An Optimized Website is Not an Alternative to an App

If you have a small business, you probably have a website.  But, that’s not enough.  Don’t take our word for it.  Look at what the most tech-savvy companies are doing.

Use your iPhone or Android phone and:

Execute a trade through eTrade’s or Fidelity’s website and then use either app and see which one is more user friendly.

“Name your own price” on Priceline’s website.  Now download the Priceline app and do the same thing.   The difference in user experience is remarkable.

Even more obvious…navigate to Google on your iPhone browser and do a search.  Now download Google’s app where you can use speech recognition, take a photo, and use Google Goggles to translate signs and get information on whatever you happen to be viewing at any time.   The web version won’t do that.

Not too long ago, it was not absolutely necessary to have a website in which your customers could learn about your business, schedule appointments, view product information, purchase products and services, and otherwise interact with you.   Now, it’s fair to say that most customer-focused businesses would not think of operating without a website.  Can they identify a direct correlation between website expenses and revenue?  Some can, others aren’t so sure.   Still, there is no doubt a website is a necessary promotional and business tool.

So what’s this have to do with mobile apps?  Apple is selling 6.5 million iPhones, iPads, and iTouches per month.  Google is activating over 350,000 Android devices per day.  These numbers keep going up, along with the number of apps available to consumers.  According to the latest Distimo report, as of March 2011 there were 367,334 iOS apps and 206,143 Android apps.  The Android market continues to have explosive growth and Distimo predicts the number of Android apps will exceed the number of iPhone apps by the end of July 2011.  Mobile apps will clearly dominate personal computing and there will come day in the not-too-distant future when the only computer your customers will have will be the one strapped to a hip or stuffed in a back pocket.  When that day comes, and it will, mobile apps for businesses will be as necessary a promotional and customer service tool then as websites are today.

Custom app development can be expensive.  As we reported in our post on mobile app development costs, the average cost of developing a mobile app is $6,453.   That same post noted that some apps can cost much more to develop – $150,000 or more.   Given the nature of app platforms (development in one does not automatically translate to the others – at least not yet), starting an app project can be a leap into the (expensive) unknown.   That said, the cost of mobile app development can be quite reasonable if your business does not require a full custom, built from the ground up, application – there are “off the shelf” applications that can be modified for your business, using your images and content to create an app personalized for your business.

Whether you have an off the shelf app modified for your business or go with a custom mobile app, your move to a true mobile presence is inevitable.   Embrace the future of mobile communication and service to your customers.  They expect it.  And if they don’t now, they will soon.  If you’re ready to get a mobile app for your small business, visit our iPhone or Android quote site.  We’ll put you in touch with developers who can give you a mobile presence, whatever your budget.

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Mark M. Stetler is CEO of AppMuse and its related businesses: iPhoneAppQuotes.com, iPadApplicationQuotes.com, AndroidAppDevelopmentQuotes.com, and BlackberryAppDevelopmentQuotes.com. AppMuse is the Internet's leading provider of free app development quotes from experienced, pre-screened app developers for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry smart phones.

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