In GeekSpeak, "app" is the cool, short way to say "computer software application". And in recent years, our web-wired technomarketeers have spared no expense in making "app" a household word. Especially when it comes to "mobile apps" for smartphones--i.e. cell phones with enough computing power to support their own operating system--perhaps most notable among them being Apple "iPhone Apps". Remove the branding and built-in device restrictions from an iPhone App, however, and it's just another mobile app. And disregard the fact that its computing platform also makes phone calls, and a mobile app is just another "web app".
That's oversimplifying things a bit, but not by much: Despite all the hoopla, a recent Nielsen survey showed that less than 10% (26% of 37%) of U.S. mobile users have access to iPhone apps. And although smartphones are on the increase, over 60% of the U.S. mobile market still uses cell phones that aren't "smart" enough to support device-specific smartphone apps of any kind. Mobile internet usage continues to rise, however, and Microsoft Tag projects it will exceed desktop internet usage by 2014.
So what's the smart play for marketing to the Mobile Web? Is an iPhone App really cool if only 1 in 10 of your customers can experience the coolness?
We think not. Our approach to Mobile Web marketing is to extend your Web 3.0 presence so that your message is accessible to all web surfers regardless of their computing device or communications capability--wired or wireless, desktop or tablet computer, smartphone or not. Yes, it may be true that as of 2011 only 27% of the world's 4 billion cell phones qualify as "smart". But microbrowsers from pioneers like Openwave have been providing cellphone users with access to the World Wide Web since 1997. Furthermore, many mobile browsers have supported W3C MobileOK XHTML and CSS since 2006. And with the advent of HTML5/CSS3, and a new generation of cross-platform smartphone browsers like Opera Mobile, the question of whether to invest in apps restricted to users of a single branded device when a cross-platform m-commerce alternative like our mCartSB™ mobile commerce mini-cart mashup would make it accessible for all answers itself. As Matos Kapetanakis stated: