Technology On The Go
Author: Special to CH2 | Photographer: John Brackett
Mobile apps drive smart device market boom; local web design and marketing company at the forefront.
iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys, Droids. “Smart” devices. They’re everywhere, supporting increasingly varied personal and professional functions. Jared Jester, founder and president of Jester Communications (Jestercom), says that the fuel driving the smartphone boom is mobile applications, commonly known as “apps.” Headquartered on Hilton Head Island, Jestercom is a pioneering company in app development, design and web-based marketing solutions, and is at the forefront of this new emerging business.
Typically based on ever-evolving iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and J2ME platforms, apps streamline communication channels to smart devices. Through apps, users invite companies into their virtual network.
Jester points out that apps are not just for consumers. They are also becoming an important marketing tool for businesses as well. “Savvy businesses are recognizing the power of the mobile app for marketing, sales and customer service,” he said. “The swift jump in smartphone use is already eclipsing the introduction of the worldwide web. The increasing production and popularity of smart devices represents a significant evolution in the way users gain instantaneous access to information. With two-thirds of smartphone users focused on personal use and one-third geared for business use, the convenience factor of state-of-the-art web-browsing capabilities makes the smartphone an essential tool for social networking, infotainment, geo-location, trade and professional performance.”
“It’s becoming pretty limitless what you can do with a smart device. Users can have many everyday conveniences in the palm of their hand, such as a mall, game center, bank, library, movie theater, etc. The booming growth of the mobile technology market is making it easier, and very cost-effective, for business to market to consumers through their smart devices. Increasingly, businesses reach new customers and enhance relationships with existing customers through these downloadable apps,” Jester explained. “The average smart device has over 20 apps downloaded on it. It’s an attractive way for businesses to reach their consumers because, by downloading a company’s app, the owners of these smart devices are inviting businesses to promote their products and provide company information. They want companies to maintain contact with them.”
Just as consumers expect companies to have a website, social media presence, advertising and branding, they are progressively looking for companies to offer an app as well. It has become increasingly advantageous, especially within the last three years, for businesses to utilize apps to target consumers. “Time spent on apps each day has exceeded mobile web and desktop browsing. Studies show that the average user spends 9 percent more time using apps than traditional Internet,” said Jester.
But developing an app is not as simple as one might think. “The process of developing an app is detailed and sophisticated. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes requirements from the operating system platforms,” said Jester. “Once a company has developed an app, there is a lengthy review process for legal requirements, structure, best practices and other standards. The app is becoming expected now. It’s an important tool in the marketing toolbox.”
Flurry, Inc., a mobile app marketing and analytics organization, reported that average users now spend over 81 minutes on mobile applications per day, a 91 percent increase over the last year. Their studies found that, “This growth has come primarily from more sessions per user, per day rather than a large growth in average session lengths. Time spent on the Internet has grown at a much slower rate, 16 percent over the last year, with users now spending 74 minutes on the Internet a day.”
“These numbers are huge, and businesses can’t afford to ignore the trend,” said Jester.
Jestercom has recently developed new apps for premier boatbuilders Jeanneau and Prestige Yachts, divisions of France-based Groupe Beneteau, one of the largest international boatbuilding companies in the world. The new apps for Jeanneau and Prestige boat dealers are based on the successful apps Jestercom previously developed for other divisions of Groupe Beneteau, Beneteau USA and Beneteau Powerboats America.
“Business apps serve as a convenient, virtual extension of the sales team by turning popular mobile devices into powerful selling and marketing tools for companies in today’s challenging economy,” Jester said. “Jeanneau and Prestige saw the great success their sister companies are having, and asked us to make apps specific to their brands, too. Dealers of these boat lines use the apps to showcase information to potential customers in the form of an interactive personalized marketing experience. Buyers can configure a boat with customization and upgrade selections, view pricing and financing options on an iPad right on the showroom floor or walking around a trade show. Then, the dealer sends the requested information to the potential buyer via a contact form and email, instantly through the app, which also automatically save the customer’s contact information in a lead database.”
It is also important for companies to have full control over the content offered through their app. “Our apps include a robust content-management system (CMS), which allows the dealers to track and moderate all of the information distributed through the app. Following a content update, the dealer simply refreshes the app to apply the changes.”
Jester believes the market for mobile apps is poised for explosive growth in the coming years. He noted that the smartphone market is booming, citing a recent research report that 302.6 million smartphones were shipped worldwide in 2010, a 74.4 percent increase from 2009. Within the U.S., research shows that 302.9 million cell phone subscriptions equates to nearly 97.5 percent of the current population.
Worldwide, there are approximately 4.1 billion cell phone subscriptions. This represents nearly 60 percent of the planet’s human population of 6.9 billion. With these numbers in mind, the percentage of smartphone users in the U.S. is now nearly 50 percent of all domestic mobile subscriptions, while the global share is approximately a growing 28 percent.
The implications are far-reaching. Jester pointed to an article from Attevo, Inc., a global business and technology consulting firm, which claims that the “barriers of distance, time and access have been virtually eliminated, regardless of one’s societal, economic or geographic profile. Smartphones have contributed to social, political and economic changes around the world and will have an even greater impact during the years to come.”