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Is it time to consider an app for your business?
Written by Rowan Govender
24 October 2012

You'd have probably heard the term app being used when someone is talking about tablets and mobile phones, but what is an app? Originally, the term app is most commonly associated with software that is specifically designed to run on mobile phones or tablets. Apps were originally developed to provide access to services such as e-mail or weather information. As the market has grown, apps now include a variety of other software such as banking tools and games, and have expanded to include PC software. Depending on the hardware that you are using, you can download apps from the vendor’s stores like  the Amazon or Apple App Stores..

Why use an app?

Depending on the business that you run, an app may help grow your customer base, or allow you to connect your existing services to customers through their mobile phones or tablets. Zinio uses it's app to allow customers to log in and download digital magazines on any device that supports it. First National Bank's app allows customers to access internet banking services from any mobile phone or tablet with internet access. As mobile phone sales and tablets become more accessible, it becomes increasingly important to provide an app for these two types of devices in order to grow your company's online presence.

The costs involved with developing an app

No doubt you're asking yourself “How much does it cost to develop an app?” Unfortunately there is no simple answer - it really depends on what you need the app to do. If the app has complicated tools and features, such as an encrypted connection to the internet, then that's obviously going to cost more than an app that doesn't have this requirement. You'd have to shop around and find a developer who is offering what you need at a price that suits your pocket.

Apprica offers these tips for finding a developer for your app:

 

  1. Search for multiple mobile app development companies
  2. Get communications, timelines and quotes
  3. Search for customised and fully designed apps
  4. Consider getting marketing services for your application
  5. Do not just go ahead and submit your app idea to a developer

The South African success stories

Two South African companies have taken advantage of this growing market and have launched highly successful apps.

One of the fastest growing social networking apps 2go, developed by 2go Interactive. Users can use 2go to share files, pictures and communicate with other 2go users for free. The only costs involved are the data costs, which vary from provider to provider. The data costs involved to send a message are still far less than it would cost to send an SMS. The company recently announced that the app has reached 20 million users across Africa.

Another app is a game called Moonbase that's been incredibly successful on the social network Mxit, with over 1 million players logging in. The game has also been launched on other platforms such as Android and iOS. This was relatively easily due to the fact that the game had been originally developed in HTML5, which is supported across most platforms.

The future of business is mobile and Africa at large has the world’s fastest growing mobile user base.  With the potential to reach such a wide user base, every company must give some thought to how an app could be integrated into its business model to explore the potential benefits.

 


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