You’ve got to hand it to Apple, they have single-handedly created the mainstream mobile application market. I know, for all you (former) Palm Pilot and Windows Mobile users out there (of which I am a card-carrying member), the application market was robust for you “way back when” but, for some reason, Apple made it seem just a little more, well, cooler.
You could argue that the slogan that summarized 2009 was the ubiquitous “there’s an APP for that” – this century’s version of Wendy’s Restaurants, “where’s the beef” – but with this over-exposure comes some risk and confusion that I fear will sully this incredible industry.
So, here goes nothing: You may NOT need an App for that.
There, I said it.
Feeling better now that I got that out.
There are times when a mobile application DOES NOT make business sense so I offer these three tips to evaluate if you are spending money for a better cause or just spending money because.
Does the mobile application serve a purpose? Make sure the outcome of the investment you are about to make adds value to your business beyond the simple reason of “brand extension.” – you DON’T need an application that mimics your website, you already have a website. Does your mobile app enhance customer support? Does your mobile app bring an existing, in-demand service to your customers? Does your mobile app extend a business line into a market you’ve been trying to gain access to? Does your mobile app make it more convenient to do business with you? Can your mobile application make an additional stream of income for the company?
If this thing you are investing $20-40K to build (which does not include all platforms, marketing and updates) doesn’t enhance your business in any way, stop spending money on it.
Is it REALLY about your brand? Adding a mobile app solely to enhance your brand is a sure-fire way to damage it. An undertaking such as this requires a deeper, business-line commitment in order for it succeed beyond the launch. Do you have enough money to market it so it stands out in a VERY crowded market? Do you have the resources to manage the updates that will be required when someone finds a bug or limitation in the software? Do you have a cross-platform strategy?
Ask yourself if building a mobile application is an ego thing or a business thing. If you can’t see beyond getting your brand on a device, stop spending money on it.
Can you be more successful leveraging what is already out there? Let’s face it, there are SO many innovative services out there whose business it is to create awareness, why not use those services to reach their existing and growing audiences for your benefit?
What services exist today that speak to your customers or target market? How can you use these services to help your business expand into mobile with little or no cost?
There is no reason for any company to miss the mobile boat – there is something out there that can help any business right now. The questions I’ve asked here are just a start but hopefully they get you to pause long enough to determine if the path you are on is appropriate for your business.