Are Mobile Apps the Answer For Your Business?
You probably remember when
the phrase “There’s an app for
that” caught on as a fun popculture
slogan a few years ago.
But at the time, very few people
could have predicted just how
much of an impact those five
words would have on the future
of Web business.
In the four-and-a-half short years since the first iPhone was
released, mobile apps have completely changed the way that
many people use the Web. According to Flurry Analytics, the
average mobile-device user spends 81 minutes per day using
That may not seem like much at first, except that the average
time spent surfing the Web from both desktop and mobile
browsers is 74 minutes per day. That means that users are
spending 9 percent more time on mobile apps than they are on
the actual Internet.
Below are some guidelines to follow if you determine
that building a mobile app is the best course for your Web
Identify your class
There are three basic app classifications that businesses can offer
— entertainment, information and utility.
Entertainment apps, usually in the form of games, are pretty
straightforward in their purpose. This is by far the most downloaded
app category (see sidebar), and could make a lucrative
option for many businesses.
Unfortunately, developing entertainment apps can be both
difficult and expensive, and the practice is probably better
suited for raising awareness than it is for generating immediate
Information applications, however, can work really well for
certain brands, namely those already in content publishing. These
types of apps can be useful for any company that has important
and/or interesting information to share with its audience.
Finally, the broadest app category is the utility classification
that exists to serve a specific function for both the brand and user.
This can include anything from a mobile e-commerce solution to
catalog apps to account management and much more, depending
on the nature of the business and the goal of the app.
Know your solutions
Drag-and-drop app tools such as iBuildApp, TheAppBuilder and
Tiggr enable users to select a template, customize the general design
and create content within an app. But a better investment
might be found in application frameworks that offer broader functionality
and greater flexibility while also acting as excellent learning
tools. Three worthy framework services include the following:
Appcelerator: Appcelerator’s Titanium Mobile SDK (software development kit)
works with more than 5,000 mobile devices and operating system
CSS. The platform also comes with access to the Open Mobile
Marketplace, an Appcelerator marketplace where developers and
ISVs can build upon Titanium’s open, extensible architecture by
publishing their own unique extensions, sample apps, graphic/
design elements or Web services that others can buy to enhance
their own creations.
With an Apache 2 license, the platform is also able to be freely
explored and customized. Most importantly, Titanium Mobile SDK gives users single APIs that work over a number of operating
systems, mobile device designs and mobile browsers to give
your app the broadest reach possible.
RhoMobile: Mobile application creation service RhoMobile offers a product
called Rhodes that allows users to write native apps one time
and then build them out for all smartphones. An open source,
Ruby-based framework, Rhodes lets customers create true native
device apps and comes with the support and service of Rho-
Mobile’s other app deployment services. But the real beauty of
RhoMobile’s offer is that users also have access to the company’s
unified business services.
RhoMobile has partnered with cloud platform service provider
Heroku (a division of Salesforce) to leverage the growing cloud
computing industry and expand on its services. After building an
app with Rhodes, users can take advantage of Web 2.0-level scalability
with RhoConnect to easily synchronize data; meaning they
can install RhoConnect on their servers and integrate the information
from any backend data source or custom application into
the mobile app, all with no coding knowledge required.
Sencha: The free mobile HTML5-based application framework Sencha
Touch 2 by Sencha is an alterative to the Appcelerator and Rho-
Mobile offerings, as it allows users to build fast and visually stimulating
applications that can rival native apps for iPhone,
BlackBerry and Android.
Sencha Touch 2 focuses on providing the most userfriendly
experience possible, including fluid animations and
smooth scrolling by adapting to use the best scrolling mechanisms
for each device. The platform also ensures a high frame
rate — the speed that an image refreshes — across most compatible
devices, which helps support rapid response, load and
layout times (as well as near-instantaneous switching from
landscape to portrait views) and access to Sencha SDK Tools,
which give users the ability to cloak their Web apps to appear
as native apps.
Spread the word
Having a mobile application, whether it’s an entertainment, informational
or utility app, can be a huge boon for your business
in terms of driving awareness and deepening levels of consumer
engagement. Depending on the nature of the app, it can also help
The three mobile application framework services previously
mentioned, as well as the many other similar offerings on the
Web, can give business owners the user-friendly development experience
they need while also allowing them to build highly functional
and flexible apps for consumers.
In the end, the most important thing is to have a good idea
that helps a company connect with users and gets them to use an
app that will ensure more attention paid to your brand.