Business

Do you need a mobile app or a mobile website?

Wayne Marsh

Sunday, June 19, 2011    

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You should by now be familiar with the phrase "there's an app for that", if not, welcome to the app world. If you own a smartphone then you may have already used an app to update your Facebook status, Tweet a message, access your bank account or you may even be reading this article on your new Jamaica Observer app.

Smartphone users download millions of apps daily from the major app stores, such as Apple's App Store, BlackBerry's App World and various Android app stores. Some of the major app stores for the Android market include Amazon's App Store for Android, Google's Android Market and HandandGo's Mobile App Store.

With the growing popularity of smartphones in Jamaica, particularly BlackBerry smartphones, a number of local companies have started to look at developing or fine tuning their mobile strategy. Most companies already have a website and now need to figure out the most effective way to reach this mobile market. One of the major issues to decide is whether to create a mobile application (app) or a mobile website.

Studies show more persons using their mobile phone app to access social media services, especially Twitter, than the social media websites. You may have even noticed that recently a number of local companies have been releasing BlackBerry apps. But is an app the right mobile solution for you?

There are many factors to consider before selecting a mobile solution, some of which are listed below.

Based on the pros and cons listed above you should answer the following questions before deciding on a mobile website vs mobile app: Do I already have a large enough user base? Can I utilise the phone's native features to improve customer service/loyalty? Is there a dominant platform/device in my target market? Do I have the budget for a mobile app? If you answered yes to all of these questions then you are on your way to developing a wining business case for your mobile app. Otherwise a mobile website will have to suffice.

While it is much cooler to have a mobile app and the potential for user interaction and application functionality is much greater, a thorough assessment of your needs may still prove that a mobile website is more practical and economical. In some cases both may be required.

As the channels engaging your target market increase and their attention span for each channel decreases, businesses continue to struggle to get their attention. A recent Forrester Research study in the US shows that the mobile phone is the most used electronic device. This is no surprise and we can safely say that the research results would be similar if conducted in Jamaica.

Data from the Office of Utilities Regulation shows a local mobile phone penetration rate of 117 per cent as at December 2010. Local smartphone use is on the rise with RIM's Blackberry smartphone having the largest market share. All forward thinking companies must begin to consider what is the best approach to reach this growing market.

Wayne Marsh is an Internet Marketing Consultant and can be contacted at marshwa@ebusinessSolutionsJa.com or www.ebusinessSolutionsJa.com or Twitter.com/JamaicanTwits

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