The Question Remains – Does Your Business Need A Mobile App?

When it comes to mobile apps, the year is ending the way it began – with some marketers saying they need one, but without even a half-decent reason why.

Several weeks ago in Las Vegas, I was approached following a Mobilized Marketing book presentation by a small business marketer. Much to the chagrin of a “more sophisticated” marketing colleague, the gentlemen pushed for approval from me for moving forward on creating an app.

But when I gently asked whether he knew what type of mobile devices his customers carry, and whether he was prepared to build for more than one operating system (iOS for Apple devices, Android for Google, etc.), he realized that he hadn’t done enough homework on the subject of apps.

That scenario happened to me several times this year – and actually every year since 2007.

In a recent PC World article called Does your small business need a mobile app to stay competitive? author Christopher Null wrote that many small and medium size business owners believe that everyone has an app but them.

The Question Remains – Does Your Business Need A Mobile App?

“As a small-business owner, choosing whether to join the app-development club can be a difficult decision,” Null wrote. “You may feel like you have to build an app and go mobile to stay competitive, but you’ve probably heard that apps are expensive and time-consuming to develop. More and more users are dumping desktops and laptops for tablets and cell phones, so it makes sense to optimize the online experience for them. But is it really worth the effort? Cant they just use their smartphones to access the website you already have?

“Its a tricky problem with no single cut-and-dried solution.”

Null correctly pointed out that while mobile websites work on all smartphones, “an app gives you much more presence on the phone than a bookmark on that phones browser does. Rather than forcing the user to launch the browser and find your URL, an app is always there, front and center on the mobile desktop. Your business is constantly in mind, whether the person is using the app or not.”

I’m in the camp that says build a mobile website before an app (if you need an app at all) because it is more inclusive.

There were some who believed that the “duel” between the mobile web and apps would be won by the end of 2012 and that only one would be left standing. That won’t happen. Both have a place. It behooves small and medium size business owners and marketers to understand their customers and provide the best solution for them.


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

The Question Remains – Does Your Business Need A Mobile App?