Why sell mobile apps when a mobile web site would be better?
The short answer: we’re in business to make money.
I had a discussion on twitter yesterday, prompted by a question someone asked me last week: what would I learn/master if I was a student or job seeker today?
I’d focus on mastering html5 and building for mobile first then web.
Personally, I think we will soon be at a place where we develop for mobile first (tablet or phone) and web browser second, I agree with @iangeek when he says that’s not as true for b2b though.
A couple of folks said they’d focus on gis (ie location based), which is a good call also.
I think, as an industry, we’ve been guilty at times of mis-selling apps when a good mobile web site would do the job.
Lets be honest, if a client says ‘I want an app’ we see dollar signs, it costs money to build an app properly… And that’s the problem, in most cases a well built mobile web site would be cheaper to develop and platform independent (great you have an iphone app, what about the larger user base of android? Or blackberry business users? Let alone new platforms like windows phone 7 or the new one from alibaba)… but that is worth less and not what the client asked for is it?
This is the crux of the issue, we should be doing more to sell people the right solution, the one that gets the best ROI and the widest coverage… Not just the one that makes us the most money.
Another issue that only became apparent to me today is it’s not so much just locking people in with a particular platform for the use of a service/product but also having to adhere to that platform’s restrictions.
The case Amazon’s Kindle app for iOS and in-app purchasing restrictions is highlighted here nicely (http://www.engadget.com/2011/08/10/amazon-releases-web-based-kindle-cloud-reader-app-optimized-for/).
Amazon’s solution? Build a web-app that:
a) Circumvents the restrictions;
b) Is platform-agnostic.
I believe a very good reason to sell mobile apps to professional businesses like Law Firms, Car Dealers, Medical Facilities and many other industries is that they already have an established website that works for them but is not mobile optimized. We do it in a manner that is more cost effective than revamping their entire website for mobile PLUS, mobile gives them the opportunity to send out push notifications directly to mobile handset which most websites do not offer. In addition, a presence in the iTunes Store and Android Market makes many businesses look ahead of the curve and cutting edge and simply offers another avenue of marketing. The best bet may be both an app and a mobile enabled website in my opinion.