To communicate and interact with current and potential customers, I propose that a corporate website and a social media strategy will no longer be sufficient. A company will need a mobile app.
If a company needs a mobile app, our company needs a mobile app. We’re making one. To help you make yours, we'll share some of the steps we’re following – and challenges we’re addressing – as we move from idea to download.
When I read about the Sacramento Bee launching its own smartphone app and "In terms of presentation, there won’t be a huge difference between the downloadable version and what iPhone users experience now by going to sacbee.com," I realized that a company app can be simple but useful if it offers a way for a user to experience the value a company offers. Simulating what the company is and does – even why and how – in a mobile app can be good for the user and good for the company.
Thinking of an app as a method for a user to experience what our company is and does made envisioning what our company app needed to be surprisingly obvious. We used words to describe more specifically how the app needed to function to be of benefit to its user. Once we knew that, we had to transform concepts into code.
The last languages I used for programming were FORTRAN and HTML, so I’m not writing the code. How to find a mobile app developer and how to know he or she is a good one will be topics for endless blog posts by experts, pundits and gurus. Since this is our first mobile app, I have no experience upon which to base any suggestions. Our company’s CTO is writing our code.
As a company, we have decided that barriers to entry for getting an iPhone app to market in the iPhone store are higher than for getting an Android app in the Android Market. We’re creating both versions, but we’re planning our app’s beta test for the Android. For BlackBerry? Eh, we’ll think about that later.
I bought my Droid X on July 17, 2010. Three weeks later, we're about to launch a company mobile app in beta for the Android platform.
Have I mentioned that when I go to the pool, I don't dip in a toe to test the water? I jump in and start swimming.
Is it a great mobile app? Nah. It's a good one, though. And anyone kind enough to download it, test it, and give us feedback can help us make it great. Or make the next one great.
And however simple or flawed it might be, our company has a mobile app.