On June 29th, 2007 Apple released the iPhone. What we didn’t know at the time was that the iPhone would go on to change the way we lived our lives forever. Ten years on (and 18 iPhone models later) we now live in a society where life without a smartphone is almost unheard of. For better or for worse, our lives are largely controlled by a handheld device small enough to fit in our pockets that is more powerful than the computers used by NASA to send man to the moon. For the first time ever, we can rely on one single device to provide us with everything we need. It can even feed and water us (thanks, Deliveroo!). Whilst this is all quite spectacular, for most, it is not new information. So why am I discussing it today? The reason I am discussing it is that I believe many businesses have been slow off the mark when it comes to adapting to the mobile world.
In October of 2016, mobile web browsing overtook desktop web browsing for the first time, accounting for 51.3%. As of June 2017, a staggering 180 billion apps have been downloaded on the Apple app store. It is clear then that mobile usage is continuing on an upward trend, and it’s showing no signs of stopping. However recent studies suggest that some businesses are still not convinced. Of 350 SME’s surveyed in 2017, 23% said that they are unlikely to ever create a mobile app for their business. Granted, this number is down from 54% in 2016, so things are moving in the right direction, but it still suggests that there is some resistance to mobile there.
The question then is why does this refusal to embrace the mobile world exist for some business owners? The obvious answer is the usual suspect: time and money. Change happens slowly in the business world and it can take months of internal negotiating just to get something approved, and often businesses just aren’t willing to spend the money, but when you look at the statistics for mobile apps it should be a no-brainer decision. Three-quarters of Americans check their mobile phone at least once an hour, and over 90% of that time spent on their mobile is spent in apps. One studied showed that 40% of people surveyed would go to a competitor if they had a bad mobile experience with a company. This suggests that choosing not to have a mobile app could actually cost your business money, not the other way around.
Granted mobile apps are not suited for every single business. Very small businesses may not have the customer base to take advantage of the perks of a mobile app such as increased customer retention and push notifications. Interestingly, studies have shown that business owners under the age of 45 are twice as likely to have a mobile app for their business than those business owners who are over the age of 45. I won’t make any assumptions as to why this might be the case, so I will leave it for you to interpret. I think perhaps there is a misconception that mobile apps are an extremely large expense for a business, and although some apps are a big investment, it’s possible for small businesses to create a very affordable app. The price of an app varies heavily depending on what the requirements are, but a basic app will pay for itself if you account for the increase in customer loyalty and sales that it will provide.
So, what’s in store for the future? Trends suggest that more and more businesses are becoming mobile friendly, but it’s difficult to say at what point it will become business critical to have a mobile app. Currently, those businesses without an app rely on responsive websites that are built to be mobile-friendly, but if trends continue in the direction they are going these businesses could soon be left behind. One thing is certain, mobile usage is on a continual upward trend and showing no signs of stopping. Is your business ready?