Mobile App Development is Important to Business, So Are Mobile App Programmers
Nearly every person on the planet has a smart phone or mobile device, and each of those people uses at least one mobile application as part of their daily routine. The world is more connected today than ever before and businesses recognize the importance and value of this connection.
Whether your business is a start-up, a small or medium enterprise or a large corporation, your senior executive team, IT staff and marketing and sales professionals recognize the importance of expanding into the online market with mobile apps that will support existing and new products and services, and increase market, customer and product reach.
Here, we will focus on the importance of mobile application development to your business, and on the crucial advantage of engaging with skilled mobile app programmers and developers to plan and execute that all-important mobile app for business users or for consumers, and to support your needs as your mobile application grows and evolves.
We’ll look at technology, frameworks and programs used to develop mobile applications and the steps to develop a mobile application, to give you a complete picture of the process and the most important considerations.
First, let’s answer the most basic question: What is mobile application development? Mobile Application Development involves the design and programming of software for smart phones, smart watches, tablets, and other mobile devices. Typically, the mobile apps are designed for either the Android or the iOS operating system or they are designed in a cross-platform environment. These hybrid mobile applications can operate in both the iOS and Android environment.
Sometimes the software is installed on new devices and can be used immediately after purchase. Sometimes, the software is developed for a business user or enterprise team to support a work process or information gathering. Sometimes, mobile software development supports a consumer need and the app is downloaded from a mobile app store. Whatever the case, if executed properly, mobile software and mobile application development can, among other things, satisfy the need to stay connected, to perform research, to complete a task or a purchase, or to get information.
Grand View Research reports that the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of the global mobile application market will grow by nearly 14% over the next seven (7) years.
If your business is considering mobile application development, it is important to undertake this initiative with a comprehensive understanding of the concepts, markets, technologies, and skills that factor into success.
Why Build a Mobile App
If you are still on the fence about the importance of mobile apps and the benefits of using mobile apps for business, let’s spend a few minutes talking about why mobile apps are good for business.
Here are just a few reasons to build mobile apps:
Mobile Applications Can Increase Market Share
Whether your business is local, regional, or global, it is always fighting for market share. Customer buying behavior is changing rapidly, but one thing has not changed, and that is the importance of access. In the old days, consumers went to the mall to try on clothes or shoes, to shop for sheets, dishes, and shower curtains. Today, all of those items and more are at their fingertips in the form of online stores and, many businesses are taking it one step further by creating a mobile application that can take the consumer into the very heart of their product portfolio and construct virtual walls by keeping the shopper confined to their app while they search for what they want.
If you are struggling for market share, or trying to sustain your market share, you have to be creative, and expand your reach. You have to build your brand and your visibility. The purpose of mobile apps is to invite and hold a customer with content, products, and services. Whether you are selling auto parts, providing curated news for special interests, or selling sneakers and high heels, your market share depends on your ability to constantly remind your customers of your products and services, and to offer them an easy way to navigate and complete tasks.
Today, more than 50% of retail sales takes place online and it isn’t just the big retailers that are creating mobile apps to attract and retain customers. Boutique and small businesses have the opportunity to design and create interesting, valuable mobile apps that are innovative and encourage prospects and customers to log-in and stay awhile!
Mobile Application Development Can Improve Competitive Advantage
You may be concerned about the cost of mobile application development, and you may ask why do I need a mobile app if my competitors are not going in that direction. If you take the time to research what your competitors are doing, you are likely to find that they are, in fact, designing and releasing mobile apps for business. And, even if they aren’t quite there yet, that is all the more reason for you to gain a competitive advantage by getting ahead of the competition. It takes time to design, develop and release a mobile application. So don’t wait until you are already behind the curve.
Even if your competitors are already using a mobile app to sell to customers and attract new business, you can create buzz and engender loyalty with interesting, value-add features. Take, for example, a retailer who went beyond selling its line of make-up to add machine learning features that helped clients personalize make-up choices by skin type and color, thereby building a competitive advantage in the market.
In a Recent Article Forbes outlined some considerations to improve customer loyalty using mobile apps, concluding that existing customers provide stable cash flow and are more willing to embrace innovation. A Marketing Metrics survey finds that the probability of selling to an existing customer is up to 14 times higher than the probability of selling to a new customer. Do not discount the value of retaining your existing customers by providing new and/or improved access to products and services.
