I just read an interesting white paper on mobile strategy development. (Get it here) While it is targeted to enterprise level businesses, there are some things that smaller businesses should start thinking about now, and there are other trends that are good to watch as they trickle down and become more affordable and accessible.
1. Mobile Cycle Mimicking Web - Exploration, Acceleration, and Innovation.
Mobile markt development is matching web market development. On the web, Exploration was the time of personal web pages and corporate brochureware sites. The Acceleration phase added interactivity to the web experience, allowing users to do things like access their bank account balance or view a map online. Innovation is where we are now - taking something like mapping and incorporating it into dynamic tools, like a running route mapping tool or a map of nearby restaurants with reviews.
Mobile in the small business segment is still in the Exploration stage, but aggressive organizations who feel they can capitalize by being first to market are jumping into the Acceleration phase with their investment.
Take-away - Think about it now. When is the best time for your business to jump in? Exploration stage, Acceleration stage, or Innovation stage?
2. Platform Diversity Hampers Scalability, but This is Changing
If you want to develop a mobile app, it can be daunting today. It is possible to launch with one platform with a reasonable investment, and most select the iPhone platform first, but then adding platforms like Android and Blackberry means new development cycles and large budgets for a fraction of the immediate ROI of a website.
This is changing, as businesses are creating app-like experiences via the mobile web and others are creating development platforms that create apps that have high cross compatibility.
As this platform diversity problem is solved and the cost to do so goes down, be ready to see a lot of smaller businesses to jump into the fray.
Take-away - Keep a close watch on cross platform development trends, or your competitors may gain an advantage.
3. If You Invest Now - Prioritize Your Platforms
Developing and app for iPhones, Android phones, and Blackberries is still pretty expensive. If you decide to invest, prioritize. Most start with the iPhone unless they operate in a heavy enterprise environment where Blackberry is king. To decide on the next platform, determine who you want to target - for a large expansion of unit penetration, go for Android. To hit that enterprise market, consider Blackberry.
Take-away- Mobile strategy follows business strategy, not the "shiny new object" strategy.
My two cents. What are your thoughts? Do you feel an app strategy makes sense in the current market, or is a mobile site a better option? Or, do you feel it is best for your business to wait for the industry to shake out? let us know!
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