What's the best kind of app for your SME?
Before SMEs order an app, some important decisions must be made, starting with the selection of an appropriate app type.
Native or web app?
There are basically two types of apps: native and web apps. They are based on two very different technologies:
- must be written for each operating system individually (e.g. Android, iOS)
- online and offline access, data available at all times
- runs very fast, even with complex graphics
- complex and costly development
- capable of accessing the hardware on mobile devices (e.g. cameras)
- can be sold in official app stores
- runs directly in the web browser, independent of the operating system
- online access, data not always available
- runs at different speeds depending on your internet connection
- limited suitability for complex graphics
- low development costs (from CHF 4,000 – 5,000)
New opportunities with HTML5 and hybrid apps
Web apps are becoming more powerful due to the new internet standard HTML5. They include access to location sensors (GPS) and can buffer data in an application cache. This allows users to access the web app even when they're offline, albeit with very limited memory.
It is also possible to combine the advantages of web and native apps. The result: hybrid apps. These are web apps that are transformed into native apps. Hybrid apps are cheaper than native apps and can be sold in official app stores.
What do I want from my app?
Working out which app is most suitable depends entirely on your individual requirements. Each company must first define the real objective of the app. Should it simply make browsing easier for mobile users? If so, then a web app is a cost-effective solution that runs on all smartphones and tablet PCs. However if an SME wants to earn money with their specially developed application, web apps are not a good idea because they are rarely incorporated into official shops – such as Apple's App Store.
Target group analysis
Of great importance is not only the app's function, but also the target audience. Each target group has different requirements – and needs certain operating systems. When developing a native business app (B2B), you should not make the app only available on Android and/or iOS operating systems. These are the most popular in Switzerland, although mostly for individuals. BlackBerry is still very common in the business sector. If you misjudge the target group it can get very expensive, especially with native apps, as they must be written individually for each operating system.
For SMEs without their own marketing department it is worth working with a full-service agency. These agencies can also advise SMEs regarding objectives and marketing strategies, like target group analysis. A concrete strategy is required to ensure the launch of the app is a success.