APPs APPs APPs: everyone is talking about them. That is since Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone nearly 6 years ago. We all use them and adore them. They are the lifeblood of the smartphone and extend its capabilities tremendously. Just take a look at Apple’s App store: 50 million users, 400,000 apps, 10 billion downloads.

BUT are they really the holy grail or is there something else we do with our smartphones. Ahhh DOH sure: we use texting, email (which technically is an APP) or now wait a minute we use it as a phone too – at least sometimes. But that is not what I am talking about: more and more customers use their phone and mobile devices as their primary browsing tool. PC’s and laptop sales are declining drastically. Smartphones and Tablets that is where it’s at !!  They are cheaper and portable. Most people use their clunky big stationary computers solely for browsing, email and gaming anyway.
By the end of the year 95% of all mobile users will have a smartphone. In Q1 tablet sales tripled whiles PCs and Laptops lost 17%. Wow, do I see a trend here ???

Back to APPs. Lets check out the user first. The half-life of an APP is 43 days – then it gets deleted. Think about yourself: how many APPs do you use on a daily bases? Three maybe four? How many do you load once and never use it again until your memory is full and then you delete them? And how many do you use occasionally?
Now ask yourself how many times you use the browser of your phone in conjunction with email and QRCodes. I think you are starting to see my point here: You don’t have to download a website, or update it constantly. You know already how it works and you don’t have to search for it in a user unfriendly App Store.

Apple APP StoreSo this was the consumer side. Now lets look at someone who wants to offer their services or products via Smartphone. I have heard this so many times: “I need an APP to present my business or organization to mobile users”. My first answer is “WHY?” Why would you want to go thru the hassle, time and loads of money to get yourself an APP? Let me explain:

  • APPs are very costly to develop because they have to be constructed to work on multiple platforms like Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android or Windows Phones. Not to forget tablets (iPad APPs and iPhone APPs are completely different).
  • APPs take a long development time (up to 6 months is not uncommon).
  • APPs need to be updated constantly. Operating system changes or new devices (iPhone 5 has a bigger screen than the iPhone 4) always require an APP update.
  • APPs have to be approved by the APP store owners.

In comparison to these facts, a mobile ready website with integrated WebAPPs (if needed) is simple to build thus less costly. Updates are only necessary if the content changes. Once uploaded to the server, they are immediately available. As soon as the site is build it can go live without anybody’s approval. If you are a business and don’t have money to throw out the window you have to consider this alternative.

So why do we still have APPs at all? Some Smartphone specific characteristics like GPS or “Accelerometer” are not, or only partially accessible via a Web based platform. So games for instance are a great example for the validity of APPs.

My humble conclusion: “95% of businesses do not need an APP!!!”

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