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Mobile Apps 101


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Over the years I have experienced customers routinely asking Optima for recommendations or suggestions on how to do accomplish a task and or if we know of a company that could do (insert everything under the sun). I have told many folks that we have become the purple widget people and are good at making recommendations / referrals based on the various formal and informal networks that we are part of.

Recently, I had a call from a past business acquaintance (RB Kiernat for those who are curious) and our conversation drifted into the realm of technology and use of smart phones in the Tradeshow environment. He asked about my experience with apps and I had to confess, I am a step away from knucklehead status, but do feel that there are practical application needs within the industry. RB told me that one of the dads on his kids hockey team (RB and I each have Pee Wee age kids, so hockey conversations come up frequently) works for a business that creates apps and has worked within the tradeshow industry. This sparked my interest and led to a phone call with Scott Pearson. Scott knows his “app” stuff and really seemed like a person I wanted to introduce to our customers as creation of apps for your customers could easily lead to some new selling opportunities and help you grow your customers business.
Optima is not selling apps, but if you are looking for this kind of technology, see Scotts guest post below. I am curious on your opinion of apps and if there is an app you would like to see Optima create. If so, please share, we are all ears.
~ Dave
Blogger PhotoWhile it’s nearly impossible these days to read a technology or business related article or blog without a mention of smartphones, apps, iPhone, Android or some other mobile buzz word the reality is that most businesses still don’t have an app and/or mobile Web site. Truth be told, not every business may need one but for most having an app would benefit them assuming the effort and cost to create and maintain one was reasonable.
In order to determine whether an app is right for your business, understanding what an app actually is would probably be helpful. According to the PC Magazine Encyclopedia a Mobile App is defined as “A software application that runs in a smartphone or other portable device. See mobile version and online app store.” This doesn’t tell us a lot but the 2nd sentence does trigger additional questions about mobile versions and app stores which are also part of the equation. To make it as easy as possible think of an app as a downloadable piece of software that will actually reside on your smartphone once you download it. Unlike a Web site where the content is stored somewhere else and simply accessed through your phone’s browser, the content of an app lives on your device. Practically speaking what this means is that in most cases you don’t need a cell or Wi-Fi connection to access the content in the app, and navigation through the content is also faster for that same reason. This fact makes apps a great option for the delivery of relevant content in environments where connectivity may be an issue like at tradeshows/conferences or major sporting event for example. And remember, an app shouldn’t just be a mobile version of your Web site so think about only “mobilizing” the content that is most valuable to your customers or employees when they’re on the go. Save the high res images and videos for your Web site and use your app to deliver bits of valuable content (such as pricing or specs) that don’t require a big screen or a ton of memory to view.

App Store

Back to mobile versions and app stores, these are two terms that may lead some to believe that creating and distributing an app is too difficult and expensive. This may have been true a couple of years ago, but today companies like Mobile On Services provide products and services that make the creation of cross-platform smartphone apps fairly painless. As long as your business doesn’t require a highly customized app, we can use our tools to inexpensively create apps that will work on today’s major smartphone platforms; iPhone, Android and Blackberry. The content in these apps is also made available in a mobile Web version of the app so that those users that don’t have a supported smartphone type can still access the content through their phones browser. As for the app stores, the only smartphone type that requires app distribution through their store is iPhone/Apple. For the other platforms links can be sent directly to end-users who then simply need to click on that link from their smartphone in order to download the app. In either case, distribution is as easy as including a link to the app itself or to the store in which it can be found in your next e-mail newsletter.
The bottom-line is that while an app may not be right for every business, it’s probably easier and more inexpensive to create than you may have thought. We’d be happy to consult with you to answer any questions and help determine if an app is right for your business. I can be reached at scott@mobileoninc.com
Scott Pearson
Mobile On Services, Inc.612-377-4174
Aside from the ubiquitous Angry Birds, what are your favorite Apps or favorite types of Apps? What do you generally use Apps for and what Apps are most useful? What Apps would you like to see developed? Give us your comments below.Apps
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