You heard me. Your business does not need a phone app in the apple or android app stores. More than likely.
Last week, a client of ours was super excited to tell me all about this new web app they are “creating”. By creating I mean they paid some phone app company a set up fee (usually $250 – 500) and $50 a month for. When I asked what the app would do, they rattled off all the amazing features. Features like a home page, news, about us, contact, directions, and product info. So I asked to clarify, that this is indeed an “app”, Yes, they proclaimed! It will be free in the apple and android app stores.
Here is my giant issue. Please hear me very clearly here.
If your app is no more than basic content found on your site, its a waste of time, money and your efforts.
Yes apps are all the rage. All the cool kids are talking about apps. Trust me, no one is going to be browsing the app store, and think to themselves, “sweet! a company I have never heard of has an app about their company / service / product, and its free!”. No, no one will think that.
Save your money, time and app lust. I have a fix for you. Build a site that is mobile friendly. We have a few ways of doing this. One is responsive. Take our site for example. Resize your browser window smaller. Bam! It re-organizes itself to fit the screen size. Navigations get touch friendly, fonts remain clear and readable. Another alternative is a seperate mobile site with the core info, that we have an auto detect script set up on. Basically if the visitor screen size is less than 640px wide, send them to the mobile site. Give them an option back to the main full site. Yes, you can still use a QR barcode to direct people to your mobile site. They can call you, map your location, and learn more all from the mobile web, with no need for an app.
You may have a need for an app. If your idea is functional, helps a user, provides them a beneficial resource for planning, searching, researching, or tracking something. Great, go for it! Verizon has a great app to track my minutes used on my iPhone. Starbucks has a store locator, with info on menus, amenities, and wifi. E-trade has an app to search, research and watch over your trades. Catch my drift here?
Make it useful, keep it relevant, and make it a benefit to your users (not just you). Or dont do it at all.
In case you havent heard, some yahoo made an application for the iPhone, called “the baby shaker app” that uses the motion sensing hardware for the user to shake the phone, to get the baby to stop crying. Disturbing yes. It seems the Media is blasting Apple for allowing the application / game to be sold on its stores.
Why is it apples fault for some whack job who created an application like this? Isn’t it wrong that people bought it? How is this application any different than a rap song that promotes violence, drugs, killing cops and other illegal activity on the iTunes store? Is this application any different that a retailer selling a video game when the player is to kill someone for points?
Apple has since pulled the application. And I am glad they are trying to keep their store clean, but I still dont see why there is so much blame on Apple for the application.
Apple’s real issue on their hands: They are being held responsible (even if its just by the media) to sell quality content. No record store, and video game store has been held responsible like this in the past. I mean come on, have you seen grand theft auto games, which award points for driving over people. So Apple, for what ever reason, is supposed to be the morality police when it comes to games they sell for iPhone.
How to fix it: I guess embrace the fact that the media thinks you are the morality police. But now they need a stricter process for approving applications. We need a human to review all new applications, and follow a rigorous check list to make sure its not a potential PR issue for Apple.
Sure it will slow down the app approval process, and developers will have to wait in some sort of que to be approved. But it should avoid further PR issues.
So maybe I am an apple geek, or their marketing department knows how to get in my head, but I still find myself wanting (not by any means needing) an iphone. What is it about apple that does it? Its not that the phone is that much better than my Moto q, Maybe its faster, syncs better, and has some cooler toys. But in the end its still a phone.
Once my contract with verizon (which i really like their service) I may toy with the idea of switching more. So I guess right now I am glad I am stuck in a contract and cant be in line for the iphone. Otherwise Apple’s grip on me may have put me in line.
So who is going for the new iphone?
On another note. We all should look at what apple has done here. They made a PDA / music player / phone. Big deal right. Motorola, Samsung, & Blackberry have been doing this for years. Here is the business strategy take away homework: Its HOW apple does it. They set the bar high. They do it better than anyone else.
So sure there are other churches, web designers, widget makers, plumbers in your direct competition. But If you can do the same task as the other guy, but sexier, smoother, faster, more powerful, and your customers will flock to you.
So I browse the web. A lot. I tend to look at a lot of design firm websites. So today I pose this question: Is using apple application icons on your site stealing?
I see this the most when browsing design firm sites. I see they use the great little system preferences icon. Or the the ical icon.
So when you are placing these icons next to your tools, applications, or services, is this stealing? Didnt apple go to great lengths to create these beautiful icons? As a creative firm, does this show you are okay with stealing others work for your benifit? What message does this present.
Me personally, I say Yes. I think this is ripping off apple. These icons are not open source for your use. Sure if you are promoting your podcast, i say its okay to use the podcast or RSS icon. But to use the address book icon next to your contact info is too far.
It gets under my skin the more I think about it. Now I am to the point that I instantly discredit the firm for being creative. I feel they stole for their own site, what did they steal for their clients?
What are your thoughts? Am I off on my own in this?