Even the oldest of institutions can leverage mobile apps to modernize their software and solutions. Instead of starting from scratch to build a mobile banking application, a well-renowned banking institution looked at its existing technology and investments and built a mobile application that integrated features and function in an easy-to-use environment to support its customers, simplify online banking for less tech-savvy clients and gain a competitive edge over its competition.
Mobile Apps Can Increase Productivity
Whether you are planning a business mobile app or a consumer mobile application, productivity is a factor. Business users today are doing more with less, and consumers are always trying to make the most of their time. The bottom line is that no technology user wants to waste time trying to complete a task or get the information they need. Creating a mobile application that allows business users or consumers to perform tasks or queries from anywhere is an important benefit to users and to your business. The one caveat you must consider here is the ease-of-use and access. To improve productivity, your mobile app must be responsive and accessible and it must be intuitive in its navigation and functionality.
Mobile Applications Provide Portability
By its nature, mobile application development supports the portability of tools and information. Whether a user is carrying a smartphone, a tablet, or an iPad or wearing a smartwatch, access to information is crucial. Every moment your business user or customer is away from a desktop, a land line, or a retail store, you are losing the opportunity to sell information or promote your products. Portability and access are mandatory today.
Mobile Application Use Cases
In this section, we will briefly focus on use cases to further illustrate why mobile app development is important to a particular business function or type of enterprise.
Business to Business (B2B)
Business to Business or B2B is a type of business that focuses on transactions between companies, and might involve an exchange of products and services between a manufacturer and wholesaler, or between a wholesaler and a retail enterprise.
Mobile App Use Cases for B2B:
- Order, Shipment and Tracking
- New Product and Service Promotion
Business to Consumer (B2C)
Business to Consumer or B2C involves the sale of products and services from a business directly to a consumer or end-user of a product or service.
Mobile App Use Cases for B2C:
- Social Networking
- Retail Sales
- Music and Media
- Health and Fitness
- Lodging and Travel
Business to Government (B2G)
Business to Government or B2G companies provide products and/or services to federal, state and local governmental agencies.
Mobile App Use Cases for B2G:
- Contract Management
- Order and Logistics Management
- Project and Schedule Management
- Secured Communication Platforms
- Citizen Services
Business to Employee (B2E)
Business to Employee or B2E provides products and services directly from an employer to a team member. A Recent Forbes Article concluded that, ‘Every company is being forced to become a software company to compete, and companies are building hundreds of internal apps to increase competitiveness.’
Mobile App Use Cases for B2E:
- Augmented Analytics and Business Intelligence
- Benefits Management including 401K, Vacation, Insurance, etc.
- Supply and Purchasing Management
- Loan Services
- Project Management
- Expense and Travel Management
Before we leave this section, let’s take a brief look at some of the risks and limitations of developing a mobile application for your business:
You Really Don’t Need a Mobile App
Before you do anything else, be sure that a mobile app is right for your business. Is there another way to achieve your goals? Is another type of software application a better solution? Does your customer or user really need this mobile app? In a recent Forbes article, the respected publication noted that, ’Often, mobile apps are made needlessly for the sake of having a mobile app that an organization can brag about. Instead, these digital products must always serve a clear and distinct purpose.’
Security and Privacy – If a mobile application is not designed well, or if the selected platform does not provide adequate security, user and customer data may be at risk, and the enterprise may be held liable.
Compatibility – Since mobile applications are meant to leverage mobile operating systems, a particular mobile app may not be compatible with all devices. Hybrid mobile application development allows for compatibility with both iOS and Android, but may not be ideal for your particular mobile app concept.
Product Updates – Depending on the platform and design approach you choose; a mobile app may be more difficult to update. In some instances, users or customers may be required to download a new version of the mobile application to enjoy new features, and even patches and bug fixes.
Functionality – Mobile apps fulfill a specific need, function or service but may not have the same depth and breadth as a desktop application. Depending on the complexity of your product or service offering, a mobile app may or may not suit your users or clients.
In this section, we briefly answered the question, ‘Why build a mobile app?’, and we discussed a few of the concerns and considerations you will want to include when deciding whether to design and develop a mobile application for your business. It is important to note that the benefits of mobile application development are many, and that the advantages to your organization will be as unique as the business itself.
