So you’ve decided your brand needs an app. Now you just need to make a few seemingly straightforward decisions such as why, what and which platform?
First of all you need to consider your strategy. Businesses need to be targeting mobile, there’s no doubt about it. Everybody knows that mobile is the fastest-growing channel of the marketing mix and should be ignored at peril. But what are you looking to achieve from an app? Start by seeking out a specialist mobile solutions provider that can help you work through your requirements and explain all the options available to you – there are so many different mobile avenues available so it pays to fully understand these from the outset.
Assuming an app is the right route for your brand, how are you going to ensure that yours stands out? The app stores are flooded with apps; your audience has a limited amount of attention and having a branded app is only half the story – it may enhance your presence but, if it provides nothing more than brand awareness, it’s likely to get lost in the mix. It needs to be purposeful and well implemented. Those apps that engage the user, serve a brand purpose and push boundaries or deliver content in a unique manner, are the ones that come out on top. Good design is also key to capturing your audience’s attention and communicating the essence of your brand.
Which platform to opt for can often represent a real dilemma for marketers. With so many different platforms available, the right one for your brand will depend largely on the audience you’re looking to reach. iOS has mass market ‘cool’ appeal but Android has the fastest-growing user base. If it’s the teen market you’re after, BlackBerry with its BBM6 would be the obvious choice or, if you’re targeting the developing countries, Nokia S40 and S60 are a good bet.
The two main platforms that are currently on every marketer’s lips are iOS and Android. With the launch of the iPhone 5, Apple is pushing the most advanced smartphone yet (in their opinion). However over in the Android corner, the Samsung Galaxy 3 is blowing away the competition in terms of sales – it’s a fantastic fully-featured device and it’s selling like hot cakes. Microsoft Windows Phone 8 is trying to push boundaries; Android devices are making leaps in user interactions and the iPhone, in my opinion, is just left wanting. When I look at the changes in iOS6 I, like many others, am left feeling completely underwhelmed and would question if iOS6 is dated before it even comes out. Yet Apple has still secured over 2 million sales in pre-orders. The Samsung Galaxy S3, having been on sale for a while, has already sold over 10 million devices.
So in such confusing times, which platform should marketers choose? Where should they spend their money and create an offering which attracts as many people as possible to engage with their brand? For the moment I believe the best solution is to adopt a cross platform approach which covers Apple’s iOS, Android devices, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and legacy devices such as the Nokia S40 and S60 ranges. This will enable a wider range of audiences to be reached and, relatively speaking, will help to reduce development costs in the long run. A common approach is to use tools such as PhoneGap to provide a ‘wrapper layer’ that enables cross platform support, and to focus on the high end platforms (Android and iOS) for the best user experience with native apps.
In some instances there is no decision to be made, as was the case with the Visit Britain app developed by Apadmi, which was available exclusively for use on Samsung devices. The share dealing app we produced for JHC, however, required a level of user interaction and security that wasn’t achievable through HTML and needed a dedicated solution across a number of supported platforms; in this case we developed it for Android, iPhone and iPad.
Confusing but exciting times lie ahead for marketers. Any brand making steps into a new area, such as mobile, would be well advised to seek out advice from experts who can help to guide them through the minefield and ensure they reap the full benefits of the opportunities on offer.
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