Some interesting reading in the Forrester Report, Is The Time Right To Build a Mobile App. (pdf) It’s from May of 2009, so some of the figures are out of date, but the concepts are still accurate.
iPhone is leading the way, but it’s still a relatively small market. You’re wise to look beyond the iPhone, as sexy as it is, to other platforms. Still, it’s tough to beat the iPhone’s ease of use when it comes to apps. Buying and downloading are easy, which has encouraged the wide adoption.
The bigger question is, how do you get involved? That depends on who you are. As the report points out, a mobile app can provide value – to you and your audience – in a variety of ways.
- If you’re looking to drive sales, look to an app that provides valuable information or solves a problem in some other way. (I use my Chase app to find an ATM when I need one away from home.)
- For branding, help your audience have fun. (The Zippo lighter is one of the earliest – and best – examples.)
- Developing a deeper relationship with your audience is possible, too. Getting them to interact with one another – even if in ways only tangentially related to your product – gains their trust as well as insight into their behavior.
One of the best bits of advice in the piece was also one of the most basic: don’t dive into mobile apps without owning an iPhone, Blackberry, or other smart phone. Best bet is to research which your audience favors and concentrate on that one at the outset.
At this point in the mobile market’s maturity, you’ll also want to consider an app as an add-on to your desktop and mobile Website strategies.