Mobile Marketing is the Future. 39% of US phones are smart phones. That number will double over the next two years. Online holiday shopping for 2011 also showed 37% of the shoppers used smart phones to make purchases online.
If you're planning to establish a mobile presence for your business or organization one of the first considerations that will likely come to mind is whether you want to create a mobile application for users to download (app) or a mobile website, or perhaps both. Mobile websites and apps can look very similar at first-glance, and determining which is most suited to your needs will depend upon a number of factors, including target audiences, available budget, intended purpose and required features.
The Difference Between a Mobile Website and a Mobile App
A mobile website is similar to any other website in that it consists of browser-based HTML pages that are linked together and accessed over the Internet (for mobile typically WiFi or 3G or 4G networks). The obvious characteristic that distinguishes a mobile website from a standard website is the fact that it is designed for the smaller handheld display and touch-screen interface.
Like any website, mobile websites can display text content, data, images and video. They can also access mobile-specific features such as click-to-call (to dial a phone number) or location-based mapping. If your company is utilizing a Content Management System (ie. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or Expression Engine) its very inexpensive to deploy a mobile website. That typically involves downloading, installing and configuring an extension, component or plugin and coding of mobile website template.
Mobile Apps are actual applications that are downloaded and installed on your mobile device, rather than being rendered within a browser. Users visit device-specific portals such as Apple’s App Store, Android Market, or Blackberry App World in order to find and download apps for a given operating system. The app may pull content and data from the Internet, in similar fashion to a website, or it may download the content so that it can be accessed without an Internet connection.
As long as mobile remains a relatively new frontier, the "app vs web" question will remain a very real consideration for organizations seeking to establish a mobile presence. If your goals are primarily marketing driven, or if your goal is to deliver content and establish a broad mobile presence that can be easily shared between users and found on search engines, then the a mobile website is the logical choice. On the other hand, if your goal is interactive engagement with users, or to provide an application that needs to work more like a computer program than a website, then a Mobile App is probably going to be required.
Mobile Application Development Process
Once we have an understanding of the Mobile App you want to develop, InteractiveWest provides a detailed proposal, outlining the services and costs associated with the project.
Initial Meeting: Team members meet with your staff to gain a greater understanding of the entire project and to set guidelines and expectations.
Content and Materials Gathering: InteractiveWest develops a Scope of Work and all content, assets and images are gathered.
Wireframe Creation: InteractiveWest creates black and white depictions of your Mobile App including the placement of text and images and where the overall flow of your Mobile App is also designed.
Application Design: InteractiveWest designers build the design for your Mobile Application - for what it will look like, what fonts will be used, and what graphics will be displayed.
Development and Integration: Our development team then goes to work in development of your Mobile Application, builds coding to connect with any necessary databases, integrate web services, and perform rigourous testing.
Project Sign-off, Launch, and Marketing:Once your Mobile Application is developed, InteractiveWest works to ensure your Mobile App is successfully launched by creating and executing a internet marketing plan to promote your Mobile App.
Types of Mobile Applications:
Android is a Linux-based operating system primarily designed for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers utilizing ARM processors. A secondary target for the light weight OS is embedded systems such as networking equipment, smart TV systems including set top boxes and built in systems and various devices as varied as household appliances and wrist watches. It is developed by the Open Handset Alliance, led by Google.
Blackberry devices are smartphones which are designed to function as personal digital assistants, portable media players, internet browsers, gaming devices, cameras and much more. They are primarily known for their ability to send and receive (push) email and instant messages while maintaining a high level of security through on-device message encryption. BlackBerry devices support a large variety of instant messaging features with the most popular being the proprietary BlackBerry Messenger service.
(previously iPhone OS) is a mobile operating system developed and distributed by Apple Inc. Originally released in 2007 for the iPhone and iPod Touch, it has been extended to support other Apple devices such as the iPad and Apple TV. Unlike Microsoft's Windows CE (Windows Phone) and Google's Android, Apple does not license iOS for installation on non-Apple hardware. As of June 12, 2012, Apple's App Store contained more than 650,000 iOS applications, which have collectively been downloaded more than 30 billion times. It had a 23% share of the smartphone operating system units sold in the first quarter of 2012, behind only Google's Android. In June 2012, it accounted for 65% of mobile web data consumption (including use on both the iPod Touch and the iPad). During the first the first half of 2012, there were 410,000,000 devices activated.
Windows Phone is a mobile operating system developed by Microsoft and is the successor to its Windows Mobile platform, although incompatible with it. Unlike its predecessor, it is primarily aimed at the consumer market rather than the enterprise market. The software is integrated with third party services and Microsoft services and sets minimum requirements for the hardware on which it runs.