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Domestic or Import? What to know about mobile apps July 13, 2011

Filed under: Resources — Carla Bobka @ 11:30 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

In today’s post Bob Watson from Digital Eye is arming us with information and the right language to be more dangerous when talking about mobile apps. There’s no techy jardon until the very end, promise.


Remember the Swiss Army Knife?  My grandfather, Jack Hostetler, would produce this bulky, red-handled, talisman from his pants pocket to help him overcome any number of personal and professional challenges throughout the day.  When it wasn’t hard at work prying at a sticky lid or cutting open a box, it was rattling against his keys and pocket change as he shuffled.

 

I still recall marveling at the vast collection of on-board tools he would deftly unfold and bring to bear on the situation at hand — magnifying glass, toothpick, screwdriver (phillips and flat-blade!), hole punch, scissors, file, can and bottle openers, tweezers…

It always struck me as odd that it was called a “knife”, but was used for so much more than just a sharp-bladed cutting tool.  It was the closest thing I’d ever seen to Batman’s utility belt, and that makes an impression on an 8-year-old grandson.

 

In today’s digital world our daily issues trend toward the less tangible side of things, more of us find ourselves fumbling in pockets (or handbags) just like Grandpa Jack did to find our version of his go-to tool, the smartphone.  Notice the similarity — we call them smartphones despite the fact that we use them for so much more than making calls?

 

In large part its because users assemble their own self-curated set of on-board tools. We open our phones and tablets to check the weather, snap a picture, record a to-do list, keep track of expenses, order a pizza or anything else to help us get through a day in 2011.

 

Businesses have taken note of the opportunity to connect with and retain existing customers on such an intimate, personal medium, and the app-rush is on.

 

Here are 2 startling stats released Thursday, July 7, 2011:

1. Apple’s App Store hosts over 425,000 titles logging over 15 billion downloads by over 200 million users of iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices.
2. The second-place rival, Google’s Android Market, announced 4.5 billion downloads as of May with another billion taking place every 60 days.

That’s a lot of apps and a mind blowing amount of customization on our small screens.

 

By this time, you’ve probably had enough experience with your own wireless handheld to come up with an idea of your own for your business.

 

Now for the technical jargon. There are two different ways to construct and present an app to users — Native or Web-based.

A native app is downloaded from an app store, and uses the device’s own computing power and input from on-board accessories and sensors (camera, GPS, accelerometer, address book).

 

Web-based apps are accessed by the device’s browser and are written in open web standard code like a typical website, allowing most, if not all of the processing to be done on the server (in the cloud) instead of the user’s device.

 

There are pros and cons to each.

 

The decision as to whether a native or web-based app is right for you should be based first on your target market and the benefits your solution provides. Consider these questions:

What hardware do your customers use?
How do they interact with their devices?
What do you want to deliver: entertainment, enlightenment, savings, improved service, or simple “wow” factor?

 

Development costs are based mostly on complexity, and there’s really no handy rule-of-thumb yet — pricing varies as widely as the range of apps themselves.

 

The process really requires an in-depth conversation with your app developer. When you do that, armed with answers to the 3 questions above, he/she can determine the optimal way forward to achieve your goals, develop a budget and a targeted ROI.

 

It all starts with an idea.  So what’s yours? Drop an idea or thought in comments and let’s see what kind of ideas show up.

 

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