Does Your Business Need a Mobile App?

In just over 4 years, over 35 billion apps have been downloaded between iPhone and Android devices. By 2014, mobile internet will take over desktop internet. This means that in less than one and a half years, more people are going to look for your business from a mobile internet device such as a smartphone or a tablet than from a desktop computer.

Mobile Internet Overtakes Desktop Internet

Currently, the most watched screen on the planet is TV. The 2nd most watched screen is the computer screen and mobile phone is the 3rd most watched screen on the planet. However, by 2014, mobile phones will overtake computer as the 2nd most watched screen on the planet.

In essence, the mobile phone has become the new MASS MEDIA. Why? In Singapore for example, the most watched TV programme on our national channel has a viewership of only 650,000. This means that less than 13% of the population can be reached via a traditional mass media such as TV.

In comparison, there are 7.7 million mobile subscriptions among our 5-million population: there are more phones than people! A modern smartphone allows you to watch movies, listen to music and read news. Everything that TV, radio and newspaper can do, the smartphone can do and does better!

Mobile allows you to be connected at any Location, and at the same time, be connected to your entire Social network, their opinions, advice and buying power. The implications for marketers are profound. It represents a dramatic paradigm shift that will disrupt every business. Venture capitalist John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers coined the acronym SoLoMo to sum up this convergence of 3 major powers of Social, Local and Mobile.

SoLoMo - Social Local Mobile

As we migrate from desktop internet to mobile internet, marketing campaigns will need to become increasingly sophisticated and take into account the combination of relevancy, location and timing. Loyalty-driven marketing and social gaming culture may begin to take a larger role as engagement becomes a crucial factor in maintaining relationships between your business and mobile consumers. We are at the start of a new era in marketing: SoLoMo Marketing.

According to a December 2011 ABI Research survey of 5,000 U.S. consumers, respondents who said they had downloaded a retailer-branded app said the app caused them to visit the store more often (45.8%), buy more of the store/brand’s products and services (40.4%), tell a friend about their store shopping experience (35.8%), and encourage friends to visit the store (30.8%)

ABI Research Shows Mobile Apps Increase Business Revenue

“These are overwhelmingly positive numbers,” says senior analyst Mark Beccue. “They are so compelling that if retailers do not have a smartphone app strategy in place right now they are in danger of being left behind by their competitors.”

“Clearly consumers are using retailer-branded apps as an engagement tool. Once a retailer can capture a consumer with one, there is a real opportunity to leverage smartphone apps to enhance customer service, deliver richer, more relevant product information in real time, shorten checkout lines, and more,” says Beccue. “We are at the dawn of a very dynamic and creative time for retail.”

Yet it is alarming that more than 99% of businesses today do not have a mobile app. They are NOT mobile ready. Businesses will need to plan forward when it comes to reaching out to their customers. Today, most people do not read newspapers. They get their news on iPhones, iPads, Android Phones and laptops. So if businesses continue to market only on traditional media, they will not be able to reach their prospects anymore.

In fact, 40% of smartphones visitors will leave a site if it is non-mobile optimized.  And while there are more than 650,000 apps in iTunes, most businesses don’t have a mobile app to connect with their customers. With only less than one and a half year to go before 2014 arrives, businesses need to move quickly to into the mobile app platform before they lose connection with their SoLoMo-savvy customers.

Why is it that so little businesses have their own mobile apps to connect with their SoLoMo-savvy customers? This is because up till this point in time, developing mobile app is a complex, time-consuming and expensive endeavour.

The cost of developing a custom mobile app is prohibitive for most businesses. The most recent figures released by Developer Economics 2012 showed that iPhone apps are most expensive to develop with Android apps coming in at 2nd most expensive to develop. For a business to get both an iPhone app and an Android app developed, an average investment of USD50,100 is required. Unfortunately, this cost is beyond the reach of most SMEs.

Apps are expensive because app developers have to code from scratch for each new app they develop. However, breakthroughs in app development technology now allows mobile apps to be build rapidly at a much lower cost through the use of modular app development platforms such as the SoLoMo App System (www.SoLoMo.com.sg). Think LEGO. The concept is similar. With a sufficient variety of pre-built blocks (modules), developers no longer need to code from scratch and can put together an app by simply selecting the relevant modules. With a platform like this, it is now possible to build mobile apps for businesses at 1/10th the price in 1/10th the time, making it affordable for most SMEs.


200 years ago, if you had a business card, you will only see your name and business address on it. About 100 years ago, phones numbers started to appear in business cards. Then fax numbers appeared in business cards. Followed by pager numbers (yes, but this has disappeared), email addresses and website URLs. And in more recent years, facebook page, twitter IDs, YouTube channels and QR codes started to show up in business cards. In all likelihood, the next thing we will see on business cards may be “Download from App Store”.

 

 

In a world where mobile devices are about to become as commonplace as toothbrushes, the question for your business in the next 3 years will be: Is your business SoLoMo ready?

Original article appears in SME Magazine September 2012