Building a mobile app? Don't believe the hype

Get your mobile strategy in order, says Forrester...
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor

Get your mobile strategy in order, says Forrester...

Considering building a mobile app this year? Forget fancy features, such as contactless payments and augmented reality, and focus on being useful.

The rumour mill may be spinning with predictions that Apple's next-generation iPhone - the iPhone 5 - will include contactless payments technology but companies should ignore such hype and focus on making apps relevant for their current customers, says analyst house Forrester Research in its 2011 Mobile Trends report.

"Many companies that have embraced mobile by jumping on the app bandwagon without thinking through its implications will soon discover that consumers ignore apps soon after download if they don't provide any real value," the report says.

"Think instead about how mobile can deliver clear consumer benefits via a convenient user experience."

According to Forrester's report, overhyped mobile technologies that companies should steer away from include Long Term Evolution or LTE, the likely upgrade path for 3G cellular technology which has not got beyond the trial stage in the UK; Near Field Communication or NFC contactless payments tech, which has made it into debit and credit cards but remains niche for mobiles; and augmented reality, which has cropped up in a variety of smartphone apps - including ones for the iPhone and Android platforms.

"While these technologies are disruptive, they will take years to emerge," the report says.

Contactless payments technology remains years away from maturity, says Forrester

Contactless payments technology remains years away from maturity, says Forrester
(Photo credit: Natasha Lomas/silicon.com)

Multiple smartphone and tablet OSes and form factors continue to pose challenges for companies seeking to expand their mobile strategy into apps, says Forrester - with increasingly complex decisions to be made about which platforms and devices to target.

According to the analyst, most companies either do not yet have a mobile strategy or are only just starting to build one. Forrester says would-be app-builders should integrate mobile as part of their overall corporate strategy - stressing the importance of measuring the overall impact of any mobile initiatives, and getting the IT department on board.

"This is far from being just a marketing exercise," the report says. "You must have a company-wide conversation on mobile and make sure your IT teams are involved so they can integrate the coming developments."

While companies should not attempt to nail down details of a mobile products and services roadmap that extends beyond mid-2012 - owing to the rapid pace of "change and innovation" in mobile technology - Forrester says companies should get creative and consider how different scenarios could affect them over the next two to five years.

"Mobile is one of the most disruptive technologies today, and you should anticipate how mobile could affect your business in the years to come," the report adds.

Want more on building apps? Check out our series on the business of mobile apps: should you build an app?, why BA, Ocado and others built apps, and how to convince the CFO to fund an app.

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