When and when not to App

As I-Phone and I-Pad technology continues to evolve, there seems to be a race to have SmartPhone applications without researching the consequences.  Many decisions are necessary in creating the correct messaging to accomplish the goals of the strategy.

With the various platforms for SmartPhone technologies it is important that the application is designed to live in the right environment.  According to AdAge research, Blackberry, Apple iPhone Android and Palm all have created a niche in the market that aligns each brand with an identifiable demographic profile.  As an example, Palm which had aligned itself with early adopters to mobile technologies, has a higher index for 35-44 year olds than any other manufacturer with more than 25% of users falling into that range.  On the other hand, iPhone boasts the highest percentage of users with more than $100,000 in income.

Furthermore, Blackberry with its profile being very much a business user, has garnered the highest segment of users reporting income of more than $100,000 annually.  However, the downside to this platform is that the typical user does not surf the web as much as others, and when they do, they spend less time online.

The bottom line is: it is reported that IPhone apps, at best, reach 25% of SmartPhone users of the fast growing segment represented by 42.7 million Americans.  Compare that to the fact that by 2013 it is predicted that phones will overtake PCs as the most common device to access the internet worldwide.

There is a way in which to solve these platform issues within this fragmented technology.  Web development providers are now able to create web sites that are specifically formatted and coded to operate in a fashion similar to an app on SmartPhones without the platform compatibility issues.  The drawback of the mobile websites is their inability to take advantage of some smart phone hardware features such as camera and compass options.

There is also the issue of exactly when is the best opportunity to engage with the target audience and the call to action strategies.  Unless the application has entertainment and high volume functionality, a case can be made for mobile designed web sites.  Apps will continue to act as a branding function while mobile sites operate as an advertising model to concentrate at a point in time, with slight crossover opportunities.  As technology continues to evolve and speeds improve in the mobile market, you will see the line continue to blur between mobile web site strategies and smart phone applications.