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What is the best way for a small business to go mobile?

What is the best way for small businesses to go mobile?

A. Mobile Responsive Web Page the user finds and interacts with inside a mobile browser?
B. Native Mobile apps for the various mobile devices and if so is Android and IOS enough?
C. Hybrid Mobile apps playing off the aforementioned mobile responsive web page but with native (i.e. apple/google) stores and mobile screen branded icon
D. Location (broadcast and physical) driven beacon to mobile pairing (i.e. iBeacon, Shazam broadcast pairing)
E. Mobile is a waste of time for Small Busiiness
F. Something else

(certainly D could be a stand alone strategy or in combination with A,B or C)

And for what specific purpose? (Brand recognition, contact info/directions, product info, etc)?

For those not familiar with iBeacon and Bluetooth low energy or the recent licensing between Shazam and Apple, please google those topics. Shazam integrated into Siri is not just about "Name/Buy that Tune". They want to pair you to a broadcast venue so they can push relevant/targeted (or irrelevant spam depending on your opinion) content.

25 Replies

Katie Pang
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Katie Pang Entrepreneur • Advisor
Financial Advisor at Aegon
You can find out what others have to say about Mobile App. vs Mobile Web. here >>http://members.founderdating.com/discuss/2078/Mobile-App-vs-Mobile-Web

This discussion started several days ago and there's already really good insights.
(Please check for your research topics in case it's already been answered)
Michael Brill
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Michael Brill Entrepreneur
Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products
Can you name one type of existing small business where it make sense for them to build an app? Take iBeacons out of it because you can imagine a thousand scenarios that basically don't exist today.
Kerry Davis
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Kerry Davis Entrepreneur
CEO / Founder at AirBridgeLabs
I did not see the post atmembers.founderdating.com/discuss/2078/Mobile-App-vs-Mobile-Web
however, that question is a bit too general. I was looking for more specific suggestions like Hybrid and even specifics about which hybrid path (there are many apparently). In particular, the concept of extensions. Browsers have extensions to extend a browsers functionality by feature or function. Why not native apps that could extend themselves by location? Certainly pairing a mobile user to a physical or broadcast venue by location could result in the ability to extend a native app to the identified venue (i.e. the existing responsive web page for that location being visited placed inside the hybrid native app in real time based on the users newly discovered pairing (aka location) to the venue)

In answer to Michaels question about naming one type of existing SMALL business where it makes sense to build an app...I can not...But I was hoping that someone could if there is one out there that justifies the expense and ongoing costs (time and money) of going native mobile for a small business. So it is a good question.

As for beacon pairing (not necessarily iBeacon but location based pairing in general) to a mobile device to a physical location, I think there are plenty of useful scenarios that do exist today. I experienced one just yesterday when my iPhone automagically popped up the Starbucks app when I came in proximity of my local store. I always have trouble finding that app in the maze of apps on my phone (of course Starbuck is any thing but a small business however, the scenario still applies to any small coffee shop that might have a hybrid app for example or even a web app)
Michael Brill
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Michael Brill Entrepreneur
Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products
It's not a native vs. hybrid issue... (please let's not rehash that). I think unless a business' core user experience requires an app, the number of examples would be pretty small.

Most iPhone suggested apps are GPS geofenced, not beacon-based (although as of iOS 8, the latter is now possible). I guess it's marginally faster than swipe/pull down/type s/press Starbucks app... but imagine it's now Larbucks - a Danish guy who sells coffee. He plainly shouldn't be building an app.


Kerry Davis
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Kerry Davis Entrepreneur
CEO / Founder at AirBridgeLabs
I know my last comment was a bit hard to follow and I apologize. But think about applying the same concept of browser extensions to apply to a hybrid mobile app based on the users current location (aka pairing) to the current physical or broadcast venue. That is what, I think, Shazam and Siri are really after.