Mobile App Development Platforms
In this section, we will discuss the most popular mobile application development platforms. Keep in mind that the choice of Android mobile apps development, iOS mobile application development, or hybrid mobile application development for your project will ultimately be driven by your requirements and those considerations will include your target market, your customers or business users, your technology landscape, and other factors. The investment your organization makes in mobile application development is significant and, the best way to protect that investment is to work with a team that is expert in all popular frameworks, tools, and platforms .
So, what are the different types of mobile apps? First, let’s talk about the two dominant development platforms.
Apple iOS Mobile App Development
Pros of iOS Mobile Application Development
The Apple iOS operating system is designed with strict guidelines and standards and it has integrated security features and biometrics that create a more hack-resistant environment.
iOS developers enjoy a wide range of tools, including Xcode, which allows fast, easy development and compatibility.
The iOS mobile app developer has the benefit of working in a less fragmented development environment so it is easier to navigate screen size guidelines and hardware specs, making Apple mobile apps faster and easier to develop.
Cons of iOS Mobile Application Development
There are a few challenges to the iOS ecosystem. To create an iOS mobile app, Apple mobile app developers must work within a closed ecosystem, which places significant controls on what the developer can do with the app, and restricts access to device and hardware functionality.
iOS can and does limit third-party platform integration, including some eCommerce payment gateways and other platforms that businesses may require to complete a feature set for their mobile app.
Finally, there is the testing and release process. To release an iOS mobile app, developers must submit for App Store review. The review team processes more than 1.5 million apps per year, so the process is slow, and Apple rejects more than 30% of the apps submitted annually.
Stats, Market Share and Ecosystem of iOS Mobile App Development
The Apple iOS operating system ecosystem is not open-source. Rather, it is a closed, tightly controlled environment. By some estimates, its global market share is approximately 25%, and its U.S. market share is about 58%.
Over the past few years, iOS users have spent an average of approximately $25 billion USD on paid downloads and in-app purchases. Less than 25% of iOS apps use monetization and ads as a strategy.
Android Mobile App Development
Pros of Android Mobile Application Development
The Android mobile apps development environment is open-source, so it is easy to customize a mobile app user interface (UI), and its features and functionality.
The open-source environment enables easy integration of third-party applications and libraries within Android mobile apps, and gives Android developers free access to device and hardware functionality.
Android distribution includes the Google Play Store, and the Samsung Galaxy Store, so businesses can expand the reach of mobile applications.
Cons of Android Mobile Application Development
We are including the open-source environment as ‘pro’ and a ‘con,’ because there are a few issues inherent in this approach.
First, the myriad of screen sizes and device types creates an issue of fragmentation, making the design, development, and testing of mobile apps a more complex and costly endeavor.
Secondly, this open-source fragmentation issue results in significant security issues. Because the Google Play Store submission process is so accessible, it is possible that users will upload apps that have significant security and privacy issues and/or malware or suspicious code.
Although there is an Android device and software update process for bug fixes and patches, these fixes are spotty and are not released at the same time for all Android versions, models, and devices. Users cannot depend on the manufacturers of inexpensive smart phones to release updates on time (or at all, in some instances).
Stats, Market Share and Ecosystem of Android Mobile App Development
The Android operating system is open-source. By some estimates, its global market share is approximately 72% and its U.S. market share is about 40%.
Over the past few years, Android users have spent an average of approximately $7 billion USD on paid downloads and in-app purchases. Nearly 65% of Android apps use monetization and ads as a strategy.
Now that we have reviewed the two development platforms, let’s talk about some related considerations. Businesses might choose to develop a mobile application in Android or in the Apple iOS, or they it might be more appropriate for them to develop a hybrid solution. In the section, entitled, ‘How to Build a Mobile Application,’ we will talk about the considerations will be involved in making the decision about the platform and development tools. For now, let’s focus on the definitions and descriptions of the various approaches.
Hybrid and Cross-Platform Mobile App Development
Pros of Hybrid Mobile Application Development
The hybrid mobile application development approach produces a mobile application that will be compliant with the Apple iOS and Android operating systems. Assuming you have the right expertise and knowledge of the mobile application development environment, your business can produce a cross-platform (hybrid) mobile application that is seamless and indecipherable from a native application, with a responsive easy-to-use navigation and user interface.
