5.3 Writing Mobile Applications

Creating mobile applications is more a programming matter than one of ecommerce, but the marketing principles are the same. Software developers will want to:

1. Research to find real gaps in the market: there are literally thousands of applications for Palm, the iPhone, iPad, etc. All ate up hundreds of hours of programming, and it's unclear how many repaid the investment. Spend time on such mobile application blogs as iPhone Application List, iPhone AppPreview, AppleiPhoneStore, WhatsOniPhone, iUseThis, Mobile Phones and Mobile Games, CNet, SpotLight, ReviewStream and Frengo. Much of the revenue comes from advertising the application carries.

2. Work in with the device manufacturer: applications have to approved by and sold through the manufacturer, usually on a commission basis.

3. Accept that marketing may take precedence over the technical excellence or usefulness of the product: consider teaming up with a marketing company, or developing applications with companies that have the marketing muscle to push the product.

4. Modify and sell an existing application to large retail companies who will use it as a give-away viral product.

5. Have the product reviewed in the relevant mobile applications store: to gain exposure and a ranking vis-à-vis similar products.

Developers need a software development kit (SDK) from the mobile operating system, readily available for the iPhone and Android platforms, and now offered as the Application Center for the Blackberry. The Windows Mobile also offers SDKs for each of their operating systems, but seem likely to promote the SDK for Windows Mobile 7 to dovetail with the launch of Skymarket.

Though iPhone is the more popular, the Android platform is held to be easier to develop an application for and get it accepted. Particularly this applies to VoIP or P2P file sharing, which can be blocked by the iPhone SDK and not allowed in the App Store. The Palm SDK is not sufficiently sophisticated for many developers. Google is more responsive to queries than Apple, and provides clearer criteria for acceptance.

Some applications are free, but most are charged at $1 to $15. Google and Apple supply the applications and pay a 70% commission to the developers. Returned applications are 100% charged back to the developer, however, and AppStore will also keep their original 30% commission, leaving the developer with a loss.

A good logo, compelling name, sensible price and detailed product description are all essential. You can promote your product in the usual ways: through your own website or application bloggers, by affiliates, mailing lists and ppc campaigns.


Adobe {8}, Quark {9} and others {10} {11} provide tools to automate the process and license the product.


1. Why are mobile applications important?
2. What needs to be done prior to creating the application?
3. List some applications and say why you like them.

Sources and Further Reading

1. Mobile Web Design For Dummies by Janine Warner and David LaFontaine. 384pp. For Dummies. September 2010.
2. Beginning Smartphone Web Development: Building JavaScript, CSS, HTML and Ajax-based Applications for iPhone, Android, Palm Pre, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and Nokia S60 by Gail Frederick. 368pp. Springer-Verlag. January 2010.
3. Mobile Design and Development: Practical Concepts and Techniques for Creating Mobile Sites and Web Apps by Brian Fling. 336 pp. O'Reilly Media. August 2009.
4. The Business of iPhone App Development: Making and Marketing Apps that Succeed by Dave Wooldridge and Michael Schneider. 408 pp. Apress. March 2010.
5.Starting an iPhone Application Business For Dummies by Aaron Nicholson, Joel Elad and Damien Stolarz. 324 pp. For Dummies. October 2009.
6. Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform by Ed Burnette. 300pp. Pragmatic Bookshelf. July 2010.
7. iPhone and iPad Apps Marketing: Secrets to Selling Your iPhone and iPad Apps by Jeffrey Hughes. 312 pp. Que. April 2010.
8. Digital Publishing Suite. Adobe. December 2011. Complete packages for tablet devices.
9. Quark App Studio. Quark. Integrated set of tools.
10. What are the alternatives to Adobe Digital Publishing Suite? Quora. October 2011. Bulletin board suggestions.
11. Tablet publishing software: 5 key attributes by Rob O'Regan. eMediaVitals. April 2011. Brief review of platforms and approaches.
12. 5 Ways to Enhance an Ecommerce Site for Tablets by Armando Roggio. Practical Ecommerce. January 2013.
13. 10 Effective Mobile Ecommerce Designs by Armando Roggio. Practical Ecommerce. February 2011.
14. Preparing for Mobile Devices: Commonly Asked Questions. Practical Ecommerce. October 2010.
15. The Case for Building a Mobile Ecommerce by Gagan Mehra. Practical Ecommerce. August 2012.
16. 17 Solutions to Build Your Own Mobile App by Matt Ferner. Practical Ecommerce. February 2011.
17. Evaluating Mobile Strategies for Ecommerce Sites by Dale Traxler. Practical Ecommerce. August 2012.
18. 17 Mobile Apps for Customer Management by Sig Ueland. Practical Ecommerce. May 2011.
19. 6 New Mobile Payment Developments by Sig Ueland. Practical Ecommerce. February 2012.
20. Consumers Use Tablets for Shopping; 70 Million Units in 2011 by Marcia Kaplan. Practical Ecommerce. September 2011.
21. 10 Handy Web Templates from Google Sites by Sig Ueland. Practical Ecommerce. July 2011.
22. 17 Mobile Apps for Customer Management by Sig Ueland. Practical Ecommerce. May 2011.
23. 11 Ways to Increase Conversions on Mobile Devices by Pamela Hazelton. Practical Ecommerce. May 2011.