Blog

So you have a mobile app developed and ready to go. What comes next? How do you get your app into the hands — or, rather, onto the devices — of the people you want to use it?

You may not realize it, but you have a few options. The one you probably thought of first is the Apple iTunes App Store, where — no surprise — you can publish iPhone apps. On the Android side of the spectrum, Google’s Android Market is the primary public option for Android apps.

But other publishing options are emerging. Amazon, for one, has introduced its own Appstore for Android, and others are certain to follow. And alternately, web apps can be published directly from their source — think your website — because they’re primarily web pages that are being sent to people’s phones through RSS feeds.

It comes down to this: the best way to distribute and publish your app depends on the nature of the app itself. If it’s for consumers, or if you want to give it away or sell it broadly to a whole range of public users, including B2B customers or partners, then iTunes and Android Market are attractive options.

However, the requirements for publishing within each are different. Both iTunes and Android Market require you to have an app developer license. For iTunes, the license is free for an individual, but in most cases you’ll need a $99 per year company license. You apply through Apple.com, and you need to supply specific information about your certificate of incorporation or other evidence that you’re a legitimate business entity. It typically takes 30 or more days for Apple to approve new licenses of this type, so users should start this process right away when they want to get their app into the iTunes App Store. Click on this link to register as an Apple developer.

Android Market works a bit differently. There, a developer license can be purchased for a one-time $25 fee, and you can typically get approval within 24 hours and be publishing your app immediately thereafter. Click on this link to register as an Android developer.

So where do we come in? At MobiFlex, you create and test your app for free. When it’s ready to publish, we provide you with the app file, which you simply submit to Apple or Android Market just like a custom-developed app. Bear in mind: Apple does a very careful review of every app submitted. They’re looking for security backdoors and technical bugs, as well as objectionable material. These are all very logical and understandable criteria. But Apple also has other rules that you can see at the Apple developer site after you register as a developer. For instance, Apple can reject apps that they, in their sole judgment, believe are “only for marketing purposes with no intrinsic value” or that lack real commercial or entertainment value. This review process usually takes a week, but it can take longer. When apps are rejected, they need to be carefully restructured to address the issues before they’re resubmitted.

On the flip side, there’s no review in the Android Market. Apps submitted there will typically appear within a few hours for access by users.

But what if you’re not interested in sharing your app with the public? Say you’re a corporation and you have an app that you want to distribute strictly to your employees? Apple offers an option for “enterprise distribution.” This is for apps that are intended for a company’s internal users, and there are some authorization and authentication requirements.

As you can see, businesses have a number of options for publishing their mobile apps, with others on the horizon. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. how we can help you get your app into the market.

We’ve talked a lot lately about exciting changes in the world of mobile apps for small businesses. One of the biggest and most important changes of all is that of the cost of developing these apps.

Until recently, businesses looking to create an app were dependent on engineers with serious technical chops. And those engineers didn’t come cheap: think $40,000 to $50,000 range and up, just to get an app to the point of publication. Not to mention the cost of purchasing, building, and maintaining any related software or databases. Then, within days or even hours, businesses often discovered — based on user feedback — changes that needed to be made. Every time a business owner wanted to make an update or upgrade to an app, or fix a bug, another $3,000 to $5,000 was required.

But the times, as they say, are a-changing. As technology progresses, custom application shops are able to produce apps more quickly and cost-effectively. The new bottom line? An app that once cost $50,000 to develop might soon be $35,000 to $40,000 — not an insignificant savings, though certainly still not affordable for many small businesses and departments in larger businesses. And that’s before your first user even downloads your app.

So is that as good as it gets?

