In our own look at mobile app and development technologies, Factory Interactive has discovered some exciting and promising frameworks. The ones that appeal to us the most of course, are those that seem to give developers a way to create applications that can be deployed to major mobile platforms -- iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry, et al. -- with nominal effort once the core of an application has been built. The three that stand out above the rest for us at the moment are PhoneGap, Sencha, and Appcelerator Titanium. We fully intend to review these frameworks from a number of angles in future posts, but in the mean time let us offer a little advice if you're thinking about making the leap to mobile, it'll help you plan for the day you do embark on your mobile campaign.
1. Mobilize your website
That is, make a lighter version of your website that can be accessed through a mobile browser. People will be able to get to your content despite their operating systems. The analytics data you'll gather will be invaluable. It will give you insight into what "user agents" are accessing your site (that's geekspeek for browsers and operating systems) and what people doing there. That, in turn, will give you what you need to make a decision about what kind of app to produce, with what features, and for what devices or platforms.
2. Keep it Simple
It bears repeating, but websites and web apps, mobile or not, should be simple, or at least appear to be, so plan on making your app small. Decide to have it perform no more than three core functions. That will ensure that it's agile and fast, and it will increase the chances that whatever it does, it does well.
3. Spy on the competition
Find out whether your competition has an app. If it does, go out and read the reviews of it. It's the perfect opportunity for you make sure that you don't make the same mistakes they did. Contrary to widely shared beliefs, you don't need to be first to market to be the leader in a space, but if you're second in, make bloody sure that you don't screw up in the same way as your competition did 'cause that's worse than not showing up at all. You may be considering an app, and for some, having one is going to be as critical as having a conventional website. It's going to be a big part of your digital strategy because it's a huge opportunity to grab the mind and market share. But there's a lot of competition for space on people's mobile devices, and asking yourself why someone would want to download and install yours on their phone, from the millions to choose from, is something you need to answer before you spend a nickel. Following this advice will help you find that answer.