How to Decide Which Mobile Platform to Support

From my count, there’s about 10 Internet-capable devices surrounding me in this coffee shop: 6 laptops, a desktop, and a handful of iPhone and Android phones. There are only 7 people here though. Anecdotes like this show that mobile devices will soon outnumber desktops, and not just at hipster coffee shops.

I frequently see questions like these posed:

  • Which devices should we support? iPhone? Android? Blackberry?
  • Which features do mobile users need compared to the desktop users?

Unfortunately, those are all the wrong questions.

We must stop thinking about what browsers or devices and start thinking in terms of device capabilities.

By focusing on capabilities, we can reach the widest set of devices without killing ourselves in a self-imposed support hell.

And it’s equally important to stop thinking about delivering limited capabilities to mobile devices because you think you know what “mobile users” want.

What is the mobile experience?

If you think you can know a user’s expectations and constraints based on their browsing device, then you have fallen sway to the mass delusion that much of the web development community is under.

Jeremy Keith explained the mythical mobile context better than anyone. (I highly recommend you read his full article.)

“Someone visits your site with a mobile device therefore they are in a rush, walking down the street, hurriedly trying to find your phone number!”

Really?

The data does not support this. All those people with mobile devices sitting in a cafe or lounging on the sofa at home; they are all in a very different context to the imaginary persona of the mobile user rushing hither and thither.

Dividing our users into desktop vs. mobile camps is to fundamentally misunderstand our users.

The new “mobile experiences” we should be delivering are the same experiences that we should already be delivering to all our users.

 

So where do we go from here?

The explosion of mobile device usage is a giant wakeup call for our entire industry. The mobile device revolution is already underway.  So the question to ask is not which platform or operating system, but:

“What do our users need?”

Everything else flows from there.

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The Day Smartphones Killed the Radio Star

Okay, so I have no news that Smartphones will kill the radio star.  But, this Info Graphic is dramatic news.  Fundamentally, the way we work, play, engage, communicate and uh talk on a phone has and is changing Dramatically!  I think most people get it.  In fact when you look at the info graphic below by Go-Globe.com (one of the best I’ve seen) you will notice that Smartphone penetration by age group, 25-34 really get it, with a rate of 62% Smartphone penetration.  However there is one group that worries me.  Not by age, gender or country or type of operating system.  Specifically small/medium (SMB) business owners.  Once again the world is changing and yet another choice and chore is thrust upon the wearer of many hats, the chief bottle washer, the mister the buck stops here guy or gal.  Hopefully the SMB owners will see this as a great opportunity and engage their customers at an unprecedented level.  It would not be a good idea to let this slide by like most SMBs did with email marketing.  It is interesting to watch the great rush to email marketing, just as it is beginning to decline in effectiveness.  Hope you enjoy this Info-Graphic and thank the guys at Go-Globe.com.Image

Mobile Website vs. App (ios-android)

Digital Air mobile website vs. Mobile App (Application):
Which is Best for Your Organization?

Mobile Websites


For Broad Marketing Outreach, A Digital Air mobile website is the Place to Start

If you’re planning to establish a mobile presence for your business or organization one of the first considerations that will likely come to mind is whether you want to create a mobile application for users to download (app) or a Digital Air mobile website, or perhaps both. Digital Air mobile websites and apps can look very similar at first-glance, and determining which is most suited to your needs will depend upon a number of factors, including target audiences, available budget, intended purpose and required features.

What’s the Difference Between a Digital Air mobile website and an App?

Before you can evaluate the benefits of a Digital Air mobile website vs. an app it’s important to understand the key differences between the two. Both apps and Digital Air mobile websites are accessed on handheld devices such as Smartphones (e.g. iPhone, Android and Blackberry) and tablets.

A Digital Air mobile website is similar to any other website in that it consists of browser-based HTML pages that are linked together and accessed over the Internet (for mobile typically WiFi or 3G or 4G networks). The obvious characteristic that distinguishes a Digital Air mobile website from a standard website is the fact that it is designed for the smaller handheld display and touch-screen interface.

Like any website, Digital Air mobile websites can display text content, data, images and video. They can also access mobile-specific features such as click-to-call (to dial a phone number) or location-based mapping.

