The App Option: Does Your Business Need One?
Getting a piece of the mobile app market can be tempting, but don’t build an app just to say you have one. For many businesses, a well-designed mobile website can be just as effective.
The App economy
Connected consumers worldwide are increasingly reliant on their smartphones to access content. Of all mobile phones sold last year, 19% were smartphones.
- Smartphones sold worldwide in 2010
1.6 billion total mobile phones.
At the end of 2010, 28% of U.S. mobile subscribers had smartphones.
- Worldwide app downloads
2010 - 8.2 billion.
2011 - 17.7 billion.
- Worldwide app revenue (projected)
2010 - $5.2 billion.
20 - $15.1 billion.
- Key players
Apple App Store.
Blackberry App World.
Nokia OVI Store.
The weighting game
So with all that growth, why wouldn't your company want to get in on the app market? Here are some things to keep in mind.
- What's your strategy?
A mobile app is a marketing tactic, not a strategy. Mobile marketing is communicating with consumers in an uncluttered way - an app is just one way of doing that. Decide what your goals are before deciding to build an app.
- How do you want to connect?
Apps provide a feature-rich user experience. What kind of experience do you want to provide for your customers? Think about how you’d like a consumer to interact with your brand.
- What;s you focus?
A mobile app should be focused on one of three things: utility, content, or entertainment. If you can't decide among those options, an app might not be the best way to meet your goals.
App vs. Mobile website
Though smartphone users spend more time using apps, mobile web is still used often in several categories. And for some businesses, a mobile site could be a smarter option. Consider the following.
- Smartphone usage (average minutes per month)
Messaging - 671.
Apps - 667.
Voice - 531.
Web - 422.
- Users accessing content through mobile web
News - 86%.
Search - 85%.
Commerce - 66%.
Mass Market vs. Niche. Apps only work on the devices they're designed for. Choose an app if you’re looking to target a niche market based on device.
End-user experience. Apps provide more feature-rich functionality because they work with the device's native applications like GPS navigation.
Starting costs. Building an app for every different target device can quickly become costly. Plus, updates require more development and app store approval.
- Mobile web
Mass Market vs. Niche. Mobile websites can be designed to work on any device with a web browser. A mobile site can have mass-market appeal.
End-user experience. Mobile sites are a good choice for delivering search-based content; plus, it's easier to drive ad traffic to a mobile site.
Starting costs. Initial costs for developing a mobile site are offset by less cost to maintain over time. If mass marketing is your goal, a mobile site could be cheaper.
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Sources: Chief Marketer, Business Insider, InfoTech, gartner, Zokem, Nielsen