A mobile app is a computer program designed to run on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. Most such devices are sold with several apps bundled as pre-installed software, such as a web browser, email client, calendar, mapping program, and an app for buying music or other media or more apps.
In 2008 apps that are not preinstalled became available through app stores such as the Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Store, and BlackBerry App World. Some apps are free, while others must be bought. Market research firm Gartner predicted that 102 billion apps would be downloaded in 2016 (91% of them free), which would generate $26 billion revenue in the US.
The advantages of mobile apps for businesses include:
- Provides customer service (e.g. banking or transaction apps).
- Adds value – For example, apps that enhance customer relationships or experiences.
- Makes money – For example, selling apps based on the business’s intellectual property.
- Selling advertising or listings on an app – For example, an event planning app might include supplier listings who pay to be included.
- Used to do their business – For example, tools for front-line or remote workers to access customer databases or fill in time-sheets.
- Builds relationships and loyalty.
- Reinforces brand and increases visibility.
- Makes the business stand out from competitors.
- Increases exposure across mobile devices.
Big businesses like Amazon, eBay, and Target have been promoting their brands through mobile apps for years. Now small businesses are following suit because today mobile apps are a very affordable and effective way to reach out to customers.