Is Developing Mobile Apps Really Worth it?
The introduction of App’s have opened up a whole new window for marketing for big name business’s, just recently for instance Starbuck’s unveiled their new Mobile Web App.
But is it really worth it to tap into this market for small businesses?
How much of a market are you potentially missing out on? First, let’s confront the elephant in the room. Yes, there are numerous types of mobile applications you can use to promote your company but the ones this article is going to focus on is the one that has garnered the most attention and has proven itself to be the most auspicious, both from a notoriety and monetary perspective.
Mobile App i to Web based app is what VHS was to Beta, what Blue Ray was to HD Tv. A well designed mobile app can provide a much more intuitive and pleasant experience when compared with the best mobile web apps, there is little debate over this, the overwhelming consensus is that mobile apps are where it’s at, but you have take into account that mobile apps cost more money, a lot more money.
It’s generally less difficult to make a cross platform web app and less expensive than it is to make an app that’s intended for mobile and also less costly.
Not only is making a native say Iphone app more difficult and more costly, but you also have to adapt that app for the Android and Blackberry if you want those users to be able to have access to that app as well, this requires building each platform from the ground up which means more money.
Now if you intend to monetize your mobile app, a native app becomes essential because a mobile website can’t integrate with Itunes Billing, a necessary resource that makes your app available to an eager market of 125 million users and makes money transactions easy.
Charging for access to your mobile website would require you find your own way to make a payment solution, that’s not easy to do.
Of course if you’re merely looking to market an existing website going down the root of Starbucks or Target Stores can be the Starbucks or Target Stores apps, these are typically free because the incentive is to get them distributed as widely as possible, but this is for a completely different article.
The big decisions comes when deciding what you should develop your app and what interface will provide the biggest market for you app.
The Big names are the Iphone, the Android and the Blackberry. Iphone has 6.75%, Android has 7.75%, Blackberry has 8.53%, and this accounts only for a grand total of 23.% of all mobile users........and that’s if you develop your app for all three of these OS’s separately.
If say you were only to develop an Android App you only have access to 7.75% of mobile users. If your primary purpose is marketing, this meagre percentage begs the question, is it really worth it?
Keep in mind developing all three would essentially triple your costs, all for only quarter of the audience. This doesn’t take into considering the Windows 7 phone which will most likely steal a good portion of that market share as a result of Microsoft’s joint venture with Nokia.
All the above means that, at the end of the day, creating a set of mobile native apps that reach, say, 80% of Smartphone users is going to be far more expensive than creating a mobile web app that reaches 90% of Smartphone users.
I don’t even mean twice the cost; I mean more like five, maybe even ten times the cost. In many situations, that’s acceptable, however for a small business this kind of cost is just too much for too little in return.
For large enterprises a native app for each OS could be worth the substantial monetary investment, but at this point it’s a hefty price for non-conglomerates. If your budget is under $100,000 than this is not route you want to take.
A Mobile website is substantially cheaper at $30 000 but of course they’re not nearly as intuitive and won’t reach as nearly a large audience, and this is still quite the investment for smaller business or newer business’s.
I was going to the leave the conclusion up for you to decide but I’ll give you my input, for a small business this neither of these are worth the investment, the web app will likely soon become obsolete in favour of the more intuitive natively designed app and currently the native app is too expensive for business’s other than Starbucks and Wallmart.