Developing a cross-platform mobile app is faster and less expensive because hybrid mobile application developers are working with one code for both types of devices and can easily deploy the app to both platforms. This approach reduces the time to market.
Hybrid mobile application technology allows for easy maintenance and upgrade, and requires developers to make changes to only one code base.
The cross-platform mobile application development approach makes it easy to integrate mobile apps with cloud data storage and enables simple distribution to release patches and upgrade the mobile app, and users have the added advantage of working with hybrid apps offline, with updates delivered when the user connects to the internet.
Cons of Hybrid Mobile Application Development
Because a native mobile app – one developed only for the iOS or for Android – engages all the native features and builds on those to create the user experience (Ux), the native approach can produce a more user-friendly user interface (UI) than the hybrid mobile application approach.
The mobile application development approach utilizes Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to access and control native iOS and Android features which requires third-party tools and functionality.
In leveraging both operating systems, the hybrid approach often slows performance. Hybrid mobile applications require more processing power and memory because they rely on web technologies to serve and comply with both iOS and Android. This can decrease performance.
Stats, Market Share and Ecosystem of Hybrid Mobile App Development
In the past several years, Flutter has emerged in the top position for hybrid app development tools, with 42% of the hybrid development market. This open-source platform allows developers to leverage and customize widgets and provides a significant advantage in performance and responsiveness.
While every industry is different, we can glean the importance and growth of the hybrid mobile application development market by looking at the retail sector. According to a recent article in Forbes, 74% of retail apps are hybrid. Navigating the crowded market of hybrid and cross-platform mobile application frameworks can be difficult if your team has not worked within this competitive landscape. The market includes Flutter, React Native, Cordova, Ionic, Xamarin, Unity, NativeScript, PhoneCap, Katlin Multiplatform, Apache Flex, Kando UI, Kivy and others. There are pros and cons to each, and the choice of an approach must be driven by your requirements, including technology, customer and user, security, and other considerations. Engaging an IT consulting partner to help you through the process is an important advantage in ensuring project success.
Before we leave this section, let us look briefly at two market segments of mobile application development, namely, smartwatches and tablets and iPads.
Smart Watch Mobile Application Development
Smart Watches provide convenient, portable functionality to millions of global users. The wearable market (as it is called) includes smartwatch mobile apps for fitness, gaming, navigation and more. Over the past several years, the smartwatch market has grown exponentially. Manufacturers and resellers include Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Imoo, Amazfit, Garnin, Fitbit, Mi, Noise, Fossil, Fire-Boltt, BoAt and others, with Apple holding about 30% of the global market, followed by Samsung at 10%, Huawei at 7% and Noise at 6%. By some estimates, the smartwatch market will generate nearly $55 billion USD within the next several years with more than a quarter of a billion units shipped.
Smart Watch Use Cases:
- Find Parking
- Workout, Running and Fitness Tracking
- Sleep Tracking
- Note Taking
- Weather Tracking
- Public Transit
- Shopping Lists
- Diet, Nutrition and Hydration
iPad and Tablets
When businesses plan for mobile applications, they often include tablets and iPads in the list of devices they wish to target. That’s because many users have multiple devices and the wise business manager wants to have as much flexibility and market reach as possible.
The list of development expertise includes iPad app programmers, Fire tablet programming and programming on Android tablets. The global market for tablet use has grown by nearly 40% over the past several years, and now represents more than one billion users.
iPad and Tablet Use Cases:
- Illustration and Graphics
- Video, Streaming and Movies
- Translation and Education
- Productivity and Work
- Reading Apps (Books/Magazines/Publications/Libraries)
- Social Media
With a better understanding of the operating systems and platforms available for mobile application development, we will now move on to discuss how to build a mobile application.
How to Build a Mobile Application
By some estimates, the global annual revenue for mobile applications is expected to exceed $190 billion USD. That’s an impressive number. But there is a caveat. If a business is too quick to jump in, wishing to get a piece of the pie, that revenue can be elusive and the process, if mismanaged, can result in significant expense and even in failure. The cost to build a mobile app should be cause for caution. But with the right planning and resources, you can succeed!
