Mobile Web usage is on the rise and is expected to increase by a factor of 26 by 2015. Businesses, long aware of the power of the Web as a marketing tool, have already begun to seize upon this growth through mobile-friendly versions of their site and, increasingly standalone applications for their business. However, the cost and expertise required to develop an app, especially one that works on multiple platforms, has been a daunting challenge for many smaller businesses, even those with a heavy Internet presence.
Fortunately, a series of tools and services have popped up to make it easy for almost anyone, regardless of programming or development experience, to build a mobile app for their company or site.
1. Bizness Apps
Bizness Apps lets you build a mobile app that is tailored to your business. By selecting your business type, Bizness Apps makes recommendations for the types of tabs you should have and then lets you edit those choices. Bizness Apps gives you complete control over your app’s appearance and lets you update your app with new events and send messages to your customers via PUSH alerts. Bizness Apps costs $39 per month for an iPhone app alone. Android, HTML5 and iPad apps will cost you an additional $10 each per month.
One of the longest-running and most popular mobile app builders, SwebApps works by having you assemble a set of features. These features include things such as RSS feeds, contact information, a map, a shop and more. All in all, there’s some fifteen features you can add to your app, which can be available both for iPhone and Android.
A basic app has a setup fee of $399 for one platform and $499 for both. While expensive, the monthly hosting is only $29, though additional features such as app tracking will raise that cost.
Similar to Bizness Apps, AppBreeder lets you choose from a variety of “kits” that are tailored to your business or build a completely custom iPhone app. Each kit comes with a series of gadgets you can add to it, including, for example, an on-site accident reporting gadget for the lawyer kit.
You can also build a custom gadget starting at $199. AppBreeder offers a free ad-supported Web app version of the app that also costs $9.95/month to remove the ads. A native iPhone app costs $29.95 per month and a native Android or Blackberry app will cost an additional $29.95 per month.
Directed primarily at information publishers, such as blogs and news sites, AppMakr is a free way to build a basic iPhone, Android or Windows Mobile App.
Simply insert either your keyword or your site URL and AppMakr builds a sample app for you automatically. You can customize your app with various tabs, which can be almost anything contained in an RSS feed, as well as choose your colors, logos and advertising networks. AppMakr apps can even handle push notifications.
Best of all, AppMakr is free so long as you submit your app yourself.
All in all, which is right for you will largely depend upon your needs. If you’re trying to create a robust app for your business, any of the first three will probablybe a good choice. However, if all you need to do is get content out to users quickly. AppMakr is likely your best, and cheapest, choice.
The best thing to do may simply be to play with all of these options, as well as others that are out there, to see which works best for you and offers the best bang for the buck. The one thing that is clear is that you no longer need to hire or be a developer to have an iPhone app. All you need is a little patience and a good tool to build it for you.
[About the Author: This guest post is written by Lior Levine, an online marketing consultants for a shipping company that specializes in inspection services in China. Lior also consults at a web hosting company that lists the best web hosting companies available online. ]