Kerry Davis
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Kerry Davis Entrepreneur
CEO / Founder at AirBridgeLabs
"Most iPhone suggested apps are GPS geofenced, not beacon-based (although as of iOS 8, the latter is now possible). I guess it's marginally faster than swipe/pull down/type s/press Starbucks app... but imagine it's now Larbucks - a Danish guy who sells coffee. He plainly shouldn't be building an app. "

I somewhat disagree. Both with the idea that it is not about Hybrid vs Native mobile apps and also whether the Danish coffee guy should have a mobilepresence. Yes, if it costs him $10K for each mobile device and he has to maintain the cost of ownership across IOS/Android/Web. Then certainly it makes no sense for him to have an app or a mobile presence. However, if he can use his existing responsive web site and he can place that into a free hybrid platform that allows him to not only interact with his mobile visitors (with targeted and real time content, brand awareness and Loyalty), and there was no ongoing cost of ownership (because he is using his own existing web page inside a native wrapper anyway)...then why wouldn't Dan the Danish guy want a mobilepresence for his customers?

Michael Brill
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Michael Brill Entrepreneur
Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products
Because nobody is going to find and download his app! I'm 100% in favor of a responsive/mobile website. 100% of everyone can access that with their browser. Once you push that into a app wrapper and put it into the app store, then you just eliminated basically everyone. I don't want to download another frigging app for one tiny business. There are plenty of existing platforms that Lars can plug into for content, awareness, loyalty, etc. But if he spends $20K for an iPhone and Android app vs. investing that $20K in optimizing his presence and marketing activities on platforms that matter, then, well, expect Lars not to be there in a year.
Kerry Davis
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Kerry Davis Entrepreneur
CEO / Founder at AirBridgeLabs
"Once you push that into a app wrapper and put it into the app store, then you just eliminated basically everyone. I don't want to download another frigging app for one tiny business."

Your right, but that is not what I am suggesting (specifically that it be placed in the app store at all). Read the part where I said the native app should be extended based on venue location (not on download from a store).

BTW: my answer is F) in case you hadn't guessed.

Now I think you are arguing more about how not to do it so that mobile users will avoid it rather than whether it has value IF it doesn't have the stigmas you just identified. It is thatassumption I disagree with. It would have to be free, it would have to play off of the existing responsive web page already owned by the venue and it could not be venue branded in a native wrapper out of the app store. The native wrapper would have to rebrand itself by venue location in real time. So yes the generic wrapper would have to be downloaded but nothing more and you could still argue that no one would even download a generic wrapper. I don't think that is true personally but it is a valid argument.

But reallywhat I was after with this question you just answered. Your answer is A) if I am not mistaken.
Kerry Davis
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Kerry Davis Entrepreneur
CEO / Founder at AirBridgeLabs
FYI: I just finished reading the 19 or so comments from the thread Katie pointed to and I think the first response (which was basically that it depends) was the most correct because the question was not very specific.

Most people on that thread seemed to point towards Native and given the way the question was worded (making some of the same assumptions most responders made) I would agree.

However, I am specifically interested in answering this question for small businesses and even novelty or hobbyist sites. And I don't think anyone would say that Native is the way to go there, although there could be some business cases I have not thought of so I would certainly like to hear one if it exists.
Rob Gropper
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Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
For us, starting with A then adding C made the most sense, not because we did some exhaustive study, but because 1) "A" was the skill set we had and could afford at the time and 2) because we need to send a large number of alerts to mobile devices at absolute minimal cost ("C") and 3) we have a location-aware feature that we need to implement at low cost ("C" again) and 4) an important demographic for us is 13-18 year olds (not necessarily our ideal prospects, but an important user nonetheless) and we're not sure yet of the best way to engage with them, but mobile seemed a reasonable experiment. Our mobile app is more than a wrapper, but less than a full-fledged, stand-alone application. If not for our need to send a large number of alerts to mobile devices (from a few hundred to a few thousand) in certain geographic locations (not fixed geo locations) we could get by with SMS/MMS. But SMS/MMS is slow and expensive even at $0.0075/ea. and at volume requires short codes (expensive) so push notifications makes more sense to us. That being said, calling attention to an alert on a native app icon buried 3 screens deep on a 4-5" screen is not something we are looking forward to, but we will figure it out. I could add a 5th reason: responsive web seemed to us to be more 'forgiving' from a dev and design standpoint give our skill set. That could be a double-edged sword... we'll see.
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