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Build a Mobile App Before Your Customers Beats You To It

Even if you aren’t working on a mobile app for your customers, someone else probably is.

How bad do consumers want a mobile app? So bad they’ll create their own!

Londoners use “Oyster cards” to pay for the tube, bus, and trains. There’s no official companion mobile app, but there is an unofficial one that works with iPhone Passbook.


Waitrose is a supermarket in the UK. Part of its loyalty program, the MyWaitrose card has a printed bar code you scan at the till. It’s a pain to keep track of the card, so I've taken a photo of my bar code on my phone. I’ll let you know whether it works or not. I should probably just get the Key Ring app to store all my loyalty and membership cards.

In a country I won’t mention, I was speaking to a bank representative who told me a story about how the web team noticed some unusual traffic on its website. They eventually discovered that a customer had created a mobile banking app and was trying to use it to access financial data.

The phenomenon isn’t new. When you could first print your own airline ticket at home, people were putting them on their phones and getting them scanned at the airport.

I remember reading years ago about a guy who got stopped by the police for speeding, and when he didn’t have his driver’s licence on him, he had someone send a scan to his phone, which the police accepted.

Most of your customers won't have the skills or patience to hack together a mobile app. So why not make it easy for them?

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