Let’s talk about the best way to build a mobile app to ensure business success.
Best Practices to Build a Mobile App
As with any software application or software product development project, your team must begin the project by laying the groundwork. The standards and quality metrics for design and development will lead the team, and set the stage for success.
Strategy – Start with a strategy to take a concept or idea forward. That strategy must include information about your target audience (customers or business users), your competitors and the market, the metrics you will use to measure success and the goal and purpose of the mobile application. This foundational strategy will allow you to choose the mobile platform. An IT consulting partner will be instrumental in this phase. If your strategy includes a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to prove your concept, or to use customer feedback to incorporate into the final product, you can find more information on this process in our article, entitled, ‘MVP Software Development: Everything You Need to Know (The What, Why and How ).’
Requirements: Here, you will define your business requirements for revenue, budget, schedule, etc., and what technology will you need to support the mobile application and the users., as well as the kind of training will you need to provide, if any. You will decide what you need for a Return on Investment (ROI).
You must also include customer or business user requirements, i.e., what will the mobile application do? This detailed requirements information will be a critical component of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for prospective IT partners. Be sure to include key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to measure progress and completion, and plan for user feedback.
Competition: Whether your business is local or global, you have competitors. Depending on the size of the market, you will want to choose 3-4 competitors. Try to focus on those who are innovating in the market. It is easy to compare your business to the old, stale competition and find yourself winning.
But if you want to take your business to the next level, you must create a mobile application that will serve current and future needs in the market. Look for the most challenging competitors and see what they are doing. Then, decide how you want to approach this competitive positioning.
Metrics: Be sure to measure the right things. Don’t just measure for the sake of measuring. What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will truly tell the tale of success or failure? Focus on what matters. Most mobile applications fail because they a) do not solve any real user problem or market need, b) provide a poor user experience, c) do not have a clear strategy for monetization and revenue, or d) do not clearly illustrate a value. Your metrics should not just be about budget and schedule. They should also provide real measurements of value and market success.
Purpose of Mobile App: This factor does not talk about ‘what’ the mobile application will do, but rather ‘why’ you are building it, and it is one of the most important factors in developing mobile applications. If you don’t have a clear picture of the ‘why’, you are not likely to succeed. Ask yourself if the planned mobile application will have an impact on your customers or users, and whether your enterprise can support the application now and in the future. Does the mobile app environment provide the right channel and method to deliver your products or services?
Here’s another way to think about the ‘why.’
What Will the Mobile App do for My Business – Perhaps you want to achieve additional sales, reduce the cost and/or time to deliver products or services, reduce marketing costs, increase market and customer visibility or maybe you want to do all of those things. For each of the enterprise goals, be sure to provide the metrics to demonstrate measurable results.
What Will the Mobile App do for my Customers or Business Users – The business user or customer purpose is paramount. If your users don’t want or need the app, your mobile app is simply a vanity project that will cost you time and money. Maybe you are already delivering products online but you want to create a mobile app because your customers have asked for more convenience or access. Maybe you are creating a new product, based on your market research and your understanding of what the customer wants. Perhaps your business users need more productive, collaborative tools that integrate functionality and allow for faster, more accurate completion of tasks and planning activities. What is the ‘why’ and how can you prove its validity?
Mobile App Platform: In the section above, entitled, ‘Mobile Application Development Platforms,’ we discussed the iOS and Android platforms and the various approaches to native and hybrid smart phone development, and smart watch, tablet, and iPad development. When we consider mobile application development best practices, we must include the choice of mobile application platform.
If the selected platform, frameworks, and tools are not appropriate to achieve the enterprise and/or customer or user requirements, or if the platform cannot be supported by the current or planned technology and resource availability, the project will fail. You might have the best mobile app idea of the decade, but if you choose the wrong platform, you will not achieve your goals. Your IT consulting partner will consider many factors before recommending a mobile application platform. These factors will include all the information you have gathered and presented for requirements, the purpose, and goals of the mobile app and more. The platform you choose must be able to meet your long-term needs for future innovations and upgrades, and to deliver patches, fixes etc. It must be secure enough to address your needs and the standards with which your enterprise must comply to mitigate risk for the company and for the customers and users.
