex. Add this to the fact that the biggest cost saving you'll make is that they don't require multiple versions to be maintained, one size really does fit all, meaning massively reduced development and maintenance costs, whilst also hitting the biggest audience.