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If you haven’t gone mobile yet, now is the time to do so

Written by
Luke Green
March 5, 2010

A while back I wrote a blog about the recent explosion of native web apps being just a fad. It was a bold statement but as we hit the 8 months since that post, it has become clear that the mobile space is now becoming the growth platform on the web.

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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;

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.

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

Going Mobile

So you've decided to go ahead and get involved in the mobile space, what are your options? And what are the costs? Well first up you'll need to decide whether you want a "Native" application or what's known as a "Web App". For the non technical a "Native" application is programmed and optimised specifically for each device, whereas a "Web App" is essentially made using advanced web page technology like HTML5 and JavaScript i.e all elements that make up normal webpages and work across all smartphones.

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.

The alternative approach is called "Web Apps". These essentially use advanced web page technology like HTML5 and JavaScript (all elements that make up normal webpages) and can have “almost” the same power as a "Native" App. When I say almost, pretty soon we think this will gap will close.

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.

Thanks for reading, we’re Inspira Digital.

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