Final Process Thoughts Building a Mobile Application
Here is a quick overview that will help you stay on track and address the challenges in developing mobile applications.
Know Your Target Audience – What does your user need, what does your customer want? Where do they live? Is Android or iOS more popular in your target demographic? Maybe you want to go with Android to ensure expanded market reach and visibility? Does your user often need access while they are offline? What, if any, considerations are there surrounding income, special interests, etc. Know your user!
Plan Your Features – Understand what the mobile application must do to meet user expectations. Look at technology and current hardware capabilities. Will your mobile application include third-party integration? Consider performance issues, security, data governance, and features and functionality, and include all of those things in your requirements. Make sure your mobile app will work!
Consider Time to Market – What budget and timeline factors will impact your success? Will you need a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to test your concept and get feedback before you start final development? How will this impact your release? While iOS can ensure a short development cycle, the platform may or may not be best for your project. Time and funding is finite!
Match Revenue Goals to Monetization – How will your mobile app generate revenue? Is your pricing and monetization plan sufficient to a) attract users or customers and b) generate the revenue you have planned. Customers using the iOS operating system typically spend more than Android owners, which may generate more revenue. But you will have to balance that fact against the requirements and purpose of the app to decide which platform is right for your requirements and for your revenue goals. Does the platform you choose allow you to efficiently process and use funds acquired from the mobile app? Not all monetization processes are created equal. Be sure you understand how and when you will receive your funds. Get busy making money!
Before we leave this section, we should take a pause and highlight the importance of adequate planning. Creating a comprehensive roadmap before you start the process will keep you on track. In a recent article, Forbes noted that, ‘…many businesses are launching new apps as fast as their teams can work. They jump onto the app bandwagon with the assumption that it’s just about identifying the kind of app they need and briefing the app development team to get it done. However, there are certain aspects of the process that are easily overlooked, leaving businesses with apps that don’t bring in the expected results.’
Hire the Best Mobile App Developers
As businesses consider the development of a software application or software product, there is often a need to employ the services of an IT consulting partner. When one considers the complexities of mobile application development, it is wise to engage a skilled, experienced team of mobile app developers.
Companies that build mobile apps have up-to-date training and knowledge of the market, the domain, the platforms, frameworks and tools and their experience can save your organization time and money with cost-effectives services and rapid project completion that will mitigate risk and improve your competitive position.
For most enterprises, it is nearly impossible to interview, hire and train resources with the specific skills to develop, support and upgrade mobile applications. In-house resources require that the business provide benefits and training, and house the team, thereby incurring facilities costs.
Many organizations are employing companies that create mobile apps in India. The best mobile application developers offshore can provide a suitable, cost-effective option, with technical and leadership skills, quality and development methodologies that will guide your enterprise through the complex mobile application development process. To illustrate the cost savings, one need only consider the cost of development for India vs. selected global markets.
On average, the cost of mobile application development services in India is:
- 25% of the cost of development in the U.S.
- 28% of the cost of development in Western Europe,
- 65% of the cost of development in Central Europe
- 32% of the development costs in Australia
Consider the offshore Android developers India has to offer to save money and time and ensure project success, and the iOS developers India can provide as experienced resources to work closely with your team. The right IT consulting partner can go beyond mobile app developers for hire, to build a team that will ensure that the project investment is affordable. With the support of a skilled team, your business will get the feedback they need to create the best mobile application development software.
India-based development services include flexible delivery models for onsite, offsite and hybrid resources and a full suite of design, development, testing, project management, and other resources with timely communication and reporting and effective Service Level Agreements (SLAs). This White Paper will help your business establish a detailed process to select an offshore development partner.
Find out how Mobile Application Development can address your unique business needs. Hire iOS and iPhone Programmers, Hire Mobile Application Programmers, Hire Android Programmers, and Build Your Software Team with dedicated resources. Explore the concept of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach to app development, the Flutter Development environment, and the Laravel Development Framework, with these complementary articles: ‘MVP Software Development: Everything You Need to Know (The What, Why and How),’ ‘What are the Pros and Cons of Flutter Programming?,’ and ‘What is Laravel Programming; What Are Its Benefits and Challenges?’ and ‘Hybrid Mobile Application Development: The What, Why and How.’