Apps are actual applications that are downloaded and installed on your mobile device, rather than being rendered within a browser. Users visit device-specific portals such as  Apple’s App Store, Android Market, or Blackberry App World in order to find and download apps for a given operating system. The app may pull content and data from the Internet, in similar fashion to a website, or it may download the content so that it can be accessed without an Internet connection.

Which is Better – an App or a Digital Air mobile website?

When it comes to deciding whether to build a native app or a Digital Air mobile website, the most appropriate choice really depends on your end goals. If you are developing an interactive game an app is probably going to be your best option. But if your goal is to offer mobile-friendly content to the widest possible audience then a Digital Air mobile website is probably the way to go. In some cases you may decide you need both a Digital Air mobile website and a mobile app, but it’s pretty safe to say that it rarely makes sense to build an app without already having a Digital Air mobile website in place.

Generally speaking, a Digital Air mobile website should be considered your first step in developing a mobile web presence, whereas an app is useful for developing an application for a very specific purpose that cannot be effectively accomplished via a web browser.

Advantages of a Digital Air mobile website vs. Native Apps

If your goals are primarily related to marketing or public communications, a Digital Air mobile website is almost always going to make sense as a practical first step in your mobile outreach strategy. This is because a Digital Air mobile website has a number of inherent advantages over apps, including broader accessibility, compatibility and cost-effectiveness.

Immediacy – Digital Air mobile websites Are Instantly Available
A Digital Air mobile website is instantly accessible to users via a browser across a range of devices (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, etc).  Apps on the other hand require the user to first download and install the app from an app marketplace before the content or application can be viewed – a significant barrier between initial engagement and action/conversion. 

Compatibility – Digital Air mobile websites are Compatible Across Devices
A single Digital Air mobile website can reach users across many different types of mobile devices, whereas native apps require a separate version to be developed for each type of device. Furthermore, Digital Air mobile website URLs are easily integrated within other mobile technologies such as SMS, QR Codesand near field communication (NFC).

Upgradability – Digital Air mobile websites Can Be Updated Instantly
A Digital Air mobile website is much more dynamic than an app in terms of pure flexibility to update content. If you want to change the design or content of a Digital Air mobile website you simply publish the edit once and the changes are immediately visible; updating an app on the other hand requires the updates to be pushed to users, which then must be downloaded in order to update the app on each type of device. 

Findability – Digital Air mobile websites Can be Found Easily
Digital Air mobile websites are much easier for users to find because their pages can be displayed in search results and listed in industry-specific directories, making it easy for qualified visitors to find you. Most importantly, visitors to your regular website can be automatically sent to your mobile site when they are on a handheld (using device-detection).  In contrast, the visibility of apps are largely restricted to manufacturer app stores.

Shareability – Digital Air mobile websites Can be Shared Easily by Publishers, and Between Users
Digital Air mobile website URLs are easily shared between users via a simple link (e.g. within an email or text message, Facebook or Twitter post). Publishers can easily direct users to a Digital Air mobile website from a blog or website, or even in print. An app simply cannot be shared in this fashion.

Reach – Digital Air mobile websites Have Broader Reach
Because a Digital Air mobile website is accessible across platforms and can be easily shared among users, as well as search engines, it has far greater reach capability than a native app. 

LifeCycle – Digital Air mobile websites Can’t be Deleted
The average shelf-life of an app is pretty short, less than 30 days according to some research, so unless your app is something truly unique and/or useful (ideally, both), it’s questionable how long it will last on a user’s device. Digital Air mobile websites on the other hand are always available for users to return to them. 

A Digital Air mobile website Can be an App!
Just like a standard website, Digital Air mobile websites can be developed as database-driven web applications that act very much like native apps. A mobile web application can be a practical alternative to native app development.

Time and Cost – Digital Air mobile websites are Easier and Less Expensive
Last but certainly not least, Digital Air mobile website development is considerably more time and cost-effective than development of a native app, especially if you need to have a presence on different platforms (requiring development of multiple apps).

Support and Sustainability
The investment considerations of app vs website don’t end with the initial launch; properly supporting and developing an app (upgrades, testing, compatibility issues and ongoing development) is more much more expensive and involved than supporting a website over time.

