Mobile Application Basics - What are Mobile Apps?
The fact that 750+ million people use Facebook, and over 250+ million are accessing Facebook via a mobile device, or that there are approximately 5.7 billion Smart Phones in the world (more then there are human beings), leads to the irrefutable conclusion that… ‘The Future is Definitely Mobile’.
There is still a lot of ambiguity surrounding Mobile Applications, and what value they will bring to a business owner. Due to a lack of clarity and information around the whole mobile application world, there is clearly a need, and an opportunity to educate the business community about them.
The intention of this post is to simplify Mobile Apps in order for any business owner to be able to make an educated decision on whether the Mobile application market is worth getting into, or not.
In the Mobile App realm there are 2 broad kinds of apps:
- Conceptual Apps
- Process Augmentation Apps
Conceptual Mobile Apps
Think of Conceptual Apps as the “idea” apps. They are usually unique, fresh and innovative.
An example of a Conceptual App is the Tiger Woods App. This App is able to recognize your golf swing, plot it against Tiger’s swing, and show the differences. Another example of a Conceptual App is the Taxi Meter App. This App calculates the fare as you travel between locations. The best example of a Conceptual App being SIRI, the Iphone’s intelligent personal assistant who is designed to help you get things done simply by asking it.
The financial upside of building these apps can be HUGE. Unique concepts are hard to come by, and the engineering required to deliver these types of apps is very complex. A vast majority of these applications make their money by selling the app itself, another large segment monetizes and leverages the viral aspect of these apps.
Example – Tiger Woods MySwing – $4.99 on iPhone $9.99 iPad – this has over 80K downloads in each version
Process Augmentation Mobile Apps
With Process Augmentation Mobile Apps, you are finding an application that offers mainly functionality or an “augmentation” to an existing business process, either offline or as a web application, and you are building an application to further enhance it, or simply add mobility.
There are thousands of examples of Process Augmentation Apps: To-do list trackers like “Remember the milk”, Google Maps Application, Hotel Apps, Airline Apps, Banking Apps and many more…
A simple strategy to determine if a business needs a mobile app is to find a company that already engages with its customers or employees – who are mobile, identify its existing processes and enhance their functionality by building a new and improved app to further develop mobility and efficiency.
To recognize and materialize this need requires ingenuity and expertise but the delivery of Process Augmentation apps is not a difficult undertaking for the most part.
These apps are normally free but some can cost upwards of $5 to download. The monetization happens outside the app, essentially through the value enhancement that the app brings to the interaction between the business and the customer/employee.
Example – Tripadvisor. They probably spent more than $200k to build this app, but they give it away for free. The added value this app brings to the users is what constitutes its real worth.
The mobile world will continue to change the way we interact, the way we seek and receive information and, ultimately, the way we do business. Before any company decides whether it needs to engage the mobile playing field and develop a mobile application, outlining the specific role and utility of the application in rapport to the business requirements is key to ensuring its success. That being said, in today’s digital world, mobile aps are, in many regards, the essential tools of the trade.