Fortunately, no. With MobiFlex’s App Studio, you can design and test your app for free: simply log in and lay out your screens and data using drag-and-drop wizards, selection tools, and widgets. Only when you’re ready to publish your app do you reach for your wallet — and even then, the cash outlay is a palatable $99 provisioning fee. From there, you pay a monthly subscription fee — ranging from $10 to $199 — based on the app’s number of users and screens. That means you could use the MobiFlex App Studio to publish an unlimited-screens, unlimited-users app for $199 a month for over 12 years before you’d pay as much for a comparable custom app — and without the whopping up-front bill. On top of that, there’s no extra charge for app changes, bug fixes, and upgrades! And with MobiFlex’s integrated Google Docs spreadsheet capabilities, you can avoid the costs of building and maintaining complex backend databases.

Not sure how to begin? MobiFlex offers a This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. meeting to help you kick off your app development.

Who says it’s all bad news in the business world? These days, small businesses actually have a lot to be thankful for. No longer must they rely solely on e-mail and social media campaigns, while watching bigger (and more financially endowed) companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on mobile apps that give them more comprehensive, intimate, and immediate contact with their customers.Now, with options like MobiFlex, even small businesses can afford to develop mobile apps that allow them to communicate and interact more effectively with their target audiences. Sure, print and electronic media have traditionally been an adequate way for small businesses to reach their customers. But apps literally put small businesses and brands into the hands of their customers, who can check for product information, prices, new services, special sales, and more with the simple touch of a smartphone screen. Small businesses can finally look and feel like the big boys they’re competing with.

What kind of business can benefit from a mobile app? You name it. From an auto repair shop that can push service reminders to its clients, to a courier service that can update delivery schedules in real time, to a contractor who can check the availability of a part while at a customer’s home, the value of and possibilities for small-business apps are endless.

And mobile apps don’t just allow businesses to communicate more efficiently with their customers. Apps also offer a vehicle for a company’s own employees to manage their tasks and time more productively. Have a technician in the field? Your app could map out his service calls and update their sequence throughout the day, putting a stop to endless rounds of phone calls and text messages. Have sales people on the road? Your app could keep your teams up to date on inventory, pricing, and incentives.

So what would stop every small business and its brother from developing an app? Until recently, price. Historically, the cost of producing a mobile app has been prohibitive for all but the biggest companies, and once in production, most apps became black holes into which increasing amounts of cash had to be dumped. But new technology like MobiFlex isn’t just low-cost; it’s a predictable-cost: for between $10 and $199 per month, small businesses can create and customize their own native mobile apps that effectively level the business playing field.

Mobile applications might be ubiquitous these days, but that doesn’t mean they’re all the same. In fact, there are two distinct categories of apps — web and native — and their respective functions and capabilities are quite different.

Let’s look today at native apps. No, they’re not applications that were born and bred in your home country. Native apps run directly on your device — be it iPhone, Android phone, iPad, or Android tablet — and give you the ability to use the resources native to it, including GPS, camera, calendar, and contacts.

“Big deal,” you might be thinking. “What’s so special about an app that can use my phone’s GPS and camera?”

In fact, native apps are special, and their value — especially to small-business owners — shouldn’t be underestimated. For one thing, native apps offer true geolocation-based marketing capabilities. If you’re a restaurant or store owner, a native app allows you to know exactly where your users are; if they’re nearby, you can instantly push a coupon out to them. Say you’re the creator of a new kids’ toy; with the help of a native app, you can locate your users and show them a list of places near them where they can buy your products and add-on accessories.

A native app also gives you the ability to use your device’s camera to take pictures, which can then be integrated into the application’s other functions. Insurance claims agents can use the camera to instantly upload accident photos for their reports, while real estate brokers can add up-to-the-minute property photos to their listings.

Sounds pretty useful, right? So what’s the catch? Well, traditionally, the development of custom native applications has required significant technical skills — think in-depth knowledge of complicated computer languages — not to mention lots of time and money. But MobiFlex has changed the rules of the native app game. With the MobiFlex App Studio™, users can create these applications faster, for less money, and without any special technical skills. As a result, the native app market has now been opened to a world of small businesses that in the past would not have had the skills, resources, or budget to access it.

We’ll soon post the lowdown on the other major category of mobile applications: web apps. Stay tuned.

Subcategories