 

 

When Does an App Make Sense?

Despite the many inherent benefits of the mobile web, apps are still very popular, and there are a number of specific use scenarios where an app will be your best choice.  Generally speaking, if you need one of the following, an app makes sense:

  • Interactivity/Gaming – for interactive games (think Angry Birds) an app is almost always going to be your best choice, at least for the foreseeable future.
  • Regular Usage/Personalization – If your target users are going to be using your app in a personalized fashion on a regular basis (think EverNote) then an app provides a great way to do that.
  • Complex Calculations or Reporting – If you need something that will take data and allow you to manipulate it with complex calculations, charts or reports (think banking or investment) an app will help you do that very effectively.
  • Native Functionality or Processing Required – mobile web browsers are getting increasingly good at accessing certain mobile-specific functions such as click-to-call, SMS and GPS. However, if you need to access a user’s camera or processing power an app will still do that much more effectively.
  • No connection Required – If you need to provide offline access to content or perform functions without a network/wireless connection then an app makes sense.

As with any project, when developing an app you want to ensure that your are getting an optimal return on your investment. What you want to avoid at all costs is the needless and expensive exercise of building an app to do something basic that can be achieved with a Digital Air mobile website.

In Conclusion

As long as mobile remains a relatively new frontier, the “app vs web” question will remain a very real consideration for organizations seeking to establish a mobile presence. If your mobile goals are primarily marketing-driven, or if your aim is to deliver content and establish a broad mobile presence that can be easily shared between users and found on search engines, then the a Digital Air mobile website is the logical choice. On the other hand, if your goal is interactive engagement with users, or to provide an application that needs to work more like a computer program than a website, then an app is probably going to be required.

Digital Air Media is a provider of Mobile/Smartphone marketing solutions for small to medium business.  email: info at digitalairmedia dot com or call 479-685-3142

Everything Has Changed

Talk about everything changing…I have spent the last several months making the transition from SuddenValues Email marketing to Smartphone MMS/SMS marketing.  Which entailed getting a short code and setting up the platform and building a website from scratch.  The best part is that the platform is live and I do have a few customers on there and the Website is almost live. (95 hours and counting)  BTW, i can say that Mobile Phone Marketing rocks.  It makes marketing fun again and by being an early adopter I can bring to small business everything companies like McDonald s, Wal-mart and others are doing.  Here’s a list of codes you can play with on your phone.  These are real so you can take advantage of the special being offered by these businesses.

Text ekm to 71441  Essential Kneads Massage

Text funcity to 71441  Fun City Pizza

Text tmarket to 71441  Traders Market

Text clubvic to 71441  The new Bread n Butter Cafe

Text steveb to 71441  My business card

Text digitalair to 71441  My mobile features page

 

RAF: An Acronym for Small Business Marketing Domination

Acquisition, Frequency, Retention…The Holy Grail of Marketing

Have you ever asked yourself, “What should I expect from my marketing programs”?  If you are like most small businesses there is probably one answer that is resonates with you: NEW Customers!  Is that the correct answer?  Yes, however that should only be the side effect of a good marketing program.  Wait, before you call out the lynch mob hear me out.  The Holy Grail of sound marketing is:

  • Customer Acquisition (Entice NEW customers to give you a try)
  • Customer Frequency (Get them to come in more often)
  • Customer Retention (Keep them from going to the competition)

Okay, hopefully we are on the same page now.  However, In the next update I am going to suggest an entirely different spin on the order of these rules.

Side note: In all my years as a small business account rep, overwhelmingly I was told by most business that “Word of Mouth” is their #1 marketing solution.

Welcome!

Welcome to Digital Air Media.  Over the next several weeks we will work hard to demystify marketing.. We hope you will look forward to learning about the intricacies of both old media and new media pitfalls and opportunities.  We will start with a brief history of marketing, with a primer and simplification of marketing realities.  We will look forward to your comments, insights and responses.  We are not the absolute authority, just an idea for your consideration.  At the end of the day, if we propagate some kernal of knowledge that allows you to prosper…Then we all win!!  Uniting the Connections…Between Us!