Mobile apps have become a hot trend, and while B2C has gotten more saturated, Jay Belfore, co-founder and co-owner as well as software director of Scottsdale-based Widely Interactive, sees a lot of room for growth in B2B. “Mostly, now, they address a specific function,” he says. “Projects are unique to the individual business.”
The mobile app should serve at least two purposes: convenience, or the ability to tap into the features of a smartphone, such as the camera or calendar or contact list; and address a particular need that can’t be met on a desktop or other non-mobile device. “A business owner may think he needs a mobile app but may, really, need a responsive website,” Belfore says.
Belfore advises businesses or app developers to think small. “First, validate there’s a demand for the product you’re building. Build a minimum viable product, then listen to users to find out what additional features they want.” And he cautions aspiring developers to not expect their app to go viral, noting that most of the time, they will need a marketing strategy and budget to get the word out. He suggests building a prototype, for about half the cost, and seek investors to get to the next phase of development.
“Any features of a mobile device that you can’t get on a laptop or desktop computer are enabling companies to do innovative things to have an app available to their customers and internal personnel,” Belfore says. To monetize it, the trend is to provide a minimal amount of the function for free and charge for upgrades, or to start charging for it after a limited introductory time.
It’s important to work with a developer that offers a professional level of expertise. Also critical is good design. Notes Belfore, “People don’t want to go through a learning curve every time they download an app.”
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