Have you seen our iPhone App? Do you have one? No? Really?
Been asked that recently? I wouldn’t be surprised if you had, mobile seems to be on the lips of everyone. If you haven’t got an iPhone app, some would have you believe it’s a minor miracle you’re still doing business.
So, should you be rushing out to find a mobile developer?
Yes, no, maybe, well, it depends.
Don’t be a lemming
First of all, you don’t have to follow the crowd. Just because it’s cool and trendy, doesn’t mean it will be successful (see the ‘popular’ kids at school as an example). There are some fundamental questions you need to ask of your business first, before you can determine your mobile strategy.
Five Questions to ask of your business:
Does your business lend itself well to mobile?
You have to be realistic. There are just some businesses that don’t lend themselves well to the mobile web – certainly the App market – and you have to ask yourself, is yours one of them?
Anecdotally, the average lifespan of an iPhone App is 2 weeks – in all likelihood because the App is pointless or poorly thought out or designed. To justify the expense of developing one you need to be sure it will be used.
Brainstorm a few ideas and share them with your customers. Feed the response back into the decision process.
Can you improve the customer brand experience via mobile?
If your customers access your product via the web, could you make their life easier by providing mobile access too? The key here, is to ensure that the mobile and web version are integrated, otherwise there is a disconnect and you compromise on the customer experience.
Should I do something right now?
Tricky one. Ask yourself whether you’ll be left behind if you don’t – and if your brand will suffer if you release a shoddy product. Rushing doesn’t guarantee the latter, but it’s a risk. You need to find a balance between speed and quality. ‘Bells and whistles’ could always come in the version1.1 update, whilst you gather feedback from the initial release.
Which first – iPhone, Android, Mobile or other?
Ah, the hot potato. There is a lot of information out there on mobile use and many of the numbers are conflicting. However, what all the Mobile experts can agree on is that big things are about to happen in the market.
In a nutshell, we can thank Apple, their iPhone and their marketing budget for kick starting the smart phone market. That got consumers interested, now Google are coming along with Android to mount what is expected to be a serious challenge.
So which should you do first? Well, it depends on your business. If you’re ready to go now, it could be worth launching an iPhone App to go with market surge. Once live you might want to get started on the Android version pretty quickly to jump on that bandwagon as the platform gathers traction.
Conversely, you might find that your niche is already a little overcrowded in the iPhone App store, so you could dive straight into the Android space and be the big fish gobbling up market share before your competitors get there.
Or to continue with the nautical metaphors, perhaps you’d be better off swimming against the smart phone tide altogether? Whilst apps may be sexy, the mobile web (i.e. sites accessible via mobile browsers), may be where your biggest wins could be found.
Would you be better off making a great mobile-friendly site so any internet enabled phone can access it? It’s certainly a bigger market.
Do my audience want a mobile offering from my product?
Exactly how big a market is actually an important consideration. The global uptake is huge, but that doesn’t really matter to you. How big is it in your market?
Try this. Go to your analytics package and look up the Browsers/Operating System report. You probably don’t delve in there too often and you might be a little scared by what you find when you start adding up the number of visits from Mobile devices.
Look at the data over the past year or two – how much has it grown? One site I worked on recently, experienced a 136% increase in mobile visits in just a 9 month period and nobody knew.
So the worrying thing is you may already have a mobile audience and they can’t use your product. Is the audience big enough to jump the smart phone Apps in the development queue?
It’s clear when you consider the answers to the five questions that it’s not as simple as just responding to the excitement of the iPhone with an App of your own. What’s in the best interest of your company?
It’s an important time for businesses as we adapt to the changing media consumption of our audiences. We must move swiftly, but not hastily, and embrace the opportunities new technologies provide.
So what will Mobile mean to you?