I had some interesting discussions last week around mobile application development. One thing that’s interesting about new and fast growing channels like mobile is that they cause entrepreneurs to develop products to serve the channel, rather than to build value and serve the user. That is, businesses build apps to build apps, rather than build “products” that truly address critical unmet needs.
For mobile to work, you must have a core proposition that works (very often, that proposition has very little to do with mobile).
I built the following framework outlining when I believe web services should go mobile:
- More Exposure and Engagement: you have a product that works now on the desktop, you want people to engage ‘on the go’. Action: build a mobile friendly website.
- Better as an app: your desktop product doesn’t work well in a mobile browser due to site layout, widgets, flash issues, etc. Action: build an app that gives users all of the functionality of your desktop site on their phones.
- Must be an app: your product value proposition doesn’t work on the desktop (e.g. it requires geo-location, phone ‘bumping’ etc.). Action: build an app and a desktop site to support user engagement.