Speakers’ Corner: Optimising apps

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Apple’s announcement that its ‘App Store’ had registered more than 1.5 billion downloads in its first year demonstrated, as if it needed demonstrating, the impact that mobile applications are having in the way people go about interacting with mobile data.

Despite the big numbers, if you talk to application developers, the picture is not so rosy. Many are spending time developing applications they either give away for free or don’t make much money from. The idea that you can build a sustainable business by making mobile applications is doubtful at the least.

Even if you do create a successful iPhone application, you will have to write it again for Nokia, BlackBerry, Palm and a host of others to gain the market penetration required – and then there are all the phones that do not support mobile applications.

So whilst the success of applications cannot be denied, it does not offer a particularly compelling way to drive mobile internet access across all of mobile.

What the mobile applications phenomenon does tell us, and tells us clearly, is the kind of content people want to consume on their phones. People want smart solutions to immediate problems. So it makes sense for sports events, festivals, venues, conferences – even restaurants and pubs – to take advantage of the fact their customers all have
mobile phones to o  er them the opportunity to use these to access information quickly and easily.

Of course the problem is all of these organisations will probably be put off by the usual issues that mobile faces: it is too complicated, there are too many standards, and phones come with different screen sizes.

The perception can be that it is too expensive to create multiple mobile sites that will work on every phone and that creating some kind of ‘one-size-fits-all’ option will fail to deliver the brand values that need to be represented by a company – with broken links, badly fitting text and lots of content not displaying.

Full article in Mobile News issue 447 (September 7, 2009).

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Mat Diss is director of Bemoko, a company that creates mobile websites that are optimised for all devices. He believes the impact of mobile phone applications may be the first step to a more effective solution

 

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