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Understanding the Mobile App Development Landscape

Understanding the Mobile App Development Landscape

If you run a business and you’re new to the industry, here’s a simple introduction to the basic understandings of the mobile app development landscape.

Mobile Apps

A mobile app is simply a piece of software that a consumer downloads onto their mobile device from a specific location or store created by either their mobile phone provider (i.e. Telstra or Optus), the device manufacturer (i.e. Apple or Google) or third party app stores (I.e. GetJar).

Simple apps exist for standard feature phones, but today’s mobile apps are typically associated with smartphones (like the iPhone) where their functionality is enhanced by rich graphics, animations, video and the ability to trigger phone functionality such as the GPS or the camera.

Mobile Apps are specific to phone platforms and must be developed using special code such as the iPhone “Xcode” for them to work. iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows are the current major mobile platforms, but the iPhone has by far the greatest reach here in Australia.

Depending on what type of a company you are, there are three main types of apps that businesses should be concerned with:

1. Branded Apps

These apps are specifically developed to enhance some aspect of the company’s product and while not typically used to sell that product, they encourage use of it.

Examples of this might be the Zippo Lighter App (the phone looks like a lighter), Coke’s Spin the Bottle (play the iconic game with a Coke bottle), KRAFT’s iFoodAssistant (menu planning with grocery list functionality), or the BMW M Power Meter (measure the vehicle’s acceleration and Gforces).

2. Mobile Media Apps

These are often extensions of well-known media properties that have functionality unique to the app.

Top media related apps include 2GB, ABC, BBC News, SBS World News, Weatherzone, NineMSN and The Age, just to name a few.

These apps sometimes have paid or metered versions, but are often ad supported and thus are free for downloading.

3. Mobile Shopping Apps

Retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy and Target are taking the lead with their customers and trying to establish a continuous on-phone presence on mobile devices through their apps, which offer m-commerce made easy should the consumer have their payment data stored with that provider.

CNet has also created a shopping app that enables consumers to compare reviews for products in store. ShopSavvy is another very popular app (in the US) as a good example where consumers use the app to scan a barcode and do comparison price shopping.

So there you have it, 3 basic categories that you should be initially looking at as a viable means to growing your business now and into the future.

Next, we take a look at Understanding the ‘Mobile Web’ Development Landscape and what the differences are.

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