Lately, mobile APPs for smartphones, such as the iPhone and Blackberry are all the rage and many organizations are clambering to beat their competition to the APP marketplace. Business owners however, may not be aware of the options available to them. There is a gamut of APP types to choose from ranging from generic mobile websites to high-end native APPs. Let’s examine these in more detail:
Native APPs are specifically developed for each platform (iPhone, Blackberry, Android) and are downloaded from the various APP stores and installed on the phone. They make use of the built-in phone features such as cameras, GPS and accelerometer. Native APPs offer the best performance and user experience, but they are very expensive to develop, time consuming to build and require sophisticated programming knowledge. Not only that, they are not cross-platform, which means you need to develop separate APPs for each phone you want to support. After development, native APPs undergo a lengthy approval process to get into the various APP stores. Approval is not guaranteed and significant resources can be spent developing an APP only to find it dead in the water.
Web APPs and Mobile Websites
Mobile websites are basically that, websites. They are mini websites that run in the phone’s browser and work across multiple phones. Mobile websites are not downloaded or installed on the phone like native APPs and do not need any kind of approval from an APP store. They don’t offer the same high-end user experience like native APPs, but they are must less complex to build and more cost effective. Web APPs are also a type of mobile website that mimic’s native APPs. They are programmed to look and act like native APPs, but like mobile websites, cannot interface with the phone’s advanced features like the GPS.
Hybrid APPs offer the best of both worlds; they are basically mobile websites or web APPs that are able to access some phone’s basic features. Using a framework, the APPs are compiled into native APPs for the various platforms, so you only have to develop one and not individual APPs for each phone type. The APPs can then be made available on the various APP stores for download. Hybrid APPs offer a great compromise between cost and user experience.
Which APP type is best for my organization? If you would like to earn revenue by selling your APP, then you will likely be looking at developing native APPs or hybrid APPs. If you want to develop a high-end game, like ‘Angry Birds’ or an APP that makes use of the phone’s advanced features, then a native APP is the clear choice. If you are simply transmitting basic information and don’t require advanced phone functionality, then a mobile website or web APP will likely suit your needs and budget. In many cases, businesses will require something in the middle. Hybrid APPs are a great alternative; they allow for a high-end user experience at a reasonable development cost. Consult your marketing agency and they can help choose a solution that best meets your needs and budget.