There’s no question that development for mobile is exploding because consumption of mobile content is growing tremendously. Although there are some challenges to developing for mobile, some of which I outlined in my last post, there is still an enormous opportunity in mobile.
It’s vital to keep a few major variables in mind while developing for mobile devices. For clarity, I am speaking about software AND websites.
This should go without saying, but it’s surprisingly overlooked all too often. Specifically, we need to look at the type(s) of handsets and devices your target market actually uses. Do they use Smart Phones? Feature phones? The dumbest of the Dumb Phones? This question alone will dramatically impact your options for development and functionality.
Take the average rural Mom target market. We’ll use the age range of 30-55. The majority of these folks use feature phones or dumb-phones. This limits the options for developing software or websites. The browsers are typically underpowered, the resolution is quite small, and not all of these devices have a QWERTY keyboard. Obviously, developing for a higher-powered device will hurt the actual target market.
The platform for development (ie, Android, iPhone, Blackberry, etc…) is certainly impacted by the target market. It also has huge implications for the developer! Because we have multiple platforms, all of which are very popular, developing software for mobile devices is quite complicated. If you want to develop for each platform, you need to develop separate apps for each one. This is a challenge for the developer, and the organization pushing the app.
This touches on a question I posed in my last post about the future of mobile apps. Until a clear answer is presented, developers will likely accommodate the mobile browser, and provide software.
Your Revenue Generation Goal
Like the web, the mobile web and software arenas have multiple business models that an organization can pursue. If you are selling a service and mobile access is a nice value-added service, the web is a solid option. Software shortcuts can be created that simply point to the mobile user’s web browser.
If you are banking on advertising income, the use of software seems to be the way to go given Apple’s iAd launch and AdMob’s countless offerings. While you can certainly gain ad income through a mobile site, software is currently more popular.
There are plenty of other avenues for generating income through a mobile device, and each will need weighed to decide whether software or web apps are the way to go.